Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.


Payback Time

Dear Auntie, As a lifelong feminist, I've always insisted on sharing the costs on dates. But I only work parttime and have money troubles, while the man I'm now seeing earns a lot more than me. So he always pays when we go out on dates.We've never talked about it but I feel awkward. Does that make me a bad feminist? Yours, Anne Elliot, Bath

May 1, 2007
2 min read

Dear Ms Elliot,

Take off the hairshirt, sister. If he’s got the money and you’re skint then let him pay.

In fact, there are good political reasons why he should pay. The UK has a gender pay gap of 17 per cent for equivalent work, according to official figures. That almost certainly underestimates the true picture, since women still don’t get these equivalent jobs. So next time he pays the bill at a restaurant, don’t think of it as confirming the patriarchy – treat it as a little bit of wealth redistribution. No need to feel awkward or guilty about it.

In my misguided youth, I used to sing that ‘If women were paid for all they do, there’d be a lot of wages due’. I thought that wages for housework would be a way to start tackling this economic inequality. But with age, and a partner who does his fair share of the cooking and cleaning (well, mostly), I came to realise that we shouldn’t limit our ambitions to a wage packet for ‘women’s work’.

Forget wages, what we need are reparations for housework.

My mother cooked, cleaned, ironed, washed and scrubbed, as women in my family had done for generations. I expect it’s the same in your family.

So next time your man flashes his cash for a cinema seat, top it up with an extra-large popcorn. And next time he shouts you a drink, make it a double. Then, as you’re nursing the hangover the following day, don’t forget to demand breakfast in bed and make sure that he does the washing-up.

Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.

Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu

Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns

Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism

Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists

Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson

As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win

The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution

Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.

‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition

#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny