Female writers earn averagely only 77.5% of what their male counterparts earn. That's taking into account the bestselling efforts of the likes of JK Rowling. I'm an historical novelist and given that over 80% of fiction is bought by women I found that statistic particularly surprising.
Women's magazines are bad. They make women feel rubbish. Reading them is stupid. But am I the only one who doesn't get this? My experience of 18 years' women's mag fandom has been brilliant. They've influenced me in a positive way and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone on this point.
I'm breaking my own rule this week, and starting with a story that very much made the front pages - the front page of Time magazine to be precise. Earlier this week, Beyoncé was crowned queen of the US title's 100 Most Influential People In The World list, or the Time 100 as it's more generally billed, and consequently pictured looking her usual stunning self on the front of the magazine. So far, so good. The socialsphere, however, didn't take long to react and when it did, the reaction wasn't pretty.
While any right-thinking person (especially a devoted Destiny's Child fan like myself) couldn't agree more with Beyoncé's inclusion as one of Time's 'Most Influential' people, I simply think she'd be an even stronger model if she didn't bare all, all of the time.
What's needed isn't bestselling feminism, or even radical feminism, but an ethical humanism more radical than feminism. A movement that actually demands change of the existing cultures and tries to get every human to act towards it, rather than the sort of change that inspires people to buy a different brand of beauty product.
Some gay people might feel that finding a gay gene might diminish prevalent homophobia, but this is naive. Racism has not diminished because we know that blackness or whiteness is genetic. But scientists still treat us like rats in a lab and look for 'causes'. I have been told I am a lesbian because my mother smoked and drank whilst carrying me.
From younger and younger we are setting women up to be targets of some form of abuse. If she is not beautiful she will be bullied: as Josie Cunningham experienced in advance of getting her notorious breast enlargement, and Jodie Marsh did before her nosejob. If she does not engage in sexual acts she will be pestered until she submits.
In balance to my oestrogen-fuelled argument, there are the crusaders to dinning equality which should be celebrated. The Belmond group seem to have tackled the problem with one simple question, "Who would like to try the wine?" ...Oh how simple the key to dining equality needs to be!
My least favourite euphemism in the English language is, "down there", in reference to the female sex-organ-and-peeing-area. As in, "my pants are making me itch *down there*", or "before the c-section, you'll have to shave *down there*". Like we're still calling it "down there" when I'm about to have my uterus opened up.
Two Facebook groups have been rocking the internet-boat over the past couple of weeks with their contributions to spring 2014's biggest trend - Stranger Shaming.
Women of Britain: we may still be marginalised in headlines, in the editor's specially selected comments, and in the shaving section of our local Superdrug. But this is a system, and we can screw it on so many levels. I suggest we start by buying a Mach 3.
Putting on a fake smile doesn't benefit me, and therefore the benefit is purely for the seemingly well-meaning smile requester. They are telling you to smile so that they have something prettier to look at whilst they go about their day. It's not about making the woman feel happier at all. So, if putting on a fake smile is purely to make me look more attractive, why should I?
A woman's liberty is literally being attacked and disembowelled, and some aren't even doing their part to accept it; let alone inducing themselves to change it. And what does that reveal about how much we really regard a woman's place in society?
The removal of body hair is just another thing that women are told they should do to be attractive, which is clearly the sole purpose for our existence on this planet. The scary part is that it has become so ingrained in some of us that we do it automatically.
Rightly of wrongly, in the endless dance we call flirting, the man is often the proactive agent. So, he is far more likely to act in an unwanted manner if he miss-reads or miss-interprets the body language / situation. If every time a mislead sexual advance is rebuffed, we call it harassment, then men start to feel victimised.
female characters remain dramatically under-represented with only 13% of the top 100 films featuring equal numbers of major female and male characters, or more major female characters than male characters. It's not all depressing news however, a number of actresses, directors and executives are paving the way.