I’m not sure Rowan Atkinson made a helpful contribution to the ageism debate when he sent an open letter to Radio 4’s The Media Show last week.
His letter concerned the BBCs decision to drop Country File presenter Miriam O’Reilly from the show, which resulted in a discrimination case against the BBC.
The Blackadder and Mr Bean star said that the discrimination case amounted to an ‘attack on creative free expression.’ He went on to say that ‘the creative industries are completely inappropriate environments for anti-discrimination legislation and that the legal tools she used should never have been available to her.’
Should we then make the creative arts exempt from other forms of protection that many people have fought long and hard to ensure they enjoy? I also wonder how Atkinson would feel if he was told he was too old to make another series of his successful sitcom Mr Bean or even Blackadder. Would it sit so comfortably with him then?
The fact is we must protect people against this kind of prejudice in all areas of working life, and artistic licence is not (to my knowledge) an adequate defence.
Indeed, as has been well documented, the BBC itself admitted it has a problem with under representing older women on screen following years of criticism.
So Atkinson may wish to consider his views carefully before wading into a debate which those responsible have held their hands up to.
You can read the full article here along with a response from Miriam O’Reilly herself.
Last week saw a victory for French feminists when they won their fight to have the term ‘mademoiselle’ outlawed as sexist after the French prime minister’s office issued a decree banning it in official forms.
In addition “maiden name” and “spouse’s name” will be removed from all official documents and will be replaced with “family name” or “name of usage” as spouse’s name does not take into account widows or divorcees.
Feminists launched a campaign claiming the term Mademoiselle was sexist because it stems from an old word for ‘virgin’.
Whether this is true or not, I find it a bit antiquated to distinguish Madame from Mademoiselle when the generic term ‘Monsieur’ is used for men. Of course we do have a similar set up in the English language, although the term ‘Ms’ is now used more widely.
Roselyne Bachelot, the solidarity minister, had backed the ban calling the term an “intrusion into private life” and an affront to sexual equality.
You can read the full story here.
And so today is a historic day for newspaper publishing as the Sun on Sunday is launched. Amid a flurry of PR activity during the week, it promised to be a campaigning paper, that wouldn’t let us down.
I was rather hoping that the traditional Page 3 didn’t make an appearance but suffice my hopes were dashed and the tradition of objectify women in such a way manages to seep into the Sunday papers once again.