NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
Are there enough women active in politics in the Isle of Man and do those who aspire to a political role face greater difficulty than male counterparts? This was the question posed on the (comparatively new) women’s magazine programme broadcast daily on Manx Radio.
One contributor said that women could expect something of a rough ride and the programme noted that “The number of men in the current Manx parliament is greater than the number of women who have ever been in there.”
So is misogyny alive and well in the ‘Isle of Man’?
It is surprising that levels of politically active women are not higher on the Island given that in relation to women’s suffrage the Island was comparatively quick of the mark. In 1881 (property owning women) were given the vote, although universal suffrage did not come until 1919.
Thereafter, although there was no great rush of involvement in the realms of the political establishment women certainly filled critical roles and were pivotal in the development of the national movement and later very much to the fore in terms of both general civil liberties and women’s rights.
A key figure in the Manx national and cultural movement at the dawn of the twentieth century was Sophia Morrison – often overlooked today she was a major force in ensuring the survival of Manx culture and identity at the critical period from the late 1800s until her death in 1917. She was a key activist and also edited the journal Mannin from 1913 until her death.
Another subsequent pillar of the cultural and (often overlooked) nationalist political scene was Mona Douglas who played a central role in the Celtic Congress and was active politically in the short-lived pre Second World War political group Ny Manninee Dooie. She also was involved initially in Mec Vannin.
In the 1970s and 80s there were significant contributions by women in shaping change and campaigning for rights on the Isle of Man.
In 1978 the women’s rights group EVE (Equality Versus Exploitation) was formed. A leading figure in this movement was Patricia Bridson who was already notable as a nationalist activist having been involved in direct action aimed at government policies of the day. EVE campaigned for an end to sex discrimination and positive equality legislation.
Link Carn Summer 1978 Women’s Rights Group Established in Mannin Page 16:
In an article (Women in Mann) in Carn (Summer 1981) the late Dee Moffatt wrote:
“The Women’s Group Eve (Equality versus Exploitation) established on the Island in 1978, to investigate discrimination, pointed out that legislation in Britain – The Sex Discrimination Act and Equal Pay Act were deemed necessary for Manx women and rejected by Tynwald. The E.V.E view failed to make any impression on the male dominated Manx hierarchy.”
Link Carn Summer 1981 Page 19:
That male political hierarchy in Tynwald would ensure it was another thirty years before the Isle of Man moved to adopt equalities legislation.
Certainly, in the late 1970s and early 80s there was no shortage of women activists outside the ‘Tynwald Club’.
It is perhaps often overlooked now but when the annual Illiam Dhone commemoration was revived the driving force for it were women notable amongst whom were Pat Bridson (later to move to Dublin and successfully edit the Celtic League journal for over twenty years), Annie Kissack (still active in Manx culture on the Island) and Lynda Ramsey (who went on to hold several positions in the Manx Labour Party) and Cristl Jerry (still active as an Officer in Mec Vannin and the Manx branch of the Celtic League).
Activism wasn’t limited to the ceremonial and again when nationalists protested at a visit of a French warship (the Narvik) over Breton political prisoners all the protesters were women.
Outside of the nationalist movement in the Trade Union movement women achieved an increasingly more significant role in the 1980s and 90s as the numbers of women involved with the organized Labour movement increased, and continues to do so.
So back to the opening question; is misogyny alive and well in the Isle of Man? Well certainly if one looks at the plethora of social media, forums etc it appears that some women who push themselves forward actively either in terms of work politics or social justice often do seem to get a harder time. Often the criticisms are not of what they are saying or what they are doing but are couched in a manner aimed to demean them via personal invective. So I would say the answer has to be yes!
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)
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