The Shouty Woman

May 9, 2006


Filed under: Feminism,Politics — by Lucy @ 12:34 pm

I just heard that following the reshuffle Ruth Kelly is the new Minister for Women. Am I the only one who’s a bit worried by this? I don’t know about anyone else but I’d rather not have an ardently pro-life member of Opus Dei as my representative in government. At least Tessa Jowell called herself a feminist…

And while we’re on the subject of the Labour Party, what the hell is this all about? I know all-women shortlists are controversial and a far-from perfect solution to the problem of underrepresentation¬†of women in parliament, etc etc, but we should not be apologising like this.

All-women shortlists were at least an honest attempt at a solution, and it’s largely thanks to them that we have the number of female MPs that we do now. After all, a selective list of candidates doesn’t have to mean an inferior list of candidates. Why is there this assumption that a woman selected in this way is only in her position because all the fabulous, superior-in-every-way male candidates were out of the running?

Anyway, I don’t see anyone coming up with any other suggestions, so given the choice between an imperfect system and an almost total lack of female representation, I’ll take the former. As I said, I just wish we weren’t represented in any way by Ruth Kelly.



  1. I am incredibly worried about this, and I completely agree with you on the subject of women’s representation! It gets treated like it’s not important that the vast majority of MPs are male when only 50% of the population they represent is! You can bet anything you like that the minute women MPs are in parliament in significant numbers, that the right-wing will begin moaning about how we’re now a matriarchy or something.

    Ruth Kelly, according to Gendergeek, is firmly anti-choice as well. With the UK Life [sic] League warming up its campaign of intimidation, and with the disastrous developments in the US re: abortion, I’m terrified that Kelly is the choice to represent us.

    Comment by laurelin — May 9, 2006 @ 12:50 pm |Reply

  2. I am worried that Ruth Kelly is in a position of power at all let alone Minister for Women! On the whole reproductive freedom in the UK is amazing and it would be a disaster if anything were to change this. Kelly has shown in the past that she is not capable of separating her religious views and her political role, and as a result she should not be Minister for Women – we don’t want to be moving in the same direction as the US.

    Comment by lasomnambule — May 9, 2006 @ 5:32 pm |Reply

  3. I’ve just found out that Kelly’s actual title is ‘Equalities Minister’, which I believe includes LGB stuff as well. Given that she’s hasn’t attended a single commons vote on gay issues, and is yet to confirm whether or not she thinks homosexuality is a sin, I’m not convinced she’s the best person for the job!

    Comment by Lucy — May 9, 2006 @ 8:57 pm |Reply

  4. I think the right to choose is dealt with by the Department of Health, not the Women and Equalities Unit, so she’ll have no more to do with that than any other MP – plus, it’s always a free vote on conscience anyway.

    Comment by Lola — May 11, 2006 @ 11:18 am |Reply

  5. You are not the only on e worried about this! I am enraged by this appointment. It is another indication of Blair’s weak-minded decision making. Kelly clearly has no intention of committing either to her political role as “Equalities Minister” or her personal beliefs as a devout Catholic. For her (and others) to suggest that the two roles are compatible is at best naive and at worst politically devious. Shame on Ruth Kelly for being anti-abortion, anti-lesbian and gay and shame on her most of all for at the very least not having the courage of her (dubious) convictions.

    Comment by Pippa — May 13, 2006 @ 5:03 pm |Reply

  6. I don’t want to start an argument that’s already been going on elsewhere (you can read my thoughts on the Kelly appointment at Pippa, I understand that people have concerns, but I have to say it really worries me to read that so many people on the Left think that it is impossible to be Catholic and a feminist/committed to the broader equalities agenda. I think we’re going to have to wait and see what happens before we judge Kelly – my personal view is that she’s going to be as committed to this post as she has been to all her others (ie, very, and hard-working too), but can’t we all at least give the woman a chance before we write her off? And given that quite a substantial proportion of women and of the gay community are also people with religious beliefs, I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to blacklist anyone with Faith as anti-equality.

    Comment by Lola — May 13, 2006 @ 5:51 pm |Reply

  7. Lola, I appreciate your engagement with my comment. I do believe that Catholics can be feminists and/or liberals. I certainly did not suggest that anyone with a faith is anti-equality.

    What I want to make clear is that my objection to Ms.Kelly’s appointment is born of my knowledge of her poor track record in HOC votes on gay and lesbian issues. I am also disturbed by her personal connections with the ultra conservative catholic group Opus Dei.

    Ms Kelly is not a member of a liberal or progressive/inclusive church; she belongs to a group that, according to Gordon Urquhart in Catholics for a Free Choice is “[an] organisation [that]troubles liberal Catholics… its devotion to promoting, as public policy, the Vatican’s inflexibly traditionalist approach to women, sexuality and reproductive health is cause for concern far beyond the boundaries of Catholicism.”

    I also find it difficult to accept that anyone of any faith can conveniently put aside the most basic tenets and requirements of that faith when and if the situation requires it.

    I wholly support the right of every person to practice their faith freely. However, I balk at the idea of fundamental religion impacting on decisions made by members of our government.

    Comment by Pippa — May 14, 2006 @ 7:08 pm |Reply

  8. hahaha! did you see what I did wrong! The first one needs deleting! Sorry….

    Comment by Pippa — May 14, 2006 @ 7:09 pm |Reply

  9. Hmmmm is a difficult debate! I do appreciate your concerns, but I suspect we’ll have to agree to disagree for now.

    Although I read the other day that RK reportedly refused the DoH brief a few years ago as it might cause conflict with her views on abortion etc – which would imply that she feels more comfortable with this brief fitting in with her beliefs (it’s worth having a look at the Cardinal’s letter to the Times on the issue, btw, which is posted on my blog – I think he outlines effectively why being a Catholic (and I mean the accept-the-Church’s-teachings kind) is completely compatible with a belief in gay equality (even if you think it’s a sin, doesn’t mean it should be illegal or discriminated against in any way))…

    But anyway, I digress!

    I guess we all agree that we want to see her deliver on the equality agenda – let’s just hope that it happens!

    Comment by Lola — May 14, 2006 @ 7:22 pm |Reply

  10. Hi Lola,

    Sorry, was going to reply earlier but have been away from the computer. In any case Pippa seems to have said everything I wanted to say!

    I have no problem at all with Kelly’s religious beliefs, as long as they don’t come into conflict with her equalities brief. Her record on gay rights hasn’t been great so far, for example – she’s abstained in every relevant vote. I don’t want to attack her (or anyone’s!) faith, but I do think that if her beliefs prevent her from doing her job, she should consider resigning the post.

    Thanks for visiting the blog by the way!

    Lucy x

    Comment by Lucy — May 14, 2006 @ 7:56 pm |Reply

  11. Lola, I have had a look at your blog and I will go back and read the letter you mentioned. I am in agreement with your last statement, I hope Kelly will do the job well. Cheers, Pippa

    Comment by Pippa — May 14, 2006 @ 7:56 pm |Reply

  12. Oooh I do like a good debate!

    I was unaware of your blog until I found it via The Hug! We all have them now!

    Lola x x x

    Comment by Lola — May 14, 2006 @ 8:02 pm |Reply

  13. I thought that’s how you must have found me! The idea’s certainly spreading – I see Brenda has one too now! x

    Comment by Lucy — May 14, 2006 @ 8:07 pm |Reply

  14. Blogging is taking over my life. Is worrying! x x x

    Love to the Hug. x

    Comment by Lola — May 14, 2006 @ 8:20 pm |Reply

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