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Bridging the left/right political divide

(353 Posts)
Prolesworth Fri 27-May-11 11:53:32

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swallowedAfly Fri 27-May-11 12:09:25

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celadon Fri 27-May-11 12:12:36

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swallowedAfly Fri 27-May-11 12:24:22

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Prolesworth Fri 27-May-11 12:25:00

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swallowedAfly Fri 27-May-11 12:27:08

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RamblingRosa Fri 27-May-11 12:29:48

I also tend to assume that feminist = left wing but I know that it doesn't (and I certainly know that left wing doesn't automatically = feminist!). As much as I loathe the Tories, I'm sure there are many conservative women who argue in favour of many feminist principles such as equal representation of women in politics, more women in leadership roles and on Boards in business, ending violence against women, equal pay, etc. I'm sure a good deal are anti-porn and anti-prostitution (although perhaps from a slightly more moralistic perspective rather than equality and ending violence against women perspective).

How those Tories who identify as feminists reconcile what the government's cuts agenda is doing to women I really do not know.

LidlPrincess Fri 27-May-11 12:34:32

swallowedafly - That pretty much sums up my preconceptions too! Interested to see how this thread pans out

swallowedAfly Fri 27-May-11 12:45:37

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ThursdayNext Fri 27-May-11 12:57:56

Louise Bagshawe is divorced, isn't she? But yes, I imagine her wealthy background is far more important than her gender in defining her views. Although it is probably true for most of us that our political views are influenced more by our socio-economic background than by our gender.

Is Xenia a kind of right wing feminist? Is that how she would describe herself?

fluffles Fri 27-May-11 13:02:28

i have met right wing feminists (i think), they were generally young, people i met at uni, who had gone to 'good' schools and were sure that they were as good as any man and were going to 'make their own way' in the world. they generally believed that people could pull themselves up if they wanted to enough and that applied as much to men as to women. they were 100% active against any form of harrassment or explicit discrimination.

they would however have seen some feminist arguements around poverty as 'excuses'.

swallowedAfly Fri 27-May-11 13:02:31

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Prolesworth Fri 27-May-11 13:45:12

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PrinceHumperdink Fri 27-May-11 13:54:39

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sakura Fri 27-May-11 14:03:38

Proles, like you I am no longer a "leftie". For you it was Assange, for me it was Iraq... I just couldn't believe that a supposed left-wing government was willing to fuck over people in another country in the name of profit....

So I think left and right wing women should come together against patriarchy.

What does the left offer? It offers the NHS (no small thing), it provides for single mothers, ideologically it is out to protect the poor and vulnerable, it believes in Unions etc...

What does the right offer? I will C&P some of my post on that other thread:

Right Wing Women are not wrong about the misogyny of the left and the liberals though, and we have seen this in Nick Clegg.. and the rise of porn culture through leftist ideologies.
The other thing is that Conservatives oppose porn and places like Hooters... and that is not a small thing for women
And the final reason (and this one is close to my heart) the conservatives are the only group which fight the male medical fraternaty's callous use of women's bodies in the form of surrogacy and egg harvesting... they are the only group which acknowledge women's role... it is extremely conservative... but the alternative is seeing women's life-creating power being brought down to the basest level-- wombs sold as commodities-- women harvested for their eggs and farmed for their life-giving potential in return for a few bucks... a few quid more than they're able to get than in the job market where their labour is exploited by the system

having said that they are going about it all the wrong way... the only way to change anything is through laws and social policies made by and in favour or women...

But as a lefty ) myself, it was really interesting to see thing from the other side of the fence IYSWIM

What is the point in having a left-wing government that is pro-porn and pro-sex industry? It is utterly pointless for women. IT only helps men economically, because women are still shuttled into the sex class.

AliceWhirled Fri 27-May-11 14:04:06

Is there a left/right wing divide in feminism?

There are wider left/right wing divides that feminists might express as part of their wider politics, but I wouldn't label it as a divide in feminism itself.

And Conservatives are not necessarily entirely conservative. I struggle to reconcile conservatism with feminism, but Conservatives are a hotch potch of conservatism, neoliberalism, neoconservatism, class-driven entitlement. So when Conservatives express feminist things, they may well not be expressing conservatism too.

I don't think the divides in feminism are anything to do with the left/right, pro-porners and pro-prostitutioners come from a left wing workers rights perspective, and a right wing choicechoicechoicewemusthavechoice individualist perspective.

sakura Fri 27-May-11 14:08:23

That's true Alice.. there isn't really a left/right wing divide in feminism is there...
It's just that we women are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to election time.
On paper, left wing values are more pro-women than the overtly misogynistic right, but the right offers women paternalism (boak) which actually does look out for women in a certain way>

We need our own party, we really do

Prolesworth Fri 27-May-11 14:08:48

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AliceWhirled Fri 27-May-11 14:13:20

I imagine speaking out my arse as I haven't heard anything that Louise Bagshaw has said that I would agree with some of what she said, but not the principle behind it or the reasoning that had brought her to her conclusion. But in a feminist context I would work with her on what we agreed on.

Prolesworth Fri 27-May-11 14:14:57

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MooncupGoddess Fri 27-May-11 14:38:08

I think it would be hard to be socially conservative and a feminist. But I can't see a problem necessarily in being economically right wing (whatever that means... as a shortcut, let's say generally a fan of the free market) and a feminist. Why should there be?

Yes, there are aspects of traditional left-wing thinking that fit well with some aspects of feminism - I like the communitarian tradition, the concern for marginalised groups, etc. However, the trade union movement has never been very women-friendly and right-wing individualism has possibly made it easier for women to take control of their lives (need to think this one out properly).

In any case, I think it is crucial that feminists avoid being aligned solely with the left. That way lies marginalisation, and the alienation from the movement of a lot of clever committed women who are very bothered about gender equality but couldn't give a toss (say) about cuts to the arts.

smallwhitecat Fri 27-May-11 14:49:07

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Treats Fri 27-May-11 14:50:48

This is interesting. I've never identified myself as left-wing, and don't feel that I'm automatically left-wing because I'm a feminist. I'm a practicing Catholic and (so shoot me!) voted Tory last time round, so I'm probably one of those women you're so mystified by.

So -in case you're wondering - I'm not from a wealthy background (both parents - Tory voters- worked in the public sector) and didn't go to a private school. While my life hasn't exactly been charmed or privileged, I haven't experienced much hardship. I did well at school, got a degree, and have been fortunate enough to have been in employment ever since. I met my husband when I was very young (21) and have stuck with him ever since - I've got one daughter and am expecting my second child. I always imagined I'd have a string of boyfriends and pick and choose between them for glamorous dates throughout my twenties, and eventually settle on one to marry in my early thirties, so it wasn't as though I married my first boyfriend through a sense of morality or convention - it just made sense to hang onto him because he was so obviously the right guy.

So, which of my views are overtly right-wing? I definitely believe in marriage and the family, but mostly because I think the institution of marriage protects women - once you're married to the father of your children, he has a legal responsibility to feed and house them which he can't wriggle out of. My feminism has always made me very clear-sighted about this. It also protects the property rights of non-earning partners (i.e. SAHMs) - in the event of a split, the earning partner has an obligation to provide for them.

But I believe that marriage is strengthened by the availability of divorce - people stay in marriages because they choose to. I think it's essential that women have an escape route if they have an abusive partner. Nor do I think that unmarried mothers with no means of support should be 'punished' or made to live in communal homes.

What else is right wing? I think that capitalist societies are generally freer than non-capitalist societies and that freedom serves feminism. The more controlling a society is, the more oppressed women are - the levers of control are always in the hands of men. Capitalism can serve women's interests, inasmuch as money doesn't recognise gender. Discrimination of any kind prevents the market from operating efficiently so should be opposed by any good capitalist. It's interesting to note that this govt have brought in paternity leave rights beyond what the last Labour govt did.

sakura - you mentioned unions. Historically unions have been fundamentally misogynistic - they may be working class rather than upper class, but they still work to exclude and discriminate against women. A couple of years ago, some female council workers won an historic discrimination case against their employers, which netted them all thousands in back pay. The case was taken on by a maverick solicitor because their union refused to represent them......

Someone else mentioned the government's cuts agenda and its effect on women. It's worth mentioning, firstly, that we currently have historically high levels of public spending and the agenda only puts us back to the levels we were at in 2003 - I don't see a massive advance in women's prospects in the last 8 years, so it's not necessarily true that high public spending = good for women. I don't want to sound like a Tory girl (I don't fully buy into their rationale for cuts, and I actually supported Alistair Darling's plan to make the same level of cuts over a longer period of time), but it was Labour who abolished the 10p tax rate, hitting lower earners (disproportionately women) and increased NI rates, making it harder for employers to hire. The Tories have increased the tax threshold, meaning many lower earners now pay no tax at all.

Sorry - long post. It's an interesting issue for me. But, in short, I don't think feminism is intrinsically left wing anymore. Certainly not since 1997.....

MooncupGoddess Fri 27-May-11 14:58:04

Good post Treats. I particularly agree with this, which is the point I was fumbling towards:

'I think that capitalist societies are generally freer than non-capitalist societies and that freedom serves feminism. The more controlling a society is, the more oppressed women are - the levers of control are always in the hands of men.'

smallwhitecat Fri 27-May-11 15:03:36

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