Monday, 5 June 2017

Why Voting For Theresa May Is Not A Vote For Feminism

First of all I will say that I am biased. I am a member of the Labour party and a firm supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. However this doesn’t not mean you should instantly dismiss what I have to say, I may be a Corbyn supporter but I am also a follower of intersectional feminism.

The reason I am declaring my bias is because I want this post to help you make up your own mind on how to vote on Thursday (Labour, please… but the choice is ultimately yours) and I feel that we all get more out of opinion pieces like this if the writers own bias is easily distinguished.

Most people are biased, it doesn’t mean they will lie to you but it best to be aware.

The main reason I am writing this is because I worry that there will be some people among our electorate who believe that Theresa May is a feminist choice for prime minister simply because she’s a woman. This is not the case. Women and minorities have suffered under the Conservatives and will continue to do so if we elect them again.

I am not going to delve into the question of whether or not Conservative ideology is compatible with feminism because I just want to focus on our current Prime Minister and her record for harming women and minorities.

Child Benefits – The 2 Child Policy
This is a policy that came into effect in April of this year. Parents may now only claim benefits for their first 2 children (some exceptions are made, we will delve into those later). When implementing a policy like this you have to consider – who will this affect the most?

The answer to this question will be families on low income and lone parents. Also families where 1 or both partners have children from previous relationships.

We know that a disproportionate number of lone parents are women, Gingerbread (a charity that helps lone parents) puts the figure at about 90% (https://gingerbread.org.uk/content/365/Statistics). This would suggest that when relationships break down about 90% of the time women are left with the responsibility for raising the children.

This would also suggest that 90% of men in this situation could go on to have as many children as they like with no financial penalty – yet again, the cost lands on women’s shoulders, when lone mothers already bear the brunt of the social cost and stigma of being lone parents.

The Rape Clause
When you have to start making exceptions in a policy for victims of sexual assault you should probably be putting that policy in the bin. Policies requiring exceptions become very inefficient to navigate. That is before you even get into the ethicality of this particular clause.

I have read the paper work this government is asking victims and survivors of sexual assault to fill out. To me it reads like the person who set this form out is coming from a position of disbelief, victims must prove their honesty.

In particular I find “ In order to get this extra support, you must not be living with the other parent of the child.” to be extremely alarming. Theresa May’s government is saying ‘It’s not rape if you didn’t leave’ single headedly dismissing how difficult it can be to leave abusive relationships while also making victims more financially dependent on their abusers.

The clause also asks you to name the child you conceived non-consensually and requires that you have reported your rape to some kind of professional body. Only 15% of sexual assaults are reported to the police. (https://rapecrisis.org.uk/statistics.php). I desperately urge you to look though the document people who conceive non-consensually are required to fill out and decide if you think a feminist would support it? https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/606978/nnc1.pdf

LGBT+ Rights
My benchmark for feminism is intersectional, that means LGBT, BAME and disabled peoples rights hold as much sway as women’s rights.

While Theresa May did vote in favour of the Equal marriage bill I believe she did this because she was a cabinet minister at the time and the bill was put forward by her party leader. The reason I believe this is because this vote was not in line with other vote on LGBT+ rights.

·         1998 – Voted against reducing the age of consent for homosexual acts from 18 to 16 in line with the age of consent for mixed sex couples.
·         2002 – Voted against allowing same sex couples to adopt
·         2008 – Voted to deny IVF to couples with no “male role modle” effectively seeking to bar lesbians and bisexual women form fertility treatment.

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