Thursday 27 October 2016

Quotas discriminating against men? It seems the backlash has begun

The Battle of Clontarf shows men still aren't prepared to give up their privileged status, writes Carol Hunt

Published 03/05/2015 | 02:30

Richard Bruton
Richard Bruton

Straight, white males are the "new" oppressed minority. It's true. Just look around you. Even though they seem to be everywhere: controlling our parliament (both houses); in total charge of the church; filling the majority of top posts in just about every sector in society (bar the low-paid ones that they don't want); running the banks; earning more cash then their female counterparts at every turn. But still, our poor men are suffering increasing oppression - if you don't believe me, just look at the recent Battle of Clontarf.

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In a moment of feminist weakness - or perhaps because he knew he would be safely off in Brussels from where he could watch the fireworks with glee - Phil Hogan became the unlikely minister responsible for what will surely mean the End of Politics As We Know It.

No longer will the best man win. No more will that fabled quality "merit" be responsible for electing the "most-qualified" candidate to our parliament, regardless of gender (as they have undoubtedly been in the past. Stop laughing). Because of Hogan's fit of mischievousness, we are now doomed to suffer under the yoke of a country burdened with "token", "sweeper" female candidates. Mediocrity, thy name is woman!

You don't have to vote for them, of course, but even the fact that such a whopping percentage (30pc) of the fairer sex must be included on the ballot means that all over the country, hard-working, talented,male politicians are being forced to sacrifice their ambitions in favour of some johnny-come-lately bimbo with breasts.

Thankfully for democracy, the boys aren't that easily defeated. Gender quotas? Would Michael Collins have stood for them? Would Dev? Do we need to ask? And so, last Thursday night, in Clontarf, (Dublin Bay North constituency), we saw what could fairly be described as a political coup. In keeping with the new feminazi regime, directives had come from above that the Fine Gael convention was to select one man and one woman as candidates for that constituency.

It was assumed that jobs minister Richard Bruton would be the man selected and the "highly rated" local activist, Stephanie Regan, would be the female choice. It was not to be. As local FG councillor Keith Redmond gleefully told media afterwards, there was "extremely clever tactical voting" going on.

The vote did indeed end up with a male and female coming in first and second - but the male was ex-mayor Naoise O Muiri and not Bruton. Of course, Bruton was later added to the ticket - making a mockery out of the whole gender quotas directive. "Fair play to the FG members in that room, great way to show how unfair and foolish gender quotas are," tweeted a local (male) would-be politician from an opposing party.

"Richard Bruton not being selected due to gender quotas. They're an insult and should be abolished," posted another. (Of course, nobody mentioned that Regan had actually come in ahead of Bruton and would have been put on the ticket even if there had been no quota directive).

And one even lamented that "the situation is now pitched against men".

Won't somebody PLEASE think of the men? They're not used to this, are they? It's just so unfair. Yes, men have been the subject of deliberate privilege throughout history - which continues today. The vast majority of our societal institutions privilege male interests, but because male is the default in our culture, such interests are very often considered ungendered.

We don't notice any more because it's so normalised - we only really see it when something privileges female interests. But then, I would say that, wouldn't I? I am female and I like having the right to vote, which makes me one of those feminists.

I agree with Minister Aodhan O'Riordain who tweeted: "The problem isn't gender quotas - the problem is with your political party. Only 15pc of the Dail is female. Get on with it."

To get a broader perspective, I asked some clever people about their view. Political commentator Johnny Fallon told me: "Quotas are going to upset many conventions, but that is their job. Parties are not currently set up to handle them. They are still based around old male networks. Over time, they will force a change and parties must cast the net a bit wider but right now it seems unworkable and a bit unfair."

Anne-Marie McNally, political assistant to TD Catherine Murphy, said: "Personally, it jumps out at me that a lot of narrative surrounding the 'shock' was that Bruton had been the victim of a woman and the suggestion is always that the female may be [elected] based on gender than on merit. This is my big objection to quotas... that said the system wasn't changing itself, so unfortunately, change had to be forced".

Political scientist, Jane Suiter, posed some pertinent questions about the Clontarf affair: "Was the female candidate just put in as a so-called 'sweeper'?" "Will she get the full support of the party?" "Was the tactical voting deliberately engineered to bypass the quota system?" and, crucially, "Did the Minister know what was going on?"

When I asked the Fine Gael press office that very question, they said primly: "Any person who has been a member of Fine Gael for more than two years is entitled to vote at a convention. How they use that vote is entirely a matter for themselves".

Some women fear that gender quotas will mean that women will be "crucified at every turn about their status in male-dominated debates" or that voters will be encouraged to believe that the women on the ticket are purely "token candidates", naturally inferior.

While it's tempting to produce a long list of men who were elected on anything but merit (family ties, party loyalty, parish pump politics), it's probably more positive just to advise tough, talented women like Stephanie to ignore the resentful sniping.

Take your deserved place at the boys table and f**k the begrudgers. God knows we've waited long enough for it.


Sunday Independent

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