Why Slugger (and NI) needs more female voices (and thran ones at that)…

If you could, by use of some clever algorithm, develop a truly democratic voice, representative of almost any demos in the west, it would speak in a slightly female tone. The absence of women in public life is (or should be) perplexing to anyone with decent democratic instincts.

Outside the Scandinavian countries, (where the whole democratic process seems much less problematical) it seems to be a pervasive issue. Too often we are content to play along with politics of public representation rather than democracy.

A couple of years ago Mary Beard examined the question of the absence of women’s voice in the public square in the LRB Winter Lecture series:

There can’t be a group of female friends or colleagues anywhere in this country (maybe the world) which hasn’t regularly discussed the day-to-day aspects of the ‘Miss Triggs question’, whether in the office, or a committee room, council chamber, seminar or the House of Commons. How do I get my point heard? How do I get it noticed? How do I get to belong in the discussion?

The getting in matters, almost however it comes. So, despite the fact I share Eilis O’Hanlon’s misgivings about where the power still remains (i.e., firmly with older men) within SF, she was also right yesterday to note of O’Neill that:

She has many personal qualities, and change often comes about for reasons that those who think they are in charge haven’t factored into the equation. She’s a new face. And new faces are needed in the North. That contains a dynamic that could surprise us all.

That raises questions for men, as well as women. As Sara asks this morning:

…it is not enough to be satisfied that a handful of women have ‘made it’. There were just 30 women elected to the Assembly in 2016. That’s not even 30%. And my question to all the parties is what are your plans to improve the situation?

However public voice is not just a matter of representation in power, more women need to be heard in open public space.  Beard talks about the abuse she took serially on Twitter and generously puts it down to frustration at the thwarted democratic promises that came with social media.

Instead as a classicist she notes that much our social conditioning in this regard is thousands, not hundreds  or even tens of years old.  She turns to the depth of these social assumptions in Latin texts such as Ovid’s Metamorphises:

… that extraordinary mythological epic about people changing shape (and probably the most influential work of literature on Western art after the Bible) – repeatedly returns to the idea of the silencing of women in the process of their transformation.

Poor Io is turned into a cow by Jupiter, so she cannot talk but only moo; while the chatty nymph Echo is punished so that her voice is never hers, merely an instrument for repeating the words of others.

Which brings me to our own female absences on Slugger. We have had women bloggers, indeed many of them are still on the Slugger books. But there’s something social about blogging, which has the power both to attract, and at the same time repel.

If Slugger’s voice was represented by an algorithm it would list profoundly to the masculine, liberal left and unremittingly nationalist in terms of local politics. That was never the intention from the beginning. But it is largely made up from people who self elect to become writers on the team.

As my libertarian chum of many years standing Tim Worstall once sagely opined, “government is run by those who can stay awake in committees”. So Slugger’s voice tends to be dominated by those of us who are just too thran to quit.

So we need new writers. We always need new writers and new perspectives. But we also need to find women writers who are similarly too thran to give up.  Recent recruits Sara, Felicity, Una and others I hope will continue with us and by being there encourage other women to get involved.

To borrow Mary Beard’s three great questions: How do I get my point heard? How do I get it noticed? How do I get to belong in the discussion?

Well, why not start by sending myself or David an email with an idea (400-600) and come and join Slugger?

  • Msiegnaro

    Am I alone in feeling we have more than enough women in public life?

  • Teddybear

    I’m also getting fed up with the growing marginalisation of men especially young men from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    It seems all TV presenters and newscasters are women. Every poster I see in my workplace depicts women only. Even the ATM machines in garages depict a collage of happy customers on the welcome screen – all women.

    If any men are allowed in they’re probably gay. These are cold times for heterosexual white men and please don’t blame us for what happened in 1345AD etc. We weren’t around then

  • Annie Breensson

    “Every poster I see in my workplace depicts women only.”

    Would you prefer to see posters of gay men instead?

  • Annie Breensson

    Well I can think of two we could ditch

  • PG Tips

    Yes. You are alone. And wrong.

  • PG Tips

    Jesus, where do you start with that heap of nonsense …

  • Zorin001

    “It seems all TV presenters and newscasters are women”

    George Alagiah, Eamon Holmes, Huw Edwards even our own Stephen Nolan.

    These are just the only ones I can think of off the top of my head, not exactly the 100% female dominated media you presented is it?

  • file

    The absence of women may be partly due to choice, you know. They may see what a bollix men make of it, how it is all about silly wee power games and one-upmanship and decide, sensibly, that life is too short for them to take part in that charade.

  • Korhomme

    What did happen in 1345 AD?

  • mickfealty

    Go and read your Ovid, you obviously are in dire need of moral uplift…

  • mac tire

    “These are cold times for heterosexual white men…”

    I’m a heterosexual white man and the sweat is bucketing off me. You’re doing something wrong, TB. And, as a heterosexual man, I don’t worry about seeing more men, “especially young men”, on TV, posters or even ATMs. I don’t even notice.

  • Granni Trixie

    I would love to meet you….you are a laf…

  • Brian Walker

    Mick, You’ve tried some proactive recruiting in say, academe, business, the voluntary sector? Hard to find them just off the wall.
    Thran wans? Well, thran for a blog, meaning open minded, winsomely feminist, anti- ageist, good humoured and witty, able to let down obessive commenters gently unless they go too far- then wham!. Liberal centrist, definitely anti-fundamentalist , quite literary, economically quite literate, loves and hates Ireland as appropriate, a bit nostlagic but forward-looking..

    Anything else? Why so many qualities? Because she’d/ they’d be worth it.

  • Gaygael

    ‘cold times for heterosexual white men’

    What a geg! The unfunny part is that you probably believe it.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    What is it about right wing white men, that they can (semi) seriously claim to be disadvantaged? I start to think of what Freud or Jung would say, then I remember that they were of course non-left white men too. It leaves me at a loss. Is it parenting? Or toilet training? Really beats me.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    No. Teddybear agrees with you. But probably very few others.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Bet we could think of a lot more men though. I certainly could. And on the other hand, Nicola Sturgeon is doing a really good job.

  • Msiegnaro

    Sturgeon is doing a great job!! That’s the best satire I’ve read in a long time.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    According to Wikipedia:

    February 22 – An assembly is held in Callan, County Kilkenny, under the presidency of Maurice FitzGerald, Earl of Desmond.
    March – Énrí Ó Néill of Clann Aodha Buidhe (Clandeboye, King of Tír Eógain, is deposed by Justiciar d’Ufford and replaced by Aodh Reamhar mac Domhnall Ó Néill, aka Aodh Mór.
    April 24 – Parliament is held in Dublin
    June 5 – The second Parliament is held in Dublin.
    June 26 – Earl of Desmond attacks Nenagh.
    Justiciar d’Ufford campaigns against Desmond.
    September 30 – Justicier captures Askeaton.
    October 15 – Clann Mhuirchertaigh kills King Toirdhealbach of Connacht; is succeeded by his son Aodh O Conchobhair.
    October 21 – Justiciar captures Castleisland.
    Autumn(?) Earl of Kildare is arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle.
    December – At Naas, the Justiciar resumes liberty of Kildare to the crown.

    But as far as I can see nothing momentous concerning heterosexual white men (who undoubtedly were around then) unless you were King Toirdhealbach or Énrí Ó Néill or the Earl of Kildare – if they were in fact heterosexual – and white – who knows.

    But we await enlightenment from Ted.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Good question.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Only if you are a Unionist pawn. Why do you think the SNP have 50 odd MP’s, and the other UK parties in Scotland are represented by by :- 1 tory, 1 Labour(!) and 1 LibDem, and that the SNP is by far the largest party in the Scottish Parliament? Because Sturgeon is doing a bad job?

  • Fear Éireannach

    Because they have a ridiculous first past the post electoral system for Westminster and all the other parties are crap?

  • Korhomme

    Ah! Thanks for that.

    Just the usual run of the mill wars and battles and stuff. Not much to see there, pass along.

    I’m now a bit more enlightened 😉

  • Msiegnaro

    Behave Granni, this is not a dating site.

  • Korhomme

    Do a search for ‘MRA’ — men’s rights activists.

  • Korhomme

    Perhaps he was thinking more globally:

    January 1 – Louis IV’s son, Louis VI the Roman, marries Cunigunde, a Lithuanian princess.
    January 17 – Turks attack Smyrna.
    March 15 – The Miracle of the Host occurs (as commemorated in Amsterdam).
    March 24 – Guy de Chauliac
    observes the planets Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars conjoined in the sky
    under the sign of Aquarius and a solar eclipse on the same day. This
    sign is interpreted as foreboding by many, and Chauliac will later blame
    it for the Black Plague.[1][2]
    April – Edward III of England offers “defiance” of Philip VI of France.
    April 22 – Battle of Gamenario: The Lombards defeat the Angevins in the northwest region of present-day Italy, just southeast of Turin.
    May – Turks led by Umur Beg sail from Asia Minor to the Balkan Peninsula and raid Bulgarian territory.[3]
    July 7 – Battle of Peritheorion: the forces of Momchil, autonomous ruler of the Rhodope, are defeated by the Turkish allies of John VI Kantakouzenos.[4]
    September – Holland, Hainaut and Zeeland are inherited by Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor and remain part of the imperial crown domain until 1347.
    September 18 – Andrew, Duke of Calabria is assassinated in Naples (d. in Aversa).
    September 26 – Battle of Warns: The Frisians defeat the forces of Holland under William IV, Count of Hainaut, in the midst of the Friso-Hollandic Wars.
    October 21 – English victory at the Battle of Auberoche in Gascony.
    December – English take Aiguillon in Gascony.

    Perhaps it was the stars and the Black Death.

  • file

    That Justiciar was some boy, and I wisj people would leave Neenagh alone.

  • file

    Was Umar Beg the son of Umar Mór?

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    If it were you’d be blocked by all users. So it’s a pity it isn’t

  • Korhomme

    Nope. He was the son of

    Audin-oghlu, Mehmed Beg Mubariz al-Din Ghazi.

  • tanyaj

    “Winsomely feminist”?

  • Msiegnaro

    Basing this on experience? Can one ask as to what your gripe with me is?

  • Granni Trixie

    Trust you!

  • file

    Ah the al-Din Ghazis – they were always trouble down our way.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    What utter tosh TB. It’s still a world run to a male template and largely managed by men. If it’s messed up that might be part of the reason. It is indefensible and if we want it to change we need to stop expecting women to succeed on male terms and actually make some effort ourselves.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Nice to be agreeing with you for a change, MU. There is a quality to Arlene, for example, which sits all too easily with the “male, pale and stale” image of her party.

    But as long as the male “template” sets the agendas for any participating woman to act within, the stresses will be there between those prepared to be”token women” and the real thing. My women friends involved in Black Civil Rights across the pond since the 1960s hit the nail on the head, with their “one rung at a time, and now the real revolution can actually commence.”

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Now that’s a revolution that could actually make life a lot more sane. Too much goal-chasing, too much testosterone and too much left brain thinking, that’s what you get if you sustain the patriarchy.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And a revolution still much needed across these six counties.