The Cult of Dubious Personalities



With the news that the UN is making Wonder Women an international ambassador, National Committee member Selma Rahman considers the issues. 

To begin with, I thought it was some misguided attempt to sell Wonder Women costumes prior to Halloween, but then I realised it was serious: a serious gaffe!

The UN, that bastion of maleness has decided in its wisdom that we women need role models, or in their own words, that this……..’…..character will be used to promote messages about women's empowerment and gender-based violence.

I feel quite secure in using the words ‘male bastion’ (I was careful in my spelling). We know there has never been a female Secretary General and a  recent  analysis by Karin Landgren  a non resident visitng fellow at the Centre for International Cooperation noted that that in 2015 nine of 10 senior leadership jobs went to men.

Now I’m all for campaigns but more so the actual actions and legislation that highlights and tackles violence against women, in fact all gender based violence and of course, I want to see women’s empowerment, but this isn’t the way!

Additionally, I am just a tad cynical when I note that this campaign is being sponsored by Warner Bros and DC Entertainment. Are they possibly looking for a rise in comic readership? Or for the back numbers of the original Wonder Woman becoming more valuable? Perhaps  it’s  pre-publicity for the new Wonder Woman film starring Gal Gadot, who just happened to be at the UN ceremony along with Lynda Carter, the actress I remember starring as WW in the 1970s TV series. Yes, I admit it, I did watch it.

Sure, WW was to my knowledge the first female superhero in a world dominated exclusively by male superheroes and if I am honest, and look beyond the costume, she seemed to be fighting  to redress wrongs. Or is that just my memory?

But this isn’t the way! It’s dated, going back to the 70’s when now after all the hard work combatting the multitude of abuses surrounding  gender based violence, there has finally been  a shift (though not enough) that has resulted in gender equality being talked about more frequently and pushed higher up the social and political agendas.

I don’t think the Yazidi women, or women in Afghanistan, or women on the breadline, or women contemplating heat or eat, or how many visits to a food bank, or searching for their local back to school clothes bank will be rushing out to emulate WW nor looking to her for great inspiration (not in this weather, not in that costume),

So what is it that determines we need ‘personalities’ to promote…you,  me, something, even independence?  The latest one seems to be Ewan McGregor. Is it inevitable that personalities will be drawn into the Inde/Brexit debate by virtue of their ‘status’, real, imaginary, self imposed or resulting from being idolised by the public?  As we go down the road, however long, towards #indeyrefnew, do we ignore the pronouncements from personalities, or ensure we have #indechampions of our own? Personally, I could live without all that, but don’t doubt that the cult of personalities will continue to raise its head.  I am much more interested in what this tells us. It’s good to know that ‘no voters, don’t knows,’ and’ maybes’ CAN acknowledge self doubt. But this has to mean that we are prepared, having strengthened our past weaknesses around issues such as the economy and the currency, to help turn that doubt into the positivity that an independence vote will bring.

However, two referenda, 2014 and 2016, resulted in Scotland voting for the status quo, i.e. no change. I’m not saying we’re too wee, too poor, but what is it in our psyche that stops us from embracing change? Too feart? But  if so, feart of what ?

If it’s a fear of the ‘unknown’ future, we have to be able to show that our independent future will be better than the future we can see if we remain in this unequal union.  For me, that would be a UK governed from Westminster for tory and unionist favouring voters along with a voter base that has chosen to leave the EU. But both are alien to Scotland. Socialism and a caring society isn’t a Westminster priority. There is no future UK labour government of any hue coming soon. Federalism is no option either. No change will produce the very future that no one of us wants. Well, I exclude tory voters at this stage.

No matter their determination, policies and budgeting, the  Scottish devolved government is not an autonomous government it’s a poor relation. So what is our strategy for winning new YESers? What discourse will we have with those who voted to leave the EU? We can’t ignore them. There are those in the YES camp who believe out (of the EU) is better than in and that’s not based on any right wing, anti-immigrant platform.

What I do believe most passionately is, the moment will be carried by the grass roots again. But we have nothing to offer at the moment. No white paper, not even another wordy tome. And no matter its merits and sheer gusts, as a no-party member, I don’t want to be either defending or promoting one party’s vision. Having attended the debate with Robin McAlpine at the Radical Book Fair, Edinburgh last week in October I look forward to what Common Weal is programming in the coming months.

But equally, I want to know when and how the impetus within the grassroots will come together, re energise and move out to engage beyond ourselves. It’s not much good doing ‘it’ in isolation. in separate silos. Our local WFIs appear on the move, WFI is holding its AGM later this month. (Whoopee, twice). WFI locally and nationally have a role to play, and not merely in tactical activities, but in the designing of the vision for an improved Scotland, an independent Scotland……the very Scotland  that will not be achieved within the UK union.  

So can we see a determination that come 2017 we have some pathway articulated and identified that will bring a concentration of ideas, plans and strategies that take us closer to a future starting with independence.

(and if you have to, really really have to, , ) …..@RealLyndaCarter  tweeted…. So many little WW's running around!!! Empowering young girls everywhere. For me... a beautiful thing  Yes, a current tweet.  But Then I found this quote, admittedly on Wiki ….

The series (aka Wonder Woman) lasted for three seasons, until 1980 when the show was cancelled. As it was winding down, while referring to the feedback she had received for her posters, Carter told US magazine:

"I never meant to be a sexual object for anyone but my husband. I never thought a picture of my body would be tacked up in men's bathrooms. I hate men looking at me and thinking what they think. And I know what they think. They write and tell me."

Changed days, indeed.

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