High Heels and Feminism

A couple of days ago, Parliament had a debate on whether to make it illegal for companies to require women to wear high heels in the workplace. Considering we’re in 2017, this seems rather late. Up until now, companies could literally force women to wear high heels at work and if they refused, they could be fired.

The debate was started because of a petition by London receptionist, Nicola Thorp after she was dismissed as a receptionist because she refused to wear high heels – specifically those with a “2in to 4in heel”. The petition reached 150,000 signatures which meant that it had to be debated in parliament. More info on Nicola and her campaign can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-36264229

nicola thorp
Nicola Thorp was dismissed for refusing to wear high heels

It came as a great surprise to me that this issue even had to be debated in the first place, especially in the 21st century when many politicians and people claim that men and women have equal rights. Yes, technically maybe they do. But, in reality women face gross inequality and sexism in the workplace on a daily basis. Speaking at the debate Gill Furness, a Labour Party MP told Westminster Hall that her daughter had suffered a metatarsal fracture while at work due to wearing high heels for a prolonged period of time. Then was denied any compensation or sick pay while she recovered. Another Labour Party MP, Helen Jones spoke about how some women were told to wear revealing clothing in order to sell to male customers and some female flight attendants were forced to wear the same shade of lipstick. This forces women to suffer pain for long periods of time and makes them feel sexualised while at work, while some women said it is demeaning.

helen jones
Labour MP Helen Jones

Women still also face an 18% pay gap in the UK, according to the IFS. And a separate report showed that male managers are 40% more likely to be promoted than female managers. These are outrageous statistics and go further to demonstrating the inequality women face in the workplace. More than 40 years since the supposed Equal Pay Act has been put in place and women are still, on average, being payed less than men.

Feminism is as important now, as it always has been. Furthermore I think that the definition of feminism has been lost, not helped by controversial figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos when he describes it as “cancer”, or when Piers Morgan says there is no need for a women’s march. We need to remind them that feminism isn’t complicated, it isn’t controversial. Feminism is simply equality. I am proud to call myself a feminist and support the complete equality between both genders.

Connor French (@connorfrench96)