Tackling sexism should start at Holyrood if Scottish Government are serious about dealing with issue – Annie Brown

In her recent interview with the Daily Record, Scotland’s Finance Secretary talked of women feeling pressured to emulate an aggressive male approach to positions of power.

Kate Forbes spoke of her choice to navigate a problem using rationale and discussion rather than shouting and bulldozing.

Too often women feel in a man’s world that they must behave like a silverback and prove their cottons match any man’s.

Take Priti Patel, a bully who enjoys haranguing and heaping misery upon her own staff as much as on immigrants fleeing war in a dinghy.

The world is currently holding its breath as Putin puffs out his chest and threatens to drag us all into war in Ukraine.

Clinically most narcissists are men, and Putin, he who posed bare-chested on a stallion, is a terrifying example of that particular personality disorder.

It has been said that if women ruled the world there would be no more war, but let’s not forget it was Catherine the Great who plundered and raped Ukraine in the name of Mother Russia.

There have been plenty of wars fought in the names of Queens.

And Margaret Thatcher went to war in the Falklands, for no other reason than a show of strength to save her own political skin.

But a strong leader would have been able to cling to power without expressing her inner sociopath in a bloodbath.

On the whole, male dominance has not served humankind well, leading to abuse to which the #MeToo
movement can testify.

Forbes says Nicola Sturgeon has been very supportive of her
Forbes says Nicola Sturgeon has been very supportive of her

Four mothers, Aileen Campbell, Ruth Davidson, Gail Ross and Jenny Marra, stood down from politics at the last election citing family as their reason.

Davidson described the notion that our parliament is family-friendly as “bulls**t” in the one and only time I will ever agree with her.

The attrition of women in our politics because they choose to be mothers is unhealthy for any democracy.

It is ridiculous that Forbes was the first woman to deliver a budget in a Scottish parliament of 22 years standing. Even then it took the scandal of former finance minister Derek Mackay texting a teenager to thrust Forbes into her position.

There has been wide-scale criticism of Forbes’s budget and its failure to assist the poor.

It is fair to judge her on the choices she makes in a budget but never for her choice to be a mother.

Forbes told me that she did wonder when she announced her pregnancy if she would be deemed not hard-working or committed enough.

Her fears are not without merit, and the scheming will already have begun in Holyrood by those eyeing her post.

But any woman who can deliver a budget on live TV while contemplating how long her cornflakes stay down is as committed as they come.

She will also be the first woman to take maternity leave in the cabinet because, simply, babies and careers have been deemed
incompatible in a historically male-dominated politics.

Forbes has been widely tipped as a future prime minister and it will be interesting to see if the political commentators change their odds on that one now motherhood is on the horizon.

And when she takes maternity leave, she will be judged if she stays away from the post “too long” – and if she returns “too quickly”, her motherhood credentials will be questioned.

The best any woman can do is say to hell with that and be her authentic self.

The Scottish Parliament needs to drag itself into the modern era and accommodating parenthood or indeed any caring responsibilities should be a priority.

Misogyny is about to become a crime in a Scotland with a parliament which makes it virtually impossible for mothers of young kids to remain in politics.

If this is a country genuinely intent on tackling sexism, tackling gender discrimination in its powerhouse would be a great start.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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