Way back in the 1980s, cartoonist Alison Bechdel developed a way of measuring the portrayal of women in various media. The idea is that to pass the Bechdel Test, any given work has to have at least two women, talking to each other, and about something other than a man. After all, women have other things in life to be interested in than their relationships.
I am not keen on Women for Independence’s latest offering, a cartoon using the analogy of breaking up a relationship to describe independence. The UK may not be a man, but I’m still calling this a Bechdel fail.
I suppose we should be grateful that they haven’t plumbed the depths that Joan McAlpine went to in 2012 when she compared the union to an abusive relationship. However, I have 3 huge problems with this alongside the relationship analogy.
The first is the omission of the apostrophe in it’s. That will always make me furious.
The second is the inference that those of us who don’t want independence don’t care about their children’s future:
You want expensive toys to keep up with your rich pals. I want my kids to grow up in a better country.
What a nerve! I don’t like nuclear weapons (which I presume is what they mean by “expensive toys” but voting for independence will not rid the world of one single nuclear warhead. I also like the fact that our ministers are at the heart of the UN pushing for global initiatives to tackle violence against women and girls. There is so much more we can do from the top table than as a small country in the background.
Just because I don’t want us to be an independent country doesn’t mean that I don’t care about the sort of place my child grows up in. I want her to have a happy and fulfilled life, where she’s free to be herself and has great opportunities. I worry that Scottish political culture is too illiberal and authoritarian and being part of the UK is more likely to safeguard our rights and freedoms. When we have a Justice Secretary who thinks it’s ok for the Police to be indiscriminately searching people and for armed police to routinely take to our streets and for vulnerable prisoners to be kept in solitary confinement for months on end, you have to wonder about the whole Government’s commitment to human rights. By their deeds you shall know them, and all that.
For me, the best future for my child involves being a part of the UK, which will give greater opportunities and rewards while minimising the risk that being part of a global economy involves. It stands to reason that our pensions are safer when risk is shared among 60 million than among 5 million. There are some things it just makes sense to do at a UK level.
I would never say, though, that anyone who wanted independence didn’t care about their kids’ future. Of course they do. We all do.
The final thing that really annoys me is the “It’ll be different this time. I’ll change, I promise.” The SNP are going back to a 35 year old betrayal by Margaret Thatcher and not looking at the massive change that’s happened to the union in the last 15 years.
We now have a fantastic Parliament which has done some really good stuff – free personal care, the smoking ban, decent freedom of information, land reform, equal marriage, the list goes on. Not only that, but this Government and the Holyrood Parliament passed the Scotland Act 2012 which will give it even more financial accountability and responsibility. There’s also real talk of more powers which will come to fruition in the event of a No vote in September. To suggest that Scottish democracy and constitutional affairs are not rapidly evolving is rather holding two fingers up to all that’s been achieved in the last decade and a half.
Women for Independence’s cartoon preaches to the converted. There is no reaching out. Who on earth is going to be persuaded to their cause by a cartoon that ignores the creation of the very government that’s brought this referendum about and which implies that those who disagree with them don’t care about their kids?
The pro-independence cause is failing to attract women despite promising universal affordable childcare, a move seen by many as opportunistic when they have the power to do that now. This cartoon makes you understand why women are left cold.