Thursday, 9 April 2015

Women's Hour, 1975 edition

    Just when you think things are getting better, back it all slides.

    On Radio 4 Women's Hour this morning they were looking at women's issues facing people in ethnic minorities. They're very passionate about balance and free speech on Radio 4, so in the studio they had a black feminist to talk about her experiences and a pasty white bloke from the Far Right party who was there to tell the audience about the Jewish Plot, and how everyone not like him should be Sent Home.

    Sounds pretty implausible, doesn't it. And you're right, I just made it up. The BBC would no more have a member of any far-right party on Women's Hour than they would have a two-hour retrospective on all the good works of Jimmy Savile, with special emphasis on his work with children. Oh, wait...

    Unfortunately though this morning's Wonen's Hour did have a piece on the reported rise in British children seeking help with their gender identity issues. So who did they have on, perhaps a child psychologist speaking as an expert on the medical aspects of dealing with young gender identity patients?

    Nope. Not a chance. Instead they had a radical feminist in the studio, and turned the whole thing into an unsubtle go at non-cis gender identities and at gender identity help for children.

    Sadly for them they had rather put their foot in it before a second of audio had hit the airwaves, by trying to get a non-binary activist to come on to prop up their anti-trans agenda. Perhaps that should serve as a bit of a sign that you're going astray, when you're trying to put together a programme and the people you approach won't touch you with a bargepole? Not if you're the Women's Hour team it seems.

    Women's Hour has always seen itself as an institution at the heart of feminism. It has often produced very interesting and good quality radio. My spoof about the fascist talking on an ethnic minority piece was a spoof only in the fascist, they have been unafraid to tackle issues which other programmes would prefer to push under the carpet.

    But you can only remain at the heart of something if you stay in touch with it. It is pretty obvious that the Women's Hour producers' hearts lie in their youth in the 1970s and 80s rather than the second decade of the twenty first century, and that they have sadly lost touch.

    I probably share several definitions with my spoof fascist above. I'm white, British, middle class. But I would not take him at face value for a radio show just because I share that with him. It's a lesson the Women's Hour producers should take to heart: just because someone defines themselves as a feminist doesn't mean they're someone you'd want to be seen associating with.


  1. That programme and especially its presenter Jenny Murray have not got a clue about transsexualism and even less idea about how to report on it. Some of the gutter press is behaving and reporting with more understanding! In their bumbling efforts to get opposing "balance" they usually get some screaming nutter to wreck the whole item.

    Any business selling J M voodoo dolls could make a fortune right now... As you can tell she spoilt my first morning back home.

  2. If I didn't know better I might think you were both trying to make me feel better about living in the colonies.

  3. Just noticed this.

    You might find it interesting. I am.

  4. Yes, that's the programme & activist I was referring to. I hope the backlash persuades them to have another look at their stance.

  5. I have complained about bias and poor reporting on these subjects on this programme several times only to find that those tasked with dismissing complaints, for that is what the system is, deliberately misread what you write, fail to work within the published timescales and usually finish with some off hand statement about having looked at the issue and find that the programme in question did a wonderful job so go away!

    This programme loves spraying petrol on the flames every time this subject comes up, just listen to the tone of voice of their "star" presenter. It alone should warn the producers to lock her out of the studio and away from anyone reporting on the subject ever again...

  6. I've never heard the Women's Hour programme properly, but I have heard some quite careful and caring presentations on transgender issues on others, like PM for example. I just read the transcript and I am quite shocked that the 'debate' was framed as it was. The guests, actually, did a better job than I expected given the framing of the debate.

    The opening remarks about boys in dresses and girls in dungarees nearly made my blood pressure rise to unhealthy levels. Grr.

  7. Sad this had to happen on the BBC of all places. In all fairness to the BBC, I find their news to be truly world-wide and pretty fairly reported. Much better than the stuff we have to watch here in the States. I can listen to BBC news on the radio in the car and now one of the satellite networks has it available.


  8. Morning all, a week down the line.

    Last night we had a party leaders pre-election debate on the TV. Nigel Farage, leader of the right-wing UKIP, castigated the audience and the BBC for being institutionally left-wing. He was dogwhistling to his voters of course, but it exposes something about the BBC: that both the left and the right believe it supports the Other SIde. Search Twitter after a Farage today interview for example and you'll find a chorus of left-wingers decrying it for being the Voice of UKIP.

    So yes, mostly the Beeb get it about right.

    Programmes though rather than news are more subject to the agendas of their producers. And Womans Hour has always seen itself as at the leading edge of feminism,

    Unfortunately for them their leading edge has turned into a dead end, and they just can't see it.

  9. "Instead they had a radical feminist in the studio, and turned the whole thing into an unsubtle go at non-cis gender identities and at gender identity help for children."

    That was certainly their intention and how Jenni Murray tried to present it, but in fact the two guests (Michelle Bridgman and Finn Mackay) pretty much just agreed with each other.

    But yes, it was a shameful attempt by a Woman's Hour producer and presenter to foment conflict.