By Pranita Kulkarni:
When the UK made way for Brexit with close to 52 per cent of its population voting in favour of it, Boris Johnson, who led the ‘leave’ campaign for the referendum, was looked at as a successor of the then PM David Cameron. Johnson, whose hair and anti-immigration stance reminds us of the US presidential candidate Donald Trump, however, pulled out of the race to be the next British prime minister, surprisingly. A month has passed since, and the UK has got its second woman prime minister after Margaret Thatcher – Theresa May.
In the far West, USA is closer again after 2008, to having a woman president for the first time in its history. As the first lady Michelle Obama supported Hillary Clinton for the president in her DNC speech, Trump’s daughter Ivanka stole the show at the RNC with her address that is being perceived as the wisest statement ever, coming from the Trump camp. As the poised daughter Trump vows to be ‘right alongside’ the father to fight for gender equality, political experts have already discovered her potential as a political candidate.
The year 2016 looks like an interesting year for the female centres of political power around the world – the real and the virtual. As the season six of the popular drama series “Game of Thrones” aired last month, we saw it delivering on its feminist promise and showing us that the real game is going to be played between two (or more) queens, in Westeros. However, it’s quite evident that the game is going to be murkier than ever, and these powerful women’s modus operandi might be far from fair. Even the Stark girls, whose house deems honour the most superior, have been seen choosing paths which are undoubtedly not honourable. Cersei, who is one of the most powerful women in Westeros, has suffered abuse in her marriage. However, that never made her sensitive to the harassment or abuse of women around her. Watching vengeful Cersei closing the door on Septa Unella, who’s probably going to be raped as per Cersei’s orders, sends chills down our spine. Powerful women leaders are not necessarily feminists. Cersei’s bitterness that rises from years of abuse, dissatisfaction and personal loss cannot do any good to the people she governs.
Clinton is not exactly a feminist either. Not to forget – although she has managed to escape criminal charges for using a private server for government work, it was certainly a serious ethical lapse, according to FBI.
British PM Theresa May has voted twice against legalising adoption by gay couples in the early 2000s and has also repeatedly expressed vehement opposition to the UK’s historically high immigration levels. Posing a stark contrast to this, she was also one of the very few conservatives, who were supporting the ‘remain’ campaign during the referendum. Her leadership is crucial during the post-Brexit political crisis in the UK, and it’ll be interesting to see how she executes Brexit, a decision she did not support in principle.
Ivanka’s words, although sound promising, cannot be trusted, as their echo won’t be heard for long in the xenophobic and misogynistic noise of the Trump campaign.
Are these women leaders going to bring about unprecedented transformations in the world? Is electing a woman president a solution to misogyny? Do women leaders have to proclaim themselves as feminists, even if they’re not in reality?
While Westeros prepares to see a revolution, all we can do is just hope that Daenerys Stormborn doesn’t turn out to be a replica of her father – the Mad King.