TwitLonger

OK here's a proper statement on that Daily Mail article about my performance on Newsnight: Firstly, it was not the case that I was invited on simply because I'm female. I had to go through two long phone interviews first. They didn't just pull my name out of a hat and then shove me on air because I happen to have a vagina. I had to actually be GOOD at it as well.

Secondly, while I appreciate the things Richard Murphy has said about me being a good journalist / campaigner, I am disappointed that he doesn't seem to realise that qualifying those compliments with 'but any subsequent recognition you get is only because you're female' is belittling and sexist. It's hard enough being a woman in public life without someone on your own side acting with a lack of solidarity and support, and suggesting your achievements are based on gender and not merit. I seriously considered turning the Newsnight slot down because I was very under confident about my abilities, but earlier that day I'd had a conversation with other women about how many women turn down public speaking invitations for similar reasons. I forced myself to accept the invitation reasoning that a man would feel himself entitled to such an invitation (as Richard Murphy has demonstrated) and that as a woman I have a responsibility to accept these kinds of invitations because there are so few women in public life.

Which brings me onto my final point. The thing that I am most angry about with regards to that article and Richard Murphy's statement, is the idea that a white, middle-class man can seriously be the victim of institutionalised. I put this to Richard Murphy: do you ever worry about getting raped on your way home? Do men stop you in the street to make lewd comments to you? Are you patronised and belittled as weak and incapable despite the words coming out of your mouth? Do you receive nasty personal abuse, not for the opinions you have, but for having any opinions at all? Do you know that when all is said and done, it's your body people are interested in assessing rather than your experience or opinions (as the Mail's comments on Poppy demonstrate)? I doubt you do. I do - for the simple reason that I am a woman. The conditions I've just described are the daily circumstances of my life - and I get off pretty lightly. Mr Murphy, you have no idea what it's like to be the victim of sexism.

I applaud Newsnight's decision to prioritise a gender-balanced panel. When the producers favoured a capable young woman over a capable man, they weren't being sexist. They were acknowledging that women make up only 22% of the figures in public life - an institutionally sexist fact that they were trying to correct. It is the responsibility of people on the left to push for greater representation of women in public life (as well as people of colour and LGBTQ people) - it's not some luxury issue we can put on the backburner while fighting the excesses of capitalism. If your politics exclude half the population, they are worth nothing.

And my sign off is an epithet to the Daily Mail: fuck you.

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