There has been a lot of chat and bitching and biting around the issue of All Women Shortlists, with both men and women of the blogosphere pitching their views on either side of the argument.
There have been accusations of sexism and offense and all the usual clammerings of shite that usually appear when there's a chance for some bloggers to look, Oh So PC. But you know what...anyone that says that women are under represented in politics is fucking delusional. I'd rather know that the right decisions are being taken, rather than whatever decision is being taken is being taken proportionally across the sexes/races/social classes/religions etc. Women may not make up the majority of politicians, but they, as women are not under-represented on issues which affect women.
I say this, because I recently found out that the first ever official debate in the House of Commons on Men's Health was held... on 5 March 2009. Yes, that's right, a month ago.
I could waste the next three years of my life totalling up the number of different debates that have taken place on women's health, but I won't, for now I'll use the term “lots”.
Breast cancer, cervical cancer, screening programmes, IVF treatments to name but a few, are some of the “lots” of time and energy and time and politics that have been spent on these issues – worthy issues I'd like to add. But for our Government to have held ONE official debate on the topic of men's health is truly appalling. One example...we could do with more time and money spent on getting men to discuss grabbing their balls and playing 'hunt the lump'.
Would having more women in politics have made this issue more prominent, more 'tackled'? (excuse the pun). No, would it have been less so? I doubt it.
If women think that they are getting a raw deal out of the product that is governance (aka policy), then that is one thing they are right to argue about. But the most recent AWS debate hasn't focussed on this. Instead there have been accusations that men, and men alone, are responsible for “The Holocaust. The Cold War. The collapse of the world’s financial system and the deepest recession for decades.”. Yeah, cos women, 'Blair's Babes' for example, weren't involved in any Afghanistan chat, of course!
In modern politics, polling has more sway than anything over MPs (male or female). Polling takes into account the views of the nation, men and women. Politicians' main priority is getting re-elected, and getting into Government. Pandering to women is a massive part of any party's strategy. No party is going to be elected, or re-elected if they can be labelled as sexist. So whether an MP is male or female, it doesn't matter, because they will vote along the lines that polling dictates, reflecting the voters' wishes. If anyone wants to argue that polling is conducted in a way that benefits men over women, I'd love to hear it – but then again, I've always loved listen to crazy folks.
Here's a couple of examples where women, despite being less in numbers in politics, certainly get the bigger slice of the equality pie...
Domestic abuse – debate on this issue focusses almost entirely on the effect on women. I admit that they are more the victim in this, but pretty much no debate or policy is targeted at helping men.
Custody rights – more than 90% of custody battles result in settlements being made in favour of the mother (just ask Fathers4Justice) usually on the basis that “a mother's bond is closer”.
But on men's health, for there to have been one debate, ever, is truly scandalous, especially compared to the millions of pounds and hours spent on women-only issues. I'm not saying we shoulldn't be paying this money and using our time on these things, but when women want to talk about equality, let's look at it across the board. Just because you're not 50% of those making the decisions, doesn't mean you're being hard done by. In some cases women are, in some cases it's men. I'd be interested to know if men and women agree that the important thing is what is decided, rather than who decides it.
Let's spend less time chasing false equalities like 50:50 splits.
Let's spend more time talking about my nuts.