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Are the folk at Lib Dem Voice sexist pigs or is it just the whole Lib Dem Party who are?

Now that it a title and a half *sits back and dreams of a job being a tabloid sub editor and returns to the situation of sitting in his PJ bottoms with a half eaten galaxy caramel on his desk* oh well we can all have a bit of escapism. Obviously the title is way over the top. I like to do that every so often but there is a real question to be had – and one that has been mused by arguably everyone’s favourite blogger Caron Lindsay. Oh on a second the phones is going:

Caller: Hi Neil, it’s your editor speaking.

Neil: Oh hi Ed, what can I do for you?

Caller: Just reading the opening to the blog post you are writing and I think you made an erroneous error.

Neil: Oh, how so?

Caller: You put the word arguably in the previous sentence before you started typing out our fictional phone call.

Neil: Ah yes, how remiss of me. I shall re-write.

Caller: Good job. Keep me the blogging. Maybe someday a publication will finally call you but don’t hold you breath.

Neil: Cheers Ed. Always nice to know you have faith in my abilities.

So as I was saying, there is a real question to be had – and one that has been mused by everyone’s favourite blogger Caron Lindsay. Over on her post entitled Lib Dem Voice’s Liberal Voice of 2011 – Vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton she makes the point that only one of the shortlist for said award carries her reproductive organs on the inside of her body instead of dangling out and looking rather ugly (I think I’m paraphrasing but you should get the jist).

You can read the full list of candidates behind this link but there are seven men, one group of people and a woman on the shortlist.

One thing should be noted at this point which probably gets the good folk at Lib Dem Voice off the hook already regarding my sexist pig taunt and that is it wasn’t the editorial staff who chose the shortlist. It was indeed the members. Apparently there were 230 nominations and a person (or group of people) needed five nominations to make it to the public vote. So the rules for selection of the shortlist are quite clear and unless they secretly deleted a few nominations and cackled around their cauldrons then we can disspell the myth (that I created but others have been saying) that they are sexist pigs (again my terminology).

So that leaves us with the question as to whether it is in fact the Lib Dem Party members (either as a whole or as a group who took part in this survey) who are sexist pigs. Now I don’t know for sure just how many people took part in this survey. I haven’t approached LDV to ask for that information because. Well just because. However I am going to hypothesise that at least 25% of those who filled in the survey were women. I suspect it was in fact much nearer a 50/50 split but I think a 25% minimum would be accepted by all.

So 25% of nominations were from women and still only one women got the five votes needed to make the shortlist. This doesn’t bode well. Are women sexist too against their own kind in a strange case of hating themselves? It is a possibility but I suspect a rather long one. What is more likely is that people struggled to come up with candidates considering in a way what a bad year it was for liberals around the Globe.

Looking at the shortlist there are certainly one or two people (or groups) on there that don’t scream out either ‘liberal’ or ‘done a great job of being a public liberal’ this year but that is just my opinion. It is an opinion shared by many but it was an open vote. Isn’t that how we do things as a party? Isn’t being liberal about free speech and giving people the right to say and vote for who they want in situations like this? I didn’t see any small print when joining up to the party that promoted positive discrimination and that we had to hit certain quotas for things.

I have some sympathy with Caron as it is clear that some of the women she mentions are more deserving of making the shortlist. However the members who filled in that survey – and as far as I’m aware it was an open survey available to any member – didn’t nominate any women apart from the future President of the United States of America the required five times. Enough women voted in the survey and they didn’t believe that any other woman was deserving.

In the comments underneath her blog we discussed the piece and she made a point replying to my viewpoint on the lack of women in the BBC SPOTY shortlist, I said, ‘I know you had a similar PoV regarding BBC SPOTY and the male led short-list. I didn’t. Not because I’m a man but because no woman excelled in a sport or an event that captured the imagination of the public. How can you win Sports Personality of the Year award if most people haven’t heard of you? I’d heard of all the women you listed but that is because I’m a sports nut. However I wouldn’t recognise some of them if I bumped into them in the street. Now there is a debate to be had about whether women’s sports get enough exposure but that is a debate for another comment. This is already far longer than intended.’

Caron replied with, ‘Just look at any BBC panel discussion or sports personality list. And your comment on the latter is a bit chicken and egg. How are these sports going to capture the imagination of the public without coverage?’

A good question and one I will get into in another blog post in the near future. There are good reasons why that is the case but this piece is on the people at Lib Dem Voice and the sexism within our party.

The fact I put together a long blog post on this was due to this comment, ‘I do worry about our party sometimes. I’d love to see the gender balance of the survey participants to see if my theory that boys choose boys applies in this instance.’

Now we know the split between male and female members of the Lib Dems is fairly even at the last time I saw a public breakdown of the figures (I tried to find a link but I can’t – I did read this a few months ago – I think the figures were from 2009 though). So the potential people filling in this survey was fairly even. I know there are plenty of female Lib Dem bloggers and plenty who comment on Lib Dem Voice. So there was more than enough women to get more women on to this shortlist if indeed boys vote for boys and vice versa. Is it shortlist or short-list? Chrome doesn’t like the term ‘shortlist’. Anyway so her hypothesis that ‘boys chose boys’ is an interesting one but not one I can agree with. I’m pretty sure most (if not all) members voted for the people that sprung into their head first when faced with this question.

I don’t think many people who describe themselves as ‘liberal’ are sexist. I don’t think many who reply to these things consciously think ‘need to vote for men to keep down women’. I just don’t think that. I think in more likelihood more people (both men and women) nominated men because the women highlighted as potential nominees by Caron in her piece are not all known well to the liberal community. They are outstanding candidates for what they have done but how many people would think of them when asked ‘who is the liberal voice of the year?’ Not too many and that has been seen by how the public and open nominations went.

So we can do one of two things. Have a judging panel of respected people to put together the shortlist instead of an open nomination. We could do that but all the issues over the Blog of the Year Awards showed that some people don’t like that as there weren’t enough women nominated there either. So this time they went with an open nomination and not enough women were nominated there either. The poor folk at Lib Dem Voice just can’t win!

To summerise. The folk at Lib Dem Voice aren’t sexist pigs and the people that nominated in this process aren’t sexist either. Now if you want to ask the question as to whether the women mentioned had their stories covered in high enough detail by the media in this country and around the Globe then that is most certainly a fair and reasonable question to ask. However believing that ‘boys vote for boys’ and that there is an agenda at play. I think that is a bit of a stretch.

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  1. neilmonnery neilmonnery

    Nicola I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that. The media industry is sexist and quite badly so. However I once had a screenshot for a TV company and I’ll be kind and not name them but they told me it was – and I quote – ‘I best they had ever seen but I didn’t have the face for it’ – basically I was an ugly teenager. Harsh but the problems in the media go deeper than sexism but sexism is a huge issue.

    I think you made my point for me. The people Caron threw out as potential nominees were all worth being there – and more so than several who made the cut – but there stories were not publicised well enough and people only vote for who and what they know. Hence why I don’t think in this situation sexism was part of the nomination process.

    There are a tonne of issues with the media and sexism is near the very top. It is getting better regarding employment but as for ‘on screen talent’ the same stereotypes are still there.

  2. Nicola Nicola

    I think people who are sexist is the media! The way they show women is degrading. its 50s housewife, degrading, sexist rubbish. I think we can see the damage its doing in programs such as tonight’s Tonight on Dying to Be Thin which told of the shocking statistic that 200 5-7 year olds are hospitalised a year with anorexia. These girls our pressured into thinking they are fat and what they wear, how skinny they are, what they look like matter. They don’t have any female role models like guys do. Either in sport or politics, or engineering or science because women still aren’t celebrated properly in this country.
    I look on TV, and the amount of women I see with plastic surgery is shocking. 4 of the 7 women on the DOI line-up have had plastic surgery. We are planting this image of women and ignoring great women.
    Like I just commented on Caron’s blog. The only woman I had heard of that she named was Clinton and I don’t think she is very liberal but the others I could see why they might the liberal of the year.

  3. neilmonnery neilmonnery

    Thanks for the answer Ryan. With 500+ respondents though I think personally there was more than enough scope for lots of people (of both sexes) to make the list. Even if say only 10% were women (which would seem to be a very low estimate) then that is 50+ women who could have voted for certain women and clearly did not.

    I just think there were very few high profile liberal voices this year – and those that were – were male. Whether this is right or right that is another question but people will in the main vote for what and who they know and not a lot of people knew some of the potential female liberal voices.

    That is how I see it. I’m fairly sure others will see it differently.

  4. Unfortunately the demographics question wasn’t asked this time, so it’s not easy to provide the gender split.
    We do have a list of the names of the 500+ respondents, but that’s more of a manual guessing job.

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