Sunday, October 23, 2005

Young female Conservatives

At this year's Party Conference (which I didn't attend because of committments in London) there were many party activists campaigning for their preferred leadership candidates, including a number of women in T-Shirts with slogans like "Mine's a DD" or "It's DD for me". Whether or not this is a good thing (other than the fact of supporting David Davis!) has provoked two strong opinions on blogs that are linked from here.

First off Labour member Antonia Bance wrote:

I knew the week was going to be surreal when I was greeted at the door by a posse of telegenic young women in very tight t-shirts with the legend “Mine’s a DD” across their boobs: say what you will about our young Labour lovelies (and I do, often), but our women would never take part in such a demeaning stunt, even for a grateful glance or casual cuddle from a potential potentate. The Guardian photographer has evidence of this particular photo-op here.
However another viewpoint comes from Tory Convert:

Two possible tips for young female party members:

1. Read Jo-Anne Nadler's Too Nice to be a Tory conspicusouly on publiic transport - you'll be amazed how many double-takes you get.

2. Get some T-shirts printed with a cunning slogan like "It's DD for me" in "a prominent position". (For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about, this is what a female supporter of David Davis did at the party conference).

However, if you do the latter, be warned - some of the more po-faced journalists and Liberal Democrats will assume that those nasty old men are imposing their sexist will on you asking you to wear such a T-shirt. God forbid that a young woman might actually come up with a witty slogan all by herself and find her own way to the T-shirt printing shop.
She goes on to say:
So girls - ask yourselves - would you rather vote for or join a party which assumes that you've got you own mind and a sense of humour, or a party which assumes that you're a witless over-sensitive flower which needs protecting? And would you rather choose a party which assumes that men are all sexist pigs, or one that views British men for what (most) of them actually are - men whose everyday actions make Britain one of the least sexist countries on the planet.
So there we have it. Two radically different viewpoints from women on whether or not something is demeaning. Now which is closer to the truth? And which is the better party for women to join?


Tabitha said...

I was embarassed fo said girls in their DD tops. I'm by no means what you could call a feminist but this stunt wasn't even very amusing. A witty phrase may have added something maybe!
But you know its quite quaint really,
The Tory Party is the last bastion of blatant chauvanism! Some traditions will always remain alive!

Serf said...

Tory Convert is correct.

Nobody forced these women to wear those T-Shirts. They may not be everyone's taste, but they are hardly a piece of evidence for chauvanism.

Does sexism nowadays now include banning women from wearing the T-Shirts they want?

Tory Convert said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tory Convert said...

Imagine a role reversal ...

Let's say one of the leadership candidates is a woman called Nicola Smith. A young male enthusiast gets himself some boxers printed with a slogan on them like "I'm nuts about Nicola".

Would people think this was "demeaning"? Would people automatically assume that the female chauvinist pig Nicola had coerced him into doing it?

I think not. Moreover, I think people would assume that he had done it of his own free will and was just having a bit of a laugh.

I just don't like these kinds of double standards. I find them implicitly far more sexist than the "DD" slogan.

I haven't come across any "blatant male chauvinism" in my six months in the party yet ... I suppose there's still plenty of time, but that is genuinely not my perception of what the party is like. I wouldn't be devoting large-ish chunks of my spare time to a writing a blog about it if it was.

Jo said...

I don't think anyone is suggesting that the women were forced to wear anything.

Both the 'DD' t-shirts and the 'nuts about nicola' example are typical of the sexism that still exists in our society - where women are viewed as sex objects. It's not about your choice to wear the t-shirt, it's about what the t-hsirt says about women and our perceived role in society.

Tory Convert said...

Jo - I'm sorry you don't feel, as I do, that I have grown up in a society which treats me as an absolute equal to my male counterparts. I don't feel viewed as a sex object - I feel viewed as a respected friend, family member and colleague. I feel that my "perceived role in society" is overwhelmingly positive.

If some women feel that women in general are "viewed as sex objects" that has far more to do with the free choices many women make to dress and look a certain way than with anything men do. I suspect that many feminists are actually more upset with the fact that not every woman feels and acts the same as they do than with anything they can pin on men.

Admin said...

Hi Tim. Could you, and anyone else with a Cameron-supporting blog please e-mail me:

DJDave said...

"Let's say one of the leadership candidates is a woman called Nicola Smith. A young male enthusiast gets himself some boxers printed with a slogan on them like "I'm nuts about Nicola"."

Well... you would think he was a bit of a stupid knob. I thought it was cheap and I generally thought the smattering of silly freebies had a tinge of cheap American politics.


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