Wimmin! Know your place!

This post is titled “Wimmin! Know your place!” – a title which I have directly copied from today’s Independent. Not the Daily Mail, The Independent.

This newspaper has today broken the “story” (note my use of quotes here) that a special interest group is to hold an exclusive meeting at the Labour Party Conference.

Yes, you guessed it, there is going to be a meeting where women will actually get to speak.

In an ideal world, women wouldn’t need to have special meetings to have their voice heard. But we have a world where women are told during PMQs to “calm down dear”. We have a world where the most well-known woman in politics is the speakers WIFE. We have a world where women are hugely under-represented in parliament. Did you hear a woman’s name put forward in the leadership debates – either by a party or by anyone in the media? Thought not, neither did I.

So here’s the deal. When we live in a world where a woman has any chance of having her voice heard during a party conference, we won’t need to create special interest groups.

But while women’s interests are still taken to be a ‘special interest’ rather than a political interest, while women are still outnumbered hugely in Parliament (something the Labour party are doing better at than any other party by the way – could that be because they actually have a platform women are allowed to speak on?), and until women achieve political equality, meetings like this are needed.

And to the Independent – do Wimmin know their place?  We know we deserve to be up there on the main stage, on the front bench.  But we’re not.  So how about writing articles that will help us get to our place, rather than putting us in it?


Red or black and blue?

This post is more of a ponder than a rant, as I’m feeling uncomfortable rather than angry.

Violence against women has garnered more than a couple of headlines this week thanks to Simon Cowell’s new game show Red or Black.  It turns out that the very first winner has spent time in prison after being convicted of violent offences.  The producers of the show knew this, but thought the attack was on a man.   When it turned out the attack was on a woman, the producers announced they needed to ‘review their screening procedures’.  So why is beating a woman so much worse than beating a man?

I am in absolutely not trying to belittle the particular awfulness of domestic violence.  Sustained violence over many years, accompanied by emotional and often sexual abuse is appalling.  But the media coverage hasn’t focused on this, but simply on the fact he hit a woman rather than a man.  And I really don’t think that this type of coverage is doing any favours for equality.  Surely the idea that hitting a woman is somehow worse than hitting a man is completely tied up with the idea that women are weaker than men, that women need a man to protect them in this world?

The coverage has left me feeling rather patronised, rather than pleased that domestic violence is being discussed in the media.  Simon Cowell’s macho-posturing that “if I was him, I know what I would do, I would give away part of the money to the person he had the altercation with and a charity. ” has just gone on to leave me feeling more patronised than ever.  Like somehow for a woman, a big pay-off makes violence better.

I am not sure whether I’m angry at the producers for making these statements, or at the way the media has covered it.  But something about the whole incident has left a very sour taste in my mouth.

I’d really welcome your comments on this post – am I missing something?  Am I right that the idea of hitting a woman as a particular taboo is particularly patronising?  Or should I be celebrating that domestic violence is in the headlines rather than hidden away?