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The memories of a radical parliamentary woman

A Woman's Work
Forfatter: Harriet Harman
Forlag: Allen Lane (UK)
In the shadow of Labor's leadership struggles, Harriet Harman has made life easier for British women.


"Today's unreasonable demand is tomorrow's conventional wisdom."

Gender Revolution. I was born in 1985, in London. When I came to the world, the British "Sex Discrimination Act" and "The Equal Pay Act" were ten years old, while the Norwegian Equality Act was seven. So I was raised in the wake of a feminist revolution, and like many my age, I have taken several good things for granted. To highlight those who fought for these laws is not only a great way to show their gratitude – it is also a reminder of how much is constructed and how we, through our elected representatives, shape society. In today's political climate, many are advocating old gender ideals because they believe these roles are "natural". I think, as the quote above illustrates, that natural is often another expression of it traditional/brags, and that the fight against oppressive traditions is unfortunately far from over.

In 1982, there were more MPs named John than women.

In Harriet Harman's birth year 1950, both Norway and the United Kingdom looked considerably different. In the UK, for example, women were not allowed to be hired because of their gender, and if they were hired, it was perfectly fine to give them lower wages than men in similar occupations. Harman's family was progressive, and both her mother and grandmother had higher education and work experience. The grandmother had worked as a doctor and the mother was a lawyer, but the mother chose to stay at home with her four daughters while they were growing up (to the extent that the welfare schemes of the time made this a choice). Harriet Harman took a law degree herself, and quickly found herself in the radical legal circles, which, among other things, fought against the above-mentioned discriminatory working life practice, and in 1982 she was elected "member of Parliament" (MP) from the Peckham district. (A tragicomic addition: In 1982, there were more MPs named John than there were women.) Harman is today the longest-serving female MP in the UK.

On cone dinner. While Labor from Norway is best known for the leadership struggles between Blair and Brown, the Milliband and Corbyn brothers against the smoke, controversies surrounding the Iraq War and Blair's flirtation with neoliberalism and New Public Management, Harman's work has gone under the radar for many. IN A Woman's Work she writes soberly, but passionate about her work. One of the most interesting things is what she tells about the fight against rape and domestic violence. When in 2001 she got the job Solicitor General she had an opportunity to influence the legislation in these areas. She saw, among other things, how often the provocation argument was used, and argued that this should not be possible as a defense for injuring or killing someone. It also became illegal from 2009. In the follow-up to violence and rape cases, it became clear that women were subject to stricter moral laws than men, and Harman's analysis of these is striking – and sadly relevant in Norway today, in light of both the Hemsedal case and the general under-reporting of rapes. Harman refers to a case where a man had beaten his wife so much that she had to lie in hospital for four days, but where the man escaped prison sentences because he was considered a great resource for the local community. Among other things, it was pointed out that every Christmas he posed as Santa Claus for the hospitalized children. However, Harman argues that his status as a role model in the local community does not make the crime any better, but on the contrary .

Harman was invited as Labor leader at the G20 meeting dinner for the wives. This was otherwise in 2009.

Harman has a sharp look at the different expectations society has for women and men, and although the book only gets to hear her side of the case, this is in turn a page with a wealth of first-hand knowledge of discrimination. Harman talks about how the male MPs made fun of her clothing in the 80s, as when Conservative Terry Hicks in 1984 expressed "any resemblance between Harman and a lady is entirely coincidental". (For the sake of the word, he also made fun of Corbyn's polo gowns.) Another example is when she, as Labor's deputy leader, was invited to the G20 meeting for the wives and had to listen to a discussion about dieting, while Gordon Brown discussed solutions to the global financial crisis with the other politicians. This was in 2009.

Cake Baker Career Woman? I could go into the less good aspects of the book, such as how Harman a little too smoothly skips the clear right turn in the economic policy of Blair's New Labor, or how the genre of political memoirs a bit too often becomes an ode to a politician in which the victories are manufactured like pearls on a chain of fixed causal relationships. Put a little simpler: There is little room for ambivalence, shifting of opinion and doubt. This is written in political language.

Men A Woman's Work is nonetheless an important book, because it reminds us of what the women's movement in the Conservative United Kingdom has achieved, and not least contains the good reasoning about equality that the law alone fails to implement. Because we still have a way to go when it comes to attitudes, and we should stand up to the barricades and ask: Why do women still get so much of the blame and responsibility in rape cases? Why is it more socially acceptable and widespread to comment on a woman's appearance and body than a man's? And why are women seen as less competent leaders than men?

The latter is well formulated by Harriet Harman, as the "Clinton Puzzle" (The Clinton Conundrum) and make statements that equality has gone too far to shame: "Bake cookies and you are a real woman, but you can't be a leader, fail to bake cookies and you can be a leader, but you're not a real woman. »

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