Tag Archives: Economy

How do you like your politics?

If you are a woman, popular opinion would have it that you prefer it alongside your regular gossip fix.
 

How do the sexes compare in their political reading habits?

Governments are always subject to flux in the opinion polls and this month it’s the Conservatives who have suffered from a drop in support shortly after their party conference. According to a discussion on Wednesday’s Woman’s Hour part of this fall in support is due to a shift in the number of women voters, as found in a recent YouGov polling report.

I was surprised to hear that, had it not been for female voters, the Labour Party would have won every election since the Second World War. So, it seems, despite the impression that Labour (or, should I say, the left wing of the spectrum) is generally more forward-thinking in those areas typically associated with ‘women’s policy’ such as childcare, working flexibility and government-controlled measures to ensure pay is more fairly distributed (to varying degrees of success I might add) women vote for the Conservatives in larger proportions.

The Conservatives fall in popularity amongst women is also seen by many as a direct response to the public’s general impression of David Cameron as well as his ‘Calm down dear’ put-down towards Angela Eagle in the Commons, amongst other gaffs. This is also coupled with some high-profile attacks on the government’s strategy of cuts, which are seen as disproportionately affecting women.

The Woman’s Hour discussion then moved on to the way in which parties can attract/make women aware of their policies more effectively. One respondent commented that many women are unaware of policy directly and that parties need to get this information into the hands of OK readers.

I am sure this ignorance and unavailability of political discourse is a problem. But this perception that women necessarily need politics in their gossip mags for them to be informed is also, on first glance, a patronising one. An image of an upper-middle class man with a monocle studying The Telegraph and guffawing about the Tory’s newest childcare strategy whilst his down-trodden but servile wife serves him a cup of tea before settling down to her copy of Closer, because she doesn’t care a thing about real politics being a woman and all, springs immediately to mind.

It cannot be the case that men read serious news whilst women read gossip mags and so therefore have no idea about policy, can it? Or, if there is ignorance it’s not just confined to one of the sexes. I would have thought it’s just as patronising to say that for women to know more about politics we need to get it into OK as it is to say that men would be more aware if Nuts regularly discussed the worldwide increase in the cost of cotton which was thereby having an implication for the Page 3 girls’ ability to stock up on lacy underwear, and what was the government going to do about it?

But, to be on the safe side, I thought I’d look at the numbers a bit more closely. A rough, and albeit not entirely scientific, search of divide in readership of a range of newspapers, from the serious to the questionable, came up with the following proportions:

Daily Mail:

Male – 47%

Female –  53%

Source: http://www.nmauk.co.uk/nma/do/live/factsAndFigures?newspaperID=10

Daily Mirror:

Male – 57%

Female – 43%

Source:  http://www.nmauk.co.uk/nma/do/live/factsAndFigures?newspaperID=2

Guardian:

Male – 53%

Female – 47%

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/advertising/demographic-profile-of-guardian-readers

The Independent:

Male – 59%

Female – 41%

Source: http://www.independentonlinesolutions.com/advertisingGuide/media/indy.pdf

The Sun:

Male – 56%

Female – 44%

Source: http://www.nmauk.co.uk/nma/do/live/factsAndFigures?newspaperID=17

Telegraph:

Male – 53%

Female – 47%

Source: http://www.nmauk.co.uk/nma/do/live/factsAndFigures?newspaperID=11

Although this is not the most scientific or strictly accurate way of establishing how information about politics is disseminated, I was surprised (and slightly disappointed) to find that things are not as 50/50 as they should be. However, the differences between the sexes are not as different as some comment makes out and I think it does show that getting information on policy to women is possibly just as big a problem as it is getting it to men. I agree that policy and the current cuts affect the sexes very differently but is the perception that women need politics in their gossip mags really helpful? Perhaps this is one aspect of political spin for which gender should be left to one side.

How do you think politicians could communicate with the public more effectively?
(polls)

Handicrafts? They ain’t so daft!

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get fidgety in my swivel chair; my arms ache and I’m craving a bit of natural light, or face-to-face conversation.

According to some mumblings, it isn’t just me. This week’s Stylist magazine features and article about The Life U-Turn, why some people are doing it and why it could split up long-established friendships as one friend reassesses previously shared career ambitions, life goals and social viewpoints (and other such trivial and insignificant factors).

The article claims that some women are reassessing the career goals which they previously made central for more ‘worthy’ work, which makes me think of living in the country and opening a farm, working for a charity or retraining as a nurse or teacher.

Studies, it seems, have shown that many of us need more than just cerebral work to keep us happy. And I agree completely.

For the past few months I’ve been going to a printed fabric class at my local college and it’s an activity that seems to have benefits beyond the two hours each week spent there. Not only does it provide a solid period of creativity, it also allows an outlet for other inspiration which all of us see each day of our lives, but which we fail to notice when we are so caught up in our routines.

Cutting out intricate paper patterns for screen prints on school nights certainly beats switching off in front of the television. And it’s incredibly absorbing.

Arts and crafts aren’t for everyone, and some would find my chosen activity painfully dull, humdrum and thrill free. But I wonder if we need to think again about how we treat our working lives; is the nine to five it? Or can we change our lives and work to encompass more?

The New Claustrophobia

Has anyone else noticed the narrowing confines of the BBC’s latest sit coms? First of all I saw Simon Amstell’s excellent (if sometimes patchy and cringe-worthy) family-based piece called ‘Grandma’s House’. The characters incessently wind one another up and this is what makes it work so well. Although insular, other external characters can intrude and even sometimes stray into the front garden of the house. They never do make the ‘Pottery Barn’, though.

The second of these is ‘Roger and Val Have Just Got In’. Dry and touching, this look at relationships and people, and more, is stuck very much in the domestic space and domestic sadness itself. Apparently commentators are comparing the writing with Beckett. I am not so sure. But the peculiar stasis makes watching compelling.

My final example is in the grubby ‘Him and Her’. Again, from a different viewpoint and tone totally, the main characters reside together in idle activity, but one cannot help but like them. The developing series shall reveal more, or go downhill…

What is this new theatre of the domestic to do with? Yes, we’ve always had them from the UK but such a speight in one go must reflect, express or perpetuate some mood. More of us at home, saving the pennies in a pre-cuts austerity? Most likely. But why do we want to watch it on our screens? Have horizons narrowed to such an extent that even to exclude the local shop or ;pub is no longer sit com fodder? I shall watch more examples in anticipation…and hope that comedy as brilliant can keep on coming even if the main characters never need take off their slippers and venture into the outside world.