Out of kilt-er?

28 Aug

Wonklifebalance happens to be a Celt – and so has taken particular interest in the Scottish independence debate. The recent ‘Better Together’ broadcast shone a wonderful light on the ‘thoughts’ of yer average Scottish woman …

At a level, it’s an innocuous portrayal of a woman’s unpacking of her political thinking in her ‘relatable’ kitchen, cuppa in hand. Already Emma Barnett in the Telegraph has come out against the Twitter tide of ‘sexist’ calls, to say that this is just a defensible portrayal of mundanity – an ‘ordinary’ person expressing her ‘ordinary’ thoughts on politics. But there is a problem with this argument. The person in this party political advertisement is being presented as a kind of ‘everywoman’ – or at the very least as a representative of the demographic of women who care for children. And the most striking feature of the entire broadcast is her total lack of agency.

Her husband won’t ‘leave off’ about independence, but she hasn’t had time to collect her own thoughts; when she does reflect over her relatable cuppa, it is solely in terms of others; she is concerned about her children’s future, her parents’ pensions – but she has nothing to say for herself. The entire broadcast seems to be predicated on the idea that she is being badgered about her voting intentions, which is something she has had no time to construct her own thoughts about.

This is potentially a bit of an own goal for the ‘Better Together’ campaign. In Scotland, women have been identified as more likely to be in favour of remaining in the Union than men, if they have decided how to vote (see e.g. here and here). So the danger from the Better Together point of view, is that in one fell swoop both decided and undecided female voters get pissed off.

It would have been preferable if in the midst of a soft focus on children’s toys, the broadcast could have addressed issues in childcare provision, or if pensions might be seen as something women have a stake in themselves, rather than just worrying about their own parents. This broadcast portrayed caring work as something which left you with no time to think about politics. Perhaps, in fact, it’s amongst the most political things we all do – whether combined with employment or not. A cuppa of platitudes is not what we need from any government.

 

 

 

 

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