Deaths in 2012 – a feminist perspective

Earlier today I watched the BBC’s ‘We Remember’, a tribute show to notable people who died in 2012. It would seem a lot more men than women died last year. I don’t really think that the BBC deliberately chose to pay more attention to male deaths, and death doesn’t discriminate, so why is it that out of the 50 people featured in the show, only 12 were women?

Why are so many more men seen as notable? Is it really the case that so many more men than women achieve the degree of fame that makes them seen as worth a mention when they die?

Why and how do they achieve this fame? Is it because they are so much better than their female counterparts? (No). Do so many fewer women choose to pursue a career in the limelight? (No). Or is it that women have to strive so much harder for success, are often ignored, (particularly as they age), written out of history while men are held up and praised as worthwhile human beings?

The way the show was presented was that sometimes faces showed on the screen and a name and a couple of sentences appeared, while others had more lengthy sections devoted to them. The result of this was that 6 women and 20 men had short features while the others had quick mentions. A point of interest to me was an interview with Donna Summer in which she said how she had resented having to ‘play a part’ and appear sexy when it was something that didn’t suit her personality. Of the women who died, 5 were actors, (two known as sidekicks to ‘The Doctor’, one famous for porn, another described as ‘feisty’), there were 3 singers, 2 journalists, a photographer and a novelist. Obviously there were a lot more men, but the breadth of occupation was telling, amongst them; musicians, scientists, presenters, writers, sports stars, an architect, politician, historian, and astronaut.

I’d be interested to know people’s opinons. Did the BBC pay more attention to the men who died in 2012, or were more famous men featured because there are simply more famous men than women? Is it that more women who died last year were considered less worthy of attention than the men who also died? What other reasons might there be? Whatever the answer, I’d say it’s a depressing indicator of a society that values it’s women so much less than it’s men.

Edited to add: As an afterthought to this post I counted up the birthdays in the Guardian on Jan 5th. Apparently 45 men and 9 women were celebrating birthdays over the weekend.


About tricialo
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