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Discourse on Gender Equality and Women in the British Left

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Discourse on Gender Equality and Women in the British Left

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Different gender roles have been assigned for each person beyond their biological/physical differences as a consequence of the femininity and masculinity that societies and cultures have constructed over the centuries. These roles have led to the emergence of a gender hierarchy in almost all societies and have been the source of many social inequalities witnessed in today's male-dominated world. Gender equality, however, has entered the political agenda of those societies in which postmaterialist values had been prevalent and has become an area where important struggles have taken place. At this point, leftwing political movements that prioritize social equality are expected to lead such struggles and construct an alternative discourse against the social and cultural postulates on which gender inequality is based. Therefore, this research focused on whether the two leading political parties of the deep-rooted British leftwing political tradition, namely the Labour Party and The Green Party of England and Wales, have developed an alternative and challenging discourse on the issue of gender within their official discourses.
The data of the research consisted of the social media posts of party leaders and the party documents in which both political parties expressed their official discourses. In the research, in which the discourse analysis method was used, it was examined how the political parties in question dealt with the issue of gender and how they constructed the discourse about femininity; and the similarities and differences between their approaches to the subject have been presented. The findings of the research reveal that both political parties have an approach that goes beyond traditional gender stereotypes. It was detected that the discourse of the Labour Party mostly focused on women’s status and conditions in the labor market. The Green Party, on the other hand, approached to the issue of gender from an ecology-centered perspective.

Different gender roles have been assigned for each person beyond their biological/physical differences as a consequence of the femininity and masculinity that societies and cultures have constructed over the centuries. These roles have led to the emergence of a gender hierarchy in almost all societies and have been the source of many social inequalities witnessed in today's male-dominated world. Gender equality, however, has entered the political agenda of those societies in which postmaterialist values had been prevalent and has become an area where important struggles have taken place. At this point, leftwing political movements that prioritize social equality are expected to lead such struggles and construct an alternative discourse against the social and cultural postulates on which gender inequality is based. Therefore, this research focused on whether the two leading political parties of the deep-rooted British leftwing political tradition, namely the Labour Party and The Green Party of England and Wales, have developed an alternative and challenging discourse on the issue of gender within their official discourses.
The data of the research consisted of the social media posts of party leaders and the party documents in which both political parties expressed their official discourses. In the research, in which the discourse analysis method was used, it was examined how the political parties in question dealt with the issue of gender and how they constructed the discourse about femininity; and the similarities and differences between their approaches to the subject have been presented. The findings of the research reveal that both political parties have an approach that goes beyond traditional gender stereotypes. It was detected that the discourse of the Labour Party mostly focused on women’s status and conditions in the labor market. The Green Party, on the other hand, approached to the issue of gender from an ecology-centered perspective.

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Discourse on Gender Equality and Women in the British Left

  1. 1. DISCOURSE ON GENDER EQUALITY AND WOMEN IN THE BRITISH LEFT Assist. Prof. Dr. Burak BAŞKAN 6th International Aegean Conference on Social Sciences & Humanities December 20-22, 2022 Izmir, Turkey
  2. 2. Abstract Different gender roles have been assigned for each person beyond their biological/physical differences as a consequence of the femininity and masculinity that societies and cultures have constructed over the centuries. These roles have led to the emergence of a gender hierarchy in almost all societies and have been the source of many social inequalities witnessed in today's male-dominated world. Gender equality, however, has entered the political agenda of those societies in which postmaterialist values had been prevalent and has become an area where important struggles have taken place. At this point, left-wing political movements that prioritize social equality are expected to lead such struggles and construct an alternative discourse against the social and cultural postulates on which gender inequality is based. Therefore, this research focused on whether the two leading political parties of the deep-rooted British left-wing political tradition, namely the Labour Party and The Green Party of England and Wales, have developed an alternative and challenging discourse on the issue of gender within their official discourses. The data of the research consisted of the social media posts of party leaders and the party documents in which both political parties expressed their official discourses. In the research, in which the discourse analysis method was used, it was examined how the political parties in question dealt with the issue of gender and how they constructed the discourse about femininity; and the similarities and differences between their approaches to the subject have been presented. The findings of the research reveal that both political parties have an approach that goes beyond traditional gender stereotypes. It was detected that the discourse of the Labour Party mostly focused on women’s status and conditions in the labour market. The Green Party, on the other hand, approached to the issue of gender from an ecology-centered perspective.
  3. 3. Aims of the Research Practical: • Researching whether the two leading political parties of the deep-rooted British left-wing political tradition, namely the Labour Party and The Green Party of England and Wales, have developed an alternative and challenging discourse on the issue of gender within their official discourses; • Understanding how the political parties in question dealt with the issue of gender and how they constructed the discourse about femininity; • Presenting the similarities and differences between their approaches to the subject. Normative: • Developing awareness in the field of gender equality, • Motivating political parties for gender equality.
  4. 4. Data of the Research • Social media posts of party leaders  Keir Starmer (Labour Party)  Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay (Green Party of England and Wales) • Official party manifestos in which both political parties expressed their official discourses • Research Method: Discourse Analysis
  5. 5. What is Sex? • Sex refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define humans as female or male. These sets of biological characteristics are not mutually exclusive, as there are individuals who possess both, but these characteristics tend to differentiate humans as females or males.” The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)
  6. 6. What is Gender? • Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed. • This includes norms, behaviours and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy, as well as relationships with each other. • As a social construct, gender varies from society to society and can change over time. World Health Organisation (WHO)
  7. 7. Gender Equality Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Paris, 10 December 1948 • Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. … • Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, New York, 18 December 1979 • Article I: For the purposes of the present Convention, the term "discrimination against women" shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.
  8. 8. Labour Party • Founded in 27 February 1900 • Trade unions, trades councils, socialist societies, women’s associations, professional groups, occasionally cooperative parties, and constituency parties from 1918 (Worley, 2009: 1). • Current leader of the party is Keir Starmer (Since April 4, 2020) • 32.1% in the last general election (2019)
  9. 9. Labour Party Manifesto In which Context? How many times? In a Positive Sense In a Negative Sense Victim Perpetrator Challenges Traditional Gender Roles Supports Traditional Gender Roles Woman or Women Discrimination, economic disadvantages, violence, hate crime 20 20 0 18 0 20 0 Girl or Girls Security, violence, discrimination 7 7 0 7 0 7 0 Female - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Man or Men - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Boy or Boys - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Male - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Gender Pay Gap, equality, Discrimination against trans people 3 - - - - 3 0 Sex or Sexual or Sexuality Violence, Discrimination against trans people 3 - - - - 3 0
  10. 10. Keir Starmer In which Context? How many times? In a Positive Sense In a Negative Sense Victim Perpetrator Challenges Traditional Gender Roles Supports Traditional Gender Roles Woman or Women Violence, discrimination, economic disadvantages, equal representation 65 58 0 42 0 43 0 Girl or Girls Violence, inequality 24 23 0 20 0 23 0 Female Political leadership 2 2 0 0 0 2 0 Man or Men One man domination 16 12 3 6 3 3 0 Boy or Boys Genocide 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 Male - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Gender Gender equality, security 1 - - - - 1 0 Sex or Sexual or Sexuality - 0 - - - - 0 0 (Starmer, 2022)
  11. 11. Prominent Discourses • Today's devastating Supreme Court decision is a massive setback for women's rights in the United States of America. The right of women to make their own decisions about their own bodies is a fundamental human right. (Keir Starmer) • We will modernise the law on gender recognition while continuing to support the implementation of the Equality Act, including its provision for single-sex exemptions, and ending discrimination against trans people. (Labour Party, 2022) • Families are often left to pick up the pieces as a result, with up to 10.5 million unpaid carers (one in five adults), a disproportionate number of whom are women, now estimated to be caring for a loved one. (Labour Party, 2022)
  12. 12. Green Party of England and Wales • Originally found in 1973 under the name of PEOPLE Party. (Byrne, 2018: 101) • Established in 1990 after the Green Party had been separated into 3 political parties: o the Green Party of England and Wales o the Scottish Greens o the Green Party Northern Ireland • Fundamental Ideological Elements: o Environmentalism, o Social democracy o Eco-socialism • Current Co-leaders of the party are Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay (Since October 1, 2021). • 2.7% in the last general election (2019)
  13. 13. Green Party Manifesto In which Context? How many times? In a Positive Sense In a Negative Sense Victim Perpetrator Challenges Traditional Gender Roles Supports Traditional Gender Roles Woman or Women Hate crime, violence, Unequal representation in workplace and politics, misogyny 28 28 0 23 0 26 0 Girl or Girls - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Female Violence, Justice 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 Man or Men - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Boy or Boys Domination 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 Male Domination 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 Gender Discrimination, Hate crime 12 - - - - 12 0 Sex or Sexual or Sexuality Violence, Discrimination 7 - - - - 5 0
  14. 14. Carla Denyer In which Context? How many times? In a Positive Sense In a Negative Sense Victim Perpetrator Challenges Traditional Gender Roles Supports Traditional Gender Roles Woman or Women Oppression, violence, equality, discrimination, 50/50 representation 35 33 0 20 0 31 0 Girl or Girls Gender equality 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 Female Battle against Patriarchy, Oppression 5 5 0 5 0 5 0 Man or Men Misogyny, Hatred of Women 2 0 2 0 2 1 0 Boy or Boys - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Male Male Supremacism 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 Gender Oppression, Male Supremacism, Misogyny, Hatred, LGBTIQ+ Rights 8 - - - - 8 0 Sex or Sexual or Sexuality Oppression, Violence, Discrimination against LGBTIQ+ 4 - - - - 4 0 (Denyer, 2022)
  15. 15. Adrian Ramsay In which Context? How many times? In a Positive Sense In a Negative Sense Victim Perpetrator Challenges Traditional Gender Roles Supports Traditional Gender Roles Woman or Women Representation, inclusion in decision-making bodies, equality 2 2 0 1 0 2 0 Girl or Girls - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Female - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Man or Men There is no reference to traditional gender discourse. 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 Boy or Boys - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Male - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Gender - 0 0 0 - - 0 0 Sex or Sexual or Sexuality - 0 0 0 - - 0 0 (Ramsey, 2022)
  16. 16. Prominent Discourses • Installing a 40% quota for women on major company boards. We recognise the many barriers faced by women and gender non-conforming people in male-dominated spaces, and know that tackling the ‘boys’ club’ atmosphere in workspaces is crucial to tackling inequality in the workplace. (Green Party, 2019) • Establish a new press regulatory regime which will allow women to make formal complaints about media coverage that will encourage misogyny against women. (Green Party, 2019)
  17. 17. Conclusion and Final Notes • Both political parties challenged the traditional discourse on gender to a certain extent. o Challenged patriarchal social structure. o Challenged hetero-patriarchal social structure. o Challenged political, social and economic basis of hegemonic masculinity. • Labour Party especially emphasised women’s status in labour market. • The Green Party directly pointed out the ‘perpetrator’ instead of using a ‘hidden subject’.
  18. 18. Bibliography • Byrne, P. (2018). Great Britain: The "Green Party". In F. Muller-Rommel (Ed.), New Politics In Western Europe: The Rise And Success Of Green Parties And Alternative Lists (pp. 101-112). New York: Routledge. • Denyer, C. [@carla_denyer]. (2022). Tweets including Girl or Girls or Female or Man or Men or Boy or Boys or Male Gender or Sex or Sexual or Sexuality on Timeline. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/carla_denyer • Council of Europe. (2022). Sex and Gender. Available at: https://www.coe.int/en/web/gender-matters/sex-and-gender#21 • Green Party. (2019). If Not Now, When? Manifesto 2019. Retrieved from https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/Elections/Green%20Party%20Manifesto%202019.pdf • Labour Party. (2022). Stronger Together: A Fairer, Greener Future. Retrieved from https://labour.org.uk/stronger-together/a-fairer-greener-future • Ramsey, A. [@AdrianRamsay]. (2022). Tweets including Girl or Girls or Female or Man or Men or Boy or Boys or Male Gender or Sex or Sexual or Sexuality on Timeline. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/adrianramsay • Starmer, K. [@Keir_Starmer]. (2022). Tweets including Girl or Girls or Female or Man or Men or Boy or Boys or Male Gender or Sex or Sexual or Sexuality on Timeline. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Keir_Starmer • The European Institute for Gender Equality [EIGE]. (2022). Sex. Available at: https://eige.europa.eu/thesaurus/terms/1361 • World Health Organization [WHO]. (2022). Gender and health. Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/gender#tab=tab_1 • Worley, M. (2009). Introduction. In M. Worley (Ed.), The Foundations of the British Labour Party: Identities, Cultures and Perspectives 1900-39 (pp. 1-12). Surrey: Ashgate.

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