Involving women in political discussion

There was nothing particularly new about the question Duncan Higgitt posed a fortnight ago on WalesHome about the different standards we apply to men and women in politics, but that hardly means anybody should stop reminding us about them. Yet what caught my eye yesterday was the huge gap between what Valleys Mam said on her blog and the Mail on Sunday's photospread of Samantha Cameron.

Valleys Mam asked some serious questions about why women tend to contribute less to political discussion, particularly online ... while at the same time the Mail on Sunday surely gave us the perfect example of how to trivialize politics and women at the same time.

As I see it, there can be little doubt that the Mail published these photographs in order to try and gain some political advantage for the Conservative Party in the critical run up to the Westminster election. So it's worth thinking about how this was meant to achieve the desired political effect. It was a strange game of bluff and double bluff. Not for the Mail the male, "Cor, get an eyeful of her!" but a rather convoluted story by female Amanda Platell about how men could be supposed to have no other reaction than that. There was also the rather too obvious idea that "Tory High Command" would disapprove of them, followed by the very prominent statement in later editions that their publication was a complete surprise to the Camerons themselves. I think it would be even more of a surprise if this "risqué fashion shoot" had what David Cameron has now called a "connection with her business" as her business was then, and is still now, in stationery.


The end result is that a woman is being used to promote the Conservatives not on the basis of anything she has to say or think, nor even of the basis of what she now looks like ... but on how she looked some thirteen or fourteen years ago. And although it's easy to say the Mail is the Mail, doesn't someone like Lembit Öpik use the press in exactly the same way?

It makes it all the harder for women who do have something to say in politics—whether as observers and commentators, or as politicians or potential politicians themselves—to say it. I must admit I was a little surprised by what Valleys Mam said about being able to comment anonymously making a difference, but I've always had the policy of letting people leave anonymous comments here on Syniadau, and of not pre-moderating them in the hope of getting contributors to discuss issues with each other, rather than always through me ...

... but I probably have some way to go on diatribe and boredom!

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Anonymous said...

a good article by yourself and Valleys Mam, there are definitely issues about how we get women and the population more generally engaged in political debate online.

I wouldn't take too much notice of Amanda Platell she was praising Sarah Brown only a few weeks ago for playing a blinder over the past year, but since David Cameron's poll numbers have started to fall i guess she and her colleagues have been told to promote both Mr and Mrs Cameron's big time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Syn , thanks for the kind words ,appreciated.
What the women I asked said about being able to post as anon was the fact that the cosy mens club that is part of the bloggy world, hit back much harder,ignored or trivialised responses by women.
It would be an interesting piece of research to track.
I agree on Moderation and may be its time I tried letting freedom reign again and hope my trolls have passed into the mists of time

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