The Language of Women in Politics

// 18 October 2011

A guest blog post by Joanne Fradley.

LynneFeatherstonePortrait.jpg

Women are up for grabs. We’re making the political headlines and apparently we’re for sale. Well if not for sale then for persuading. There’s currently a discussion in government about whether to continue with changes to parental leave. While it will save money there are concerns “it could harm attempts to appeal to women voters“.

It is apparently one of those hideously named ‘women’s issues’. Childcare, maternity pay,education, take a look at the Labour Party website and it’s long list of achievements for women. These are all fantastic areas of improvement and I salute any party working to make it easier for families but surely these are societal issues not women’s issues?

Let’s boycott it. Let’s go on strike. No more having babies. Will the next smooth, sound-bite prepared, boyish politician be cloned in a lab? Will the 87.5% of FTSE 100 board members grow in a cabbage patch? Having children is the most basic assumption of humanity. We take it for granted, perhaps not on an individual scale but as a country. We even talk about the responsibility to the environment to curb our reproductive desires. Having children is not just a women’s issue, it affects everybody and women certainly don’t deserve to be penalised for bearing the brunt of the biological responsibility.

So while we’re on strike what will we do with our long, meaningless lives as non-mothers? Focus on our careers? That won’t be looked upon kindly, all these qualified women taking the working man’s job. According to David Willetts’ controversial speech in April “Feminism trumped egalitarianism” and furthered class inequality. While we’re focusing on those careers and earning all our greedy money we could spend it on shoes and on glossy magazines with pictures of shoes. Or else maybe we shouldn’t do that either. That would be helping our economy pick up, it might add up to aiding businesses. And economy and business belong to the men.

I only assume. But they aren’t a women’s issue, women and equality might in fact need to take a back seat in order that businesses can flourish; “the prime minister’s director of strategy, suggest[ed] that the government could scrap maternity pay altogether”. Business is sinking, women and children off first.

They’ve got it wrong. We’re not dividable. There is no separate female economy alongside the male one. It is just the economy. It affects us all. There are no women’s business and men’s business worlds, there is just business. There is certainly no male alternative to procreation, we are firmly in it together. Most importantly there is no separate society for men and women, it is just society.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia used under the Creative Commons License.

Comments From You

STforgirls // Posted 18 October 2011 at 3:05 pm

Brilliant post and I agree, absolutely. It’s not ‘Women’s Issues’. It’s about people. Women are people too.

sarahfogg // Posted 18 October 2011 at 3:56 pm

“They’ve got it wrong. We’re not dividable. There is no separate female economy alongside the male one. It is just the economy. It affects us all.”

I love the way you’ve put this. I think they imagine that all women are still attached to a male breadwinner, whether a husband or father. I’ve seen so many comments on articles about female unemployment and job losses, complaining about women ‘taking men’s jobs’, or about the focus on women, as if they honestly believe that women don’t need to work. They don’t seem to grasp that all these unemployed women aren’t just going to go back to being housewives or helping out at the parental home, they’re going to struggle to pay rent and end up on the dole, just like unemployed MEN do, because most of them are supporting themselves, just like men.

I also get really angry when people demonise mothers for having children (taking time off and maternity pay and child benefit and so on). It seems as nonsensical as demonising road maintenance workers for disrupting traffic. Nobody does that because it’s clear they’re performing a vital service, but somehow maintaining the population doesn’t strike people as essential the way maintaining the transport network does.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 18 October 2011 at 4:47 pm

Correct there is only one form of business and it is men’s business or rather men’s version of economics which is real. Women are not involved in the economics because all of women’s work is either invisible or else it is of low value according to the male supremacist system. That is why whenever men’s definition of economics becomes a recession, women are the ones scapegoated and told to ‘get back into the private sphere because jobs must be given to the men.

Take care work would men rush to enter this type of work if there was no other work available? I think not because care work is defined as ‘women’s work’ since it is a continuum of what women do all the time and that is to take care of men and other dependents within one’s family unit. That is assuming all women live in the heterosexual two parent family unit.

If there was ‘just society’ then we would not have the male supremacist system and we would not have a system wherein men are accorded the right to dominate and control women’s lives. We would have a society wherein being a biological female would not automatically mean she is of less value and not human compared to the supposedly default human who is always male. But we do not have this society – what we do have is a male supremacist society and a male supremacist system wherein women continue to be exploited and viewed as expendable as and when the male-centric economy demands. That is why the men hysterically claim that women should give up their jobs and go back into the home so that men are once more accorded their pseudo right of ownership of the public sphere and retain control over what supposedly passes for ‘business.’

Woman’s Worth: Sexual Economics And The World of Women by Lisa Leghorn and Katherine Parker provides an international analysis of how and why women’s work remains invisible according to the male economists and why men’s work is always visible and highly valued but never women’s work. This is the reality of male domination and male control over women.

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