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May And The Handmaid's Tale

12/06/2017 13:20 BST | Updated 12/06/2017 13:21 BST
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For the past few years, I have been researching the impact of modern society upon mothers. What I have found is a range of issues causing distress to families with young children, mothers in particular, who report feeling torn between parenting and paid work, experiencing an overwhelming guilt that they are failing in both roles due to lack of time and money. I have previously argued that neoliberalism, the dominant force in contemporary British culture is anti-feminist in essence and should be challenged as such.

The demonisation of mothers across various areas of the media is a publicly visible element of this issue; for example the tabloid stereotype of the 'yummy' (prosperous, well groomed, hard-working, successful) "mummy" and her antithesis, the 'slummy' (poor, shabby, work-shy, failing) "mummy" . Prosperous middle class 'yummy' mummies are insidiously marshalled through a range of media, particularly of the social variety, to voice disapproval of the perceived lack of enterprise shown by socio-economically deprived, apparently shiftless 'slummy' mummies.

In just one example, this situation was recently explicitly played out through the setting up of an apparent stand-off between two mothers whom circumstances placed in tragic circumstances, in which widely pilloried 'slummy' Karen Matthews publicly alleged that Kate McCann, who might appear to be a standard 'yummy' is in fact 'a dreadful mother'. Through this process, mothers are induced to argue amongst themselves, and are thereby distracted from opposing the underlying establishment which oppresses them. This shields an unsupportive elitist state from the discontent that arises amongst women trying to raise young children in an arena of austerity policy, struggling to manage both time and money.

Today, Theresa May has launched yet another assault on women into the mix, in her desperate proposed alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party. Even the right-leaning Daily Telegraph warns that this will be 'dangerous for women'. If such an alliance goes ahead, all British women will find themselves governed by a political party that contains an individual who commented in 2012 that 'God made man and he made woman as a helper' and another who advocates a ten year jail sentence for women who have abortions, even if the pregnancy occurs as a result of rape. This is not a rhetorical threat; just last year, a 21 year old woman in Northern Ireland was given a suspended jail sentence for taking a drug to induce an abortion when she was 19. And of course, it is a policy that Donald Trump has endorsed.

It is time for British women of all political persuasions to consider whether they really want Theresa May to lead the nation, when she has been seen hand in hand with a man who boasts that power brings the advantage of being able to 'do anything to' women, and she has now shown willing to do a deal with a political party which views women as utterly subordinate to men and a draconian state.

There is already evidence that women have been sleep-walking into a dysfunctional relationship with a state which increasingly encourages us to participate in the 'her fault' culture that was so poignantly explored in The Handmaid's Tale. Now, as Mrs May proposes to further immerse us in this situation through a devil's bargain that takes us one more step along this road. It is therefore beyond time for women to speak out against the burgeoning assault upon their hard won civil liberties. Mrs May claims that she is a feminist. She should therefore resign rather than enact such a betrayal upon us all.