Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Carry on Crunching

I went to uni in Leeds and had the privilege(!) of being in Bodington Hall. This meant being part of a community of students in a studenty enclave with its own shop and bar and culture just north of Leeds ring road four miles away from campus. This meant that to make a 9am lecture I had to set off stupidly early because the road from Bodington to the Parkinson steps was the notorious traffic jam that is Otley Road. I lived in Bodington for two years and for the last six months I gave up on the bus and walked..... Bodington is sadly no more and I think the morning bus journey may have something to do with it. 

That early start is not good for not-a-morning person like me and I rarely managed breakfast before I got on, so on my last minute dash to calculus lectures as I arrived I would nip into the maths coffee bar and buy a bag of salt and vinegar McCoys and a Diet Coke. Then sitting by the door in one of the Roger Stevens building lecture halls I would try and eat my (man) crisps without making a sound. A technique that involved breaking down the big crisps and sucking the flavour off as they melted in your mouth. 

How I would have loved to be able to buy quiet crisps.

Now, nearly two decades later, my dream has come true. My sixth or seventh favourite type of crisps, Doritos (but only the really hot ones please for me), it was announced this week are releasing quiet crisps, especially for ladies like me who struggle with the crunch of the crisp and the cheesy fingers that Dorito loving men value and celebrate so unshamedly as they crunch and savour those crisps that have been letting women down for so long. 

Lady crisps. For ladies. The right size to fit in our delicate hands and our hand bags and the right level of noise to make us inconspicuous and able to fade into the background as the men eat the proper crisps in the proper way. Real men eat real crisps. 

@Sarcasticluther shared this on twitter last week. It reminds us what true ladies are like. If this was written today it would have 'eats lady crisps' on the bottom.

The thing that riles me about lady crisps are the same things that rile me about this list and the same things that cause me to explode when I get called a lady-vicar and cause me to sound like a steam train when I  read or hear things that refer to ministers as solely male (and she, and she, and she....)..... it puts us in a subset that is to be seen and not heard. Or not even seen.... 

Women are the quiet coach on the train, the ones in the corner taking minutes, the ones who are only there to make up the numbers, the ones who have no opinion of their own, the ones who cannot teach men, the ones who must listen to what their husband says before they can vote, the ones who don't need equal pay, the ones who are told they are making a fuss when they work up the confidence to declare #metoo when they are very aware that they will be shot down within minutes. 

It's 100 years today since some women in the UK finally got the vote. It was a significant victory in a long and ongoing battle for women to be seen as humans with their own voice and opinions. I can't imagine what life was like for those women, I know that life is so much better now, and I am grateful for all that they did. 

Those women were heard when they disrupted - when they began to stop people from continuing with the status quo. They were seen by many as troublemakers and criminals. They were sent to prison for their actions.... yet they kept on. Where they felt like nobodies they stood up and screamed at the top of their voices - no, this is not good enough - I am somebody and my voice matters. 

Whenever I hit a barrier. Whenever I am told that I should not because I am female. Whenever I am spoken over, written out, ignored.... I think back to people like the suffragettes, like the women who paved the way to enable me to be ordained, like those who have fought for equal rights, for justice.... and I will not become a nobody, because I know that my voice, my vote, my call is something that is given to me because I am me - a human being, made uniquely beautiful, uniquely strong, made in the image of God. 

By all means, leader of Doritos, make quiet crisps, but make them for lecture halls and libraries and theatre shows (there is definitely a need there!) but not for those quiet delicate ladies that some people, still, 100 years after women's voices were valued in such an important way, think we should be. Because we're not and we will keep on standing up and fighting for justice, just as our ancestors did, and just as our descendants will, so long as inequality exists. 

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