the politics of feminism
Last week primary state elections took place in the USA, resulting in five women (four Republican, one Democrat) successfully winning their campaigns in the five key states. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, it seems a great individual achievement for each of those women. It’s also a sign that times are changing when a traditionally conservative party has four females running for key state leadership.
American TV show, Good Morning America, had a short interview with two relatively high profile women and asked their views on the female electoral successes. Journalist and magazine editor, Tina Brown, shares her take on the situation with the following statement:
‘It almost feels as if all these women winning are kind of a blow to feminism, because each one of them really is against so many of the things women have fought for for a long time.’
Being a Democrat, and presumably unhappy with the Republican success, it’s a shame Brown decided to put her political agenda ahead of her gender.
Former judge, Catherine Crier, later chips in with:
‘It’s of great concern that what I am seeing is that, um, people will realise that women can make the same mistakes….as men.’
Ahhhh, Ms Crier? Isn’t that kind of the point? For better or worse, women and men aren’t all that different. Neither gender is perfect.
Australia, too, has experienced an increase in female participation in the political arena. Kristina Keneally, Anna Bligh (both State Premiers), Julia Gillard (Deputy Prime Minister) and Julie Bishop (Deptuy Leader of the Opposition) to name just a few. As a young Australian woman, I am grateful and inspired by the fact that women are now working in such significant political positions. Though, I can’t help but wonder if things would be different if we didn’t tag gender onto female achievement when it can and should be irrelevant.
In the mentioned TV interview both Crier and Brown acknowledged the fact that gender wasn’t a huge issue during the election campaign. Which leaves one asking why make it an issue now, especially with such frivolous comments.
Perhaps the news story should have focused on the proposed policies of those elected, rather than their gender. They did win in the five key states, after all.
Would the whole thing seem a more natural progression if the feminist discussion was omitted? I think so.
This isn’t to say there aren’t occasions where feminist dialogue is necessary and productive. But, in my opinion, what’s happened in this instance was a disgraceful interpretation of events which may further stigmatise both feminism and women alike.
You can check out the interview with Tina Brown and Catherine Crier here.