Monday, 14 July 2014

The Thorny Issue of Women in Politics.

There has been a lot in the media recently about David Cameron mooting the possibility of all women shortlists as a tool to get more women in the House of Commons.  I'm a bit torn by this to be honest because while I agree that something really needs to change, it is rubbish that this is the best way of going about it.

The fact that the current cabinet has three women to nineteen men is pretty crappy.  I very much doubt that women just don't want to get into politics, yet we wind up with very few women at the top.  All women shortlists would do nothing to address why this is, they merely try to fix the situation in a similar way to wall papering over the cracks in the sitting room wall.  Eventually the paper falls off and the cracks have gotten worse and worse.

In fact I think the cracks run deeply through society, the media and the whole of government.  There are some in the electorate will often not vote for women on the basis of her gender, or if they will vote for a woman then she has to prove herself way more than a man every would.  There are large sections of the media who focus on women in politics in a way they never would about men (their appearance, their age, their family life, the list goes on and on).  This often serves to make women look distracted, frivolous, naive, stupid or all of the above.  Then there is parliament itself which by all accounts is a hellish place to be if you don't have a dick in your pants.  Yvette Cooper had the details of her mastitis leaked to the press amongst many other misogynist incidences.  I can't imagine it very likely that a male politician would have the details of his prostatitis leaked in the same way.  It also appears that the upper echelons of the Conservative party particularly resembles the Bullingdon Club all grown up.  It must be tricky for David Cameron to encourage more women to the top when non of them went to Eton.

Indeed it is strange that suddenly David "calm down dear" Cameron is dangling this carrot out there.  Not wishing to be cynical but he obviously realises the torys aren't doing that well on the popularity front and so in an effort to appeal to the 52% of voters who are women he decides to make it look like his party is all for women.  In reality of course, they aren't.  If he was really bothered about this he could have done something about it ages ago but he hasn't.  What he has done however is ramp up his austerity campaign that disproportionately affects women, insult women in parliament and generally display himself as a bit of a misogynist.

So no, Cameron and his little buddies don't give a shit about women.  The only way to get women's voices really heard and to achieve true equality is to create change throughout society.  Sexism needs to be called out as much as possible, the media need to really think about what they report on where women are concerned (a tip; what comes out of a woman's mouth is more important than if her shoes match her handbag) and voters need to stop giving a shit what gender candidates are and start voting on people's ability to do the job.  And never forget the Conservatives are still the nasty party; that is unlikely to change.

This is an epic amount to change.  I suspect that the shortlists maybe needed in the meantime, and who knows, maybe just having more women visible and heard will help so in the future men and women can stand equally and be voted in equally.  I hope so.


  1. Cameron doubles number of female ministers from 3 to 6. Are we supposed to be grateful? 'But it's a step in the right direction'. A bloody slow one if you ask me!

  2. It is a step in the right direction but I am so cynical about it. The whole reshuffle seems to be an exercise in getting a load of relatively unknown MPs in the cabinet who will probably be kept sitting on their hands til the election. I genuinely think they have done it to appeal to voters and for no other reason.