Updated: Feb 19, 2019
Women are often labelled heroes, much to the distaste of anti-feminists, for achieving or being successful in things that men do freely. Often because they have encountered far more preventative barriers on their route to success than these same men ever did. After the Huffington Post highlighted a story yesterday of Labour MP Tulip Siddiq having to delay the birth of her child, against doctor’s orders, or lose her right to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal in parliament, I was enraged. But not before I’d dubbed her a hero. After which, I had given myself even more to be enraged about.
Why should women have to be heroic because working life still isn’t accommodating to them? Why do women have to make these dire choices because of a lack of proper policy that would make their lives a little bit easier? Why are women having to sacrifice whole parts of their lives just to make everything run smoothly for other people?
The government are running the country and it’s a sad reality that their lack of policy changes (e.g. the introduction of a proxy voting system for situations like that of Siddiq) reflects directly on the rest of the country. If parliament still isn’t compatible with the lives of mothers, or expectant mothers, then there is not much hope for other working sectors being accessible to women and their family lives either. In recent years, representational issues in politics have been addressed with more women than ever holding seats in UK constituencies. However, regardless of the door finally being open to them and the seat at the table finally being offered, if they are then STILL encountering these preventative barriers that their male counterparts will never endure, it’s another sad reminder of the fact that politics wasn’t designed with women in mind. It’s still a men’s club and it’s still making the job of female MPs far more difficult than it needs to be.
It’s also necessarily to be reminded of the fact that it’s not just politics which is less accessible to women. We are discriminated against in many different sectors. The fact that women can have children is held against them; maternity and paternity leave lacking in equity to such a degree, means women find it harder to return to work; industries like IT and STEM which are heavily male dominated deter women who feel disempowered; the treatment of female professionals by the media and their use of buzz words like BOSSY, BITCHY, AGGRESSIVE can have a huge impact on women not reaching their full potential through fear of their perception. Also, men are at the disadvantage of toxic masculinity having instilled in them a fear of successful, strong-minded women – this fear in turn, forces women to feel ashamed of their success and as though they have to dumb themselves down purely to be deemed attractive. Trust me gals, you do not need any man in your life that doesn’t want to completely support you and immerse themselves in your success! I’d suggest a straight binning of anyone who doesn’t let you indulge in your achievements.
It’s beyond frustrating that women are still required to be courageous and heroic in the working world because not a lot has changed in the last 30 years to break down the preventative barriers, a.k.a, the glass ceiling. Parliament most definitely, should be leading by example to ensure that no future female MPs are faced with the choice that Tulip Siddiq had to make. How has a proxy voting system not been introduced already? Has society not reached the point of understanding that women can chose to work; chose to be mothers; and god forbid – chose to do BOTH? We want to be able to conduct our work in the same way that men can; free of discrimination and free of these easily rectified preventions. When will the world realise that women reaching their full potential in all aspects of their lives is good economically, socially and politically? Women need to stop being punished by our unaccommodating working world. We shouldn’t have to be heroes to be successful.