We can talk about quotas to stop women beating their heads against a glass ceiling in industry and politics, but that sounds like privilege when others are keeping their heads above water are told by such women to paddle faster. The sisterhood is not equal in the struggle for equality. The inequality of society cuts through gender increasingly.
After the fanfare at the launch of the Women’s Equality Party, it’s time to get real about inequality and social justice. That is the challenge facing the new political party if it wants to be taken seriously. Having joined, this for me has to be more than signalling a political identity. I want something different on the political agenda, because the main parties fail to address them.
No matter how hard some of the middle class try, the real issues of those lower down the pecking order slip under the radar. To illustrate: the co founder of the Women’s Equality Party, Catherine Mayer, stressed the importance of increasing the cost of processed food to be as expensive as fresh food. So the poor have to spend more to eat like the affluent middle class. There was no mention of the proposed reduction in tax credits that would decrease poorer family incomes for groceries.
Andrew Marr blinked in bemusement at her, on his show last weekend. Too much of a gentleman to ask how increasing the cost of food for the poor will help, at a time when more people go to food banks? The income inequality that reduces health outcomes between classes was being side stepped by the moral hazard of relatively poorer people buying cheap unhealthy food. Consumed not out of price incentive, but budget necessity.
[See update below for Catherine Mayer expanding her views via twitter]
Thank goodness for that bastion of the patriarchy, the House of Lords, halting working tax credit cuts which would have hit the poor, and especially women, hard. The Commons quickly stopped an outbreak of common sense by keeping the vagina tax on tampons. One contrarian female commentator compared the menstrual cycle to the tax on male shaving products saying it should remain. Frankly, any product that helps with bleeding should not be considered a luxury item for tax purposes.
If the WE Party are serious about feminism, then it has to be about the women who do not have high profiles or media careers. If oppression is how comedy panel shows treat you, then you might just need a broader grass roots base, keeping it real regarding the patriarchy.
In the WE policy document, was a bit on full time care givers. Not just ending the stigma of them being classed as “economically inactive” while they save the tax payer millions each year. It recognised the sexism directed at male care givers in society.
Not mentioned was putting pressure to improve the lot of full time caregivers living on Carer’s Allowance and income support of £106 per week. If we care about social justice we need more than words, and quotas. We need money not just principles.
Feminism is for everyone. It cannot just be an organised outrage social media mob to scream at Milo’s tweets. Feminism matters because of economic power – one the leader of the WE Party mentioned in her speech when comparing how much income men have in aggregate compared to women.
You will not achieve equality by a co founder suggesting a sugar tax hitting the poor. Raise your game, and raise people out of poverty – you want to eat better when you can afford it. The same way Diane Abbott felt about better schooling for her child when she had the income. This may be a man’s world, but money makes the world go round that much better.
It is early days yet for the party, but hopefully I am not alone in signing up. Feminism cannot be left to women. It is too important. It needs us all to join in.
WE can do better. Real equality requires nothing less than helping the weakest and most vulnerable in society. Do that, we will have a sweeter and healthier nation.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog