Lets face it who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of celebrity/politician induced motivation.
Tom Marley- “I’m gonna buy Obama’s book tomorrow!”
Me- “Er, what does audacity acutally mean?”
Tom Marley- “Dunno. Sounds good, though.”
For the benefit of Tom, our friends at dictionary.com define audacity as
Audacity (aw-das-i-tee) -noun, plural -ties.
1. Boldness or daring, esp. with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.
2. Effrontery or insolence; shameless boldness: His questioner’s audacity shocked the lecturer.
3. Usually, audacities. audacious acts or statements.
Last Friday I embarked on what is for me a very rare event. Me and two female friends went for a girl’s night out.
Dressed fairly modestly by the standards of our peers, in boots, jeans and not-too-low tops, we set out down our road, on a mission to visit the cashpoint, a pub, and a club.
We had barely been on the main road a minute when a guy stopped us. In his twenties, he asked us if the Guild was open that evening, if we were going and if he could get tickets. We explained it wasn’t a club night, but he kept asking where we were off to. I politely told him to sod off and we continued on the remaining ten meter stretch to the cash point.
At the cashpoint, we attracted more attention. A drunk man told me and my two friends in turn that we were attractive. We turned away from him to attend to the traffic lights next to us, only for a car to go past full of lads honking their horn and shouting at us.
Finally across the road, we eventually made it into a pub. On entry an older male punter came up to investigate us before giving up and sitting down again. The barman was very friendly, and we got served very quickly despite it being busy- he even set out stools for us around the bar and kept coming back to see if we wanted more drinks. (The rest of the night was fun but largely irrelevant to this post.)
The point of this story is this. It was lovely to be treated so well in the pub- but I have never been treated that well when I’ve been out with guys. All the attention and leering men in the street, I have never encountered when out with the guys. Being a woman I’ve of course experienced all this before when out with the girls, but the sheer volume of it in such a short space of time that night left me gaping. When the guys were at home the world was a different place- my friends and I were seen differently, were treated differently, and it was very, very disconcerting.
I was drawn into another debate tonight on the nature and practicalities and need for women’s liberation campaigns (of the nature practiced by Labour Students, NUS and the University of Birmingham Guild of Students). I found myself defending the existence of the campaigns on the basis of underepresentation and pay discrepancies, to a friend who sees no need for such campaigns as she considers herself equal to men in mindset and opportunity. I’ve never considered myself any less worthy of anything because of my gender, and on reflection over the long discussion it occurred to me that there were two things we needed to fix: men’s perception and treatment of women, and women’s perceptions and treatment of themselves. I shared that little story above because it is the clearest most recent reminder I’ve had of the first of those two points- of how an awful lot of men see women. That brief walk to my local pub was unpleasant and unsettling and a pertinent reminder that we’ve got a lot to fix.