Finally, I have found an article that has been wrote in support of Harriet Harman, in The Guardian by Tanya Gold. I am not suggesting this is the only article that has been written in Harman's defence, but it is amongst the few that have been. I have written extensively on this issue in recent blog posts, so I apologise for repeats. However, I believe that the way in which the majority of columnists and political figures have responded(or not responded) to Harman is crucial to assess, as it helps highlight the ways in which males dominate the political culture.
As Gold highlights in the article, many of the responses to Harman have been sexist, such as Lembit Opik's response yesterday, and are simply unacceptable. It is important to liken Opik's comments to the Spectator, which is a true Tory newspaper, as it shows how close he is to the traditional attitudes that are engrained within the Conservatives. Opik is supposed to be fighting politics in a party that stands up for equality for all, not one that bashes women down when they highlight a fundamental point. Some have suggested that Opik has not actually wrote the column himself, but whether or not he has, his name is still associated with the comments; and with the core and often blurred concept of accountability, it is Opik who has to be responsible for what is said.
The fundamental point, regardless of whether you agree with Harman's vision for positive discrimination, is that there needs to be more women in politics and doing the top jobs. Simply, there are many women who could quite easily take up top jobs in cabinet, but are overlooked. When Opik's comments are similar to that of Rod Liddle of the Spectator (which Gold rightly states as further evidence for the sexist ways men have responded to Harman), it is worrying for the Lib Dems. Liddle, says for example:
So — Harriet Harman, then. Would you? I mean after a few beers obviously, not while you were sober.How is this any better than Harman saying that we cannot trust men?
It appears to me that many people are missing the important point, and Harman, whilst getting it, is making it harder for people to see due to her man bashing. Rightly, it is to be said that many men cannot be trusted, but equally, a lot of women cannot be either - it is the nature of life. What it comes down to is not trust, it is about equality and representation.
I think Liddle is running before he can walk if he thinks that a woman who is respectable would want to do what he claims to him, when she is married with kids and has such a strong feminist equality vision. He claims he would have more self worth than to have sex with Harman but, I think even thinking these thoughts when Harman is pointing to key issues in politics show actually how he and others who support the article he has wrote actually have little self worth.
Again, the article highlights the way in which men have predominantly responded to Harman's comments, which is with their pants. He refers to how the women in cabinet are simply not good looking enough for 'female window dressing'. This further shows how the men are missing the point, as Opik did yesterday, as it is not about what women look like, it is about their talent. Why do all these men keep commenting on the way women look, and how someone like Jordan would be the epitome of positive discrimination? Maybe because this is just another part of the male dominated culture that politics fosters...