Right now it seems like a good idea to talk about politics. And I’m sorry that there is a humblebrag element to this post, but it’s simply because I am so incredibly proud of this work that I didn’t know I was doing. This election has seen a record number of women elected but we’re still nowhere near equality, women make up slightly less than a third of the house and we should be at 51%. More women, more under-represented people of every sort, need to consider standing for parliament.
The Parliament Project is an independent organisation committed to helping change that. They do one thing only and they do it very well: they hold events and workshops for women who are interested in politics to help them break down the barriers that prevent them from standing. I went to one in November, just after the US election, not because I’m planning to stand for anything any time soon but because I wanted to think about those barriers between women and parliament were.
In the session we shared our own personal barriers and considered responses to them. The first woman to speak said that she felt judged by the men she knew who were interested in politics and collected political facts like some collect football scores, because she didn’t know as much political trivia as they did, she wasn’t good enough. This is one of my personal pressure points so without entirely thinking what I was saying I said “I’m sorry if this sounds harsh but that’s their problem not yours, you should simply give zero fucks about what they think”.
Laughter reverberated around the room and ‘Give zero f*cks’ was written up on the board in case there were people in the room offended by the swearing. But pretty soon every single barrier we imagined for ourselves was met with the rejoinder from the whole group to give zero fucks. They became our watchwords for an evening for believing in ourselves and not caring what any one else thought.
And clearly they resonated a little larger than I expected. I hadn’t given any of this much thought till sometime later when I saw them tweeting these cards.
It was a complete moment of joy. Genuinely one of the things I am most proud to have contributed to. And if even one woman stands as a result then it might well be the best creative work I’ve ever done.
And with my day job marketing hat on, it’s also a good reminder of how great ideas can strike you at the most unexpected of moments.
So really the point of this post is to never underestimate how the simplest of ideas or messages, conceived in the most unexpected of moments can be the most powerful. (And indeed that you’re not always the best judge of your ideas – it took someone else to make this into more than a throw away line). Don’t underestimate a creative idea just because you had it at a moment that you weren’t meant to be being creative in.
And of course that we need the house to keep becoming more representative of how society really is, which means we need more women, people of colour, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, young people – everyone who feels they aren’t fairly represented – standing.
So next time you think that you could do this, but that there are reasons you shouldn’t, I would keenly encourage you to give zero fucks and stand. Or at the very least attend one of the Parliament Project‘s events and start thinking about standing for parliament or at least how you can make the idea that you want to contribute more into some sort of reality.