So, Bono is Woman of the Year…

The Glamour Women of the Year 2016 have been announced, and the list includes some truly inspiring women: Simone Biles, Emily Doe, and the founders of Black Lives Matter, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. And Bono.

BONO?!

Yep, somehow Bono has ended up on the list. First he takes over our iPhones, now our awards. Whose bright idea was this?

Bono is Woman of the year 2016The justification from Glamour reads a bit like something from the Man Who Has It All Facebook page:

“…men get a lot of awards and aren’t exactly hurting in the celebration and honors department. But it started to seem that that might be an outdated way of looking at things, and there are so many men who really are doing wonderful things for women these days. Some men get it and Bono is one of those guys.”
– Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief, Glamour

So the idea of excluding men from awards set up to celebrate women’s achievements is outdated? That would be fine, if it didn’t totally miss the point of these awards. We need awards to celebrate women’s achievements because they so often get overlooked elsewhere. When men no longer dominate every other awards list on the planet, then women-only awards will be outdated.

Defender of Gender Equality?

And Bono? Did they have to choose Bono? If the idea was to avoid excluding anyone, was a rich white guy really the best way to go? I’m struggling to think of much that Bono has done in the fight for gender equality. Certainly, he is a constant crusader against poverty and has (apparently) launched the Poverty Is Sexist campaign recently, but (as with so much of Bono’s relentless campaigning) it all feels a little like the big white man is coming to save the poor little black girls.

At Brighton Digital Women, we want our community to be inclusive for men as well as women. Our mission is to inspire women to take on digital roles and to support them to progress and become leaders within the industry, so our content and activities are geared towards that. But we are a community and we want to encourage everyone who works in digital roles, and to promote harmonious relationships amongst all gender identities. We have male members and often have male speakers at our events. We encourage men to blog for us and participate in everything we do. We don’t believe anyone should be confined to a particular set of expectations based on their gender. We are firmly committed to the belief that gender equality can only happen if all gender identities are signed up to the idea.

So does Bono. I think. Except the way he expresses that sentiment isn’t the best: “the battle for gender equality can’t be won unless men lead it along with women”. Maybe I’m being picky, maybe he misspoke, but the sense that men need to, at least in part, “lead” the fight doesn’t sit well with me. Yes, men certainly need to be involved and need to be supportive, but the idea that men need to be leading everything is kind of what we’re trying to get away from.

And the idea that every awards list needs to include a man is another outdated idea we could do without.

Allegra Chapman is the Natural Engagement Manager at Cobb Digital, developing social media and content strategies to help organisations build relationships with their customers.

You can find Allegra on Twitter: @Allegra_Chapman


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