Thursday, 23 August 2012

An Opinion in it's Own Right

Lib Dem party conference in Brighton starts in four weeks and two days (not that I'm counting or anything). I'm looking forward to it mainly because I feel like it'll be the first one where I'll be able have a really good time meeting up with people I rarely see; this didn't happen at the first two I attended because for the first one in Birmingham I knew a grand total of two Lib Dems and went to conference entirely alone and the second one in Gateshead was full of general awkwardness caused by meddling 12 year-olds.

One thing I am slightly apprehensive about is how people perceive me. I'm not arrogant enough to assume I'm going to be brought up in conversations on a regular basis by the way, I just think it might happen once or twice. 

I'm the East Midlands Regional Chair for Liberal Youth and I'm busy organising some LY action days in Corby EN. 

I'm the Chair of University of Leicester Liberal Youth which I brought back into life this year after six years of inaction. 

I'm mouthy. I tweet more than I should and people remember.

Someone somewhere is bound to mention me at least once. But them talking about me isn't the concern. The worry isn't that they'll talk about all the stuff I've done or my political opinions, I'm more than okay with that, it's that they'll assume my opinions aren't mine. 

It's not that people accuse me of taking my opinions from whoever wrote the editorial in that morning's Guardian, they assume they come from my boyfriend. 

It's happened before, 3 or 4 times maybe, I've said something vaguely 'right-wing' or libertarian, probably against plain packaging or in favour of the NHS bill, and the person I'm talking to has said something along the lines of "well given who you're dating that's not surprising". 

I'm sorry? Because I'm dating someone whose opinions I share they couldn't possibly be my own, they have to be his? 

I'm sure the people who've said this to me aren't being intentionally sexist but it certainly feels like it! The assumption that a woman can't have formed her own opinions based on what she's read or heard, the assumption that she couldn't possibly think for herself and she's just based her opinions on what a man close to her thinks really aren't assumptions anyone should be making in the 21st century. 

Someone reading this is going to have made those assumptions. Maybe not about me but about someone. 

I'm pretty sure that at some fringe event, probably for Liberal Reform, someone will recognise me and assume I'm there because I'm dating the co-chair, not because I actually agree with the group's aims and want to help see that come through as party policy. 

That is depressing as hell. 

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