In the UK, we are eagerly awaiting June 8th: Election Day. Tensions are high and we are being told what to think left, right and… a bit less centre. A discussion I heard recently prompted quite the unsavoury thought: One is simply not a feminist if they don’t vote May. I wish not to delve into the Left vs Right discussion (violent debate), but to reaffirm this: Providing your reasoning for not voting Conservatives this June is not “because she’s a woman,” casting your vote elsewhere is not sexist; it is not a stab in the back to feminism. The same naturally applies to the other female-lead parties and if the sentiment were to be flipped gender-wise, of course, we find the very same answer. If feminism is and continues to become the all-inclusive club so many of us want it to be, gender should not come into our pros and cons list when we are deciding who to vote for. Commenting on a candidate’s gender – in any way, shape or form – is entirely counterproductive, inappropriate and not all that “21st Century.”
There’s this idea that supporting women – especially in areas such as politics where there are few – means agreeing mindlessly with every woman. If we do not agree mindlessly with any of the men in politics, it seems unfair and wrong to nod fiercely in response to female politicians when we’re really thinking, no no no. Of course we want to see strong female leaders, but this reason alone is not enough to endorse someone you don’t actually agree with. Although if you do agree with a particular candidate, producing a female leader is of course a desirable by-product in a still male-dominated world.
This election season – unfortunately, predictably – has produced some harrowing, sexist comments. The ridiculously lazy focus on May’s appearance and clothing makes for poor writing, and the careless and frequent attempts at comparing May to Thatcher is just getting boring now. Just because we’ve only ever had two female Prime Ministers, it doesn’t mean we need to succumb to this need to, as per usual, compare two women. Similarly, last year’s US election saw many keyboard warriors thriving under the desire to comment on Clinton’s capability as a woman. While, of course, You-Know-Who was Textbook Sexist and, although his capability was questioned, it was not questioned in terms of gender.
Whether you are politically affiliated or haven’t got a clue who to vote for this week, any focus on gender is a waste of time. Although for the time being, commentary on a politician’s gender (providing they are female, of course) is like the gherkin in your burger (unwanted and yucky, but lurking all the same), we need to keep taking it out. And us, ladies? If it weren’t for the suffragettes, we just might not have our vote. Question and fight the sexist commentary thrown about and (hopefully in a well-informed manner) vote for whoever you like. Just make sure you do.
Last week I launched a monthly newsletter about all things feminism. I explained it more in depth in THIS post but, to summarise, Feminism Up aims to include EVERYBODY in the chat about sexism and inequality while supporting the feminist movement. While a couple of articles are written by me, each issue is to include pieces by other writers voicing their thoughts and experiences! Since the election is in a couple of days, I thought it would be a good idea to also publish this post to my blog. There are three other articles in issue #1 and, if you want to check it out, you can sign up HERE! If you do sign up, please confirm your subscription as well as adding Feminism Up to your address book so the newsletter gets sent directly to you!
Only a couple more days until the big day and I really, really encourage you to vote this Thursday- if we want politicians to listen to our voice, we have to get to our polling stations! In the mean time, Feminism Up.
~ Kat ~