Where do Tory feminists stand on Romney?


10:30 am - August 22nd 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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The Tory MP Louise Mensch – who will soon vacate her seat – wrote a fairly agreeable piece for the Telegraph yesterday stating: George Galloway, Todd Akin and other male politicians still getting it wrong on rape.

That got me thinking: where do self-identified Tory feminists stand on the Republican war on abortion?

The Republican party yesterday approved their position on abortion – which includes no exemptions for rape, incest or even to save the life of the mother.

Tory feminists including Louise Mensch call themselves pro-choice.

Given that the GOP platform is a direct attack on the right of women to choose – and that Vice Presidential pick Paul Ryan has a near-identical record on abortion to Todd “legitimate rape” Akin – what would they say?

So I asked on Twitter

That’s all I got.

No reply to that either.

I plan to ask some other Tory feminists too.

It’ll be interesting to see where their support for women’s right to choose is placed.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Perhaps Louise doesn’t want to alienate anyone in the Republican party because she’s think she’ll be able to run for Congress when she gets over there.

The words “Tory” and “feminism” are incompatible. Exhibit A: The Thatcher ministries. There was a complete absence of women at cabinet level and her policies did nothing for women. Exhibit B: Dominic Raab, who alleged men are being “oppressed” by women.

I rest my case, your honour.

I rest my case, your honour.

Poor Janet Young. The first ever female leader of the Lords, and now erased from history at the click of a mouse.

@3

“The first ever female leader of the Lords, and now erased from history at the click of a mouse”.

You exaggerate. Odd how you’ve not taken issue with my two exhibits. No?

@3.

One more thing, name me one single female-friendly policy put forward by the Thatcher governments.

Janet Young lost her role as leader of the house in 1983. No women in the Thatcher cabinet after that. One single woman in a cabinet of how many men? Besides, leader of the house is usually offered as a consolation prize.

Aren’t the Tories in the UK? And the Republicans in the USA?
Aren’t these two completely different countries?

What’s the relevance of this?

The Republican’s are a strange mix of extreme neoliberal economics and socially conservative christianity. There must be plently of people who agree with one and not the other, though the lack of compassion for the poor doesn’t seem to bother the religious people. Mensch prefers economic policy of Romney, dislikes the social conservatism but has decided to put up with it. I don’t agree with her, but I’m not surprised.

@7

“What’s the relevance of this”?

Have a look at the title.

7 – pointless mischief making probably

I don’t get it. It is Republican Party policy. It is the platforms on which the election is to be fought. But the candidates are NOT required to defend the argument or explain it intellectually because it is Republican Party Policy but NOT Romney party. Isn’t Romney the Republican Party. I am confused!

12. Chaise Guevara

@ 3 Tim J

“Poor Janet Young. The first ever female leader of the Lords, and now erased from history at the click of a mouse.”

LOL

@10

Nope, just pointing out an inconvenient truth.

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 2 buddyhell

“You exaggerate. Odd how you’ve not taken issue with my two exhibits. No?”

I’ll take a shot. The problem is that naming one generally non-feminist administration from years ago, and one unusually misogynistic Tory, does not prove that the party itself is “incompatible” with feminism. It just means it’s not incompatible with chauvanism.

Feminism is *very* broadly defined, and nobody has the right to demand we all use their preferred definition of the word. Someone could easily call themselves a feminist and find the Tories most in line with their beliefs (perhaps they find Tories and Labour equally good on their feminist beliefs, but prefer Tory policy on other issues).

Don’t get me wrong, I personally feel that the Tories are a bit crap on gender issues. But that doesn’t mean we can define “Tory feminist” as an oxymoron.

15. Shatterface

If I were a Tory feminist I wouldn’t vote for Romney.

Sunny:

But GOP party platform is avowedly anti-abortion in all circumstances, yes? Do you support that party and its leader?

Of course she does: (a) she’s just hoping nobody spots the contradiction; (b) in the UK abortion is always a ‘conscience vote’, so any pro-choice female (or male) Tory MP can tell the likes of Nadine Dorries to get stuffed; (c) Tory individualism would insist that a woman should be free to do whatever she likes, especially if she has the cash and/or connections to do so; (d) if other and/or poorer women lose out in terms of access to abortion, too bad for them (see point [c]).

That said, I’d be very surprised if there are that many pro-choice Republicans (male or female) left in the party.

It doesn’t much matter what Republican or Romney policy is, as the US government can’t change US law on this matter.

Besides, you don’t have to agree with the “pro-life” view (I don’t}, to see that most hold that view for moral reasons, and that this is why the issue is so divisive.

Not meaning to derail things, but may I say that I don’t care where Tory feminists stand on Mitt Romney, as long as they’re wearing either heavy boots or stilettoes….

Chaise Guevara (@14):

Feminism is *very* broadly defined, and nobody has the right to demand we all use their preferred definition of the word. Someone could easily call themselves a feminist and find the Tories most in line with their beliefs (perhaps they find Tories and Labour equally good on their feminist beliefs, but prefer Tory policy on other issues).

You know that. I know that. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to tell Harriet Harman.

Moreover, the potential for female Tory MPs and (centre-left?) feminists to form alliances of convenience has the potential to confuse a lot of people, especially when those same female Tory MPs endorse just about every other aspect of right-wing politics such as public sector cuts. (This piece by Gaby Hinsliff is about the best explanation I’ve come across, especially given how the Guardian keeps fawning over Louise Mensch)

Interestingly Mensch has said that there should be a woman in charge at the Ministry of Justice.

21. Chaise Guevara

@ 19 redpesto

“You know that. I know that. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to tell Harriet Harman.”

I am shocked – SHOCKED! – to read Harman saying something oversimplistic and needlessly aggressive.

This is especially bad as (based on that article) she’s not even really talking about Tory policy on gender issues, but rather the general social darwinist attitude of corporatism. Classic bit of equivocation.

“Moreover, the potential for female Tory MPs and (centre-left?) feminists to form alliances of convenience has the potential to confuse a lot of people, especially when those same female Tory MPs endorse just about every other aspect of right-wing politics such as public sector cuts”

Feminism simply isn’t an inherently left-wing position, as that article argues. For a start, “left” and “right” in the UK normally refer mainly to economic policy, not social. Secondly, many of the issues that liberals tend to come to blows over – such as the sex industry – are strongly connected to feminism. Personally I don’t think abortion is a left/right issue either.

Cherub: Interestingly Mensch has said that there should be a woman in charge at the Ministry of Justice.

Fair enough, but she’s leaving parliament anyway. To be honest, all a male Minister for Justice would have to do is either keep his mouth shut on the subject of rape or read from a carefuily prepared set statement, so he doesn’t f*ck it up like Clarke did. Obama seems to have managed this, and he can’t be the only man to think that way. But then he’s a Democrat.

On the other hand, the current and previous Home Secretaries have been women, and the Shadow Home Sec is also female (plus Vera Baird did a stint as Solicitor General in the last government). Theresa May also doubles up as Minister for Women, and Cameron’s hired a woman to be his very own SpAd on women’s issues. Much as a female head of MoJ would add to the overall gender balance of the current Cabinet, and could do a good all round job beyond ‘women’s issues’, it can’t beyond the wit of the Tories to work out a series of actual policies re. women and the criminal justice system, rather than think appointing a woman will solve the job for them.

@ 2 buddyhell

…The Thatcher ministries. There was a complete absence of women at cabinet level and her policies did nothing for women. Exhibit B: Dominic Raab, who alleged men are being “oppressed” by women…

In the early 1980’s, if a woman was raped she would go through an extremely traumatic interrogation by police officers who took that line that if she hadn’t fought back, then it wasn’t rape, and that if she didn’t scream “no” it wasn’t rape. This was changed on the personal orders of Margaret Thatcher within a week of a documentary being screened about the situation.

It seems that some politicians on the left of the political spectrum in the UK would like us to go back there. Some politicians on the left of the spectrum are also stridently anti-abortion.

Going back to the early 1980’s, if that raped woman had wanted an abortion and her GP had refused, she had to ask said GP’s permission to change practices to find a doctor who would agree to refer her. Thatch changed that one too enabling the woman to simply go elsewhere. You might think this is nothing, I however beg to differ.

I’m no great fan of Thatch, but give credit where it’s due. Likeways with some so-called “progressive” MP’s – throw shit where it’s due.

As Chaise says, “Feminism simply isn’t an inherently left-wing position”.

More to the point, why does the OP assume that you have to be pro-abortion to be a feminist? Is there a check-box system involved?

Is the phrase “a woman’s right to choose” a sexist one?

Anyway, again, regardless of whether the Republicans win a majority in Congress, and Romney beats Obama, they will not have the power to change US abortion law.

Never mind female Tories, who at least get the pass of it being someone else’s country, what about the likes of GOProud?
Their support looks almost like masochism, which should really be confined to the bedroom and not paraded around the world of politics.

Sunny

Where do Tory feminists stand on Romney?

Who gives a toss, one way or another? Surely that is for ‘Tory feminists’ (if there are any) to decide for themselves?

What is this it with this obsession regarding a) The Tories and b) American politics and the Republicans? These bastards own almost all of the media in their respective Countries, yet we somehow feel that they are not given enough exposure? This is supposed to be a Left Wing blog and here we are, discussing the conundrums of various Tory factions and their internal debates.

The American Republicans are a bunch of backward fruitcakes and the Tories are reprehensible scum. We can either see that, or we cannot, nobody is likely to be swayed one way or another by pointing out inconsistencies between calling yourself a ‘feminist’ and supporting the Republican Party. No one will think, ‘I was okay with the relentless attacks on the disabled, the poor or the homeless’ but after Mensch was unable to define a consistent position on abortion and supporting Rommney, I started to see ‘Tory feminists’ in a new light’.

You see Sunny this is why I dislike the Westminster bubble and want it out of my Country’s destiny. You are all too close, too pally and all too cozy in each other’s company. Mensch and other ‘Tory Feminists’ joined a Party whose entire ethos is based around hammering the weak and powerless. Their entire political philosophy is based around attempting to shoehorn obvious facts around their considerable prejudices, I am not in the least bit surprised that they support an American with views incompatible to their stated beliefs. Christ, they do that every day in this Country.

Tory feminists? If you believe in equality how can you be a Tory?

28. Anti-Israel Racist

@shatterface:

If you were non-existent you wouldn’t vote romney? doesn’t make sense

and oh look the stupid NuLabour fanboy is trying to lick repub ass again after Bush following in the path of evil ghastly “rape face” tory c*nts like Mensch and idiots like Cameron.

29. Chaise Guevara

@ 28

“evil ghastly “rape face” tory c*nts ”

Would you be so kind as to unpack that for us?

Congratulations on your carefully chosen moniker, by the way. An excellent and mature way to enter a conversation.

Jim: This is supposed to be a Left Wing blog and here we are, discussing the conundrums of various Tory factions and their internal debates.

I didn’t realise that was the only debate taking place today.

And even if it was, I find it odd that people think we’re not covering other issues… as if covering them more every day and writing angry editorials will make more of a difference.

To be fair the GOP platform is upfront, honest and fully consistent with their beliefs. If abortion is murder, why does murder become okay if the child is from the result of rape?

Generally, if someone tells me they believe abortion to be murder but that they’ll make exemptions for this murder if the child was conceived by rape, then I know full well never to trust a word they ever say because I know they will just lie for political advantage.

Sunny @ 30

I didn’t realise that was the only debate taking place today.

The point is a ‘Left of centre blog’ (and the most popular one at that) seems rather pre-occupied with the internal debates that may or may not be going on the Right. It is perfectly acceptable for those on the ‘Right’ who identify themselves as ‘feminists’ and ‘American Republicans’ to find a way to square that circle, but has it got to do with us? The Right have more than ample opportunity to have open and frank debates about abortion. They own almost every newspaper and a good, solid part of the mass media, without having the only resistance to the Right wing propaganda machines being open to them as well. Louise Mensch et al has a million and one squares to circle of a whole spectrum of political ideas. Are the Tories ‘pro’ or ‘anti science’ pro disabled rights etc. Tories who identify themselves as ‘environmentalists’ (Zac Goldsmith comes to mind) are rarely asked to explain the rationale behind joining a Party whose entire ethos is against the principles of the ecology movement. Not only that, but they join a Party whose membership is made up of people who bitterly oppose everything they stand for.

It seems odd that we feel able to attempt to encourage a debate among the Right with regard to American political nutcases, when we have abjectly failed to shame ‘decent Tories’ into anything else.

33. Chaise Guevara

To be fair, Jim, I think this article qualifies as “having a dig at the Tories”.

Jim:

It is perfectly acceptable for those on the ‘Right’ who identify themselves as ‘feminists’ and ‘American Republicans’ to find a way to square that circle, but has it got to do with us?

Because it has implications for what ‘the left’ (or other strands of feminism) does on gender and related issues.

35. Chaise Guevara

By the way, why is the image for this story a picture of a woman with her mouth stopped by what looks like a post-it with rape data written on it? I mean, we’re talking about female public figures, often outspoken ones, and the controversy in question is abortion.

Chaise Guevara:

By the way, why is the image for this story a picture of a woman with her mouth stopped by what looks like a post-it with rape data written on it?

Maybe the sad-woman-clutching-a-blanket is on a well-earned summer holiday?

37. Chaise Guevara

@ 36 redpesto

Ha! Either that or Post-It Woman is standing in for American Protesters With Picket Making Amusing Rhyme On “Ovaries” and “Rosaries”.

38. redmayne77

It would be interesting to see what answers,if any, they give.

There is a strain in Tory thinking that wants to control people and there is nothing that uptight tory women like more than being censorious about the lower orders. To this rather posionous group being pro life allows them to moralise and express false compassion. They say that the love of animals is the milk of misanthropy; if this is so then love of foetuses is definately the cream.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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