By describing traumas they have suffered, brave female MPs are challenging the apathy of mainstream politics and proving that the personal is political|
Michelle Thomson’s measured, moving account of being raped when she 14, given at a House of Commons debate yesterday, was testament not only to her great bravery but also to the importance of the personal in parliamentary politics. In her speech, on the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Thomson, a Scottish MP, calmly shattered rape myths: she was wearing jeans, not a mini-skirt; she didn’t fight or flee because – as is common in threatening situations – she froze; she didn’t report the attack because she was ashamed; and – as in 90% of cases – the rapist was not a stranger in a dark alley, but someone she knew and trusted. The usual cheers and jeers of the house were replaced by empathetic silence.
Earlier this year, Labour MP Jess Phillips marked International Women’s Day by reading out the names and ages of all 121 women killed by men in the UK since International Women’s Day 2015. It took seven minutes. The sobering litany insisted that we call each woman to mind, recognise her humanity, and confront the male violence that ended her life. Phillips insisted we see a pattern. Continue reading...