Oh dear, Demos

// 11 May 2009

Think-tank Demos last week launched their vision for how power should be “radically devolved”.

But Jenni Russell at Comment is Free went to the launch, and “no one mentioned women’s existence once”:

As I stood listening, I began to feel a rising tide of outrage. There was just one problem with this message of transformation and innovation – which was that every single one of the five speakers arguing for change was a man (white, at that). That every name mentioned as a new Demos adviser was that of a man. That no one mentioned women’s ¬≠existence once. And that when we were shown a brief video about how power must be shared with the people, every silhouette and every symbol on the screen was – quite unselfconsciously – that of a man.

Very… er… radical.

Comments From You

Lurker // Posted 11 May 2009 at 12:37 pm

Typical of leftist men… yeah, class struggle, power to the people… people being ‘men’.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 11 May 2009 at 12:38 pm

Of course humanity means men not women. Women do not exist according to Demos and this view is widespread – even The State of London Debate was male-centered. Not once were women’s experiences mentioned.

Power is for men only. Demos says so!

Madeleine // Posted 11 May 2009 at 1:38 pm

Default white dudes. Yeah, really radical.

lisa // Posted 11 May 2009 at 1:55 pm

Left-wing, liberal men are adept at deceiving themselves and of course women. I much prefer men to be open and honest (especially if I don’t like what I hear – all the more reason to hear it). Freedom of speech is the foundation of democratic debate and left-wing men only pretend to be democratic in order to gain power – NuLabour is a classic example of what happens when patronising platitudes replace freedom of speech: all talk and no action (unless it’s filling their own pockets in which case the action is fast and furious!).

Karen // Posted 11 May 2009 at 3:08 pm

I know the feeling. I wrote to our CEO recently because in their guide to company appearance and attire, women were only shown once in suitable office attire, all the overalls and boots pictures were of men. Great I thought, I don’t exist again. The good thing is that they are now going to change the illustrations to show at least one female in boiler suit, toe-tectors etc so I think they realised that I had a point and that I’m not in fact a secratary (no offence to those that are). Why do we always have to correct people? Can’t they ever get these balances right on their own? Silly question…

Jess // Posted 11 May 2009 at 3:50 pm

I interned there briefly in 2005 and remember that a very good deal of the staff was female at the time – Catherine Fischi also was director after Tom Bentley departed (that was right after Madeleine Bunting came and left Demos in less than two weeks for obscure reasons, if I’m not mistaken). So, yeah, big fuck up – but I’m surprised no one in the staff thought about hammering it home – since a lot of them are females. I wonder if the people who wrote the report were males though?

Rachel // Posted 11 May 2009 at 7:40 pm

Exactly the same sort of thing at the Institute of Ideas ‘Battle for the Economy’ conference (coming up on 16 May). It’s an entire day of panel debates on the economic crisis, with 24 speakers, and there are only two women – both at the ‘Activists’ working lunch’, i.e. not even on a full panel session… (oh yes, and let’s not forget the director of the IoI herself, who gets to chair some panels).


Cruella // Posted 12 May 2009 at 2:30 am

We need more huwomanity…

Rob M // Posted 12 May 2009 at 9:07 pm

And that when we were shown a brief video about how power must be shared with the people, every silhouette and every symbol on the screen was – quite unselfconsciously – that of a man.”

They don’t have cocks. I don’t think it’s a massive leap to suggest they may be consciously non-gendered. Would she be less outraged if half of them had skirts?

If they’re “unselfconsciously male”, does the bit at the end showing a couple by a house having “power over their lives/future” unselfconsciously portray a gay, male couple? Or are they selfconsciously avoiding being heteronormative, whilst simultaneously unselfconsiously sidestepping existence of women? If those are specifically male silhouettes, there’s some implausibly selective ignorance at work there.

Sam Rico // Posted 21 May 2009 at 2:11 am

In respone to ‘Lurker’: you seem to have no concept of the difference between socialism and liberalism, and while both are (although in the latter case only sometimes) leftist, they are very different, and Demos is a liberal think tank, which means they do not believe in class struggle, or ‘power to the people’ in the way in which you seek to make a mockery of, at least.

I am a socialist-feminist male, and as such I take into account both patriarchy and capitalism. Its true that not enough people do, but at least get your specific attack against the right ideology.

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