Anyone else feel a bit invisible?

Alex Molton considers the furore of the national election and wonders if anyone is really representing us at all.

Female politician speaking to an audience

 

By the time you read this it will be decided. The votes will have been counted (and possibly recounted) and, hopefully, we will all know which bunch of hopefuls are taking the country forward into the next four years.

Election fever

Usually I am quite into the elections, mainly because of all of the crazy stories and bonkers stunts which leaders will use to try and make themselves seem appealing, trustworthy, and  – my favourite of all – like the ‘average’ man. But this time round I’ve really found myself struggling to feel excited about the process, despite two good friends being district councillors and a very real possibility that we might see the end of a long Tory reign in our constituency.

OH always has his finger on the pulse when it comes to politics (especially anything to do with Trump – he could write a biography) and talking it all through with him I realised it’s because there is no-one I feel any affinity, connection or likeness to this time around. Not that I was particularly stirred by anyone last time either, and being a Green voter at heart, I always struggle to find anyone to even vote for, let alone believe in.

A world controlled by men

The difference this time around is me and where I am at, I think. I am bored to death of a world which seems to be driven and controlled by men, in politics, business, religion. And despite claims that gender equality is gaining ground, we can’t even complete simple tasks like visiting a shop or walking the dog without being jeered at, checked over, brushed past. There is no real female influence anywhere, at least not on a enduring scale, and any time a woman gets to the top in politics they are maligned, undermined, torn down.

The Guardian reported this week that female politicians had been subjected to AI-generated deepfake pornographic images of themselves swirling around the drain of the internet. But why? I might not agree with their politics, but these are intelligent, hardworking women, working in one of the toughest industries out there. Why should their gender be the focus here? We should all be criticising them based on how good they are at their job (or not), not belittling them with tedious diatribes and online abuse because they happen to be female.

Abuse

But this is just one of the many many stories about female politicians being harassed, threatened and even suffering physical abuse – and, of course, there was the horrific murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016. In March this year, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies published an article about how female politicians are forced to leave their jobs due to relentless and dangerous levels of abuse. The European Parliament also published an article on their website in February, claiming that ‘violence against women active in politics discourages many women from entering the political arena’. So, not only are women fighting for a space in boardrooms and religious institutions, but we risk our own safety by daring to take a seat in the House of Parliament – a place, which above all others, should give representation and a voice to us all.

While reports circulate about Nigel Farage claiming that notoriously misogynistic online ‘influencer’ Andrew Tate is standing up for men and defending their ability to ‘be a bloke’, female politicians are being harangued and vilified, belittled and persecuted. Or, maybe even worse, framed as hysterical, unpredictable dangers. And, in many cases, having to leave their jobs because they feel unsafe.

So although many of the key issues of the election – childcare reforms, social care in crisis, rising numbers living in poverty – disproportionately affect women in our country every day, many of us feel that we don’t have anyone who represents us during this election, who understands and can fight our corner in the one place where change can actually happen. Women who manage to get to the top are unfairly criticised because they are women, not because they are politicians, and any real power they have is overshadowed by the louder noise of the men in this giant boys’ club, with many of their voices eventually silenced by fear.



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