Lynx adverts show their products as having the power to mesmerise and enchant the ladies, instantly drawing them like moths to a flame. They call this “The Lynx Effect”. Today, I confess, I have perhaps been caught under its spell myself.
I’ve spent the day completely absorbed by the idea that the Lynx Space Academy could take me one step closer to space. I know that the odds are stacked against me – not only would I have to beat 249 other people for that chance – but I’d have to do so in a competition created by Lynx, a male grooming brand who’ve made it pretty clear from the start that as a woman, I was not exactly who they were expecting in the competition.
Simple. I really really really want to go to space, but even more importantly, I want to Keep Sexism Out of Space.
In the past month we’ve celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova), the 30th anniversary of the first American woman in space (Sally Ride) and, most excitingly, NASA announced their latest astronaut class which is 50% female – for the first time in history. It’s all so exciting! So positive.
On a smaller scale, the Lynx Astrogrrls have been supporting each other in the Lynx Space Academy Competition from the voting stages – encouraging more women to apply – to this second stage. I cheered for each of them as they dashed through the #LSALive course today and was especially proud of Gillian Finnerty when she was interviewed at the start of the day. She was the first I heard who spoke with genuine passion about going to space. She had it all going for her – the astrophysics, her sporting prowess, her handy rock-climbing hobby – c’mon girl!
Sadly it wasn’t enough.
As I watched more of the coverage I started to worry. They kept talking about the 24 people with the best times on the assault course going through to the next round. A drastic cut from 125 down to 24, purely on the basis of the “Launch Pad” trial. It’s a physical trial. We know that there are physical differences between men and women. Nevermind the Olympics, even The Krypton Factor took this into account for their assault course, so surely Lynx would too?
Apparently not. As a result, not one female made it past the first hurdle.
Despite an official statement previously sent to me from Lynx UK which stated:
“As an advertiser we strive to be responsible, the competition adheres to strict internal and external guidelines. Women can enter this competition, if they were to make it through to the second round they would not be at any disadvantage”
I’m not sure that this is the case. (Though of course I look forward to being proved wrong tomorrow.)
I’m quite upset to be honest. I was getting excited about the competition – nervous, hell yeah! – but excited too. I had some incredible support from people on Twitter after my blog post last night explaining just what it would mean to me to win. Even the LynxEffect Twitter account noted it! Now I don’t know what to feel.
I was going to go all out and embrace the Lynx Space Academy – do it for the fun of it, do my best, and really strive to make it through – but now I’m worried. The fastest time any female got today (even on second attempts later in the day which didn’t count) was 42 seconds. The marathon-running female presenter, Charlie Webster had a personal best of 47 seconds. These are great scores, but I’m hearing you had to be sub-35 seconds to get through. If your specially-selected super-fit presenter wouldn’t make it through to the next round surely that rings alarm bells?
I’m struggling to think of a physical activity on a competitive level that doesn’t have different class for men and women. Because we are different!
The LSA Live presenters said that the inflatable assault course is the same as one used by the army (though at one point during the day they also stated that Uranus was no longer a planet), so couldn’t they look at the average time for men and the average time for women and just take the difference in time off all the female scores? That would be a simple way to balance things out a bit wouldn’t it?
I want to be excited about tomorrow, I am excited about it, I’m just hoping that Lynx haven’t made the mistake of making this physically impossible for a girl to win.
I still get butterflies thinking about how close I am to my dream… I’d do so much with it. I’d be their PR dream of a story if they let me, and I would share the experience and hopefully inspire other girls to aim for the stars too.
I guess I’ll just do my best, I’ll give it all I’ve got, and I just hope that I do you proud (especially you Granny) – whatever the outcome.