Valkyrie: from Norse mythology, meaning “chooser of the slain”; female figures who choose who will die in battle and who will live.
Ms Soapbox has a message for all the politicians who “know” what their female constituents need but can’t be bothered to ask them; who condescendingly brush aside social issues because politics is only about the economy, and who in their heart of hearts believe politics would be a whole lot easier if women would stop bugging them about access to abortion and the cost of child care and just let the men get on with it.
Guess what. The women have had it up to here.
The Doug Ford factor
The election of Doug Ford, surely the stupidest conservative leadership candidate to emerge in a very long time, was the last straw.
Sure, Alberta’s UCP consider Ford’s election as proof that the populist playbook guarantees success (Jason Kenney is lauding Ford’s election as “a great day for Albertans”) and yes, the UCP will unleash a tsunami of empty slogans (Alberta Advantage, rah, rah), dog whistles, and failed economic ideologies, topped with a dose of victimhood every day until election day but it won’t be enough.
The women are engaged
Ms Soapbox participated in four women-only political events over the last two weeks. They were hosted by women who are horrified at the prospect of a UCP government in 2019. Here’s what she’s learned:
- Politicians who say politics is just about the economy really mean there’s no room for that “what-do-women-want-crap” in their party.
- Politicians who say there’s no such thing as women’s issues haven’t the foggiest clue about the challenges Alberta women face 24/7.
- Politicians, wannabe politicians and backroom players who shred party institutions in their quest for power don’t deserve anyone’s support.
- Politicians who boast about holding the government to account while boycotting the debate on Bill 9 (the abortion clinic bubble zone bill) because it’s “divisive” are widely recognized as hypocrites pandering to their evangelical, pro-life base.
- Vitriolic and veiled attacks on female politicians (of any stripe) say more about the attacker than the woman being attacked.
- Politicians who label “feminism” an “f-word” are oblivious to the fact feminists come from all parts of the political spectrum.
- Politicians who have a field day when a female politician stumbles are hypocrites if they continue to sing the praises of Doug Ford.
We could go on, but you get the drift.
Politicians who hold such beliefs are viewed with contempt and concern given they’ve been around for decades and are apparently unaware of the feminist waves which started in the 1830s with the fight for the right to vote, returned in the 1960s with a focus on the workplace, sexuality and reproductive rights, and morphed in the 2000s into a broad demand for political, social and sexual equality.
Alberta is grappling with complex challenges. It is transitioning from a resource-based economy to one that’s more sustainable. It’s trying to address the lingering effects of underspending in health, education and infrastructure while continuing to meet the demands caused by demographic changes in the population.
Populist politicians offer simplistic solutions to these problems: inane slogans and quick-fix policies like returning to the flat tax and cutting “government waste” juiced up with dog-whistle appeals to cause Albertans to lose focus.
The women recognize that populist politicians pandering to their right-wing base will roll back the advances the NDP government has made on social issues like protecting gay kids in schools, protecting women exercising their abortion rights, improving the delivery of education and healthcare, increasing access to affordable child care and heightening awareness of climate change so we can transition to a more sustainable economy.
And they’re fighting back.
They’re joining constituency associations, identifying potential candidates and encouraging women to run for office. They’re busy fund-raising and volunteering for their MLAs. They’re speaking up and amplifying their voices on social media and in the main stream press (a slew of letters, even if they’re not published, will focus an editor’s mind).
They’ve become more visible. They’re marching in festival parades to show support for the political party that supports them. They’re telling their friends Rachel is doing a good job. They’re reaching out to their networks and encouraging their friends to get engaged.
They’re brave. They’re doing everything they can to ensure the next government won’t hurt their children, their partners, their parents or themselves.
They’re Valkyries soaring over the battlefield looking for political leaders who know that women’s issues are everyone’s issues.
[And for those of you looking for a little inspiration, here’s Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries]