A Pox on the Patriarchy
An edited version of this article has now been republished in the New Statesman; please do feel free to comment there too
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- Caroline Criado-Perez
Over here in the UK we’ve watched with mounting concern as American women have had to fight so hard to assert their rights as individuals. To assert their claims over their own bodies – over their own ‘personhood’.
It’s not been a good time to be much in America that doesn’t fit into the ‘rich white man’ box, actually. From proposals that will replace Medicare with 10%-off vouchers, to anti gay marriage policies, to tax cuts for the rich – if the Grand Old Party gets in, life will get pretty nasty for quite a lot of people.
So I’ve been a spectator of the U.S. election rhetoric with a mixture of disbelief, anger, and a sense of ‘there but for the grace of God…’
But suddenly, I feel wrong-footed. I feel like the rug has been pulled out not just from under me, but from behind me. And I feel scared. Because it suddenly feels like the things I’ve been watching women, minorities and, well, anyone who doesn’t represent Mitt Romney, fight against for an upcoming election in the US, have just been imposed upon me by stealth.
And no-one asked me what I thought about it.
Perhaps you think I’m being over-dramatic. It was only a reshuffle after all. What’s the worst that could happen?
I fear we’re about to find out.
This is the reshuffle where a man who repeatedly voted to shorten the abortion limit, a man who has shown he is no friend to fair dealing, has been named as the new Minister for Health. This is the reshuffle where a woman who is anti-abortion and anti gay marriage has been made Minister for Women & Equalities (or should that be Minister Against Women & Equalities?). This is the reshuffle where the Justice Secretary who listened to statistics that demonstrate that community sentences, although not overly popular with the Daily Mail, are more effective than custodial sentences at combating crime, was replaced with a man who promotes ‘tough’ prison sentences and supports homophobic B&B owners.
The new cabinet we have had foisted on us today represents a group of mainly white, mainly male, mainly privately-educated and immensely privileged rich people, who, on the whole, and after all’s said and done, say ‘no thanks’ to abortion. They say ‘ooh, gay marriage, that’s a bit off isn’t it?’ They say, ‘bang ‘em up and throw away the key’, never mind that their damaging social policies contribute hugely to the ‘poverty of aspiration’ and just plain poverty that fosters petty crime.
Despite facing one of the most unpopular and incompetent Prime Ministers in recent history, David Cameron couldn’t win an outright mandate in 2010. He has nevertheless seen fit to impose, not just a Tory government on his electorate, but a government that exceeds the wildest fantasy of your average Daily Mail columnist. This is shameful. It demonstrates an utter disregard, nay, contempt for the democratic process. This country did not elect a Tory government. And yet here we are, having one forced on us without elections, by the back door.
For the first time in many years, I am starting to wish I were American. Things look scary there. But at least I’d get a say.