Finally, a documentary that directly discusses issues of sexism and misogyny being aired on mainstream television. Blurred Lines: The New Battle of the Sexes was on BBC 2 last night (Thursday 8th April at 21:30; I watched it at half 5 this morning (my body is getting me ready for those sleepless nights with baby!), thanks to a friend who alerted me to its existence. The good thing about this documentary, compared to others I have written about lately, is that it seemed to follow a much more logical line to the actual relevant issues than anything else I have seen thus far (a part from a series on BBC1 a few years ago that I never remember the name of so cannot find – at least part of it was about how women function in the home and that they still do all the childcare and housework as well as having stressful full time jobs, something like ‘Can Women Really Have it All?’; if anyone knows of it, let me know!).
Obviously, in the one hour slot provided by BBC 2, the presenter Kirsty Wark did not cover everything relevant to the topic, but she got in a lot of the relevant issues and recent events that highlight these issues. This means that even though they have been well publicised events such as Steubenville and the controversy surrounding the song the name of the documentary is named after, most people would only be aware of these things as separate isolated elements, rather than all part of the same insidious societal problem.
And that’s the main thing I wanted to say about this documentary. I have known, followed on twitter, and been aware of the work of some of the activists interviewed in the programme for over a year now and when I went to see how they felt about the programme on twitter, I was not surprised. The girls interviewed in the programme were pleased with their involvement, as they should be, they are doing amazing work and this publicity is much needed. However, there did also seem to be a sense of dissatisfaction with the programme from other people in the community, as I suspected there would be.
I believe their issues come from the fact that what the programme was pointing out to its viewers was obvious; as Kirsty Wark said in the programme there is a wealth of feminist activism to be found on the internet. But they are only obvious to us. By us I mean those that are aware of, have researched and been involved in the feminist movement already in recent times. To us who live and breath these issues, they were pointing out nothing new. To most other people in the general public this was a very good introduction to those issues. Compared to Jameela Jamil’s offering about the dangers of porn for young people on BBC 3 a couple of weeks ago, this was new information for a lot of the public.
We, as active feminists, need to accept, as I wrote in my last blog, that many people are ignorant to these issues, or at least don’t see them as a major problem in their own lives; until it is pointed out to them in a certain way. I’m sure that seems very patronising; it isn’t meant to be. There are many awful issues with the world that don’t catch my interest and therefore I am completely ignorant about them; race relations, drug trafficking, the environment being destroyed. The difference with sexism and misogyny is that it definitely affects us all. Women are half the population of the world so these problems are relevant everywhere and for everyone. As *** says at the end of the documentary “If we think about sexism and misogyny as air pollution; we're all breathing it in...regardless of much we're contributing to that air pollution, we all have a responsibility to fix it”. Even if it is not something that naturally catches your interest, as it does for me, and even if it's not something that you would spend lots of time campaigning, reading and writing about, you are still involved in it, every day. We need to change the way that we behave, speak, and bring up our children in order to improve life for everyone, not just women.
Did you watch this programme? Are you intending to? What did you think of it? Did you learn anything you didn’t already know?
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