This thread is opened for posting and discussion of examples of sexism towards women politicians in the Irish media. Having recently been kindly invited to contribute to the Anti-Room blog, I wrote a piece on the need for gender quotas and a discussion has been going on there for a few weeks now. Changing attitudes is arguably one of the biggest obstacles we have to seeing more women in politics and in public life in general, not least among those who control the way women are popularly perceived in those roles: the men and women of the media. Women themselves are by no means exempt from being sexist about other women – especially in a male dominated environment like the media where being one of the lads is still a fact of daily working life for many, though certainly not all. Of course none of this is news to many women but it seems like it needs to be said again and again until the point goes home.
I’ve just posted a comment to the gender quota thread at the Anti-Room (see link above) about a throwaway remark about Margaret Thatcher made in an editorial in today’s Irish Examiner. She is described as an ‘Enoch Powell in an austere frock’. Male politicians are almost never discussed by reference to their appearance. Their ideas and actions may be ridiculed, but their basic human dignity is seldom attacked in this way. It is depressing when a woman who achieved as much as Margaret Thatcher did can still be discussed in these terms in the media and though I despise her politics, unless women start to support each other regardless in facing down this sort of casually vicious and sexist treatment, attitudes will never change. Respect for women is key to bringing about real change – we’re going to have to insist on having it in equal measure.