Did one of the most infuriating radio spots of my life this morning. LBC rang me up and asked if I would go on Nick Ferrari's breakfast show and talk about the group of female MPs who are complaining that the new expenses regime will mean they have to sometimes take late night trains home and that this could put them at risk of sexual assault.
Now I agree, travelling late at night alone is dangerous. I have to do it all the time so I should know how frightening and intimidating it can be, and of course we all know the statistics on how rape is dealt with by the police which are even more frightening. But at the same time I don't think the solution to that problem is to give MPs more expenses money - the solution needs to protect not just MPs but all women in the UK and involve a major overhaul of the law and policing policy.
Now first of all I've had problems with LBC before - a very misogynist station in general, they often have "debates" along the lines of "should women be allowed to do XYZ?" or "have women's rights gone too far?" which I just conceptually don't understand. Plus one time before I was on there and the presenter (one N. Ferrari) started screaming at me towards the end of the interview and kept changing the subject, so we went from "Should the current maternity pay scheme be extended?" to "Why should women get maternity pay at all?" to "Why should single Mums get benefits, why do we let them sponge of the state?" in less than a minute without my getting a real chance to answer any of those stupid questions.
But this morning really took the biscuit. Before I got to say a word he did a huge intorduction in which he criticised these MPs in the harshest possible terms for even raising the issue. He said things like "Women say they want equality but as soon as the going gets tough..." and "I'm not going to hold back, I'm going to name and shame the women who are doing this right now, right here on air..." and finished up with a tirade about how if they have this kind of attitude the country is better off without them.
I started to explain why I think that we do need real answers to the issues of rape and sexual violence against women but that the connection to MPs expenses was something of a red herring. Clearly unhappy he interrupts to say that I might not think so but other feminists support these MPs... Effectively by this stage he's arguing with himself and screaming at me that this shows that women in general are - well - generally wrong about everything (I'm paraphrasing here). I actually had to threaten to hang up just to get him to listen to me for a few seconds.
So I said "hold on this is only four MPs...". Now bearing in mind I only found out about the interview ten minutes before I was live on air, it came as little supririse to me to be informed that in fact it's five MPs in the group who have made this statement. I am happy to be corrected. Instead I get screamed at "GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT", "IF YOU'RE GOING TO COME ON HERE..."
And the stupid thing is this guy is the presenter! If it was me and some uber-right wing nutter with a presenter refereeing things to make sure we all got our say it would be a bit much but I would probably put up with it. What is the point of having a guest on so you can ignore what they say and harangue them about what you assume other people, not on your show, think? Seriously the whole interview was like "here's a feminist - I'm going to shout at her".
LBC call themselves "London's Biggest Conversation" but a conversation is where two of more people exchange opinions. When one person expressly invites another person to "discuss" something and then fabricates their opinion and screams over every word they say I think we're out of the realm of "conversation" and closer to the realm of "psychopath".
I may stop doing LBC interviews, they are fairly poorly paid and one of the researchers told me one time - you're the only feminist who ever agrees to go on air with us... so maybe it will leave them in the lurch.