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Why would you not be a feminist says Nick Clegg

October 28, 2014 11:22 AM
By Caron Lindsay in Liberal Democrat Voice

Elle magazine is doing a big push for feminism at the moment. It attempted to get the three main party leaders south of the border to wear their "This is what a feminist looks like" t-shirt.

This is what a feminist looks like (Elle magazine)

This is what a feminist looks like

Ed Miliband was happy to do it and so was Nick Clegg, who said:

I support equality and choice - so yes, I'm a feminist. How on earth in this day and age can you not be? As a wiser person than me once said: "Men who actually treat women as equals are the ones with more cojones."

That wiser person is, of course, is his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, who made the comment in relation to childcare earlier this year, much to the consternation of the Daily Fail.

David Cameron decided not to risk the wrath of the right wing tabloids by daring to wear a t-shirt with the F word on it. Elle magazine aren't wildly chuffed about that. Editor-in-chief Lorraine Candy said:

"We asked the Prime Minister five times if he would wear the Fawcett Society's iconic This Is What A Feminist Looks Like slogan T-shirt and send us a snapshot (it would only take 10 minutes). Five times, he declined. This is a shame on so many levels, especially given he knew Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband had agreed without hesitation, alongside many other influential men who were more than happy to call themselves feminists. It seems the Prime Minister still has an issue with the word "feminist".

"I was personally disappointed that we couldn't feature Mr Cameron in our Feminism Issue because it is ELLE's aim to engage with men in the fight for equality: because of parliament's current gender imbalance, it is men who have the power to make changes in every area of British women's lives. When the man in charge doesn't engage, it doesn't bode well. Given the huge international male support for UN Women's #HeForShe campaign, it does rather make our Prime Minister look like the odd one out."

It does grieve me slightly to point this out, because Nick has done some fantastic stuff for women, championing shared parental leave and flexible working for a start, and encouraging Lynne Featherstone's pioneering work not tackling violence against women and girls at home and abroad, but Cameron has stolen the march on him in terms of putting women in the Cabinet.

Wearing a t-shirt is great. Having fantastic equality policies is great. Having an all male Cabinet is not.

Having said that, Cameron only wins on promoting women. Conservative policies are not exactly equality friendly.

But neither are good enough.

I don't doubt Nick's feminist credentials. He needs to do more, though, to put them into practice. It is unbelievable that he hasn't put a woman in the Cabinet so far. The thing is, he doesn't even get questioned about it. It's the women MPs who get grief in interviews like Jo Swinson did a few months ago. That does rather add insult to injury Journalists should actually give Nick some serious questioning about it and see how he likes it.

Hat tip: Charlotte Henry.

Photo Credit: Elle magazine

* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings