Thursday, 28 February 2013

Council tax and bra burning

The council have annoyed, nay - riled, me. Yes, the tax is extortionate and okay, sometimes they leave the bins un-emptied, but that’s not it. They've reminded me that it’s 2013 and women are not equal to men.

In my home, I deal with the bills. I set up the accounts, organise the direct debits and pay the blasted things. So why, dear reader, will the council only write to The Boyfriend?

I call them up.

“Hi, I’d like to update the details you have on my account.”


“I think you just have my partner’s details.”


“Oh no, you’re down too.”

“Oh right, well could you possibly use my name on the correspondence, just because I sort the bills?"

“Oh I’m sorry it’ll just go to him by default.”

“Okay. Well could you override the default and send the bills to me please?”

“We have you on record.”

“Yes, but the letters are going to him, and it would be helpful if they were addressed to me.”

“Sorry, I can’t change that.”

I asked if he thought this wasn’t utterly ridiculous. He thought I was a raving lunatic.

“Your bills are going to the right address though aren’t they?” he added, as if this was the point.

And so it is that everyday sexism continues.

Now, don’t get me wrong,  thanks to the efforts of those who have gone before us, women and men in Britain have equal voting rights, freedom of speech, property rights, access to education and health care equality. Super news indeed. But are men and women equal? Are they heck.

Men outnumber women four to one in parliament. How many women lead powerful countries? It’s a lonely and exclusive group. Just 13% of FTSE 100 corporate board members are female. And British women are paid 83p for every pound our male counterparts earn.

And so it is that I am a feminist in 2013. Feminism is not about hating men or bra-burning, it’s about equality. 

Which given that I can’t even get the council to send me (helpless woman am I) the bill, is clearly something that we all still need.


  1. OMG - I have the EXACT same problem! The point is - I need the bill in my name too for when I need to prove my ID. This goes to for SKY (who won't even talk to me on the phone as they realise I'll cancel the Sports subscription the second I get a chance) and also the Water Bill. BT did is for me, (although spelt my name wrong). My point to Etienne is that if my name doesn't appear on the Bill, I'm not paying it!

  2. Shouldn't the default option be alphabetical if no preference is expressed? I see a see to The Hague coming on...

  3. A much better idea. I am enraged about the entire matter.

  4. As extra detail - both our names are published on joint banking correspondence and so it isn't outside the realm of human capability.

  5. I don't see how this is sexist. Pointlessly obstructive but not at all gender related. But then again I am a man. It may work out for you in the long run though. I was promised a final bill when I moved in with my girlfriend and the first correspondence I received was a court summons. To our shared address but in my name only.

  6. This is utterly baffling, Durham send our bill addressed to both of us but my name is first as I am the one who set up the account. I would say call and try to speak to a woman but the woman in Halifax set up our joint account with Js name as lead, because it looked better, so he gets all the letters and the credit card is only in his name when I am the one who does all the banking and who's name the utility bills are in.

  7. Thanks all for your comments.

    Jim I suppose my query is why, when I set up the account in my name with my male partner as an additional resident - they have defaulted to him in comms.

    It may indeed not be sexist. But it felt as if it was, and there certainly are lots of examples of women in 2013 being sidelined - so I suppose it just made me think about gender roles today.

  8. It is sexist - there's an assumption of role based on gender, either way around, it isn't right. We had the same problem here with our telephone fundraising software - it automatically put the male as "Head of Household" (a horrible term in itself). Thankfully it's now changed so that the person who we have the strongest relationship with is the person we try to speak with (I'm still working on the name...)

    Sexism isn't one big obvious thing, it's not just about having the vote (what about having some more politicians who stand up for women's rights or perhaps equal gender representation in the commons for starters!) - it's about lots of simple little things, the use of language, everyday assumptions that build up this bigger picture of gender bias. It's also not just as simple as women being able to do the same things as men in arenas or concepts designed by a long history of dominant men!

    I know I linked you to this on twitter but @everydaysexism is a really interesting project that highlights all these small things that perhaps we overlook.

    I've also been enjoying the Hawkeye initiative - where comic book characters have a gender pose swap. -

    Caitlin Moran's "How to be a woman" has been the clearest and best explaination of modern feminism for me, quite simply, would this be ok/normal if the genders were swapped?

    One more - gym gender roles swapped -

    Last few months have certainly questioned a lot of my thinking and I know full well I have a lot of sexist views I've been brought up with, I'm now starting to think about it all much more. It's not just one issue, it's a collection of them.

    Proud to be a feminist and well done for bringing this up, infuriating!

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