Sunday, 8 March 2009

“The coven is meeting again, I see...”

An immortal line uttered by one of my lecturers, with a sparkle in his eye. He had just spied three of his colleagues from the feminist thought course hunched in earnest conversation over their morning coffee. I had to smile.

But the comment does betray something that we will have to grapple with on this site. That there are quite a lot of people – men and women alike – who are a bit turned off by the whole idea of feminism.

Whether it takes them back to the days of hippy hairstyles and fights they think have already been fought and won; or because the performance of girls is now better than that of boys from primary school to university; or because in today’s society being a career mum is still far more accepted than being a stay-at-home dad. They’re just not that into us.

I’ve just started reading a book called The Political Brain by Drew Westen. It talks about how most things in life carry with them a network of associations – thoughts that are triggered by things that politicians do and say. It is these associations, Westen argues, which determine how we vote. This made me contemplate what associations are bound up with the idea of feminism. I did a quick (and unscientific) straw poll.

Despite the mix in gender and age, and the fact that I would count everyone I asked as a feminist, the results were consistent. When prompted by the word “feminism” people first thought of burning bras, Germaine Greer and the 60s and 70s. From visions of militant lesbians to a resurrection of the mother in Mary Poppins, the associations were in the main not positive ones.

It is fair to say that there is a lot of ground to reclaim. And that is what I hope this website will be about. Making feminism relevant to how we all live our lives today and spreading the positive associations of equality and choice and dignity and partnership into the blogosphere.

So let’s get cracking.


  1. Great post Eleanor - Drew Westen's book should be on every political woman's booklist - it's full title is The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation. It really clarified my thinking about what makes a successful campaign - whether for selection, election or in any of the other fora where power is shared out. I love his analysis of "master narratives" and "signature issues" in the Chapter 12 Hope, Inspiration and Political Intelligence p301. He writes "A politically intelligent candidate with curb [doorstep] appeal provides the medium to deliver a message, and an effective message always come in the form of a narrative." and how on p305 he reaffirms that "successful campaigns compete in the marketplace of emotions and not primarily in the marketplace of ideas...". Women have the skills to mastermind first class campaigns which will appeal to other women - and it is the women's vote which is critical to winning a Fourth term. Cath PPC Chingford and Woodford Green

  2. OK - before the pedants reach for their quills - mea culpa - spelling error "its" full title. Cath