Editor’s Letter, Issue 10 – “There is no Gender Pay Gap” and Other Phrases to Ignore on International Women’s Day

Dear readers,

Hello and a happy International Women’s Day to all of you. This fair 8th March marks a day where we can huddle round our issues of the Gryphon and celebrate all the incredible ways in which women around the globe shatter the glass ceiling and say a big, fat “thank u, next” to the patriarchy. And with students at Leeds just voting for their first ever all female Student Exec, it certainly seems like there’s no better time to celebrate the one thing which my predecessor, Reece Parker, will never understand – women.

Women (or womxn), ran the show for most of 2018 and have got off to a flying start in 2019. Lady Gaga became the first person EVER to swoop all five major awards in one awards season for her role in the song ‘Shallow’ from A Star is Born. Last year, Serena Williams returned to the tennis courts following her pregnancy and she’s already back in the World Top Ten and telling women far and wide to show the world “what crazy can do.” The continued relevance of the #MeToo campaign has seen countless fashion moguls, film executives and musicians resign over accusations of sexual harassment and exploitation, to see their poisonous empires crumble to the ground. 

But we must remember that, even in this day and age of heightened social awareness, women are still unfairly discriminated against in every walk of life. While Lady Gaga may have taken home all the awards, there has only been one female winner of the Oscar for Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow in 2010) and only five women who have even been nominated for it. While women may be absolute titans in their chosen sport, the second they show emotion they’re labelled as ‘hysterical’ or ‘unhinged’ or, *shudder*, hormonal. And the fact that it was Emma Thompson who quit her role on Luck after John Lasseter (a man with an array of alleged “misconducts” to his name) joined the production team rather than Lasseter himself, is an indicator that the #MeToo movement has only gone so far. To top this off? Some women still face daily struggles just to be identified as a woman, because some other women don’t want to share that identification.

Last October, an Office for National Statistic report revealed that, in ALL jobs, women in the UK earn, on average, 17.9% less than men. The gender pay gap is closing, but it’s still a sizeable disparity, and one which certain individuals out there refuse to address. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s a case in point: 

#LeedsFess6696 – “Fact: There is no gender pay gap, it has been illegal since 1970 to not pay a man & a woman the same wage for the same job. The difference in mean salaries between men & women in a certain field or at a certain company is not a wage gap, it’s the result of life choices of each individual. There is equality of opportunity in the workplace for men & women […] Anyone still complaining about a gender pay gap is dense in the head, regardless of gender.”

Although whoever wrote this has clearly perfected the ability of talking out of their arse, it’s still a concern that such spiteful opinions as these might actually be held by real, functioning human beings. And, as such, I’d like to counter this Fesser (going gender neutral here, but I’m assuming pretty confidently that they’re a man) with a LeedsFess of my own. So, here we go, #LeedsFess6696.5 – a list of all the women who have inspired me throughout my life, the women who make the world go round:

  • Brie Larson/Captain Marvel (it gets released today and Thanos is already looking shook).
  • My mum, a midwife who retires this month after 30+ years of helping to bring even more women into this world. You da real MVP, Cath.
  • Rachel Stevens, Rachel Riley, Rachel Weisz… pretty much anyone called Rachel really.
  • Next year’s ALL FEMALE student exec!!!
  • My A Level English teacher, Mrs King. She once joked that she’d call her first-born son “Juan.” (Come on, sound it out loud – “Juan King”… get it?).
  • Brienne of Tarth, Cersei Lannister, Arya Stark and Deanerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.
  • Any woman who has ever uttered the words “men are trash.”
  • Sporty, Baby, Scary, Posh and Ginger Spice.
  • Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Pink, Norah jones, Kali Uchis, Noname, Sampa the Great, Daphne Oram, Beyoncé, Odetta.
  • Ariana Grande – she deserves a slot on her own.
  • The 50-year-old woman who once kissed me and licked the inside of my ear at a bus stop when I was 16. No one has ever held me like you have, Audrey.
  • Toni Morrison, Shirley Jackson, Emily Dickinson, Angela Carter, Angela Davis, Simone de Beauvoir, Maxine Hong Kingston, Jessie Fauset, Nella Larsen, Zora Neal Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mina Loy, Willa Cather, Maya Angelou.
  • Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap.
  • The other Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap.
  • 68% of The Gryphon’s editorial team.
  • Dragon from Shrek (she’s a giiiiiirl dragon, remember?).
  • Emmeline Pankhurst, although technically she was at an advantage because she was born in the greatest city on God’s green Earth, Manchester.
  • Female barbers (shout out to Issue 6 of The Gryphon).
  • Helen Parr aka Mrs. Incredible aka Elastigirl.
  • Lara Croft – including, but not limited to, Angelina Jolie, Alicia Vikander, Keeley Hawes & Camilla Luddington.
  • Vini jones, daughter of TV hardman Vinnie Jones and sexually liberated reality TV star, winner of ‘Love Island the Game’ 2018.
  • The Women in Leadership Society (page 15) and OnBeat (page 10).
  • The girl from the petits filous adverts who always beat the boys at arm wrestles with her stronger bones.
  • Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Kathrine Switzer, Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, Rosa Parks, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Laverne Cox, Malala Yousafzai.
  • Chaka Khan, and, by extension, every woman.

The playwright Alan Bennett once wrote: “History is a commentary on the various and continuing incapabilities of men. What is history? History is women following behind with the bucket.” Perhaps it’s time men started learning how to carry the bucket, because the future’s looking female. And I, for one, am happy to share the load.

Stay Classy,

Robbie Cairns