Will ladies be equal to males in 100 years? | Margaret Atwood, Lola Okolosie, Polly Toynbee, Athene Donald and Julie Bindel | Opinion


In 1918 some ladies acquired the vote – however in 2018 gender equality has not been reached. Five writers share their views on whether or not parity will likely be achieved in 2118

A woman seen holding a placard at the Women’s march in Berlin for the rights of women all over the world.

‘Here in 2018, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.’ Photograph: by way of Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Margaret Atwood: Equalising wealth is a key piece of the puzzle

Margaret Atwood.

Greetings, ladies of the longer term! I consider ladies will nonetheless be on this planet in 2118 – a big assumption in view of our threatened biosphere, however fingers crossed.

Here in 2018, it’s the better of occasions, it’s the worst of occasions. The lengthy patriarchy that started with bronze age wheat-based agriculture is being changed by a technocracy, so male-line inheritance not calls for feminine chastity, and upper-body energy not means dominance. Women have brains, work keyboards, and outnumber males in universities. However, some males have been penis-flexing, combining power-play thrills with squeezing feminine competitors out of the office and galvanizing widespread feminine pushback. What would be the consequence? Give us a touch!

Women can now have a number of sexual companions with out being burned on the stake, however the pornographication of male expectations means the meat-slabbification of ladies, so older ladies are being instructed to their horror. Why can’t intercourse be enjoyable for all? they ask plaintively. Is this any higher in your time?

Meanwhile, wars rage, mass rape is used to “humiliate the enemy”, totalitarianisms oppress, human rights are voided, famine guidelines, medical care is nonexistent, and ladies are trafficked and enslaved.

Will you’ve solved these issues by 2118, ladies of the longer term? Will you’ve begun by equalising wealth, as an illustration? Surely that’s a key piece of the puzzle. Or will you be battling chaos in a collapsed financial system and a ravaged ecosphere?

Send us a messenger from the longer term! And if it’s the excellent news, please inform us how you probably did it. We’re dying to know.

Margaret Atwood is a novelist

Lola Okolosie: Free childcare is essential for equality

Lola Okolosie.

It is lunchtime in the staff room. I am talking to my colleague who is nearly 10 years younger than me and pregnant. This teacher, let’s call her Jennifer, tells me that she has spent most of the previous day racked with worry over how she will be able to afford childcare while also paying her rent. In the next 100 years good quality childcare will become free for the poorest and affordable for the rest because it is women who pay the economic price of this lack.

Jennifer has concluded that full-time work is a financial impossibility once her baby is born, and that she will opt out of her pension; both of which will increase her likelihood of pensioner poverty. Jennifer’s solution is indicative of what the crippling costs of childcare mean for women.

For two-thirds of mothers, the cost of childcare is the biggest barrier to working more and the UK ranks as one of the worst countries in the developed world for young mothers looking for work. To compound matters, the Fawcett Society tells us that a woman’s future wages will fall by 4% for each year that she is not in work. One hundred years from now, women will be able to make the choice to have children and not have to accept that this will make them poorer.

Lola Okolosie is an English teacher and columnist

A woman with “#metoo” written on her face and wearing a pink “pussyhat.

‘#Metoo is another step up in brutal honesty.’ Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Polly Toynbee: Gender equality will take generations

Polly Toynbee.

You think it’s nearly over? A hundred years after winning the vote, every day emotionally lived equality between women and men is another 100 years away. Another four generations, that’s what it may take.

Never underestimate the size of the task to reverse all history since time began. To recreate society so women are fully equal to men, we are making a revolution more radically profound than any other ever. Forget French or Russian political revolutions, liberation for women means digging up the roots of human culture, nothing less.

In the 1970s we thought it done and dusted with the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts. But laws and votes are only steps on the ladder. #Metoo is another step up in brutal honesty. No more grid girls, darts walk-on girls or Presidents Club dinners – that’s another rung, though Miss World 2018 will strut on, and the Potus is a pussy-grabber.

How long will it take to de-objectify women? Much longer than I thought back when Germaine Greer, Betty Friedan, Spare Rib and a wave of brave women stepped us up another 10 rungs. But each generation has to do it again, climbing another rung, and another, until all sexism is bizarre ancient history to our great-great grandchildren. Sorry it’s not sooner, but each step up takes longer than I ever thought.

Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist

Athene Donald: Automation may disrupt gender roles

Athene Donald.

What I really hope is that sexism will no longer be a topic we talk about. That strikes me as so fundamental. I just want it not to be news that so-and-so is the first woman to do something, and we just talk about people.

But it’s really hard to say how likely that is. I am astonished by the depth of vitriol that feminist commentary still stirs up. Rape and pillage have been going on for millennia and I’m not entirely convinced they are going to be eradicated.

Let me get scientific briefly: if you think about waves, they build up and die away again, but maybe the waves of disgust at the way women are treated will get bigger and bigger and the baseline will move up. Votes for women was initially only for 30-year-old women after all. It’s kind of like erosion, the way things that were absolutely beyond the pale become imaginable.

I think automation will cause quite a disruption in terms of work and gender roles, but this is a real unknown. People can speculate all they like but we are humans and don’t necessarily behave as the rational actors that economists describe.

Athene Donald is professor of experimental physics at the University of Cambridge

Julie Bindel: Working-class feminists will rise

Julie Bindel.

I predict that a “working-class feminism” will rise during the next century, which will see women from poor and marginalised backgrounds leading the way in a new form of progressive politics.

This movement will prioritise women at the bottom of the pile, rather than women heading for the glass ceiling. So many feminists I know from working-class backgrounds are sick to the back teeth of macho attitudes to class and the labour movement.

The female body has become a marketplace, with breast milk, wombs and hair for rent or sale. Poor and disenfranchised women are farmed for the benefit of the rich and privileged.

There will be an uprising of those the labour movement has forgotten. Hair-splitting, divisive “identity politics” based on individual “rights” will be replaced with a revolutionary movement based on a recognition of structural inequalities and new ways to end oppression.

Julie Bindel is a freelance journalist and political activist

Margaret Atwood, Lola Okolosie, Polly Toynbee, Athene Donald and Julie Bindel from theguardian.com

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