Sexist claims against Angela Rayner call into question women's place in Scottish politics

Imagine a political arena where women are heard before they are viewed – difficult isn’t it?

Everyone is a witness to life. We all like to play games of “people spotting” as we watch life go by and it rarely looks back at us.

There is comfort in it, knowing you can take a back seat for a brief period of time and watch life carry on.

Yet, with the recent stories around Angela Rayner surfacing, I question my agency and other women’s as I sit at a cafe window, considering women’s place in Scottish politics.

Angela Rayner told Lorraine Kelly a "cutural shift" in society was needed following sexist claims made against her in the Mail on Sunday (Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock).

In politics, I have found men often take the window seat, watching women enter “their” political realm.

Imitating the pose of a model in an ad for sexy lingerie, Jacob Rees-Mogg sprawls himself across the benches of the Commons.

Meanwhile, Ms Rayner would not dare. Imagine the headlines.

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In Scotland, having a woman as First Minister and with a woman recently appointed as transport minister we are making headway.

Yet, as we approach the local elections in May, recent data from Democracy Club shows only 33 per cent of candidates in Scotland are female.

The percentage of women goes up slightly to 34 per cent across England, Scotland and Wales.

Talking to Scottish women who previously worked for MSPs this week, they told me they got into politics for a “brief period”.

"I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a local election candidate, let alone sit in Parliament as a woman,” one told me, “I had to deal with so many misogynistic claims against my MSP.”

And the fall out over the deeply-sexist Rayner claims is not over yet.

Amongst the public outcry to the article was laced in the “she loves it, really” tactic from the Mail’s follow-up story. On radio during call-ins members of the public say things like “well she was asking for it”.

And there lies your problem. Women are overwhelmed by being viewed and not heard.

We question our appearance as we continue to do our jobs. Not only is this misogynistic, it is exhausting and it is putting so many of us off entering the world of politics.

A cultural shift in society, as Rayner said, needs to occur and men need to get up and open the door.


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