Posted by: ginalazenby | May 6, 2010

invisible women in UK election campaign

“So you’ll be looking forward to having your husband back” comments the Sky News reporter to Mrs Nick Clegg, wife of the LibDem leader. Miriam Gonzalez Durantez’ immediate comeback was “We’re in this together…. of course, the children look forward to spending more time with their father.”  Why assume that she is just a passenger by that question?  It’s the idea that the leaders’ wives are just there as supportive ornaments that annoys me when it is quite obvious how intelligent and committed these women are to the goal of getting their husband’s elected to fulfill what for each of them is a once in a life-time ambition. I bet they discuss the day’s developments together every night and get support, encouragement and critical feedback from a female perspective.  Yet we never hear meaningful contributions from the women themselves!  Remember how Michelle Obama hit the campaign trail in the USA with Barack Obama through 2008 often making her own separate appearances and speeches about what they both passionately believed in. I’ve not heard a peep out of the mouths of Sarah, Sam or Miriam.

Gordon Brown is obviously devoted to his wife Sarah who has taken a high profile stance against maternal mortality (Millennium Development Goal no 5) and he often talks about what she is championing. He’s already said that if he loses the election “Sarah and I will do charitable work“. It is quite clear they are a team. These women clearly have something insightful to contribute so why can’t we hear from them?  I feel I can make a much better, more rounded judgment about the true character of a person when I get to know more about the one who has made a lifetime commitment to them. Somehow their whole persona gets fleshed out when you see the whole package (ie the woman behind the man!). I’ve written before about Sarah Brown delighting audiences with little asides about Gordon’s hilarious mistakes when laying the dining table!

Have these politicians forgotten that half the electorate is female? Yes I know there are some women candidates but you don’t hear from them. It’s 2010, nearly 100 years since women got the vote, and the key political debates of the three parties were led by white men in suits chaired by …. another white guy in a suit. Couldn’t the media have pulled in a wonderful female heavyweight broadcast personality like Kirsty Walk from BBC 2’s Newsnight? At least have some other hormone on the stage and not just testosterone. These guys are blind, they can’t see the women at all. We want to see women leading discussions and having real rather than faux influence.  Have you noticed any women anywhere in this campaign?

Read more about what others think about the lack of women in this election.

Counterfire Blog on Where are the women? Anne Perkins in The Guardian: Where are the women?

Centre for Women & Democracy’s blog:   Still no diversity in the leaders’ debates

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Responses

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments Gina. Yes, can we please hear the VOICES of these politician’s wives, not just see their smiling faces and latest outfits in newspaper pics and TV footage.
    Let’s hear from them. Let’s hear their views, their concerns, their questions, their emotions, their humour, their personalities, their life experience….rather than have the blokes (Gordon, Nick and David) talk ABOUT their wives!
    And yes, we in the public would get to know the man better through hearing from his other half. The character of a man can be assessed through his relationship with his wife and children, a la, the Obamas.
    Women want to see a genuine, equal, intelligent partnership demonstrated in political leaders.
    And yes, we need more women journalists chairing political debates; a female perspective and presence. What year is this again? 1910 or 2010?


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