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Nothing like a nice bit of gender politik to lighten up your morning….


by SajiniW on 15th March, 2006 at 10:23 am    

Most famous for ruling that women prisoners give birth whilst shackled to their beds, Ann Noreen Widdecombe of the Conservative party and Celebrity Fat Club fame, is no stranger to controversy.

An outspoken supporter of traditional family values, Widdy’s never short of an opinion or two. Whilst I’m loath to agree with much of her political dogma, she did raise an interesting point or two in Sunday’s Observer

I can empathise with her frustration on being questioned about her gender and her relationship status - exactly how or why does it affect the marker we’re supposed to be judging her by?

Admittedly, it’s harder to relate to a woman who hasn’t gone down the family / nurturer path expected of most females in society, but with the post-feminist revolution, these yardsticks should really be a thing of the past.

I don’t think of myself as a woman MP, I just think of myself as an MP.

When I get asked questions like, am I ‘a good flirt’ or, ‘when was your first kiss?’ I despair. The press is always writing about my relationship in Oxford. I had a boyfriend at Oxford. So? No wonder 1970 feminism failed if 30 years later we’re still talking in those terms.

After reading ‘The Anorexic Experience’, I’ve come to agree with Widdy that ‘too much emphasis is being put on women’s appearances’ - it’s pretty sad that the majority of women are conditioned to believe that the approval of others is necessary for their confidence to be maintained.

Given the endless connotations of ‘thinness’ with ’self-control’, efficiency, cleanliness and femininity; a woman who doesn’t fall victim to Western society’s ‘ideal body’ theory needs both her self-respect and self-esteem to be celebrated.



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4 Comments   |  


  1. Steve M — on 15th March, 2006 at 12:50 pm  

    With women’s rights being such a key issue in the current struggle against fundamentalism, it would be good if women could get beyond the conditioning of society and truly set themselves free.

    Perhaps the voluntary wearing of the Burkha and breast enhancement surgery are but two sides of the same coin.

  2. fotzepolitic — on 15th March, 2006 at 2:04 pm  

    Admittedly, it’s harder to relate to a woman who hasn’t gone down the family/nurturer path

    Why? I’m 30 and childless, I don’t know anyone my age who has kids. Why should we somehow relate more to older women who are mothers? My dad’s best friend from college is a lesbian, I don’t remember having trouble “relating” to her when I was growing up, I thought she was really cool.

    That said, I’m not trying to bust your balls (bust your ovaries?) ;) because I thought Widdecombe’s interview raised some good points as well. I also offer up the controversial viewpoint that Londoners are way more appearance-obsessed than your average American. This may simply be a “big city” phenomenon (i.e., obviously Los Angelinos are obsessed as well), but I swear I’ve never heard so many comments on clothes and makeup and crap before moving here, and the constant expectation that as a female, I should be really into shopping and studying Trinny and Susannah. I *personally* feel that women are pressured far more here to look a certain way than in the U.S. But I also feel like all those tabloid stories about fat white girls who converted to Islam and put on the veil because they supposedly felt pressured to dress like a slut are also disguising the real issue of these women simply not having the strength to do things their own way. Why is it so hard to play soccer, not wear makeup, whatever, and just screw what “society” thinks?

    it would be good if women could get beyond the conditioning of society and truly set themselves free.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if EVERYONE could just get beyond their religious conditioning and set all of humanity free? Men have a lot of work to do as well in terms of getting over their own issues and culturally-ingrained expectations.

  3. Sunny — on 15th March, 2006 at 2:25 pm  

    doesn’t fall victim to Western society’s ‘ideal body’ theory needs both her self-respect and self-esteem to be celebrated.

    To be honest, unless there is some big change in attitudes brought about some singular event or movement, this is unlikely to happen. I feel sad at the way society is progressing sometimes, specially now with the curse of plastic surgery.

  4. Wombatrix — on 15th March, 2006 at 6:10 pm  

    “Admittedly, it’s harder to relate to a woman who hasn’t gone down the family/nurturer path”

    I also have a very difficult time with this perception and consider it a huge obstacle to equality. I am 36 and have no real intentions toward a family, not against it just not in my reality right now. I am also not particularly a “career woman.” Many of my friends feel similarly. Including men. When my close male friend of 41 says he can’t imagine marrying and having kids his friends envy him and assume he is sleeping with a different woman every night. When I say that, the same people assume I am defective and just can’t snag that mate. They believe this no matter what I say.

    I find people’s reaction to my familial life choices similar to their reactions to my opinion on the war in Iraq. No matter how eloquently I defend my position, they have put me in a box of preconceived conceptions and I am a right wing nut (but they love me anyway.) because of that one position — as I am a freak female for pretending to not want to have children.
    Each individual is a complex puzzle of beliefs, desires and thoughts. I no more buy that nurturing motherhood is an automatic and innate qualtiy of all women than I believe absolute pacifism to be an essential component of liberal thought. The family thing is so culturally driven into little girls and women it is almost brainwash. I yearn for the day little girls in our enlightened and modern society will not look to their wedding day as the most special and important day of their lives, but rather just one potential thing in a web of choices the world offers them . I never meant this to be a political position, just a personal choice — but the older I grow and still fail to see acceptance of the “childless woman” the more political it feels.

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