Six Feminist Pamphlets
These six feminist pamphlets contain transcripts of interviews between the artist and women prominent in business, the media and public life.
L-R top: 'Ugly Sweaty Men' (with Inga Beale CEO Lloyd's 2014-2019), 'When Men Hold Power' (with Annie Rickard former Global President Posterscope), 'Socialism Is A Moral Idea' (with Clare Short Secretary of State for International Development 1997-2003).
L-R bottom: 'The Simple Idea' (with Alex Mahon CEO Channel 4), 'Women Make Up Half the Population' (with Liv Garfield CEO Severn Trent) and 'Let the London Sewers Overflow' (the artist's translation into contemporary English of Jane Anger's Protection for Women, 1589).
The covers are set in DIN 1451, a sans-serif typeface used on road signage in Germany, noted for its clean modernity and excellent legibility.
Ugly Sweaty Men
'When I came to Lloyd's, I was approached to join the FT list of influential LGBT+ execs. I had only been here a few months and I said, 'No, I can't risk it'. For the first year I wasn't really talking openly in the media. I thought, 'I can't do it, I have to focus on my job, I have to get the respect of the market.' It wasn't until a year later that I felt able to say, 'Okay, I'll do it!' But that took a lot of courage and we discussed within Lloyd's whether or not I should put my name up for it. I was incredibly nervous about telling my chairman. He knew my sexual history but it was another thing entirely for it to appear in the FT and be read in Dubai and wherever.
'I did get hate mail. Letters cut out and glued to pieces of paper, and emails, and other letters from the US, telling me I didn't deserve to be alive. I ignored it. With hindsight, I think, 'Why didn't I keep it? I would have it all now.' Again it's my mechanism for coping. Get it all out. So if an abusive email comes in, I just delete it. Or I open a letter and I start reading it and if it's abusive, I just throw it away. It's my way. Moving on.
'As a woman you do feel that you're completely under scrutiny. There's another thing too, though the majority of men don't notice this, I see ugly, sweaty men in positions of power: ugly faces, ugly features, ugly personalities and I think, 'They made it to that position but you would never get a woman who vaguely looked like that in the same job.'
When Men Hold Power
'The board of the company was entirely male and my first experience of the abuse of power was there. It was very noticeable in the way they interacted with women. My boss was a woman. She'd taken over from a man and she was doing the same job he did but without the same status. She was allowed into the boardroom to talk about the sales figures then she'd have to leave the meeting and they would invite her for drinks afterwards.
'Her predecessor, who was less bright, less able and less capable, was part of that board simply because he was a man. So that was my first real experience of inequality. I think women probably attain power differently. I think it takes longer. They usually have to be better at what they do. That's still true. The fact that it's said a lot doesn't make it less true. For women to get promoted they do have to work twice as hard. Therefore when they get into a position of power, there's less of a sense of entitlement.
'I do think entitlement is one of the issues around men and power. Men think that they're entitled to rise, entitled to lead, entitled to dominate. If you think about how there's a continuous round of revelations about sexual abuse whether it's Hollywood or charities. Everyone says, 'This is outrageous.' And I'm thinking, 'But how many times do we have to see that when men hold power they abuse it, before we get the message.'
'I think socialism is a moral idea. It's saying everyone's important and the economy must be organised to include everyone and care for everybody. Therefore socialists are drawn much more to public provision than private profit-seeking. Discussing how best to achieve this, people were drawn to monopolistic public ownership à la Soviet Union - very great concentrations of power and one party states (which were very common in newly independent countries in Africa, for example). But lots of abuse came with that, and inefficiencies. The result is abuse of power and inefficiency and getting rid of the vibrant creativity that you need to have a good society and innovation.
'The argument about how to do socialism was there from the beginning. The Soviet model was not the one that people advocated early on. There was an anarchistic trend where you just diffuse power and everybody does what they should do together. So if the best way of organising the economy is to have the private sector having a significant role - a Keynesian kind of mixed economy (which is what history and experience tells us) - then that's the more moral approach.
'The question is: how is everybody looked after? It is not about an ideological determination to have one model of economic organisation. Gorbachev said it when he was trying to change the Soviet Union. He said, 'Peasants have always taken tomatoes to market.' You know, markets are not all evil. But most monopolies are evil and distorted power and great inequality is evil.
The Simple Idea
'We've allowed women to work at a low level, at an inferior level. We've yet to allow them to compete, giving them an equal chance with men, to provide for themselves. The chances are currently equal only on the lowest level. Some of the same questions remain: What is the impact on their lives and society? Are we set up as a society to allow for that? Are we set up to provision for paternity leave and the sharing of rights? Are we set up as a society not to judge women who make the choice not to do that?
'It's easy for me. I'm fortunate to be in a well-paid role. I talk openly about how I can hire a cleaner. I can hire a nanny. It costs me a lot of my earnings to create a set up where my family is stable and they have that provision. Even so, I still question the impact of all this. If I'm running late I can get cab. If I have to get up and get the bus to clean the office at 5am I don't have that option. I think one has to be really careful, as the senior female, of implying that everyone should be able to achieve that because it is a lie.
'It requires a huge amount of cost and effort and thought to create a structure in which you can deliver in that job if you don't have a wife in the traditional domestic sense. What enrages me is when we're given the example, 'Oh it's all easy, it's all a breeze, so-and-so gets up at 4:30am to exercise, that's why she's got great triceps; why haven't you?' It's outrageous because it makes the general woman, in fact, it makes all women feel inferior, like we're all failing somewhere.
Women Make Up
Half the Population
'In my company we've never had quotas. And we were second in the Hampton Alexander report last year with no quotas, no bias. I'd be amazed if we had a shortlist that didn't have female candidates on it. When I arrived that was a regular occurrence and I said, 'That's not logical. You're not telling me there's nobody worth interviewing who's female, who's not ethnic?' Bonkers right?
'So now we do blank interview screening. The shortlist is compiled based on no knowledge of gender or ethnic background.
I don't believe in quotas, right? I absolutely don't because society should not need quotas to drive it forwards. I'm a massive fan of meritocracy. I'm all about meritocracy. My entire body is meritocratic.
We should fix the root cause as to why the right candidate isn't being chosen. 50% of the time the right candidate must be female because the logic says they must be, right, as half of the country's female.'
Let the London
'Was anyone ever so abused, slandered, insulted, or unfairly treated as we women? Are the gods going to allow this to go on? Are the goddesses going to hold back from punishing injustice? Are we, ourselves, going to demand that men are held to account for their wickedness? The church stands idly by when men who abuse women should be hanged!
'Let the London sewers overflow so violently that men are flushed out from their safe houses. Let the pavements be icy and the soles of men's shoes as smooth as glass. Let the streets be as steep as the slopes of Mount Etna and every gust of wind like an icy whirlwind blown out of the throat of Boreas, god of winter. All to ensure that these men go to hell as quickly as possible.
'Over-indulging lovers have the audacity to complain about receiving too much of women's kindness. Are you women going to just stand there and say nothing? Am I, Jane Anger, going to use every bit of my ingenuity and my abilities as a writer to challenge their gorging on sex? Yes I am! And I ask you to support me so that I can be of use to the cause of women.'
These six feminist pamphlets are part of socialart.work, a mass public art project by public artist
calling for greater social justice.
It aims to create debate about power and gender, women's equality and masculinity, alternative forms of economic and social organisation, black power, and solidarity between people from different backgrounds and ethnicities.
It includes posters, publications and events supported in 2018-19 by the artist's residency with leading Out of Home media company
Clear Channel UK.
UK, various dates, 2019
Artist in Residence, Clear Channel UK