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Women, Media & Politics

In discussions about public figures, numerous young women referenced First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and the UK’s youngest politician Mhairi Black MP as inspirational figures in Scotland. Some described their dismay at the representation of women politicians; others talked about gender inequality in an international context, particularly in relation to the 2016 US presidential election:

“Across all the parties in Scotland there is strong female leadership, not just Nicola Sturgeon but like Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson, and like I’m not Scottish, I only moved here a year ago, but it feels so much more progressive than it does down South just in terms of putting women at the forefront of leadership and the sensible ideas that they all come out with are so encouraging compared to Donald Trump and the Brexit brigade [which] all seems so backward.”

‘”The way the media speak about Nicola Sturgeon… it’s frustrating because you look up to these people and you want everyone to have the same respect as you do for them and then you feel like that isn’t applied because they are a woman.”

“A news story will always… focus on what she is wearing, like that article about the conversation between Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon about Brexit. The headline was about their shoes instead of what they are actually doing and it makes you aware how behind a lot of society are because you wouldn’t have that kind of stuff about a man.”

“How horrible [Donald Trump] is to women, all the stuff he’s said in the past, just has kind of been glossed over and now he’s President! People are going to start listening to him.”

“It’s an over-simplification to say people didn’t vote Hilary because she’s a woman, I mean I think that probably had a lot to do with it, and people say ‘yeah but you shouldn’t like her’, and I’m like ‘yeah but why do you need to be likeable, it’s not the sort of job to be likeable’, like a woman should have to be likeable as well as getting the job done but he’s not likeable, he’s an asshole. People don’t like him, people respect him but people say she’s not likeable or because she stayed with her husband but how is that… These are things people are talking about. [Imagine] if you went for any other job and you were the most qualified candidate and had the most term in office, and all this. She’s over-qualified and he’s the least qualified. [Imagine] if you went for a job interview and you have no experience and have shown no interest in that field until there was a big prize at the end.”

“I think it was Iceland? Women just stopped and walked out and went on strike to emphasise how important they are in the workplace.”

The young women also talked about Brexit – the decision of the UK electorate to leave the European Union following a referendum on 23 June 2016. Linked to this, some migrant young women described feelings of anxiety, social isolation and 31 uncertainty. A few identified particularly damaging impacts of Brexit for women:

“I overheard some colleagues speaking in favour of Brexit, talking about the problem of migrants. One of them looked up and saw me and looked really guilty – she said ‘of course, we don’t mean you’. But that’s how I feel when I walk down the street now – not wanted.”

“It wasn’t the result I had voted for, it was quite a shock for me. I felt really upset at first, you know, I felt really sick just catastrophising everything that had been said, but I’m really not sure what’s going to happen, there’s so much uncertainty around it and what’s going on.”

“It is hard to make peace with it especially since we don’t know much about what is going to happen.”

“I also started thinking that I have to meet the current visa requirements of earning £35k a year. I really don’t see that in the immediate future for myself, being a journalist. So again it’s going to become important how much my husband is making and that means that we’re meeting all the requirements like I felt much more vulnerable as all of a sudden my very existence here in this country became dependent on a man. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to emigrate from Poland was this lack of understanding for feminist issues, so quite ironic there.”

“The thing I find most annoying is that… it didn’t matter what people voted in Scotland or Northern Ireland, what England said went. That was horrible to see. I didn’t agree with Scotland wanting to leave the first time the Independence referendum came round and now I’m like yep leave, that’s fine… I hope it means Scotland can go independent.”

“I guess with the rise of the whole far right doctrine, it’s a pretty sexist doctrine as well so I guess it’s not going to be beneficial but I can’t think of any specific effects Brexit would have on women.”