21 April 2009

Why do powerful women find their sexual reputations under attack?

As women living in the UK today, we like to think we live on relatively equal terms with men, a million miles from the unthinkable oppression of women in countries such as Afghanistan (see this week's feature on The bravest women in Kabul) who still have to fight for basic freedoms. 

But in this same issue of the mag, MP Nadine Dorries talks to Grazia about how rife sexism actually is in British corridors of power. Last week, Westminster was rocked by news that government special advisor Damian McBride had planned a smear campaign intended to destroy the reputations of key Conservative MPs – including Nadine. He planned to circulate rumours that she'd had an affair with a married MP because, after all, if you want to bring a female in power down, the quickest route is by attacking her sexual character. 'So often women are belittled in polictics; our views seen as trivial,' Nadine tells Grazia. 'And when it comes to how we present ourselves, we're damned if we do, damned if we don't.'

McBride's emails have exposed the ongoing chauvinistic attitude pervading Westminster, leading many of us to question why a powerful woman is still such a threat. What do you think? Would the allegations have been as potentially damaging if they were levelled at a male politician instead of Nadine?


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