Do we even have to argue about the right to equal pay?

Suzanne Moore has thoughts on BBC blokeyness. She doesn’t enjoy being a guest on the Today show so that she can have John Humphrys barking at her about abortion.

Surely no one was surprised by the audio that leaked last week, revealing Humphrys’ fossilised attitude to the concept of equal pay. The programme has long been an old boys’ club, absolutely Westminster- and London-centric, and it ventures into many areas – science, culture, the internet, the north and, er, women – with a supercilious attitude.

But it’s more than that, it’s also Both Sides bollocks.

Meanwhile, Humphrys continues to “banter” away in the studio. This is 2018. Do we even have to argue about the right to equal pay? Apparently so.

But, for a long time, the BBC has been hampered on gender issues in terms of content, too, thanks to its now-quaint notion of impartiality. Its editorial guidelines say: “Due impartiality is often more than a simple matter of ‘balance’ between opposing viewpoints. Equally, it does not require absolute neutrality on every issue or detachment from fundamental democratic principles.” Female licence-fee payers are part of these democratic principles. Yet, as the Weinstein and #MeToo issues broke, I was asked – as were many writers – to debate whether the sexual harassment being discussed had even happened, or whether the response was going “too far”. Obviously, I refused, because I did not want to be pitted against idiotic misogynists, be they male or the go-to female mercenaries adored by radio and TV bookers. Is this balance? Sexual abuse: for or against?

I wrote a column last week about exactly that question – whether or not we get to see rules against sexual harassment as just that, basic social rules like the ones we learn in kindergarten, or as “ideology.”

The BBC literally has to get with the programme. There cannot be neutrality around unequal pay and sexual harassment. These cannot be presented as subjects for an entitled and defensive establishment to debate. And no, I do not want to have a heated discussion about it when I can simply switch it off.

But Balance! Both sides! The best argument will win! Truth always prevails!

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