A Barbie bus but where are all the Kens?
Before a baby has even popped out of the womb, we identify it as a ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. When a baby is born, many dress a girl in pink and a boy in blue. I thought this was something we eventually grow out of – I mean, men look great in a pink shirt and pastel blue was the ‘in’ colour last year.
When we started entering a new discourse of language with the introduction of same-sex toilets, we were making real progress. During and after every night out, there is always a slight fear of getting attacked by a man. So having to share toilets means we all have to have a level of trust and work together to make the toilet trip as comfortable as possible.
So why on earth did MP Harriet Harman think it was okay to pull out a pink bus from Parliament to represent women?
The Labour Party politician decided to tackle ‘women’s issues’ – great. But her method is tactless and actually she has completely missed the point; us women want men to care about ‘our’ issues too.
Firstly, the pink bus reinforces stereotypes and gendered language. As famous feminist Judith Butler says, social audiences prescribe each sex’s performative act. Basically, the language we use shapes the discourse of our action to differentiate us as ‘men’ and ‘women’.
This discourse needs to be changed. As feminist and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir claims, ‘one is not born, but, rather, becomes woman’.
Secondly, and the real crux of the issue, is the question: where are all the men? Where are our three party leaders and why, when they are standing on the podium and on television debates, are they not addressing key issues that affect women?
In the third paragraph of this article, I have written ‘women’s issues’ because that is what they are for Ms Harman. They are definitely not that for me. Not when Parliament is full of men who rule and uphold its pillars.
One of the issues Ms Harman wants to discuss is motherhood. Motherhood should not be separate from fatherhood. The very fact that they are separate is the issue as we saw last year with the dispute over maternity v paternity leave. The issue that should be addressed is ‘parenting’. This changes our entire discourse as now we are talking about men and women on an equal par.
Let’s take an extreme issue like rape. We can tell girls that their clothing may be provocative but what about teaching sons to respect girls rather than see them as objects.
And coming from a South Asian background, generally daughters are taught to cook but what about teaching sons so they are better husbands?
As always, I don’t attempt to speak on behalf of all women. But I can’t imagine women want to stand alone? We haven’t got to that point because men still dominate seats in government. It is great that Harriet Harman has spoken up in an attempt to represent women but maybe the way she has had to do it reflects the issue that the majority of people ruling us – men – don’t really care. So should we be thinking of voting them out in the next General Election?
Where is the majority’s attention? And will the minority’s voice get lost amidst schoolboy jeering? Why doesn’t Cameron care about us? And why did Harriet Harman opt for a pink Barbie bus leaving behind all the Kens?!
If the pink bus symbolises the beginning of a revolution, we need men to jump on board too.