Sandi Toksvig is a force to be reckoned with. So great is she, that the good people at the Hay Festival even built her her own personal lectern on account of the fact that she couldn’t see over the top of the standard one. This year, Sandi gave the Hay Library Lecture; being a strong advocate of saving our libraries, she presented a celebration of reading and books interspersed with some wonderfully colourful stories about her childhood. She talked about her search for strong female characters within the multitude of books she read growing up and even admitted to being expelled from three different schools in the USA “the last one was a misunderstanding” before being sent to boarding school in Guildford. She is scarily bright and is a well known public figure, not only as a comedian, author, broadcaster and commentator, but now as a political activist.
She took the opportunity to talk about the launch of a new political party that is clearly going to take up much of her time. She’s even started a blog – although she’s going to need help keeping that updated, considering that so far she’s only written one post (*cough, I’m available). The party is going to be called the “Women’s Equality Party” and she’s busy writing the manifesto. The aim is to create a more equal society for all, “it’s not that women are better than men, but that we are just different” she said and she believes that we’ve got to rethink the approach we take to the way we work together. She is ready to “grab life by the throat, even if you have to put your head above the parapet” because “it is not too late to fight the good fight after all”. She is looking fit and healthy having lost over four stone recently and believes that it’s “never to late to be what you might have been”.
I am thrilled she’s doing this. I just have one problem with it. The name of the party. I think it should be called “Equality For All” or “Fairness For All”. I don’t understand why women have to be brought into the title. She was at pains to point out that the party was just as much for men as women, but I fear that it’s going to alienate 50% of the population (and that’s not just the men). In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to focus on gender specific titles, wouldn’t need to comment when a leading female figure takes over a traditional male role or read articles about women in war zones who have “abandoned” their children and whilst I realise we are nowhere near this ideal world as yet, I still think the title is potentially divisive.
Here she is at The Hay Festival doing her thing:-
I shall be following her and her party’s progress with great interest.