Times They Are a Changin’ – but not quick enough if you’re a judged working mum like #MeToo

In the immortal words of Dylan, ‘Times They Are A Changing’…  Even though, for the first time in my life-time, it feels women really do have a voice, the changes still don’t seem to be happening soon enough.  Especially, if like me, you’re a working mum…

I’ve been watching the awards ceremonies and the A-list glitterati, and I am so encouraged by the mass movement of our leading ladies wearing black as a welcomed defiant stance.

I just can’t get my head around there being any derision about the #MeToo campaign, but there’s been plenty on Twitter and even morning talk show hosts saying ‘it’s getting out of hand’.  I think people’s resistance to this movement makes the need for it even more urgent and necessary.

You see it’s not just the problem of harassment in Hollywood, its the day-to-day treatment of women in general that needs to change.  People have said that these campaigns are harsh on men.  It’s not about creating a witch-hunt against them, its about fighting for, defending, and securing equality for women.  There are too many examples of daily sexism that can not, and should not, go ignored.

It is a sobering realisation that in 2018 a cavernous gender pay gap exists.  Why?  There is no worldly explanation for this!  Why are women – and many in high-profile positions – doing exactly the same jobs as men and being paid less?  This is not restricted to just one industry either, this is endemic across all industries.  As if thats not a bitter enough reminder of the very real sexism suffered by women, I read only last month about a professor in Ireland teaching Arabic studies justifying Female Genital Mutilation.  There is NEVER a good, plausible, or humane justification for this barbarism.  The reality for many voiceless women is they are left mutilated for life and in some cases, in permanent agonising pain.

Then, of course, there’s the incessant judgement of women which sadly seems to be the norm now.  I know all too well what it feels like too be judged as a women in the public eye.  You get demonised in a way that men just don’t.  Take my family, yes its not the ‘2.4’ dynamic of the outdated 50’s image, but its my family and it’s a happy and healthy one.  Interestingly there have been countless men before (and no doubt after) me who have fathered children to numerous women.  For them, it is a ‘conquest’ – for me, it’s ‘questionable’ and an open floor to be critiqued and vilified in the press.

I think back to the early days of my career and I remember being told by a male record industry head that we HAD to do a lads mag shoot as part of our single promo.  Basically the theme of the shoot was us dressing up in a slutty school girl uniform, as if this wasn’t bad enough, the entire crew were ALL men.  I was so upset, I just didn’t want to do it.  Its a fact a woman’s talent isn’t taken in to account the same way a man’s is.  She has to be the full package – and certainly back then, had to be worthy of ‘getting her kit off’ for lads mags.  As if the readers of the lads mags were even our buying market!

I wish that was where the flagrant sexism stopped, sadly not…

Just recently my agent put me up for a TV show, and the celebrity booker (who I shall generously refrain from naming) came back and asked, ‘How would Natasha cope with not seeing her children?’.  How very kind of him to be so concerned!?  So much about that one short sentence annoys the hell out me.

Questioning if I would miss my children?!  Yes, of course I would miss my children, who I have given birth to, raised, love with every ounce of my being, and would lay down my life for.  But the question is, who are you to dare question that?

This question says so much about how working mums are perceived.  I am the main bread winner for my family.  To take part in a show like the one my agent put me up for would hugely reduce my financial burdens for the next year.  As with any working parent, you know that working will often result in time away from the family.  That’s life, and necessary for me to keep a roof over my childrens’ heads.  For as long as I am able to provide for my children, I will gratefully do so.

That one sentence ‘How would Natasha cope with not seeing her children?’ raises another BIG question – was that the first thing he came back with when agents put male clients up for the show?  I know at least three other men who have taken part in that show over the years who have families.  It is an out and out sexist judgement that as a women and mother I’m not able to do a show like this.  Worse, it implies that as a mum I shouldn’t be looking to do or willing to do a job like that.

For my part in this stance against sexism, I’ll continue to raise my three boys to respect women and I will raise my daughter to respect herself.  I’m a strong woman and I’ve developed a very thick skin over years; and I’ve learnt to stop giving a shit about people who don’t give a shit about me.  But this movement, this, I give a shit about.  It feels like things are (slowly) starting to positively change for women.  And to anyone who feels like the #MeToo campaign is getting ‘out of hand’ or becoming an annoying white noise… I say, I’m turning up the volume!