I’m a left-leaning Tory – a One Nation type with much in common with our Liberal Democrat friends. But what makes me a Tory feminist? (Besides the fact that I’m not a socialist and I’m more cautious than radical in every sense of the word.)
What I see as the essential element of Tory feminism is the balance between state and society. I think that any natural differences between the genders are insignificant compared with the stark divide perpetrated by nurture. I understand the issues raised by radical feminists under the term “patriarchy“. And so do many, many Tory women.
The difference between me and radical or socialist feminists is that I don’t think that gender inequality is the responsibility of the state. This is about politics in a wider social sense rather than in a narrow legislative sense. It’s not possible to legally enforce the universal equal respect of all individuals without becoming a totalitarian state. Furthermore, I don’t think the heavy hand of the law should be used for something which is not a legal matter.
As a Tory feminist, I don’t want to ban Hamleys* from putting girls’ toys on a pink floor and boys’ toys on a blue floor. I don’t want to pass a law saying that all toys must be offered in a variety of colours. Instead, I support people trying to change public opinion. Write articles about it, hold protests, send letters, start a Facebook group, even lay a dratted EDM in Parliament. (That possibly reflects my opinion of EDMs.) Such actions highlight the ridiculousness of the girl/boy toy divide and seek to challenge wider politics without invoking the power of the state.
The key difference between me and my radical or social siblings is that Tory feminism sees the separation of legislative and social politics.
(* No, there is no apostrophe. I’d assumed that the shop once belonged to someone called Hamley. I’m rather disappointed.)