EyeSpy a little sexism

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 @ 1:55PM

I’m a self confessed twitter addict. I use it several times a day and it now dictates how I digest my news. This use means that i follow and read articles by columnists who write for newspapers I’d never buy, and I read a much broader range of news and opinion than I have previously done. I’m less loyal to particular blogs now, and rely on recommendations from other twitter users to separate the wheat from the chaff.

It’s revolutionising how we, as a nation, consumer news and all the major papers and broadcasters know it.

There is, of course, also a great deal of guff on twitter. Ranging from idle gossip to what some Labour activist in some-far-flung-part-of-the-country-that-you’ve-never-met had for their tea.

… Naturally, what MPs had for their dinner, who they are drinking with and who they’re caught talking to is of far greater interest, and that’s why I follow @eyespymp .

This is crowd sourced news – often within the confines of the Commons and Portcullis House. The people posting the info on this twitter feed are clearly part of the political elite, as they have access to the land where grand decisions are made.

So imagine my surprise to see this @eyespymp feed populated with sexist remarks about female politicians. The following picture captures just 5 separate remarks made in one day (yesterday.)


It serves as a timely reminder, that the cause for gender equality is still a long long way off. It may no longer be politically acceptable for people to associate their identity with the remarks they are making – but that does not mean it isn’t happening behind closed doors, in pubs and in casually remarks amongst friends. There is still a staunch culture in politics that says that a female politicians dress sense and sexual appeal is more topical than what she says or does in the parliament chamber.

I was very quick to pour cold water on the suggestion that the balance of women to men in Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet was somehow a great victory for equality. It may be 44% (48% if you include the unelected posts), higher than ever before, but the %s do not make a cultural shift in themselves.

I would have preferred to see women in both the Shadow Chancellor and Shadow DWP roles, and as I suggested in a previous post, I would have liked that to have been Yvette Cooper and Caroline Flint.

There is no doubt that these cuts are going to impact disproportionately on women. Whether it’s cuts to child benefit, or the loss of public sector jobs. I can’t help but think that the women suffering in the months to come would benefit more from a female voice articulating their concerns. It would offer a greater sense of authenticity – a visual that says “we understand because we’re just like you.”

That sad, Alan Johnson made a great fist of making the CSR “real” to people yesterday, and having listened to the break neck speed that George Osbourne dismantled the welfare system yesterday, the shadow DWP brief will benefit from the intellectual rigour of Douglas Alexander. But we must not forget that not only will women be the greatest victims of these cuts, they are the one group, according to @deborahmattinson, that Labour must regain the trust of, if it is ever to win again.

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