Oh my goodness! This week marked a ‘first’ in my life. For the first time ever I had no faith in any political party, not even secretly. I have been slightly distracted from my moanaholicism this week because I have been basking in the success of my identity book contract, and slightly enjoying the puzzled looks of some people who were convinced I was full of crap and a fantasist when I spoke about my writing. These people were identified by their vacant stare as they tried to ignore me and their acting completely normally without a hint of congratulatory cheer around me when I am clearly ecstatic. Hey-ho!
Anyhow, those of you who know me have probably been waiting for the feminist onslaught as headlines such as “The Labour WAGs: The Blair Babes who became the Women Against Gordon” and allusions to “the Sisterhood” appear throughout the media. Of course I was horrified, but the overarching meaning this ascribes to politics is that, in fact, and as I have been banging home for a while now, the concept of equality is largely an academic theory which sadly does not readily transmit to lived experience. The very fact that we now have an analysis of why women ministers have left the cabinet and why there are only four women in Gordon Brown’s team proves, at the highest governmental level, that no matter what policy-laden load of equality lipservice bullshit is shovelled out by agencies as never-observed guidelines, the government has now shown us that women will be singled and compared against what is perceived as the masculine ‘better’ at the highest political level. Let’s be clear here: for the purposes of these reports the dynamics are ‘government – spin – media’.
I say it again, feminism is not about being equal to men, as that would assume that men are inherently better. Feminism is about doing what we want to do without being oppressed, and this extends to women and men. These ministers have resigned for what ever reason they decided to. I haven’t seen any reports about the male ministers who have resigned harbouring a collective Machiavellian purpose, they are often portrayed as rational decision makers, even those who have knowingly fiddled their expenses, who are opposed to this particular brand of politics and have decided to bow out.
Even the Guardian has printed a picture of Caroline Flint posing in a red dress on their front page. Caroline Flint posed for the picture whilst taking part in a lifestyle interview for a magazine. I fail to see what is wrong or gratuitous in that, yet in the report it is suggested that Gordon Brown was angry about the picture, feeling that she should concentrate on her political duties. She was concentrating on her political duties. She was making a semiotic statement about intelligent women who are not hiding their sexuality under a unibrow for fear they won’t be taken seriously. Meanwhile, the internet and media in general are littered with photographs of Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, suitably coiffed and posing with various various important people. I fail to see the difference: both Caroline Flint and Gordon Brown are engaging in self-promotion via the media.
Women who are members of parliament have no greater debt of loyalty than men who are members of parliament. They have just as much right to decide when enough is enough, resign and get another job, to seek counsel, and to wear whatever they want for whatever photo shoot and not be judged. I am astounded that this case for gender inequality has emerged so clearly and publicly. I expect the resignation of ministers who happen to be women has sent newspaper journalists scurrying for their photo archive to scratch up a solitary paparazzi picture of three women ministers going to a cabinet meeting. ‘The Sisterhood’? Oh perleeeeeeeeez.
It’s been an enlightening time for all these public servants what with the expenses scandal and now with a hasty cabinet reshuffle and a considerable opposition gain in the recent elections. I feel it is very telling that at a time of recession when the country is resorting to printing it’s own money – ooops sorry, I forgot to use the suitably befuddling term quantitative easing – the press resort to printing pictures of women MP’s in nice dresses and commenting on their shoes. I’m surprised that there are no allusions to Macbeth as yet, hubble-bubble-toil-and-trouble, perhaps that will be saved until Gordon Brown’s resignation? Or maybe I missed it when I was considering other issues like climate change and the huge national debt?
As I bask in the glory of a week in London, a book contract (did I mention that?) and an Oasis gig, I salute all those journalists everywhere, particularly the female journalists, who have felt it is in our best interests to show us what a bunch of sinister harlots the nice-shoe-wearing, magazine-posing, dramatically-resigning women MP’s really are: instead of creating an environment of blame you are creating an uneasy feeling amongst misogynists that these strong decision makers will go forth and influence with an extra slice of media exposure on their already overflowing CV. A telling sign of NIMBY panic amongst misogynistic patriarchs (and matriarchs) is the resort to personal insults about appearance in an attempt to hide a glowing skill set.