The F4 Word; the Actress Bette Davis Once Said That When a Man Gives His Opinion, He's a Man - but When a Woman Gives Her Opinion, She's a Bitch. So Have Things Changed? with Dinefwr Literature Festival Adding Feminism to Its List of Topics, Kirstie McCrum Speaks to the Women Redefining the 'F' Word

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 14, 2014 | Go to article overview

The F4 Word; the Actress Bette Davis Once Said That When a Man Gives His Opinion, He's a Man - but When a Woman Gives Her Opinion, She's a Bitch. So Have Things Changed? with Dinefwr Literature Festival Adding Feminism to Its List of Topics, Kirstie McCrum Speaks to the Women Redefining the 'F' Word


icturE this: A uK cabinet where just four out of 22 members are men.

PBoys as young as five are worrying about their weight.

Most significantly of all, more than two men per week on average are killed by a current or former partner.

it's a shocking picture and one that looks like the marginalisation of a gender on a massive scale.

But don't worry, it's not real. Who would stand for it? Although these uK statistics, courtesy of the book Everyday Sexism, are all true if you reverse the genders.

More than two women a week are being killed by current or former partners and girls as young as five are worrying about their weight.

The state of equality isn't looking too good at the moment in the uK or across the world - if incidents like the 2012 Delhi gang rape and the Nigerian girls abducted by Boko Haram are any indicator.

At next weekend's Dinefwr Literature Festival, feminism and powerful women join a list of subjects which includes history, music, ancient literary tradition and Dylan Thomas.

The three-day bilingual festival at Dinefwr Park and castle in Llandeilo is a not-to-be missed whirlwind of literature, music, comedy, walks and talks.

it's easy to see why a forward-thinking festival would make the effort to include feminism as a topic.

After all, at the current rate, it will be more than 150 years before an equal number of men and women are elected to English local councils.

in our own Welsh Government, 24 AMs out of a possible 60 are female - a figure which at least shows we're managing much better than Westminster, where women make up just over a fifth of MPs. That's 147 out of 650.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics last year suggest that, at the current rate of change, women's full-time pay will not equal men's until 2040.

And Ministry of Justice figures show that 85,000 women are raped in the uK every year.

But the 'f' word is still one that carries a weight of extreme thought that some feel unable to embrace for whatever reason.

Pop star Katy Perry famously pronounced: "i'm not a feminist, but i do believe in the power of women", while Lady Gaga, a role model to millions of young people, made this point: "i'm not a feminist - i hail men, i love men. i celebrate American male culture and beer, and bars and muscle cars..."

The question of what constitutes a feminist garners responses ranging from "Germaine Greer" to "bra-burners", but above all there is a prevalent notion that a feminist is a man-hater, someone filled with bitterness and bile, and definitely not a label any gregarious woman would put on herself.

There are those who aren't afraid of those connotations.

Beyonce, one of the world's biggest-selling recording artists, said: "i guess i am a modern-day feminist. i do believe in equality."

Some of the women lined up to speak at Dinefwr are what could be considered cultural heavyweights when it comes to feminism.

The list of those bringing their own experiences of inequality to the fore will include charlotte church, who delivered the 2013 John Peel Lecture on women and their representation in the music industry.

The Llandaff-born singer will be in conversation with Kat Banyard, founder of uK Feminista, an organisation which supports feminist activism, and there will also be a talk by Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism.

An online project cataloguing instances of sexism experienced by women on a day-to-day basis, it's now been set up in 20 countries and with a book published this year by Simon & Schuster.

The appearance of these names at Dinefwr indicates there is now an appetite for a discussion of feminism.

in a world where toy brand Lego has announced to great fanfare that they will produce a range of figures depicting female scientists - including an astronomer with a telescope and a chemist in a lab - it's clear that something is happening to redress the gender imbalance, but is it enough to push all the way for equality?

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The F4 Word; the Actress Bette Davis Once Said That When a Man Gives His Opinion, He's a Man - but When a Woman Gives Her Opinion, She's a Bitch. So Have Things Changed? with Dinefwr Literature Festival Adding Feminism to Its List of Topics, Kirstie McCrum Speaks to the Women Redefining the 'F' Word
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