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Why did the EDP create a women's edition?

PUBLISHED: 14:02 28 November 2017

Women's edition. Pictured are (from left) Courtney Pochin, Jessica Long, Bethany Whymark, Liz Nice, Geri Scott, Lauren Cope and Sophie Whylie. Picture: Ian Burt

Women's edition. Pictured are (from left) Courtney Pochin, Jessica Long, Bethany Whymark, Liz Nice, Geri Scott, Lauren Cope and Sophie Whylie. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

The idea of a 'women's edition' of the EDP came…from a man.

Yes, it turns out that there are men able to think that maybe giving over the paper to the issues facing women in the county today is actually something worth putting a bit of focus on.

I’m not sure any of the women in the office would have thought of this.

Perhaps because we deal with these issues every day.

Perhaps because we are used to just getting on with things; being mothers and work colleagues and wives and carers.

Being sometimes harassed and put down and intimidated and carrying on as though we haven’t noticed.

Being overlooked for promotion because of bosses assuming our family life will get in the way.

Struggling to come back from maternity leave at the same level.

Being abused, and carrying on anyway.

Being supportive of family and friends. Being sneered at for being ‘over-emotional’.

Being talked over. Being us.

But it is significant that it was David Powles, the editor of this newspaper, who wanted to do this.

Not because it was an anniversary of a woman doing something amazing.

Nor because it was ‘International Women’s Day’ or the like.

But simply because he felt it was important that a statement should be made; one that said, actually, I would not be comfortable with the idea of a good 50 per cent of my readership ever feeling that they might be overlooked.

Dave edits this newspaper differently to how I would do it.

We argue about this often.

Whether this is because he is a man, or because we just have different ideas about editing is a moot point.

The best thing about arguing with Dave however is that sometimes he does what I say he should do and sometimes he doesn’t, but he always listens, albeit, at times, through gritted teeth. Women need to have more of a voice in our region, in our community, more safe spaces where their views are listened to; where they feel that their voices are truly heard.

That’s why there has been so much fuss about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, because women are coming forward in every greater numbers to talk about how life has always been for them.

Already, there are men – and women – saying, that’s enough now.

Women, go back in your box!

Perhaps there is a fear that the worm will turn, that if we were to overdose the world on oestrogen, it would be a nightmare scenario for men.

Women would ban football!

They’d demand to be treated with respect.

They’d expect a bunch of flowers, daily.

They’d want chocolates by the tonne.

(I like football, by the way).

But the process of editing this edition has already had a positive effect.

It has encouraged conversations in our office about what is appropriate language and what isn’t.

It has forced the predominantly male leadership team to consider that the things they put in this newspaper as a matter of course might actually be there, not because they are what our readers want, but because they are the things men have always felt were relevant for other men to read.

And the truth is that the equality and fairness that still eludes women across the UK (the gender pay gap nationally is 9.1%) will only be solved when men start to realise that the problem is theirs as well.

Men don’t want the women in their lives to be patronised, cheated or abused.

They don’t want their mothers hurt.

Or their daughters denigrated.

They don’t want that for themselves either.

So the issues facing women are the issues facing men too and only by working together, and listening to each other, can any true progress be made.

I read an interview with the 
MP Emily Thornberry at the weekend in which she talked about being groped and flashed at in the street.

She said: “I remember saying to the police, ‘Well, this sort of thing happens, doesn’t it?’…and I could sense them getting increasingly uncomfortable. I began to realise that they thought I was a little bit crazy and must be making all this up. And yet, when you talk to women, you know it happens to everybody.”

When you talk to women?

This edition of the EDP represents a realisation that it is time the media did.

Ideally, of course, a day will come when a ‘women’s edition’ isn’t necessary. Maybe you feel that day is already here? Do write and tell us at EDP Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich. NR1 1RE or email edpletters@archant.co.uk

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