The newspapers are full of criticism for Harriet Harman today. I agree her comments about how men cannot be trusted etc etc are harsh and unhelpful; however, her proposals highlight the systematic male dominance in politics.
I have been surprised a bit by the ignorance of some women writing in the newspapers today. For example, a Telegraph article says:
"If the women are good, I’m with them; if they’re not, I’m not"
Yes, I am against appointing women just for the sake of them being women. However, many talented women in parliament are overlooked for cabinet jobs and other important jobs. Therefore, does this mean that only men, who have been elected the same way women have, are more talented? Alternatively, is it just further evidence of the men being more able to get to top positions in politics?
This relates to issues around women being set back in politics by commitments to childcare etc as well. It is therefore not a simple question of whether they are good or not, as if they have got into parliament I sincerely hope they are good enough to hold a top post. There is also a fundamental issue of helping more women get into politics at a local level, as the male dominance that Harman highlighted and seems to have been shot down about, needs to be addressed to provide women with more confidence in a system that regularly fails them.
I think that Harman's words could have been better chosen, but to beat her down for simply advocating a fairer and representative leadership and government is wrong. We need to see more women in top positions as they are good enough, otherwise they would not likely be elected. There is a long-standing tradition in politics that has seen women isolated from the main decisions; I mean it is only relatively recently that women were able to vote. There have been important changes that have taken place recently, but Harman's words, if not her policy ideas, serve as a reminder of the problems that are still occurring due to the male dominance in politics.