Men’s Reproductive Machine
Beyonce’s song lyrics ‘Who Run the World? Girls’ is often chanted by women around the world. But the lyrics are a far representation of reality. With recent statistics revealing a low percentage of women in Westminster, we need to ask: why is there a lack of female leaders?
Recently I was asked ‘what is feminism?’ to which I simply replied ‘it is a movement for the equality of men and women’. I was then informed that I am not a feminist because I am a leader. I explained that leadership is an individual quality separate from the unity that feminism creates.
But when it concerns leadership, women are either viewed as anti-feminist or as a statistic. A tick box alike the ethnicity box on a questionnaire that calls for greater diversity. And as only 22% MPs and 3 cabinet members are female, women can be viewed as an anomaly in politics.
A recent survey by Mumsnet into their users’ views on the UK’s political culture revealed that 90% believed the political culture in Westminster to be sexist. 85% viewed the UK Parliament as not family friendly. Over a third described themselves as disillusioned with UK politics and saw the political process as irrelevant to many in the UK.
Justine Roberts, CEO of Mumsnet, said: “For ages now it seems we’ve all accepted that Parliament is outdated, unrepresentative and sexist. We’d love the political parties to stop paying lip service to this and to start taking concrete steps to get their house in order.”
It is ironic that the Conservative Party prides itself on promoting traditional family values yet the system it uses to enforce these values does not seem to be family friendly. It is a fact that some women can reproduce. Thankfully, defining women by their ability to reproduce and be mothers has decreased. But the biological certainty for some, or a woman’s responsibility to her family, should be factored into jobs in politics.
But with the long working hours, bawdy school boy antics of jeering and booing, and male-dominant environment, women are excluded and disillusioned from politics and are therefore shying away from leadership positions. Women may be able to reproduce, but so can men. Westminster is currently a breeding ground. Parliament is men’s reproductive machine.
According to the Evening Standard, Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman will attack sexism in Westminster tonight and target Cameron for tricking the public with a “deliberate misrepresentation” of the number of female Tory MPs. Harman has also accused former prime minister Gordon Brown for denying her the role of deputy prime minister because she is a woman.
When women’s bodies fit into the political institution, discrimination can be eliminated from within the system to deinstitutionalise sexism. When more women are voted into power, more women will relate to politics and actively get involved. When having a family and having a job become compatible, more women will become leaders.