Amy McNeese-Mechan of Edinburgh WFI looks at the rise of the women politicians with a cynical eye.
I’m sad to say, but I’ve almost had to start avoiding social media in order not to fall out with women friends of longstanding. Despite having known each other for years, or even decades, I fear the sudden loss of friendships “because I’m not feminist enough”. These charges are being levelled at me for my refusal to support the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton. My take on it? To vote for someone simply on the basis of the structure of their reproductive organs would be the height of sexism. Instead, I look at policies and attitudes, and most important of all, voting records. A person who has voted in support of policies that have created almost one million widows in Iraq and Syria cannot be considered a feminist in my book.
Now we have the anointing of Theresa May, a woman characterised by hard-line policies on immigrants and disinterest in civil liberties, who is opposed to the European Convention on Human Rights, but in favour of fox hunting. In 2012 she brought in rules specifying that only those British citizens earning more than £18,600 could marry a non-EU national. These rules also prevent any adult and elderly dependents from settling in the UK unless they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK. This is worrying news for those of us who may have an elderly parent in Canada, the U.S., or Australia – and figures show it is usually women who bear the brunt of caring for aging relatives.
This year May passed new legislation limiting immigration to those who make more than £35,000 a year, vastly over the £26,000 ‘average’ annual wage – (a figure which itself disguises the fact that four out of five new jobs actually average under £16,640 pay for a 40-hour week, most new jobs for women are part-time or zero hours contracts, and working full-time on the £6.31 hourly minimum wage brings in just £13,124 a year!). In fact, only the top 20% of UK earners bring in just over £39k a year – and very few of these high earners are women. People of the likes of Farage will be able to import exotic foreign brides, but woe betide our daughters who fall for someone non-British on their gap year travels or studies abroad.
And finally, Mrs May voted in favour of raising the tuition fee cap, putting a further burden on young people from low income backgrounds and making it more difficult for them to raise themselves out of poverty, and trapping an unequal number of women in permanent low pay.
In short, both Clinton and May have made the lives of many thousands of women shorter, poorer, and bleaker. Females, yes. Feminist they are not.