Women and the Politics of Incivilty and Discrimination
7 May 2021, Maison Française d’Oxford & The Political Quarterly
Professor Agnès Alexandre-Collier (Université de Bourgogne)
Dr Michael Drolet (Worcester College, University of Oxford)
What seems to have emerged out of Brexit is reflective of a more fundamental phenomenon: a deep-rooted antagonistic politics. The immoderate characteristics of politics, tempered over many decades by political-legal institutions, education, and a culture of civility and inclusiveness, have over recent decades come increasingly to define our politics. Brexit damaged – perhaps irreparably – those moderating influences, and super-charged an age of antagonism and extremism, which risks damaging further the United Kingdom’s polity.
The Maison Française and Worcester College organised a roundtable and workshop on ‘Women, and the Politics of Civility in Parliament and Public Life’, which took place online on 7 May 2021. The aim of the roundtable – which took the format of a moderated conversation between prominent women from a range of professional and ethnic backgrounds who spoke on their experiences – and workshop, which involved sessions composed each of academic speakers, was to reflect on the profoundly aggressive nature of the political debate and its consequences for parliamentary and public life by drawing on the experience of women.
In an age of presumed sexual equality whose hollowness has been exposed and challenged, most recently by the #MeToo movement, it seemed extraordinary that under the premiership of the United Kingdom’s second female Prime Minister, Theresa May, prominent civil and political rights advocates, such as Gina Miller, MPs, such as Anna Soubry and Diane Abbot, public officials and justices, including Lady Hale, journalists, academics, and writers should be subject to abusive taunts, hate mail, and death-threats.
The 2016 referendum and its aftermath exposed and amplified an ugly feature of political life. But menacing and nasty feature of political life has long been with us, as Dame Laura Cox’s October 2018 independent report The Bullying and Harassment of House of Commons Staff made all too clear. The contributions from the May 2021 workshop will appear shortly in a special issue of The Political Quarterly entitled ‘Women and the Politics of Incivility and Discrimination’. These articles focus on how the experience of women in political discussion and debate yields important insights into the confrontational and antagonistic nature of politics, and their consequences for our democracy.
The roundtable and workshop received generous financial support from Worcester College under its ‘Community, Equality, and Decolonisation’ programme, the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung, the Maison Française d’Oxford, the European Studies Centre, St-Antony’s College, Oxford and The Political Quarterly.
Please download the bibliography here
List of Participants:
Teresa Bejan, Oriel College, University of Oxford.
Zrinka Bralo, CEO, Migrants Organise.
Deborah Cameron, Worcester College, University of Oxford.
Sarah Childs, Royal Holloway, University of London.
Sofia Collignon, Royal Holloway, University of London.
Dame Laura Cox, Justice of the High Court (2002-2016).
Elizabeth Frazer, New College, University of Oxford.
Eve Gianoncelli, Maison Française d’Oxford and Wolfson College, Oxford.
Michael Higgins, University of Strathclyde.
Jane Martin CBE, member of the Committee for Standards in Public Life.
Caroline Molloy, Open Democracy.
Gillian Peele, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, & member of the Committee for Standards in Public Life.
Angela Smith, University of Sunderland.
Harriet Wistrich, CEO, Centre for Women's Justice.
Agnès Alexandre-Collier is Professor of Contemporary British Civilisation and Politics at the Université de Bourgogne, Dijon. She was a visiting CNRS researcher at the Maison Française d’Oxford, a member of the Department of Politics and International Relations and an associate at St Antony's and Pembroke Colleges at the University of Oxford. She was the co-supervisor of the research group on politics and international relations at the MFO, which included a seminar on Brexit, populism and mainstream politics. She is the author of several articles and books including: Les habits neufs de David Cameron, Presses de Sciences Po, 2010; Les partis politiques en Grande-Bretagne, with Emmanuelle Avril, Armand Colin, 2013 and the co-editor of Innovations, Reinvented Politics and Representative Democracy, Routledge, 2020.
Michael Drolet is Senior Research Fellow in the History of Political Thought and Political Theory, Worcester College, Oxford, a member of the Department of Politics and International Relations, and the Faculty of History, University of Oxford. He also lectures for The Institute For the International Education of Students (formerly Institute of European Studies) and was IES’s Spotlight Lecturer for 2016, and recipient in 2018 of its Long Term Faculty Award. He is a member of 'Re-imagining democracy 1750-1850' research group, member of Writing Technologies: Technique, invention, and experimentation in the early modern world, and co-convenor of the Encyclopédie Nouvelle project, a collaborative venture with ENS-Lyon, Université de Saint-Étienne, and Université de Lausanne. He is author of numerous articles and books including: Tocqueville, Democracy and Social Reform. Palgrave, 2003; and The Post-Modernism Reader: Foundational Texts, Routledge, 2004, and, with Ludovic Frobert (CNRS-ENS-Lyon), Jules Leroux: d’une philosophie économique barbare, Le Bord de L’eau, 2022. He is currently writing an intellectual biography of the French political economist and statesman, Michel Chevalier (1806-1879), A Vision for Europe: Peace and European Unity in the work of Michel Chevalier (1806-1879), and, with Ludovic Frobert (CNRS-ENS-Lyon), a study of the political and social theorist Joseph Rey (1779-1855).