Dumb and dumber

Jemima Burrill’s visceral videos and photos set in prosaic locations question the way we think about bodies, sexuality and gender. Just back from DUMB where Jemima – accompanied by gagged sympathisers – stood on a bucket and staged a protest at the lack of women in the new coalition cabinet, and in politics in general. The event was held at Speakers’ Corner, which is one of the few places left in the UK where you can express dissent without being arrested for terrorism. The House of Commons is still a deeply misogynist institution that deploys a whole gamut of overt and subvert strategies to exclude women from the political process, and prevent those who do become MPs from gaining real power. We have just witnessed our three avatar leaders out-nobbing each other in the TV debates, while newsreels portray the wives as pretty but dumb appendages. The dismal image of Cameron standing outside Number 10 with Samantha relegated to childbearing status five paces behind endorsed the marginalisation. The 101 Labour women MPs elected in 1997 were instantly dubbed ‘Blair’s Babes’ by the media to relegate them to infantile chattels, and many found the macho working hours, arcane ritualism, clubby culture and sexual harassment untenable. The UK is 61st in the world table of women’s representation in government, way below United Arab Emirates, Rwanda, Argentina, Iraq, Pakistan, Ethiopia and China. 83% of the ‘experts’ cited in British media are men. Women hold 10% of non-executive directorships and a 3% of executive posts. When I become Prime Minster my first act will be to demolish the ghastly Palace of Westminster, which was designed – like all ecclesiastical architecture – to intimidate and oppress the masses while exalting and beatifying the chosen few, and replace it with a People’s Palace of Perspicacity.

Tom

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