A questionable choice for Women’s Minister?

In my attempt to distract myself from the pain in my head on Friday night (or possibly early morning Saturday – it’s all a bit of a blur) I had a look through the ‘Freshly Pressed’ tag and found an interesting post from the blog ‘Another Angry Woman’. I went to have a look at the full blog and the first post I read, at the top of the blog, was from 9th April, concerning the new Minister for Women, Nicky Morgan, who was recently appointed by the Prime Minister.

Having read the post I decided to find out something more about this woman; she is, after all, representing women to the cabinet. Other than the obvious qualification for the post – she’s female – what makes her a suitable candidate? From what I’ve read, on her official Parliament biography, she’s a Conservative, one of the new MP’s elected in 2010; she’s been Assistant Whip, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and has sat on a couple of Committees. She’s now Financial Secretary to the Treasury as well as Minister for Women. She was a corporate lawyer before becoming an MP.

Nothing on that list seems to qualify her for the position. Does she have a particular interest in women’s issues, something that makes her stand out from the other career politicians taking up a ministerial post as a means to an end? Equality in employment; reproductive rights; childcare; female and female-identifying specific healthcare; domestic abuse? A quick look at her listed political interests, again from her www.parliament.uk biography shows us that, other than mental health – which effects everyone – her interests are primarily business related, and heritage railways.

Mayhap her voting record has shown her to be an active advocate for women’s rights and equality? Err, that would be a no, nope, definitely not. Not only did she vote against the Marriage Equality bill last year, but in 2011 she also voted to require independent advice be made available to women requesting abortion. The majority of MP’s voted against the amendment to that particular bill. Independent advice sounds like a good idea, to give women and their partners information about their options. Until you read the details of the amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill 2011 that was being voted on. ‘Independent advice’ is deemed to be information provided by a statutory body, or, a private body that ‘does not itself refer, provide or have any financial interest in’ providing abortions.

That seems fair enough. Except. Think about it. Other than medical professionals, who else has any interest in providing information about terminations? That would be the organisations that call themselves ‘pro-life’. What they really mean is anti-abortion, anti-choice organisations. Their advice and ‘information’ tends to the emotive and misleading, while accusing pro-choice groups of editing the evidence. Interestingly, I once saw a pro-life organisation’s Tumblr post claiming to show a baby at 20 weeks, when termination is still legal. Someone politely pointed out that in fact the illustration was from a school biology text book and showed a full term baby in birth position. There was an almighty row between the pro-lifers and the pro-choicers. So, who’s editing the evidence to suit their argument?

Having learnt this, I find this woman to be a questionable choice for Minister for Women. She has no qualification or special interest in the area, other than being female, has voted against equality and to restrict the choices women can make with regard to their bodies. Without knowing who else was a candidate for the position I can’t really say whether she was the best available, but if she wasn’t why choose her? And if she was, gods help us all because that suggests we need better politicians; I don’t care whether they’re male or female-identifying (or both or neither, for that matter) as long as they actually care about doing a good job.

Choice is the important word here. The right to choose our lives, to choose what happens to our bodies. Some people want offspring, others don’t; no government, faith organisation, pressure group, or your Mother for that matter, has the right to tell you what to do with your own body, to take away your freedom to choose. To have an unplanned child or not is a difficult decision to make without emotional blackmail or guilt from people who aren’t going to deal with the consequences of the decision.

If it’s not obvious, I’m all for choice, equality, and telling bullies to shove their heads where the sun shineth not. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I am a feminist. The definition of a feminist being someone who advocates women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. If you think feminism is about bra burning and man-hating, or is unnecessary as equality is enshrined in law, you clearly haven’t been taking much notice of what’s going on in the world. Women still earn less than men, women politicians are regularly reduced to what they look like, girls and boys are still told they have to play with different toys, wear different clothes, act certain ways. I’ll stop, before I wander too far from the point.

I never used to have an opinion about abortion, since it’s not something that has ever affected me personally. Until I started being exposed to broader influences it just didn’t enter my sphere of interests. You see things on the internet, get exposed to new ideas. I’m mainly irritated by ‘pro-life’ advocates’ bullying tactics, emotional blackmail and outright lies. I feel the same about campaigning vegetarians and vegans. If you’re going to make an argument for or against something, especially a ‘something’ that will drastically change a persons life, make rational arguments.

I have no plans to ever have children; I don’t have the temperament for the whole ‘child-care’ thing. I like kids, so long as I can give them back to their parents after a couple of hours. If, in the unlikely event I got pregnant I have already decided on my course of action. Taking into account the circumstances, my own ability to emotionally and materially support another life (and considering how much I struggle to look after myself…) I’d probably opt for a termination; I have no problem getting rid of a group of cells. That being said, I have no argument with those who chose to keep an unplanned child. It’s not my place to make decisions about other peoples bodies.

My general policy in life is that I should live my life the way I want to, so long as I’m not hurting anybody, nor trying to tell others how to live their lives based on my morality or ethics. I’d appreciate people extending me the same courtesy. This means you can be a misogynist, or misandrist, racist cunt if that’s your choice, just don’t expect me to agree with your ignorant crap. I will argue, I will also refrain from beating you over the head with a large dictionary and calling you a moron. If rational arguments don’t give you pause for thought we’re probably not going to get on long term anyway.. If in my writing you ever think I’ve broken my own guideline, which I probably have at some point, because guess what I ain’t perfect, say so and we’ll discuss it.

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