Saturday, 29 January 2011

A man's world?

Centre of a scandal ... Sian Massey
Hidden away in a Sky Sports studio, two men have a private conversation. It's a casual bit of banter between two mates, but unbeknown to them their every word is being recorded. The tape lands into the hands of the tabloids and a scandal is born... a scandal which will ultimately cost both men their lucrative careers.

Andy Gray would undoubtedly have kept his mouth taped shut had he known his comments to colleague Richard Keys would escalate into one of the biggest sexism rows of recent years. Probably only because the scandal got him axed from his cushy job as a pundit for Sky. Because there's no hiding the nonchalent way in which he speaks on that audio clip... those were the kind of throwaway comments he would make any day of the week. And he meant them.

Despite the outrage sparked by the pair's jibes, their behaviour really isn't surprising. In the world of sport, along with as most other male-dominated industries, casual sexism is commonplace. The only thing separating Gray from his pundit counterparts is the fact he was caught red-handed.

Undoubtedly there will be hordes of other sports presenters and commentators quaking in their boots - wondering if a camera was still rolling or a microphone had been left on the last time they joked about a woman's bra size. Terrified they'll be next in the firing line. Because although Gray opened a sizeable can of worms, he certainly isn't solely to blame. Others have laughed along with him and engaged in his sexist banter. The issue here is that, despite strong measures to stamp out sexism in the sporting world - and every other workplace for that matter - there are still large numbers of prehistoric creatures who think a woman's place is to look pretty, keep quiet and remain chained to the kitchen sink.

These misogynists' tiny minds are only capable of judging women on their looks rather than their professional capability. Never mind Sian Massey's exceptional achievement of becoming a premiership lineswoman at the tender age of 25. Not to mention that Karren Brady's talents landed her the role of MD at Birmingham City FC aged only 23. And let's ignore research showing females perform better in exams and have a stronger ability to multi-task in the workplace. 

It's about time these chauvinists looked beyond their own egos and at the bigger picture. Yes, there are more bimbos than you could shake a Laboutin at whose sole ambitions are to star on Page 3 and become a WAG. But there are a hell of a lot of other ladies who have much to bring to the boardroom. Yet these hard-working, successful women are often forced to prove their worth by slaving in the office whilst their male counterparts puff on cigars and back-slap each other in the lapdancing club.

The truth is, sexism is part of our everyday lives. It's ingrained into society. You need only scan a magazine news stand, watch a TV advert or Hollywood film to see how women are represented as either a sex object, a housewife, a victim - or, worse still, all three put together.

Women have a big battle on their hands. Because sadly, until society views women and men as equals, dinosaurs like Andy Gray will always be allowed to roam the planet freely. 

Monday, 3 January 2011

The January blues

Just a fraction of the booze consumed at the office xmas party...

It’s the third day of the new year and I finally feel sober enough to write my first entry of 2011. After a month of quaffing and scoffing just about everything I could lay my hands on it finally feels time to start that customary January detox. The detox I can guarantee will last until the end of the week before I succumb to ‘just one glass of wine’ and a couple of chocolate hob nobs.

As each year passes I’ve noticed the festivities seems to begin earlier. No longer can I simply write off the month of December as the party season; my diary during the latter part of November is now also filled with Christmas revelry. Whilst forcing myself through my umpteenth consecutive Christmas party I realised even the free cocktails had begun to lose their appeal. Along with the canap├ęs, which now looked less appetising than a frozen Christmas dinner for one from Iceland. 

Add this to trekking through treacherous snow and compacted ice in stilettos at 4am in search of a vacant cab and it’s no wonder that by the time Christmas day finally arrives I’m nursing a twisted ankle, an outbreak of flu and a nasty crop of spots. But never being one to ruin the season of goodwill I’ll pour myself a glass of bucks fizz with breakfast and be on the sloe gin by lunch.

By the time boxing day comes around and the boredom sets in, a whole host of monstrous and humiliating festive photographs begin to appear on Facebook; bringing with them further reason as to why I should never drink again (which is, of course, one of my new year's resolutions) and forcing me to spend the day rooted to my computer, de-tagging frantically. And all the while I'm thinking 'Why?! Why do I do this to myself?!' It seems yuletide is deemed as an excuse to completely write off all kinds of embarrassing and downright disgraceful behaviour.

Determined to turn over a new leaf, on new year's day I decided to enter a place I’ve pretended didn’t exist since the 20th November (which, in my head is when the festive season begins). A place where a considerable chunk of my monthly salary seems to disappear. The gym. Needless to say it was a hellish experience. Any ordinary day the place is half-full; with a few people dotted around on exercise machines and the rest donning leather gloves and posing around the weights section. On this occasion I could barely squeeze myself through the door without joining the queue for the treadmills. 

After fighting my way onto a cross-trainer, my workout was cut short by several pairs of beady eyes staring at me with disapproval when they realised I intended to stay on the machine for over 15 minutes. Apparently new year brings with it an unspoken rule that one must be considerate of other fatties who over-indulged themselves during the festive season.

After working off the equivalent of one mince pie, I decided to reward myself by heading to the jacuzzi, sauna and steam room to relax my aching muscles and attempt to sweat out some of the alcohol. Whilst there I worked out that to healthily lose the weight I’d gained over Christmas would take me until… November 2011.

When the whole process starts all over again. Oops...