This week there was a huge debate about whether Jeremy Corbyn muttered “stupid woman” or “stupid people” under his breath during the heated, final Prime Minister’s Questions of 2018. I have no intention of giving that debate any more airtime when the real issue is that your government does not care for people’s suffering, particularly women’s.
It is disgusting that you have sought to make political capital out of this issue. Yesterday you emailed your constituents, calling out the Labour leader as misogynistic and asking them to join the Conservative party instead. Weaponising feminism in this way is deeply bizarre given the current political landscape.
Last month Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, gave an extraordinary report on your government’s austerity policies. He concluded that they have inflicted “great misery” on the 14 million people living in poverty in the UK. He also damned the British welfare system as “so sexist it may as well have been compiled by a group of misogynists in a room.”
How has this government inflicted systematic misogyny on the women of this country? After nearly a decade of austerity it is clear that women are disproportionately shouldering the burden of these policies. This is born out by research carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Women’s Budget Group and the Runnymede Trust demonstrating that women, particularly BAME women, are disproportionately affected by cuts to public services and other spending.
What does this burden look like Helen? It looks like this:
- Thousands of women being turned away from domestic violence refugesdue to local funding cuts and one in six refuges closing since 2010
- Women put at risk by Universal Credit because the insistence on a single payment per household makes it harder for them to leave an abusive or controlling partner
- Women who work in the public sector unable to feed and clothe their children as a result of in-work poverty. (Two thirds of public sector workers are women and so have been massively affected by public sector pay freezes since 2010
- WASPI women turning to food banks for the first time in their lives
- Single mothers made so desperate by Universal Credit that they are taking the government to court over it. Nine out of ten single parents are womenand these same women are also more likely to be penalised by your harsh benefit sanctions
- Exhausted women all around the country bearing the brunt of nearly a decade of cuts to our public services by increasing the amount of unpaid care work they perform in looking after elderly, disabled or young family members
- Women having to relive trauma in order to prove their third child is the result of a rape in order to claim child tax credits for that child under the abhorrent “rape clause” (this is a policy that truly belongs in Gilead, and nowhere else)
- Women having to face their violent abusers in court as they are left without legal representation following 40% cuts to legal aid
- Women turning to or remaining in prostitution because they are worse off under Universal Credit
To seek to create political capital over the events of this week when your government has enacted policies that amount to nearly a decade of systematic misogyny is an act of gross hypocrisy. If you actually care about seeing an end to misogyny then please, clean your own house first, women’s lives depend on it.