Former Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman has written a book that will be published on 2nd February called “A Woman’s Work”.
In it, she has apparently written a claim that her ex-university tutor offered her a better degree if she had sex with him. However, Harman found TV Sathyamurthy “repulsive” so declined his offer and managed to get her 2.1 anyway.
Let’s first deal with a few of the points that cynical me read with the story:
- “Only” a 2.1 for sex? Someone must have had really low expectations of poor bargaining power.
- Sathya’s obituary in Independent doesn’t point to a man who would do this.
- Neither does his ex-wife think it’s something he would do.
However, for the moment, let’s take Harman’s accusations as true. Harman says that the event was one of the things that inspired her to become a feminist and fight for equality and the right not to be subjected to harassment.
The timing of the accusation, though, is interesting. Sathya died in 1998 so he can no longer defend himself. It’s even more interesting when compared with the desire of political figures to find a professional footballer to come out as gay while still playing to properly break the taboo. For true inspiration, it would be great to see people fighting these battles against an opponent who actually can be defeated, even if that takes a lot more bravery.
And yes, I can hear people saying that this is easy for me to say, what with me falling in to the demographic for whom the world is simple and I do not have a care in the world because I simply can’t be victimised because of my sex, gender and the colour of my skin. “Oh, boo hoo,” I can hear the feminists say.
I’ve mentioned before, though, that it would be great for feminism to get its act together (if that’s the name we have to give for the fight for common decency).
Two other stories on the subject hit the press last week. The first was that Mary Berry is a real feminist icon when the same publication ran a story three years prior where Mary herself stated that “feminism is a dirty word“. There was another about Engineering Barbie being ridiculed because she can only engineer a clothes rack and “Arguably the … greatest invention of the 20th century but its not a women’s machine“.
I’ve listened to a lot of recent Ted Talks from a women’s event with a lot of women talking about empowerment. However, I just wonder if stories like this do the opposite. Feminism becomes a simple commodity that can be applied to anything but, for true empowerment, is there not a case to be made for going after the true, big battles in a manner that is truly inspirational?