In the run up to the General Election, a ‘magenta’ bus, manned by female Labour MPs, is currently touring the country and engaging with women on female-orientated political issues such as childcare, the gender pay-gap and domestic violence.
There are some important questions to be asked. Firstly, why is the bus pink? Call it what you like, Harriet Harman, it’s pink. Secondly, why does it have to be ‘Woman to Woman’? Do women need to be singled out as a minority group, despite being 50% of the population? Or is this really just an acknowledgment that politics is extremely male-dominated and therefore women do need to be engaged with directly?
Some have described the choice of pink as ‘degrading’ and ‘patronising’, with Sophy Ridge from The Telegraph suggesting the colour is ‘cutesy, unintimidating, slightly babyish’. When questioned, Harman explained that they wanted to use a colour different to Labour’s usual red (as it’s a new campaign) and they were limited by the other parties’ choices of colour, so pink was the natural choice. But for many, this explanation has done nothing to stem the speculation.
But what is more important here? That Labour is reaching out to women? Or that they chose a ‘girly’ colour for their vehicle? I can’t help but think this discussion about the colour is merely a distraction from what the bus is really trying to achieve.
Do we need women to be treated any differently to men when it comes to politics? There’s no doubt that Labour’s history of giving ‘special treatment’ to women does not reek of success (women-only shortlists, anyone?), but this campaign is about educating and engaging with women on issues which, stereotyping aside, do statistically affect many more women than men.
Is it perhaps time we put aside blind ‘feminist’ values and accepted here that there are fundamental differences between the sexes? It is a fact that proportionately fewer woman vote than men. Whatever the reasons for this are, it needs addressing.
I can’t help but think this discussion about the colour is merely a distraction from what the bus is really trying to achieve.
For me, it seems like this story, and all the controversy it has caused is a perfect symbol of modern media. The mainstream media is filled with mindless junk designed to distract the masses from reality, and the reality here is that Labour has done something that no other party has so far in trying to get out on to the streets to reach out to and engage women in political discussion.
A Labour supporter or not, it is highly commendable that they have worked to front such an innovative campaign and if a pink bus is what it takes to get the media talking about it then I suppose it’s simply a good publicity stunt, even if it has backfired.
Labour has done something that no other party has so far in trying to get out on to the streets to reach out to and engage women in political discussion.
Personally, I wouldn’t put much faith in the whole ‘Woman to Woman’ campaign being more than a good publicity stunt, but this only serves to highlight the limits we place on ourselves by caring about the bus being pink, and not about the emptiness of political promises, hypocrisy of politicians and the strangulation the system of financial influence within the media and the government enacts on our highly prized, so called ‘democracy’,
This is what news should be about – not pink buses.