Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

“Britain's next Prime Minister will be a woman, but this is no victory for women”

Thatcher.JPG

It's 27 years since a woman last held the post of Prime Minister but Stylist contributor Léonie Chao-Fong argues that the imminent arrival of a female leader at No. 10 is no cause for feminist celebration  

BREAKING: the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will be a woman.

Break out the bubbly! Whip out the stiletto-shaped bunting! It's been 20 years since Wannabe first came out - Girl Power, fuck yeah!

Wait - hang on a minute there. 

Let's take a moment to consider what this actually means. Before we get carried away with talk of a "feminist revolution" (or the bile-inducing phrase "femocracy"), tipsy at the image of a female PM shaking hands with a female president.

(It's been a dark fortnight, hasn't it? A miserable, anxiety-ridden, chaotic two weeks? Surely we deserve a little joy in the face of the impending apocalypse?)

Crabb Gove Fox

It could have been worse, we suppose *sighs and sinks into a bath of misery*

In nine weeks' time - possibly even less - the country will be led by either the Home Secretary, Theresa May, or Andrea Leadsom, Energy Minister.

Most of us - 99.8%, in fact - will not have a say in this. Instead, the Conservative Party's 150,000-strong membership (predominantly white, over 55 and middle class) will cast their vote and voila! A new prime minister is born. Go democracy!

Amid the House of Cards-esque intrigue (but rammed into the space of two weeks), the media scrambled to label each of the leadership hopefuls.

There was Michael Gove: the backstabbing "suicide bomber". Stephen Crabb: the Christian "gay cure believer". "Disgraced" Liam Fox who was once forced to resign from the cabinet in shame. Andrea Leadsom, who literally NO ONE had ever heard of until she got pummelled on television three weeks ago.

Then there's Theresa May, who everyone began calling the "moderate" candidate.

The sensible headmistress-like one who described herself as "a goody two shoes" within a Tory party that increasingly resembles a large, grotesque playpen for former public school boys to relive their rugby games.

Theresa May

Theresa May: front-runner of our beautifully, um, diverse Britain

During her six-year tenure as Home Secretary, May has overseen some of the most appalling, cruel and inhumane policies in modern British history.

She has allowed for the indefinite detention and widespread abuse of migrant women in Yarl's Wood. She has deported tens of thousands of foreign students on the basis of hearsay evidence. Her decision to set the income benchmark for spousal visas has led to families being torn apart.

Her vile 'Go Home' vans and inflammatory "too many immigrants will harm society" speech is emblematic of the anti-immigrant sentiment that is now being expressed violently across the country

Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom, waving goodbye to the days of compassionate, socially liberal conservatism

A relative unknown - oftentimes an advantage in electoral politics - Leadsom has found herself under enormous scrutiny in the past few days.

She has been accused of exaggerating - if not downright lying - about her professional background in finance. She is said to have endorsed a tweet that claimed Britain was "overrun with foreigners", then deleted it, then denied she hadn't done it in the first place. She has written that the child of a single parent is "more likely to become a drug addict or a criminal".

Oh yeah, and she "doesn't like" gay marriage "because it upsets Christians". (May has herself, incidentally, voted against same-sex adoptions)

Both Leadsom and May voted to lower the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. While May attempted to introduce abstinence lessons into sex education, Leadsom favours scrapping maternity rights for individuals who work in small companies. As the most senior woman in the Cabinet, May has backed austerity cuts that have disproportionately affected hundreds of thousands of women

What was that I heard you say again: a feminist revolution?

Of course, it would be completely wrong and irresponsible to say that "it only counts as feminism" if the "the women I/we agree with" win.

But how can it be a feminist victory if our prime minister - female or not - believes that women shouldn't have control over their own reproductive rights? 

Thatcher_victory

Britain's first female prime minister, Thatcher, the feminist icon (NOT)

It would be easy enough to celebrate a female prime minister as a win for women but, sadly, it isn't. 

It isn't a win for working-class women. 

It isn't a win for single mums.

It isn't a win for women who are immigrants or refugees from war-ravaged countries.

It isn't a win for women who love other women.

It isn't a win for feminism.

One thing is clear: in the battle between Leadsom v. May, women will certainly not be the winners.

Pictures: Rex Features

Related

bojo cameron.jpg

“Let female politicians put an end to this Brexit chaos”

depressed brexit brexcuses.jpg

“Sorry I can't come in today, I'm depressed about Brexit”

GettyImages-528413890.jpg

Courage, not fear: why we’ve fallen in love with Ruth Davidson

Racist Brexit.jpg

People are sharing their experiences of racist abuse following Brexit

GettyImages-542736700.jpg

Lucy Mangan on feeling like a stranger in the face of a new Britain

two.JPG

“Let's still be friends?” Our farewell letters to the European Union

Comments

More

Muslim witness of Westminster attack responds to Islamophobic trolls

A picture of the woman walking on Westminster Bridge has been shared widely

by Nicola Colyer
24 Mar 2017

Bright, beautiful and bold Easter cake inspiration

Stylish bake ideas to nick and claim as your own

by Amy Swales
24 Mar 2017

An Avengers-style Disney princesses film could be in the works

24 Mar 2017

All the new emojis set to light up our keyboards

From breastfeeding to broccoli

24 Mar 2017

There's a sex side-effect which benefits you for 48 hours, study finds

It's all about what's known as the sex "afterglow".

by Hayley Spencer
24 Mar 2017

This is how much the houses in Big Little Lies cost

Spoiler: they're VERY expensive.

by Hayley Spencer
23 Mar 2017

Scientists reveal why you need to stop flaking on plans with friends

Don't flake it 'til you make it

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Mar 2017

Revealed: the number one reason that women break up with their partner

The truth hurts

23 Mar 2017

Been zombied? There’s now a name for this confusing dating behaviour

It's time to talk about the zombies of the dating world...

23 Mar 2017

10 female anthems to share with your mum this Mother's Day

The most moving anthems about motherhood by our favourite female artists.

by Alice Vincent
23 Mar 2017