Saturday, 11 October 2014

Who will help worst-case-scenario me?

I was party to one of those slightly frustrating political discussions recently, the topic of which was based around what issues we care about in society, and how it influences our political stance.

Two young (early 20s), white males, recently out of uni and beginning their careers in law defended the view that they did not care about the impact of further welfare cuts and caps proposed at the latest Tory conference, and moreover that they didn't need to care, because it would never affect them.

The two in the group most vehemently opposed to this viewpoint, including myself, were older females (both in our 30s), who over the years have amassed experiences of unemployment, redundancy, low pay and health issues before reaching a similar situation to our friends above.

I was thinking afterwards about all the things that shape our political views, and in quite a timely way, this article appeared, which although focuses on UKIP has some interesting points about how gender influences the way we vote:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/09/ukip-women-policies-voters-parties-family-friendly

If you are interested in more on UKIP's attitude to women, the Telegraph have published several good articles on the topic over the past couple of years - google UKIP sexism and the like.

But back to my discussion: there was an obvious gender divide there, but was that the root of our differences? Was my view shaped by my being a female? Although women, none of our experiences were uniquely female. But as females are we more empathetic? I thought a great deal about why I care about the issues I care about, and I realised that in some ways, I am just as selfish as my male friends. I care not only about issues that do, but also that might affect me. I vote for policies that may not best support me now, but will best provide support when I most need it, for the rock-bottom me. The worst-case scenario me.

The worst-case scenario me is me without work, with exacerbated mental health issues, a me who is perhaps a single mother to a child who will not be afforded the best opportunities as a result of its situation, perhaps even disabilities. In need of support from welfare and from public services. It sounds extreme. But it is not completely unlikely.

To firmly believe it can't happen to you is either foolish or arrogant, or both.

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