So, last week we have some footage from the House of Commons of the Prime Minister showing his true colours, which has been described as ‘patronising, sexist, insulting and un-prime ministerial.’ What a surprise. I was at school with public school boys like this. Do we really want one running the country? (You can see the ‘Calm down’ footage in full here.)
Angela Eagle in an attempt to downplay the situation on the BBC, used the coverage and outrage as an opportunity to deflect the situation onto the government’s financial prowess (or lack of), which as Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, it’s her job to do.
But the real issue, is that attitudes like this are regarded as funny at the highest level, and that the debate is all about whether Cameron needs to apologise, not whether we need to look at where this ingrained, prime ministerially sanctioned sexism is creeping in from.
In an excellent article in The Guardian this weekend, Suzanne Moore points out that ‘a regressive, conservative establishment is bearing down on women’s rights.’
Rwanda has more female politicians than the UK. The Fawcett Society estimates it will take Labour another 20 years to reach 50% of female candidates, the Lib Dems 40 years… and the Tories 400.
Women are still under-represented in politics, business, law, academia, and the arts. Moore argues that quotas and women-only shortlists are disliked as much by women as by men, and it’s something I’ve encountered, female playwrights say they don’t want their gender to be an issue, they just want to be known as a writer. But this is not happening. The figures speak for themselves – 17% of UK plays which get into production are written by women. 83% are not.
We are living in a country where women have had voting rights for less than 100years. Before then, it was all about male-only shortlists, male-only everything. We might feel like we’re equal – or we might like to shut our eyes, cross our fingers and *wish* we were equal, but we’re not.
*In case you missed this excellent article by Suzanne Moore in The Guardian, 30/4/11, here’s a link ‘Quotas and women-only shortlists aren’t popular, but let’s face it, they work’.