There were no women athletes in the first modern Olympic games. The next time around, in the 1900 Paris games, out of 997 athletes there were 22 women, who competed in just five acceptably ladylike sports: tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrianism and golf. Over a century later, the introduction of women’s boxing meant that the 2012 Olympics were the first to feature women competing in all sports. But that moment of parity has been followed almost immediately by a drastic challenge to the very definition of women’s sport, as the International Olympic Committee brought out new rules last November on the inclusion of trans athletes.
BBC Radio Wales invited me on this morning to help dissect last night’s Labour leadership debate – the first in a series of nine face-offs between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith, and one that set a combative tone for the contest to follow. With Smith pitching himself as “the socialist who can win” as opposed to Corbyn as “the socialist who can’t”, policy differences crystalised in some hard fought scraps about Tribent, the EU and anti-Semitism in the party. Did either of them do enough to change Labour voters’ minds?
Why India Chipchase? For the Sun, it must have been the booze: “Woman ‘drank six Jagerbombs in ten minutes on the night she was raped and murdered” went the tweet, for which the newspaper was rightly damned. India Chipchase is not dead because she had one boozy night. She’s dead because a man, Edward Tenniswood, picked her up outside a club when she was intoxicated and unresisting; because he took her to his home to rape her; and because having raped her, he choked her to death.
Still, why India Chipchase? Why, when we know (thanks to the diligent recording of the Counting Dead Women project) that a woman is killed by a man every 2.9 days in the UK, did this woman become the face on the front pages? Why did this trial, of all the trials of men who kill women, get so much coverage? Her murder was unusual because her murderer was a stranger to her – 68 per cent of female murder victims are killed by someone they know – but still, not that unusual. It happens about once every ten days, yet we don’t see 30-odd cases a year reported as extensively as India Chipchase’s.
So why her? What did the media see in her that made her the perfect victim? The grotesque answer is, the same things as the man who murdered her did.
Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic nomination so the glass ceiling is O-V-E-R – OR IS IT? I spent an hour yesterday evening fielding calls on Stig Abell’s LBC show about whether the wage gap exists (yes), whether women really are as good as men (yes), whether feminism should be renamed “equalism” (oh my God shut up), and whether it’s fair for women to be given the same opportunities for career advancement as men (uh, yes). Fun for me, and a treat for all fans of me telling men to stop talking because it’s my turn.
The Labour Party continues to be ridiculous, and BBC Radio Wales continues to ask me on to talk about it. Yesterday, Labour Party donor and Corbyn-critic Michael Foster lost a High Court bid to overturn the NEC’s decision that Corbyn should automatically have a place on the leadership ballot. Follow the link below to hear me discuss that, and what it means for the deep divisions in Labour, with host Oliver Hides
5 Live’s Afternoon Edition invited me on to discuss whether Hillary Clinton winning the democratic nomination really does represent the shattering of the class ceiling, with Mara Rudman (former national security official for the Obama and Clinton administrations). It was a really enjoyable piece to do – because this does feel like a genuinely celebratory moment, and because Rudman’s measured career politico style couldn’t cover up her own joy in it. There’s a really interesting semi-disagreement/finessing of the point about rights, privilege and honouring the work of the women before us towards the end of the segment that I’ve been thinking on since we recorded it, too.
When a crime achieves a kind of mythic status, it’s because it’s exceptional in one of three ways: victim, perpetrator, or method. The murders committed by Charles Manson’s “Family” cult in 1969 excelled in all three ways. The number of victims would have been sensational alone; the fact that one of them was actress Sharon Tate gave the killings a borrowed celebrity. The extremity of the violence was outstanding and the addition of the Family’s peculiar hippie symbolism to the crime scenes only made them more compelling. And had they been committed, like most violent crimes, by men, this would have been enough; but most of the Family were young women, making them irresistibly atypical killers.