Thursday, 26 July 2012

Breaking news: Tories are disingenuous idiots. Again.

Well, I said that I'd soon get my fire for writing back, and nothing could have performed the job better than the soul-enema-inducing hogwash peddled in the Graun on Tuesday. Written by Amber Rudd and   Andrea Leadsome (so incorrect it took two of them to shovel the lies in), 'You're wrong Harriet Harman, Conservatives make better feminists' is the duo's ode to Thatcherism, and makes the spurious claim that not only may one be a Tory and feminist, one is a better feminist when a Tory.

To which I say:

I use my massive fingers to smite Cabinet members on the weekend.

Crude as my feelings may be, I think I'm justifiably pissed off when a national newspaper prints the feminist equivalent of the Cottingley bloody Fairies.

As I've said before to Louise Mensch, I do not think that word means what they think it means.

I'll start by critiquing the pair's rabid attack on Harman. They claim she's only slamming Tory "feminists" to further her own career, to 'polish... her reputation as the hard woman of Labour' - a claim which is frankly laughable. Truth be told, I quite like Harman. Although I make it a rule to generally despise politicians, she's always stuck to her guns and has got so much flack for it it's unbelievable. Blackshirt enthusiasts The Daily Mail make a running joke of her commitment to equality and diversity by constantly referring to her as 'Harriet Harperson' (because OMG wanting commitment to not being a bigoted arsehole is soooo hilarious). Even more liberal publications joke about her 'radical feminism' (she thinks women are people, how adorable). Anyway, Harman's been blowing the left-wing feminist trumpet for a long time, and really doesn't need the publicity of stating the obvious to further her career. You know who might need publicity by critiquing opposition members? Two backbench MPs no-one's had the misfortune to hear of before.

In the next paragraph, Rudd and Leadsome point the figure at the real menace to egalitarianism, TEH UNIONZ. You see, apparently if we watch a film that's set in the 1960s, we might see some sexism. The horror. OK, their argument goes like this: film shows trade unionists (in the 1960s) opposing equal rights for women. Trade unionists are linked with Labour, Labour are linked with the left-wing, therefore anything anyone on the left says is automatically null and void because... something. 

Now let me get my ranting gloves on for this. All right-wing economic societies are automatically sexist, because it benefits them massively. By denigrating the work done by half the population, one may overvalue the work done by the other and therefore get them more credit/recognition/cash monies. So in a capitalist society, saying that 'women's work' has no value allows you to underpay them and allow them fewer rights (for starters). I expanded on this idea here, but I think the quote "women work two-thirds of the world's working hours, produce half of the world's food, but earn only 10% of the world's income and own less than one percent of the world's property" sums the situation up nicely. 

Let me also add that of course the TUs in the 60s opposed rights for working women. First of all, it was the 60s, women hardly had any rights. When the film was set, abortions had been allowed to be performed in hospitals instead of filthy alleyways for about six months, there was no equality legislation and women being permitted an education was still a generational issue. Not exactly enlightened times. Secondly, as I mentioned above, key to the capitalist regime is to divide people into 'worthy' and 'unworthy'. If the plant had got rid of the women, then men would have taken their jobs. Since society at the time was utterly convinced of men's 'worthiness' over women, then it's hardly a chore to see why the TUs wouldn't stick up for them. Unless you are a complete ninnyface of an MP, apparently.

Oh and while pearl-clutching about the horrors of unionism and the Labour party in the 60s, they conveniently forgot that during the first part of the communist revolution in Russia (before Stalinism), women got full reproductive and working rights - this was before they were allowed to vote in America for fuck's sake.

They then discuss all-women shortlists. I'm not their biggest fan (imagine a parliament with 600 Nadine Dorrieses), but whatever. They claim that AWSLs prove that Labour are evil sexists, because they're only used to counter their members' innate hatred of women. Yeah, they probably are used for that, but surely that's better than nothing? There's 81 female Labour MPs and 45 female Tory MPs (which include such distinguished figures as Theresa May, Nadine Dorries, Louise Mensch, Maria Miller and Priti Patel, so maybe only 40 female human MPs). So Rudd and Leadsome's solution appears to just allow people to be as sexist as they want and maybe at some point for no reason they will change their minds? Huh.

The next paragraph is so silly it requires quoting almost in full:

Give a woman a Conservative prime minister and we will increase opportunities for her to get jobs, for children to get a good education, for hardworking families to improve their lives, for young women to get apprenticeships and for entrepreneurial women to start businesses. Conservative feminism is about boosting women to their full potential. We are optimistic and ambitious for women. Labour's policy towards women is still about the state protecting them. They don't believe women can achieve for themselves. What patronising rubbish.

OK, we have a Conservative PM. What have we got? Cuts in corporation tax redistributing money from women to menSavage cuts in female-dominated areas, which are more likely to target the women in those areasMeasures to preclude beaten women from accessing legal supportSurestart centres? Gone. Access to Violence Against Women Services? Almost gone. Benefits for mothers? Slashed. Housing allowances? You what?  Rape crisis centres? Nuh-uh. Disgusting attacks on reproductive rights. Provably bloody harmful 'abstinence based' sex ed being taken seriouslyCharges to access child maintenanceCharging us money to not have a husband.

Some of this shit might have been shot down, but it was all proposed seriously by our benevolent Tory overlords. I don't know about you, but I feel far more patronised by a government that claims to know that a) If I have sex it's because I'm a slut, b) if said sex results in pregnancy I'm too stupid to know what to do about it, c) I should make sure I have money stashed away for if I'm beaten or raped, d) if I lose my job due to their cuts I'm a sponger who doesn't deserve benefits et-fucking-cetera.

As @skipjack451 said, "it's the same bullshit as when they try and claim that they're better for the working class than Labour - even the rationale is the same, 'we are better for you because we force you to fight extra hard for every little thing'". If hard work is so good for people, how come none of the Tories have ever lifted a fucking finger? Oh, I'm sure Cameron fought so hard to go from Eton to Oxbridge to being given a £90,000 first job by his wife's family. I mean, diddums! He might have broken a nail!

The rest of their article is Mean Girls-style sarcasm combined with yet more historical cherry-picking and tiresome party promotion, and it's frankly not worth my time to go through.

In sum, Rudd and Leadsome are terrible writers, woeful historians and quite possibly have had their heads up Cameron's backside for so long that they've not actually heard what Tories do for women, because as we have seen, what Tories do for women is to treat them as idiotic brood-mares who simultaneously both don't deserve jobs, yet should pull themselves up by their bootstraps to get them. But don't expect equal pay, because your company could pay you in buttons and there'd be no way to find out.


  1. I really enjoyed reading this- probably because I hate Tories as much as you do! One theme I found problematic, though, was the idea that men benefit from women's oppression. Take this quote for example:

    "By denigrating the work done by half the population, one may overvalue the work done by the other and therefore get them more credit/recognition/cash monies."

    This would imply that men in general are twice as well off as women are, when this is clearly not the case (I've been marginally better off than my last 3 male partners- despite us both being dirt poor in relative terms) but it also brings up the vital question of who is doing the denigrating?

    The oppression of women benefits that tiny minority in the ruling class who- at the expense of women first working a shift for them for around 15% less than their male counterparts and then going home to start a new shift of cooking, cleaning, childcare etc- both increase their profit margins and ensure that both the current and next generation of workers are indeed in a fit state to work (having been kept well fed in a clean enviroment etc).

    And then running along the same theme was;

    "Cuts in corporation tax redistributing money from women to men"

    And I did read the article, but I think that point really is not seeing the wood for the trees (if I've used that phrase in the right context??). The reasoning used by the article goes like this:

    "A cut in corporation tax benefits men since mostly men are involved in companies as managers, shareholders and private pension holders."

    Well yes, those occupying the highest paid jobs in society are disproportionately men, but they also represent only a tiny proportion of society! The cut to the 50p tax rate damn sure hasn't benefited my boyfriend, my brother, my father- it's benefited a tiny minority of men.

    What this tells us more than anything is that women's oppression does indeed cut across class divides, being that a mere 7.3% of Directors in the FTSE 250 are women. And ironically this is exactly why women in the Tory party (generally the ruling class) CAN call themselves feminists, because they DO want equality with men- they just leave out the crux of it which is that they only want equality with CERTAIN men- ie those within their class.

    And then just a technicality I picked up on regarding the Russian revolution which isn't really relevant to my other points but I'm a bit of a geek like that :/ You're right about the advancements made for women immediately after the revolution, but this wasn't 'before Leninism': Lenin led the revolution and actually spent the rest of his life trying to defend despite numerous attempts on his life made by Stalin's cronies.

    1. I'd contend that men do benefit from women's oppression, but I'm not saying this is the same thing as all of them wanting to and taking full advantage of it and it being the situation in 100% of cases. I'm blaming the problems on what I see them stemming from - rampant capitalism, as practised by Tories.

      Much like I have white privilege - I don't want it, I hate even the thought of it, but it behoves me to acknowledge it and try to work towards dismantling it. Again though, it's this capitalist (or any system with a ruling class) propagating 'divide and rule', which is exactly what it is.

      Point on Leninism, sorry, I've been in an argument with a troll on another site for about 4 days about Marxism not being the same thing as Leninism, Stalinism etc., I think I've just got used to writing them together! Thanks for alerting me to the slip-up.

    2. As a historian (I'm assuming you changed the article to reflect the above comment) I'm not above being pernickity either, and Leninism probably is the technically correct term for what Stalin was doing, or thought he was doing. Lenin himself never would have used the term (he preferred Bolshevism, the term he invented for his vanguard revolutionaries). It was Stalin, after Lenin's death, who cultivated the cult of Lenin and started to use the term "Leninism" or "Marxism-Leninism" to describe what he was doing, what we would now call Stalinism.
      Irrelevant niche pedantry ends.

      Good article! I have severe problems articulating how much I disliked that article/"Tory feminists" claims to feminism largely because it involves me, a man, telling them, women, that they've got feminism wrong. Which isn't generally a good place to be. Now I can point to this instead. :)

  2. I couldnt read the article to the end because it is so ridiculous and inaccurate it made me want to vomit.