What if women ruled the world?
An end to abuse, a law against mansplaining, and reparations for two millennia of injustice as a new sci-fi art show imagines a female-led future, we ask comedians, writers, politicians and CEOs for their vision
Somethings not working at the moment
Bridget Christie, comedian
Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are threatening to nuke each other. The UK has had four terror attacks in four months. David Cameron called the EU referendum, lost, resigned, said: Dum de dum de dum, then retreated to his 25,000 sheepskin-insulated manshed at the bottom of his garden to eat artisanal cheese. The man who sold me my bicycle refused to put the basket on it because he thought it was a girls job.
We dont know what the world would look like if women ruled it, but somethings not working at the moment. While we cant say for certain that women would make a better fist of it, or behave any better, what we do know is that when women are in leadership positions, or involved in decision-making, societies work better. There is less violence and instability and more peace.
If women were in charge, I doubt that eight men would have the same wealth as the poorest 50% of the worlds population. Eight! Ive had more people on my trampoline at once. When a group of men whose combined wealth equals that of 3.6 billion people can comfortably frolic together on one trampoline, its time for a leadership change.
Women would never be the victim
Marina Abramovi, artist
If women ruled the world, they would stop being fragile, they would stop being dependent, they would never be the victim, they would never be abused. I want women to be warriors. When women are free and happy, they will know how to rule the world.
Reproductive sexual difference remains the villain of the piece
Rachel Holmes, biographer of Sylvia Pankhurst
Supremacy based on gender has never been an attractive idea and patriarchal dystopias are no longer in an imagined future, or long buried past, but part of our present. Patriarchy makes us equal in one way, though: men are as arrested in their development as women. Given the challenges of being in charge, youd think they would be more than happy to hand over the headache and see what difference having women in charge makes.
Tory women prime ministers make no difference, because a system that is fundamentally based on the principle of unequal power relationships cannot, by definition, make us equal. Promoting the F-word without challenging the C-word has never worked: it is not possible to achieve the aims of feminism within the capitalist system. Our feminist foremothers warned us of this. Where weve got to so far is largely based on a limited agenda of establishing so-called womens rights within stunted liberal democracies.
People take hope and even experience some freedom in successfully challenging the pantomime binaries of masculinity and femininity. But reproductive sexual difference remains the villain of the piece. If women are to rule the world and make a difference, we either need to overhaul the social and economic system of reproductive exploitation (on which the system was built), or take control of the re-engineering of human design that is already under way.
We should design a reparations scheme that reorganises parental and family responsibilities in such a way that men have the opportunity to pay women back for the last two millennia the incentive being the universally agreed cultural value that raising families brings joy. The first job of the woman in charge is to liberate the men.
Men kill more people than women
Shazia Mirza, comedian
Thered be less violence, wed get things done quicker and we would solve a lot of problems by chatting instead of bombing. We would think rationally. People think: Oh, women cant make decisions when its the time of the month and all that, but I think were very decisive. We dont waste any time and we would do things a lot cleaner and a lot quicker. There would be fewer people dying if women were in charge. Its a fact: men kill more people than women.
Historically, women in power out-men the men
Louise Doughty, novelist
Im not a fan of biological determinism, even when its working in womens favour so Im not sure I subscribe to the idea that women are innately caring and collegiate and men thrusting and ambitious. Ive lost track of the number of times Ive watched mothers coo over their daughters cuddling baby dolls, praise them for it, then declare that caring skills are instinctive for girls.
Historically, what weve seen is that when women achieve power in a mans world, they often out-men the men. Margaret Thatcher was famous for rarely promoting other women. She got off on being the only woman in the room and didnt want any competition. Nothing is more depressing than a successful woman who wants to score points for being the only one among the boys reinforcing, rather than challenging, their views of other women.
So if you really wanted to see whether there is a difference in the way women would rule the world, you would have to have either all-female rulers or a critical mass. But, ultimately, Im resistant to the idea of lumping us all together on the basis of gender: what about race, class, sexual orientation? Even men I like are fond of saying women this or women that as if we are all one amorphous mass. Im instinctively resistant to binaries. Hooray for ambiguity, nuance and complexity.
Women are taking their rightful place as equals
Caroline Lucas MP, co-leader of Green party
Having women in power makes a real difference. As the number of woman MPs has increased in the Commons, weve seen major steps forward in tackling gender discrimination. Women leaders in business make a difference too: helping firms embrace modern ideas like flexible working and job sharing.
Green politics has a history of woman leaders, from the inspirational Petra Kelly in Germany, to Vandata Shiva. Im proud to be part of a movement thats had women at the top table. Of course, having female leaders isnt an end in itself. Its part of a broad movement that sees women taking their rightful place as equals at every level in society.
Unseen female executives mobilise other women
Sarah Sands, editor of Today programme Radio 4
It is often the unseen women, the executives, who have an opportunity to mobilise and encourage other women. Four inspirations from my own career: Clare Hollingworth, the woman who got the scoop of the century about the outbreak of the second world war. I met her when I was deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph, and she assumed I was the editors secretary, which amused me. She was a woman of her time, a pioneer rather than a reformer. Marie Colvin, the Sunday Times reporter, was sisterly as well as brave. Genevieve Cooper was deputy editor of the Evening Standard when I joined. I was a 24-year-old single mother and my male boss asked me how I could guarantee that a baby would not interfere with my work. I was so fearful that, when my small son was in hospital, I commuted between his ward and work, inventing excuses to leave the office rather than admit that I had a seriously ill child. Genevieve rescued me. At the Guardian, the late Georgina Henry showed that you could have vision and authority without losing your humanity. She was a top-notch female boss.
Oppression will not cease to exist simply because a woman is in charge
June Eric-Udorie, editor of intersectional feminism anthology to be published by Virago UK and Penguin US in 2018
If you run in feminist circles, youre bound to have heard someone declare: Wouldnt the world just be better if more women were in charge? What runs through my mind when I hear this is: Which women? Are we talking about black women, disabled women, trans women? Are we thinking about the women who lie on the margins and the intersections of the feminist movement, or do we just expect them to continue to have little to no power?
The inevitable reality is that the women most likely to have power in a female-run world will be white, middle class, cis, able-bodied and heterosexual. Power structures and other forms of oppression will not cease to exist simply because a woman is in charge. History will remind us of the ways in which white women have exploited and benefited from the oppression of their non-white female counterparts. Taking a closer look at so called feminist victories such as the birth of the contraceptive pill or the suffrage movement will reveal pandemic racism, classism, and other forms of subjugation and oppression.
We need to do away with romanticising matriarchal power and dominance and instead question the ways we can change the problematic and dangerous power structures that operate within society today.
In the peace movement, women are not interested in power over others
Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
The peace movement is the place to find powerful women. But theyre not interested in power over others. Instead, they are empowering, inspiring by example, breaking down barriers to thinking, and taking action. Theyre uncompromising, but in a good way. My role models are Pat Arrowsmith, organiser of the first Aldermaston March, who was imprisoned many times for anti-nuclear actions; and Helen John, one of the Greenham Women and an activist at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire. The earth shakes when such women move into action!