This article was first published on my Wikinut blog on 2nd Dec 2014.
Both Theresa May and Mia Mottley, the Barbadian labour politics preaching, feminist politician with whom I compare the capitalism championing May here, have become the prime ministers of their respective countries, England and Barbados, since then.
Also note that both women share a birthday, October 1st.
Is this a positive or negative omen?
A bit of both, I suggest.
I felt the title of this article may have been a bit “loud” back in 2014: a bit “overthrown” or “overblown”, like some elements of the tragic heroine Rachael Bland’s BBC channeled cancer coping narrative. A bit excessive.
Now I am not so sure.
I think the notion of two sharks opportunistically circling their respective prey may be as valid a way of thinking about May’s and Mottley’s leadership as the idea of two protective mother hens shielding their adopted chicks.
The Goddess Kali archetype certainly supports this “bi-polar” understanding of female energy and instincts.
Thoughts of an encounter I had with one of the participants at a British Society of Criminology seminar entitled ‘Women as Victim-Offenders: Negotiating the Paradox’ also come to mind here poignantly.
That experience is recounted in an appeal I made to the parliamentary Women And Equalities Committee here in England recently.
That appeal is focused on the dangers of fundamentalist feminism.
What do English Conservative MP Theresa May and the left-leaning feminist Barbadian politician Mia Mottley have in common?
The May-Mottley post-colonial continuum
It was useful to hear British Home Secretary Theresa May speak of her faith during the Friday, November 28 broadcast of BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
Talking about her early life, the vicar’s daughter said everything revolved around the church. She also revealed that contrary to some people’s stereotypical expectations, she did not go through a turbulent period of adolescent questioning and rebellion about her father’s faith.
And in perhaps predictably amenable fashion, the Maidenhead MP who is tipped to be a future prime minister attributed this seemingly gracious, drama-free transition from childhood to adult faith to her parents not forcing their religion on her.
Given the story of ecclesiastical compliance Ms May shared it comes as no surprise that the only ism she supposedly subscribes to is “conservatism”, as she told DID interviewer, Kirsty Young.
But her story also raises a number of issues – including questions about her capacity to facilitate, manage or otherwise come to terms with the radical changes in Christianity and other contemporary religious developments that her party and indeed all of Britain are currently engaging with.
The Guardian’s Paul Vallely, the BBC’s Robert Piggot and Caroline Wyatt and other journalists typically associate these seismic changes with the emergence of Pope Francis I.
But there is an arguably more insightful association the mainstream British media seems either extraordinarily incapable or reluctant to address: the relationship of these controversial religious developments to the triune tensions of British-Barbadian-American power relations.
The BBC’s silence, in particular is a marvel, given the depth of British-Barbadian historical and political relations on one hand, and that organization’s known liberal, labourite leanings and affiliations on the other.
From this writer’s perspective, the suggestion that Piggott, Wyatt and other BBC staff are unaware of the interrelation of Mia Mottley’s, Owen Arthur’s Dennis Kellman’s and other Barbadian politicians’ influence on British politics – especially through their direct or indirect interactions with Dianne Abbott, Chukka Umunna, John Major, Tony Blair and others is as untenable as the suggestion that no one at the BBC could have foreseen (and possibly prevented or limited) the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Moreover, from where I stand, there can be no truly incisive and accurate assessment of contemporary Christian-Muslim conflict, gay marriage, clerical and Parliament-linked paedophilia and other religious developments – and Ms May’s approach to handling such matters – without a proper weighing of her and her British legislation-leading predecessors’ interactions with their post-colonial Barbadian and American counterparts, especially the former Barbados Attorney General Mottley and Eric Holder, May’s American “twin”, until his recent resignation.
From my perspective, Mottley particularly, now leader of the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), is something of a bellwether – or should that be belle-weather – for the interface of global post-colonial gender politics and religion.
Mottley, a notoriously abrasive speaker at times, with a deep, manly voice, is the subject of considerable speculation about her sexual orientation among Barbadians.
The view that she is a lesbian seems to be held by many despite her denial of and successful suing in 2008 of British Magazine Country Life for repeating a claim made in a local calypso song that she sexually assaulted another woman.
Despite her denial of this salacious biting allegation, the story seems to have been widely embraced and become somewhat canonical, like “folk gospel” on the island.
But it isn’t the salaciousness of this story that ties the colourful Mottley to the comparably subdued, conservative May.
It is the Barbados media and wider official silence surrounding that story.
That official silence attests to Barbados’ comparably colonial, ruling-power-obeying “democracy”.
Indeed, retired Canadian diplomat Isaac Goodine, who lived in Barbados for a number of years and was defrauded by Barbadian political and business elites links that kind of silence to Barbados’ tenacious clinging to a colonial legislative hang-over, the Official Secrets Act, which has long been abandoned by its British creators and other progressive jurisdictions.
But more than the official silence, it is the silence of Mottley herself about her sexual orientation that aligns her with May as a conservative, compliant, conventional-opinion-observing woman.
The fact is that for all her abrasiveness and daring, exemplified most memorably in her call for the legalization of homosexuality and prostitution in Barbados, Mottley apparently dares not decisively address the one issue that many commentators (including former three-term-winning Barbados prime minister Arthur) apparently believe stands between her and the prime ministerial office she seeks.
On the question of her sexuality, Mottley, like May, maintains an exemplary conservative reserve and reticence.
But like May’s compliant Christian persona, Mottley’s silence on her sexuality, implying that she might subscribe to the conventional Christian heterosexual norm, raises questions about her capacity for the courageous leadership on this considerably complex matter that Barbadians might reasonably expect of a prime minister.
Barbadians might reasonably speculate that if Mottley is not prepared to show leadership on her own behalf as a lesbian woman – if she is indeed of that “persuasion” – how could she be trusted to act in the best interest of other homosexuals?
They might reasonably ask, if Ms Mottley is gay, why with all the gains that have been made in advancing gay rights, would she not acknowledge her lesbian inclination, if she is so inclined?
Why suppress the issue of her sexuality if it might possibly advance the feminist agenda that has been a key component of her political programme?
Might it not have occurred to Ms Mottley that her silence could give the impression of a guilty conscience?
Might it not have occurred to her that her sexual-orientation-silence, like May’s portrayal of conservative-Christian-compliance, might give the impression that beyond all her feminist bluster she is fundamentally ashamed of her sexuality (if she’s gay) and is in fact a coward?
Might she not feel any moral obligation to “man-up”?
Might she not realize that she runs the risk of being labelled a public-pleasing political opportunist who is willing to to essentially sell her soul in pursuit of power?
Indeed, some commentators might argue that it was a Mitt Romney-like-malleability-suggesting-silence behind Mottley’s proposal that homosexuality and prostitution be legalized in Barbados and that she did not give those proposals profound, personal-application influenced thought.
They may see in Mottley’s silence, a change of heart about “gay pride” (her own or others’) that shares the same lack of depth and conviction that may be behind Theresa May’s reported change of heart about gay people adopting children.
To be continued….