LabourList is drowned out by ego-stroking testosterone – It’s time for a virtual feminist party

6th March, 2009 11:54 am

By Rowenna DavisIWD

LabourList Guest Editor

According to the UN, the average woman speaks 20,000 words a day whilst the average guy speaks just 7,000. Yet when it comes to political conversations online, women are still massively under-represented.

The political blogosphere is increasingly coming to mirror the gung ho boys club that is the House of Commons. Online and off, proper debate is being drowned out by testosterone, ego stroking and petit point scoring. If women are to advance gender equality, they need to start reclaiming the political web space. Now.

To date, the laddish LabourListers – with their emphasis on donuts, techie banter and zero female employees – haven’t really helped the problem. But to their credit, they have invited me to be Guest Editor to help balance the office’s oestrogen- testosterone ratio for one day of the year, next Monday – to celebrate International Women’s Day.

So on Monday, LabourList will be a man-free zone, and women will be taking over the political space.

If you ask me, they’ve let “woman trouble” in through the virtual front door.

Once inside, I’ll be asking a bunch of sassy intelligent women from all ends of the political spectrum to speak their minds on exactly what Labour should do (and stop doing) to advance gender equality in the UK. We’re going to have a virtual feminist party – hosted by the men at LabourList – and everyone’s invited. When we’re done, we’ll leave them to pick up the pieces.

Heading up the guest list will be Fiona Millar talking about Thatcher’s legacy on women in politics and Harriet Harman on how to stop “old boys networks” from “profiting from discretionary bonus and pension systems”. MEP Mary Honeyball and her assistant Holly Sutton will be arguing (on opposite sides!?) about whether 50:50 representation is a good thing, whilst Jessica Asato has a surprise for us.

Outside of the mainstream Labour oestrogen pool we’ll be hearing from the likes of maverick feminist blogger Penny Red on popular sexism, and feminist and community activist Anne-Marie O’Reilly on how Labour’s new Welfare Bill discriminates against single mothers.

The proliferation of gender inequality in the UK means that these guest bloggers will have a lot to talk about. The traditional pay gap is still going strong at 17%, rising to 40% in the city. Just one in ten directors of FTSE 100 companies are women, and less than 20% of all MPs are female. Meanwhile recent research since the financial crisis suggests that 40% of women – all too often at the bottom of the economic pile – are worrying about how to pay the bills as compared to just 27% of men.

These kinds of figures are unacceptable, and we need to get talking about them. So please – men, women, those who prefer to leave their gender unspecified – spare us some of your 7,000 or 20,000 words a day, and join the debate.

Comments are closed


  • Comment Featured So long, Denis

    So long, Denis

    I was once writing a column about leadership and those moments when you really have to be tough and probably end up upsetting people. In my head was a phrase I was sure I had heard Denis Healey use on one occasion – that while “sometimes you may have to be a bastard you must never be a shit”. But as this column was for the FT, there was no way I was going to be allowed just to claim […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Healey showed what guts it took to be a Common Sense Chancellor

    Healey showed what guts it took to be a Common Sense Chancellor

    There’s a certain art to be Chancellor of the Exchequer during the good times. It’s a time to make progress turning Labour ideals into action. But to do the job when the world is in meltdown: that takes nerves of steel. Denis Healey had those, and the intellect to identify Britain’s long-term economic challenge. I was Chief Secretary to the Treasury during Alistair Darling’s final year as Chancellor. It was my job to negotiate the deals with Cabinet to halve […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Lord Adonis resigns Labour whip to chair Government Infrastructure Commission

    Lord Adonis resigns Labour whip to chair Government Infrastructure Commission

    It will be announced tomorrow that Andrew Adonis will become chair of the Government’s Infrastructure Commission. Adonis, a peer, has resigned the Labour whip in the House of Lords to take up the role, as is normal for peers taking up independent bodies. In 2010, Frank Field and Alan Milburn were criticised were for taking roles advising the Government on poverty and social mobility. The National Infrastructure Commission is a policy from Labour’s manifesto this year, and Adonis was on the review […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Healey saw off Benn in 1981. What are the similarities with today?

    Healey saw off Benn in 1981. What are the similarities with today?

    The death of Denis Healey would have been a huge moment of sadness and reflection whatever the timing of his passing. There are very few figures beyond the sadly short list of six Labour Prime Ministers who have had as much impact on the party as him. But the timing of his death has the added poignancy of coming just after the election of a party leader from an avowedly Bennite tradition. Healey’s narrow victory over Tony Benn in the […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Labour figures react to death of Denis Healey

    Labour figures react to death of Denis Healey

    Labour figures are today reacting to the news that former Chancellor Denis Healey has died at the age of 98. We’ll keep this post updated as more come in. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn: “Denis Healey was a giant of the Labour Party whose record of service to his party and his country stands as his testament. “He distinguished himself with his military service during the Second World War and continued that commitment to the British people as a Labour politician […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends