"Ever since the 1970's I have always taken an interest in the struggle and issues of women, not in any prurient or patronising way, but because I realised that while man generally believes himself to be better, stronger and more relevant to the family, the work place, society, education, politics and the church, he is greatly missing out on what he could truly be. Until man can get in touch with his feminine feelings, he is an incomplete person.
When the needs of the woman is lessened or ignored, the whole of mankind effectively becomes less than it could be. The one thing a woman has to recognise is that in the main, man will never be less than reluctant to give her power and equality; she must seize it as her right and not yield it up! It is amazing what a woman can do if only she ignores what men tell her she can’t.
For too many centuries women have been muses to artists and the lovers of artists. It was only when women put their painting skills out there that they were accepted as artists in their own rights. Before the close of the nineteenth century, any woman author, however good a writer she was, could only get published under the name of a man. Indeed, before October 1920, women were not allowed to matriculate (ie to be become members of the University) or to graduate. From the late 1870s, women had attended lectures, taken examinations, and had gained honours in those examinations. They were, however, unable to receive the degree to which, had they been men, their examinations would have entitled them.
While much progress has been made over the past century, the mere fact that inequality between the sexes still exists is a painful reminder that we still predominantly live in a man made world, made by men and designed for men. It is also an indictment on parliament, the church and society as a whole that the topic is still one for discussion!
Between 1990 and 2003, I held two thousand assemblies in Yorkshire schools. When I first started visiting schools regularly in the 1990's, the heads of over 90% of Secondary Schools were men with women holding over 90% of the Headship posts in Infant and Primary Schools. Indeed, it was possible for a male child whose parents did not live together to go from the age of five to eleven in their first school without ever having a male teacher as a role model and never seeing the feminine traits displayed by a man.
I also noticed over twelve years of visiting schools daily that girls were treated differently than boys by the teachers in their class rooms. A boisterous boy was considered as 'just being a boy' and was tolerated, whereas the same traits in a girl wasn't and was quickly stamped out by their more-often-than-not, female teachers. I have seen boys shout, fight, swear, push and shove and often get away with it, whereas girls would instantly have such behaviour stamped on immediately and be told to be polite and more 'ladylike'. Even in the class rooms, boys got more attention from their teachers because they demanded it, whereas girls tended to be quieter and more studious. I felt so strongly about it that when my friend, the late Dame Catherine Cookson offered to fund the publication of one of my books for 5-9 year olds about a girl called Annie who was as good as any boy, I jumped at the opportunity.
Essentially, what was going on in schools was no different to the rest of society in general, and I became convinced that until girls and women learn to both fart and fight in unison, they will not command the male attention of any room in mixed company!
And yet, over a century after the Suffragettes were prepared to actively protest, be imprisoned, starve and even die to secure 'votes for women', society is still dragging its feet in giving men and women true equality of opportunity in every aspect of family, education, work place, society, politics and the church. Even where women are given similar jobs, unless they excel over the man, they will not be noticed in the eyes of the boss. It is as though whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult for them!
At the age of 18 years (1961), I was the youngest textile shop steward in Great Britain and I can tell you that most textile women employees doing the same mill job as a man got paid around one third less. I found that agitating for change at the time was probably one of the most unpopular and least successful causes I ever fought and was obliged to accept that the time for change was not yet considered possible.
I have never been the type of man who would choose a partner who felt herself to be less equal than any man. Were I to have done so, I would clearly have considered myself less of a man, husband and father in our household. Don't get me wrong, I'm not pro women and anti men; merely a pragmatist who likes things shared out as fairly as they can be.
My advice to any woman who is ever ill-treated by any man in any relationship, is to get out as soon as possible because it's too hard to resist and be a fighter when you are constantly under siege. My advice to any woman doing the same job as a man and receiving less money is to either take her employer to an equal opportunities tribunal or at worst give up her job and keep her self respect. The time has never been better than now for women to demand their rights and to become more of a hell raiser than a humanitarian and jam maker if they want to change the world into a better place. As an author and lover of language, my final piece of advice to women would be to start regarding yourselves as nouns, not adjectives and to become a doctor instead of a nurse, a pilot instead of an airline hostess and a warrior chief instead of a squaw; if a doctor, pilot or warrior chief is what you would prefer to be.
As Kristin Hannah, the award-winning and bestselling American writer once said, 'A woman's place is in the house....and the senate.'" William Forde: November 9th, 2015.