Women for Independence cartoon doesn’t even pass the Bechdel Test #indyref

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.

Women for Independence cartoon

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.


About caronlindsay

Scottish Lib Dem pro UK activist, mum, Doctor Who, Strictly, F1 and trashy tv addict and blogger.
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6 Responses to Women for Independence cartoon doesn’t even pass the Bechdel Test #indyref

  1. emmaeosborne says:

    Reblogged this on The Mountaineering Medievalist and commented:
    2nd post in one day! But this sums up how I feel pretty nicely.


  2. Alex Wilcock says:

    I think I’d find an official relationship analogy patronising, too… Though I have to admit that when I’ve listened to the First Minister, he comes over like a swaggering bloke on the pull with a dubious past. His telling everyone (whichever side of the border) what they [have to] want brings the same sort of feeling as certain beery blokes in my personal space. I don’t like his politics on an intellectual level either, but there’s also the downside of the ‘speaks ordinary bloke’ effect – that sort of bloke puts me off.


  3. treehugger says:

    You get a lot of demeaning & dehumanising analogies coming from the yes side. Stocholm syndrome, rats too stupid too leave a sinking ship, the good old fashioned traitor & quisling slurs, turkeys voting for Christmas, sheep etc. All designed to do one thing try to make someone with a different viewpoint seem lesser. A trait used by many evil regimes.


  4. aileen says:

    I like that our parliament is protecting the NHS from privatisation. That is why I am voting yes for a more equal scotland


  5. Kenny says:

    Are you describing the Yes campaign as an “evil regime”? Would that be like calling the First Minister Hitler, Mugabe, Pol Pot, Stalin or similar as plenty of No campaigners have and do on a regular basis? I actually think the “abusive partner” analogy is incredibly accurate. The three main threats of the the No campaign (and make no mistake, they ARE threats) are “you’ll be broke and couldn’t survive without us” and “none of our friends will talk to you any more.” That’s all been wrapped up in a wee pseudo-conciliatory “I promise I’ll change.” Combine that with literally hundreds of years of gaslighting about how poor and weak and helpless we are without strong, powerful, top-table Britannia to look out for us and you’ve got a relationship that most relationship counselors would recognise pretty well.

    Also, a “quisling” is a collaborator with an occupying force. A “traitor” is one who deliberately acts against his ir her own country’s best interests. “Stockholm Syndrome” is when a captive comes to sympathise with his or her captors. And “turkeys voting for Christmas” are people who vote for the worst possible outcome for themselves – much like Stockholm Syndrome sufferers. For Yes advocates, those are not “dehumanising slurs” but simply statements of fact. I know the No campaign is highly fact-resistant (some would say fact-averse) but if one believes that a Yes vote is the only positive course for Scotland and that a No vote will do irreparable harm to our country then it’s hard to avoid using terms like that when “proud Scots” spend so much time finding ways to say that Scotland is too wee, too poor and too stupid to manage its phenomenal wealth alone.


    • Time 4 Change says:

      A lot of good points but in respect of the W4I image:

      It is obvious that the ‘You’ in that image is Westminster – not other Scots or other people. Righteous indignation is misplaced in my opinion.

      Trident leaving Scotland would result in a massive headache for Westminster. Keep the nukes but spend billions to relocate them somewhere in the rUK OR stop having a ‘nuclear deterrent’. A No vote will mean that we will continue with our plans to replace the UK’s nuclear weapons.(that is hardly disarmament in any form).

      Both unilateral or multilateral attempts to rid this planet of nuclear weapons should applauded and embraced. They are both legitimate routes to our shared goal.

      What is harming my children most is the austerity program that the LibDem/Tory coalition has implemented since 2010. Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland claim that 100,000 children will be forced into poverty due to Westminster. I don’t want that for my kids.(Source: Poverty in Scotland 2014: the independence referendum and beyond)


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