Gender Politics #3: A Feminist Party

fem party

So Guardian Columnist Ellie Mae O’Hagan has called on the Women of Britain to form their own feminist party.

There would be a minister for women of colour, a minister for working-class women, and a minister for LGBT women.  No men would be allowed and the primary aim would be to ensure that no women should be economically dependent on men or have their destinies determined by their sexual organs (I’m assuming this will be compulsory).

I sketched out a few potential problems with Ellie’s master plan but like the stupid man that I am, I did so before realising that the comments section for her article closed months ago.  So rather than just sigh and do doh! delete, I thought I might was well share my thoughts below:

fem party



So if I’m allowed to share my some thoughts with the group:

  1. The podium place that was encouragingly reserved for Natalie Bennett in last week’s leader’s debate certainly goes some way to proving there is room for (relatively) single/narrow issue parties in British politics. There is certainly nothing stopping you from doing what you propose if you’re prepared to commit the time and effort to make it a reality.
  2. Even you don’t end up with many votes it can still help to raise the profile of the issue you want to champion – you could follow the example set by J4MB’s run in the current election.
  3. One danger is that you risk taking votes away from larger parties aligned with your cause. Northern Ireland’s short lived Woman’s Coalition experiment is a good example of this. The 2% of votes they took during the critical post good Friday agreement elections largely came from people who would have otherwise voted for the only established non-sectarian party (who in 2010 spectacularly took the First Minister’s seat, returning a female MP).
  1. Like the woman’s coalition, single issue parties often implode after their leader(s) eventually secure high paid employment outside of politics.
  1. Your no men policy is likely to alienate the vast majority of the voting public, including (possibly) high profile 4th wave feminists like Emma Watson and Laura Bates who (apparently) argue that feminism is for everyone.
  1. This separatist policy also means you’re likely to attract a lot of members from the far right of the feminist political spectrum who’s views on transgender are likely to discourage a lot of the LGBT community.
  1. You can’t actually appoint Ministers until you have been given a political mandate but, even so, your position on women of colour is likely to put off anyone in modern Britain who thinks such a phrase is at best slightly archaic and at worst, offensive enough to cause the occasional #twitterstorm.
  1. Dianne Abbott MP (who is also a member of the National Advisory Panel for the centre for Labour & Social Studies) once famously suggested that white people like to divide and rule. It was a crass and clumsy statement but I assume her point was that divide and rule is a well established tactic of people in power and that people in power have still tend to be predominately white upper class men.
  1. You’d like to think that the Media & Communications Officer for a ‘thinktank focusing on working rights and inequality’ would have some concept of this and understand that, if a key campaign pledge is to work towards the emancipation for working class women, it would be more constructive to establish a party championing gender equality for all, or as I like to call it Gender Mereology.
  1. As a side note, I’ll mention that the Woman’s Coalition only got their feet under the table for the famous talks that lead to the Good Friday agreement because the powers that be rigged a ‘once off’ undemocratic quota system for the sole purpose of ensuring that men with guns (and no political mandate) got into the talks. Mind you, I’m making the assumption that Mae’s party would definitely advocate non-violence and historically that hasn’t always been the way of radical ‘ourselves alone’ feminists.

Next | A Warning From History


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