My response to the Real Women amendments (as I am sadly not going to the Conference)
I have heard of various amendments that are being tabled against the Real Women campaign, and it was today that I received an email from the Gender Balance campaign within the Liberal Democrats, expressing concerns around these proposed amendments. They are amendments Lembit Opik would be probably be proud to write about in his Daily Sport column. In seriousness, the amendments want to remove the proposals to tackle the unreal body image expectations in the media, and the 'name blanking' proposals intended to tackle discrimination at work.
Removing the promise to tackle the unrealistic expectations that are often projected in the media around women's body image, would abolish a central feature of the Real Women campaign. The Real Women campaign does exactly what it says on the tin. It is about promoting Real Women. Thus, Real Women do not constitute blown up airbrushed fake women plastered all over any medium you can find. Real Women, are women who wear and tear as everyone does, well everyone who does not seek out plastic surgery to hide the evidence. Amending this removes a central aim of the policy, which is to alleviate the pressures for women in society. Men do not have to face half as much pressure and exploitation in relation to their bodies. As I have said time and time before, men do not have to walk into newsagents to be greeted with fake half naked and naked men blown up on several magazines and newspapers. The Liberal Democrat males do not have one of their own MPs writing in a sex obsessed degrading male newspaper. Amending this proposal is removing the core feature to the campaign. It removes what I think is one if not the main reason/s for why these proposals have caught on with many women. What it does, is hit a strong chord with women who feel exposed and pressured into being something they are not, even if that something they are not, is fake.
In regard to name blanking, this is again a central feature of the campaign. It helps tackle the gender and ethnic discrimination that occurs in the workplace. It comes with the news that Labour are dropping their pledge to increase maternity leave from 9 months to a year due to cost. However, maybe, maternity leave extension being dropped is a good thing. It helps us focus more on the unequal divide between maternity and paternity leave, which the Real Women campaign seeks to challenge. I would argue that instead of increasing maternity leave from 9 months to a year, there instead needs to be a change and extension of paternity leave to equal out the books. How is it fair that we leave the paternity leave at the pathetic way it is, but then talk about extending the maternity leave? Name blanking relates to maternity and paternity discussions, as from the name you can tell if the person is a woman or a man. Obviously, if it is a woman, thoughts around childcare comes into play for the employer. Thus, if covered, then there would be a true assessment on skills and talents not childrearing. Therefore, tackling the maternity/paternity leave divide would arguably make the name blanking policy easier to carry out.
Both these proposed amendments need to be dropped, as they allow for a partial destruction of the key message of the campaign. I only wish I was going to the conference to help argue against the amendments, but instead, I will argue from my computer:) I can't wait until we move the conference away from the sea side for once, and actually target our core voters in the City's we consistently go on about controlling. Anyway, that is another blog post in its own right.
Anyway, there is a lot more I could say on these issues, and I have commented on them a great deal in previous blog posts too. These amendments are damaging for our party and the effectiveness of the campaign, and I hope they are defeated.