Author and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party Catherine Mayer discusses her inspirations for writing Attack of the 50 ft Women and how gender equality can save the world.
You might say that the inspiration for Attack of the Fifty-Foot Women came to me in a flash. A naked man answered the door as I canvassed London voters ahead of the capital’s May 2016 elections. His nudity didn’t disturb me, but our doorstep conversation worried me. He like many others expressed enthusiasm for the Women’s Equality Party, which I had co-founded with Sandi Toksvig a year earlier. We would gain more than 350,000 votes at that first election, a brilliant result for a young party. However people also confessed to fears. They couldn’t imagine a gender-equal world and worried about whether it would really benefit the majority of its inhabitants, men as well as women.
I couldn’t point to any real-life examples. Nowhere on the planet do women enjoy true equality. So I set to writing a book that describes such a place, Equalia. I also wanted to explore some other key questions. Is the best way to fix man-made messes to encourage women into leadership? Mainstream political parties all claim to support gender equality, so why don’t they deliver it? Businesses prosper only by recruiting and retaining the best talent; economies and populations thrive only when women participate fully, so why the delay? What are the obstacles to reaching Equalia? How do we get there?
I hope you’ll find this journey as gripping as I do. Some of the details and stories may enrage or upset you, but at heart this is an optimistic book and it ends with a call to action. How widely that call is heard depends on you. As I said to the naked man, “thank you in advance for any support you can provide”.
Attack of the 50ft Women
Not a single country anywhere in the world has achieved gender equality. In more than a few countries, progress for women has stalled or is reversing. Voters in the United States chose a misogynist over a female candidate for President.
Yet in many of these countries, the majority of politicians and business leaders profess to believe in gender equality—as well they might. One report predicts a boost to global GDP of £8.3 trillion by 2025 simply by making faster progress towards narrowing the gender gap. Researchers point to many other potential benefits too, not least in improved relations between the sexes and a healthier, more peaceful planet.
If gender equality promises benefits not just to women, but to everyone, why aren’t we embracing it? And how can we speed the pace of change? Fewer than nine percent of world leaders are female, but the few women who have broken through include towering figures such as Angela Merkel. Could 50-foot women save the day? These questions have gripped journalist and author Catherine Mayer since she accidentally founded the Women’s Equality Party in March 2015 and watched it grow in months from an idea to a vibrant political force with more than 70 branches across the UK.
In ATTACK OF THE FIFTY FOOT WOMEN, her insightful, revelatory, often hilarious, and hugely inspiring book, she tackles those questions and many more, sharing inside views and experiences from building a party, and bringing together global research with analyses and interviews based on her own far-flung research.
And she goes further. Campaigning for the Women’s Equality Party ahead of elections in May 2016, she noticed that many people found it hard, in the absence of any real-life examples, to envisage a gender-equal world. So she takes us there, to the place she calls Equalia. What is it like? Does gender equality make for a society that is more equal in other ways too? Who does the low-paid jobs? How does gender express itself in a place freed from gender programming? What’s the sex like? What’s on the telly?
For some fascinating answers and brilliant thought experiments—and a blueprint for reaching Equalia—read ATTACK OF THE FIFTY FOOT WOMEN.