Laura Bates founded the Everyday Sexism Project website in 2012, and since then has become a key advocate for women’s rights in the UK. In an interview with editorsJennifer Thomson and Helena Vieira, Laura discussed the greater number of women in British and international politics, the problem of sexual assault on UK university campuses – and the many challenges which still lie ahead for the women’s movement and feminist activism.
«With our second ever female Prime Minister, British politics currently has a very feminised face – is there now potential for there to be better dialogue around women’s issues in our society?
I think that being able to see women in prominent political positions always brings a certain benefit with it, because of the role modelling potential of girls being able to see those people in those positions. But I don’t think that we can necessarily assume that meaningful feminist change comes just as a result of having women in those positions, because of course their politics are what really matters. I think there are still very grave concerns under Theresa May’s leadership, for example the ring-fencing of funding for frontline women’s services, the detention of refugee women. I don’t think we can automatically tick the box and say a female leader solves women’s issues. It’s also important to look at the bigger picture. Only 191 out of our 650 MPs are female, less than a third. There are more men in parliament right now than there have ever been female politicians. We’re still dramatically underrepresented amongst the people who are making the decisions that affect out lives on a daily basis. There’s a very long way to go.
So you don’t think that women lead differently from men?
I don’t think that there is an automatic gendered approach to politics any more than there is to any other job. I think it’s interesting when you see that being touted in the media, that women will bring a new, softer, kind of politics. I think that’s a false assumption. I think it’s possible that we’re socialised into believing that men behave more aggressively and women have a more conciliatory or a more cooperative style, and of course that might be true for some women but I certainly don’t think that it’s accurate to suggest that all women have a single political style any more than we would do the same for men». Leia na integra.
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