There are many different genders, but the woman is a pretty fabulous one. In fields dominated by men, women are literally essential. I’d list why, only to be accused of painting gender roles. Do women have roles? Are there specific jobs for women? Are there specific jobs for men? I hate to say, it eludes me. Growing up in an all female household for all my almost-seventeen years really hasn’t presented me with a need for men. I don’t hate them. I don’t know them. As I’ve mixed with other people, different to those I was brought up with, it’s really only within the past couple of years that I’ve seen the divide, the gap, and the inequality between the two most common genders in society.
Inevitably, similar to most other aspects of my life, this leads me straight to politics. I was born in 2000, a time when Tony Blair was PM. Compared to the cabinet of John Major, Blair’s cabinet was abundant with women. The likes of Harriet Harman MP, Margaret Beckett MP and Baroness Jowell. Only now do I know that it was pretty significant to have women in the cabinet, when women were not as equally represented as they are now.
Seventeen years on, I can obviously say there’s an improvement in the representation of women, and how women’s issues are dealt with in politics. We’re at a record percentage of female MPs in 2017, 196/650, about 29 per cent. However, if you’re anything like me, you’re reading that and thinking how utterly crap that is: 29 per cent is simply not good enough, 50 per cent is what we need.
My personal insight into politics is probably a bit biased without research. Very female heavy. So I’ve done some research for the ‘meninists’ out there. It was a bit patchy, I must say, I typed ‘parliamentary groups, committees and petitions’ into Google and had a good leaf through of what it spat out. I’ll say that most party groups concerning women’s issues, were set up by women. I also found many campaigns headed by women, many campaigns supported by female MPs; along with countless articles, columns and interviews by female MPs talking about issues that are seen as taboo. Things like endometriosis, period poverty, sexual health, abortion, and mental health.
The contributions of Paula Sheriff and her work on period poverty, endometriosis awareness, the tampon tax, the bedroom tax, all party party women’s health, HRI, Dewsbury hospital, the NHS and the GMB (and that time she bought me dinner). Tracy Brabin on the NHS, Dewsbury hospital, Batley Job Centre, Act Up, maternity in the workplace, WASPI, GMB, loneliness and helping us to remember Jo by carrying on her legacy. Jess Phillips work on endless issues, such as IWD; women killed by men and the ‘Every woman’ campaign to end violence against women and girls. Angela Rayner's work as SSoS for Education and providing free school meals for primary age children. Carolyn Harris and her inspirational work on infant mortality and children’s funeral costs. Sarah Champion and her work on women and equalities and Holly Lynch and her work with the Alzheimer’s society and WYP.
It seems my bias wasn’t uncalled for.
As a follower and supporter of many female MPs, I don’t like to see the hate they receive and the trolling they are subjected to. I do not usually comment, in fact it’s a rule I have over myself. However, sometimes you just have to do it. My own MP, who is a complete heroine in my eyes, had a comment made about her that I really didn’t appreciate. In fact, I wanted to kill the guy. The comment was so trivial, I’m not sure I remember exactly what it was.
I justify my response with the fact that the man had made said comments on one of my own tweets. I like to think I kicked his arse, each time he fired back an insult to either one of us. We were both called ‘men-haters’, ‘raging feminists’ and ‘not fit for purpose’. I’ll allow you to ponder what our ‘purpose’ is. He then went on to call me every name under the sun, including telling me I had ‘chronic narcissistic tendencies’ and that I should ‘shut up and grow up’.
I was ‘gobby’, ‘arsy’ and a ‘tiny little teenage girl’. There are a lot of words only ever used about women, never about men. If a man speaks up he’s ‘dominant or ‘powerful’. If a woman speaks up she’s ‘gobby’ or, at best, ‘feisty’. Others include; ‘frumpy’, ‘arsy’, ‘bossy’, ‘bitchy’, ‘sassy’, ‘hormonal’, ‘hysterical’. Once he’d given in replying to this one particular tweet, he moved on to every one of my others.
He must have read down my profile, gone months back to even before I sat my GCSEs and when we lost Jo in June 2016. He replied to every single one of them, each reply containing an insult. He made fun of the way I looked, what I’d written, my opinions, pictures of my family and friends. The list goes on.
I remember looking down my notifications in utter horror at some of the things he’d written. Luckily, none of it bothered me. I can only imagine how I would have felt if it had affected me. It was this that gave me an insight to how thick skinned these women are, because I imagine they get it every day. My MP knows who she is, and she knows I don’t resent or regret sticking up for her, not one bit.