The Channel 4 drama exposed an ongoing problem in the Brexit debate: the lack of women's voicesby Sian Norris / January 9, 2019 / Leave a comment
On Monday 7 January, Channel 4 screened its joint production with HBO Brexit: The Uncivil War. Written by James Graham and starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Dominic Cummings, it tells the story of how the Vote Leave campaign won the 2016 Referendum.
The drama was gripping and the acting excellent. But where were the women?
Even women prominent in the Leave campaign barely got a look-in alongside the macho posturing of Banks, Farage, Cummings and Johnson. Prominent Labour Brexiteer Gisela Stuart was granted only one line, while her colleague Kate Hoey wasn’t portrayed at all. PM Theresa May had a cameo, but she was a rare female political voice.
This lack of women in last night’s TV drama reflects a troubling issue with Brexit. Because women aren’t just missing from fictionalised portrayals. They’re missing from the entire debate.
Of course, there are some notable women involved in Brexit procedures. Both Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster have been at the forefront of negotiations, while the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon and the Greens’ Caroline Lucas have voiced strong opposition to leaving the EU. Former Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has also been active, tabling a cross-party amendment to prevent a No Deal.
But research published by the Women For A People’s Vote campaign found that men have spoken for nearly 90 per cent of the time given to debating the EU in Parliament. Male MPs have spoken for more than 12 hours in the EU debates, compared to the 2.4 hours for women MPs.
This is deeply troubling—not least because leaving the EU is set to have a negative impact on women’s rights.
The major issues that dominate the Brexit news cycle are coded “male.” The big three—trade, manufacturing and defence are generally seen as “masculine concerns”—something argued by Gender EU Studies academics Professor Roberta Guerinna and Dr Toni Haastrup.
This has led to an absence of women’s voices during Brexit discussion—ignoring the employment prospects of women in the manufacturing sector, and the economic impact on women if Brexit leads to weaker trading potential and shrinking GDP.
A report published by the Women’s Budget Group offered grave warnings about the impact on women’s financial stability in the result of Brexit. Their findings suggested Brexit could turn back the clock on women’s economic equality.
The report showed how industries with a majority women workforce such as textiles (55 per cent female workforce),…