Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

The apprenticeship scheme was thrown into question, following the damaging report by the government’s own department which found that it is being used as a way of getting cheap labour. Vincent Moss exposed the report and yesterday which stated: “One in five apprentices get no training and one in 20 are unpaid. Following the revelations Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has ordered a probe to look further into the findings.

Their average pay after tax is just £170 a week. The flaws exposed in some of the schemes must be addressed quickly. Labour’s Shadow Sills Minister, Gordon Marsden said just that. He said: “They should take up some of our proposals to expand the number of decent quality apprenticeships for young people which won’t result in them being exploited.”

You can read his article in full here.

On one level it’s somewhat superficial to examine the style of the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, but it’s also inevitable. Of course we wouldn’t do this about a male companion, but then he’d be donning the same suit, albeit in a different shade each day.

The stylish First Lady understands her own style and how to carry it off. But we don’t all get it right, so this kind of thing can provide a helpful reminder about what works and what doesn’t, without the need to be critical of either of them personally. Harriet Walker’s critique actually provides a good insight in how to look good wearing certain things.

She reminds us of the day the two ladies turned up to the second Presidential debate wearing matching shades of Schiaparelli pink, it was for Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Walker says of this potential clashing of outfits: “While the First Lady opted for a minimal Michael Kors shift dress and cropped jacket, her would-be successor was in silk Oscar de la Renta – upstanding and uptown American designers both, and part of the nation’s fashionable fabric, but with very different outlooks: the former, all sporty grace and ease, the latter more traditionally elegant and formal.”

You can read the article in full here.

There was a great article by Paul Harris in yesterday’s Observer ahead of the final push in the US Presidential Election. He’s observed both campaigns and reported just as he’s seen. It’s well worth a read. You can do so here.

Disgusted by Forbes’ Methodology for Determining the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women

Labour Party

World's fourth most powerful woman (right) and seventh most powerful woman (left). Apparently.

This morning, I read the newly published Forbes list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. As it loads up I wonder to myself, will Merkel be ahead of Hilary Clinton? Where will Catherine Ashton come? I wonder which female CEOs have been judged as the most powerful?

To my horror, Lady Gaga is number 7. Oprah Winfrey is number 3 – ahead of both Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel. Ellen Degenres beats Nancy Pelosi to the last spot in the top ten. The most powerful woman in the world is listed as Michelle Obama, undoubtedly an influential woman, and very able in her own right, but there because she is the wife of a powerful man. Catherine Ashton is not mentioned at all. Lower down the list Madonna, a singer who (I checked) last released an album 3 years ago, is 2 places above Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a Supreme Justice in what could be argued to be the most powerful court in the world (numbers 29 and 31 respectively).  Whilst Lady Gaga, Madonna and Beyonce have the very highest level of influence within the world of fashion and music, I am unsure as to how that possibly entails they are more powerful than Catherine Ashton, who co-ordinates the foreign policy of the world’s largest economic area, or Dilma Rousseff, the President of a G12 country (Brazil).

Perplexed, I turn to  Forbes’ list of the 68 most powerful “people” in the world. Since there are only 4 women I don’t feel it’s entirely unreasonable to refer to this list as the list of the 68 most powerful men in the world. Funnily enough, there are no singers or actors in sight. Indeed, it seems a far more reasonable list; being topped by Hu Jintao, Barack Obama, the King of Saudi Arabia and Vladimir Putin. Men who without a shadow of a doubt wield large amounts of tangible power.

So why the difference in the two lists?  It turns out the lists are compiled using different methodologies.  In considering the men the factors taken into account are the size of populations they hold power over, their financial resources, the extent of their sphere of influence and the active use of their power. When it comes to the women however, they have instead been split into 4 categories; business, politics, media and lifestyle. So, half dedicated to women who influence real things and half dedicated to women who influence media and “lifestyles”.

Why the difference in approach? Well, I guess it can only be because women are still judged to be successful on different gounds than men are. A female singer (Beyonce) can be considered more successful than a female politician (Rousseff) because fundamentally that’s what women should be doing isn’t it? The idea that (for example) Usher or Kanye West could be considered as successful or powerful as a male head of state is of course ludicrous. Sadly, the same attitude still does not apply to women. It is also highly apparent that Forbes still considers women as defined by their husbands but not vice versa. Michelle Obama is, according to them, the world’s most powerful woman, by virtue of being the First Lady, of being someone’s wife. Melinda Gates is number 27, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is number 35, Maria Schriver (Arnold Schwarzenegger’s soon to be ex-wife) is number 53 and the wife of the Emir of Qatar is number 74.  Shockingly Angela Merkel’s husband is not on the men’s list however. Well, I guess that’s because he’s a man; and is evaluated on the basis of his own achievements rather than those of his spouse. Forbes’ list is a depressing indictment of how our society still views and judges the female half of the world’s population. So women if you want to be powerful don’t bother trying to become a head of state or a business CEO! Instead, either try and marry someone powerful, or just make sure you have a good hairstyle, can carry a tune and are willing to wear skimpy clothes. Because clearly that’s still (nearly) all that matters.

In Praise of the Full Slap

Labour Party

How I love our very own ecrivain(e) extraordinaire, the excellent Hilary Mantel, a serious professional woman who not only wears make up but is brave enough to write about it as well.

Following Hilary’s magnificent example, I’ve decided to take the plunge and talk about la maquillage, though my level of bravery in putting this post on my blog is obviously nowhere near Hilary’s decision to write a long article in G2 today.

Apparently the “full face” is back, not eyes or lips but both in glorious celebration.  Even better, Hilary’s examples are not just the usual suspects; Cheryl Cole (or should we now call her Tweedy) features alongside Michelle Obama as celebrity women who have embraced the all over the face look.

Now it’s my turn to get personal.  Like Hilary I am a pale face.  When I came of age and enthusiastically embraced the extra resonance make up gives to all but the most blessed women, the pale look was in.  Since I was young with good skin, foundation remained a mystery.  Instead I went for the eyes, black kohl, lashings of mascara and shadow in varying shades of green.  Sadly contact lenses prevented false eyelashes.  Lips were almost ignored in the attempt to create the perfect peepers.

It is, inevitably, different now.  Given the ravages of time, the second skin has, a la Hilary Mantel, become a necessity.  Black kohl no longer does the business and mascara is brown rather than deepest black.  But I do paint both eyes and lips.  Given it’s all or nothing, I make sure I go for the all, almost every morning.

The great thing about make up is that it doesn’t do any harm.  Indeed, there are even those who claim foundation is good for the complexion.  Unlike four to five inch heels and the current vogue for very skinny models, putting on the war paint has no detrimental effects. 

Hilary, I am with you all the way when it comes to the full slap.  I also love your books.  What more is there to say?