Woman in politics by Sandra Dieckmann
Illustration by Jenny Robins
I didn’t plan on staying up so late on Election night. I had well- meaning plans involving a cup of tea, viagra sale my pajamas and being tucked up in bed with a book by 10pm. But like many people, this as soon as the exit polls rolled in, more about I was hooked. My emotions swung from disbelief to elation, despair to complete confusion, the latter being the prevailing feeling.
I am not sure if there is any other point in the year where this is the case, but all eyes were on Sunderland. Initially I was baffled by the focus on rushing to count the votes. I would rather it was accurate than rushed, it isn’t Total Wipeout (although how I wish it was! Imagine- the party leaders racing round the course, being pounded with mechanical fists and squaring up to the Big Balls?!) But as the first, second and third result came in, I realized that for a brief, bizarre moment, we had a 100% female government. Imagine that. And bloomin bizarre it was. But why? Why is it so hard to imagine an all female government?
The sad reality is that women are still dramatically under-represented in key areas of public, political and economic life: In the last British Parliament of 646 there were only 126 female MPs. This is abysmal. We lag far far behind countries like Afghanistan, Rwanda, Senegal and Latvia when it comes to women’s representation. The majority of UK senior civil servants, directors of FTSE 100 companies, senior lawyers, and key figures in the media are men. No wonder so many teenage girls cite Katie Price as their role model, though that does make me want to eat my own face. If women are excluded from the top jobs, half the talent of the nation is wasted.
llustration by Jenny Robins
I went to bed around 2.30am unable to keep my eyes open any more, with an excited, but admittedly naïve, confidence that this election would see a significant increase In women in parliament. According to the Centre for Women and Democracy and the Fawcett Society, Thursday’s General Election resulted in… wait for it….. drum roll…… 142 women MPs. Yes! That’s an extra 16! Oh- no, wait a minute… 142 female MP’s in a parliament of 649…. that’s only 22% of parliament. On a positive note, this included Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, and the election of Britain’s first ever female Asian MPs. A tiny bit better, but overall its pathetic, quite frankly. Fuck.
This has to change. We are well behind the majority of other European countries in this regard. If women’s representation continues to creep up in 1 or 2 percentage points like it has done up until now it will literally take decades before women are fairly represented in our country. Women only shortlists may sound drastic to some but when you consider the state of women’s representation nationally, you realize that it’s drastically needed.
And then there is proportional representation. Oh sweet, fair, idolized proportional representation! How we long for you! It is a clear olive branch standing out from the mushy confused mess of the election result. (Lib-lab, lab-con, Con-dem anyone?) The case for voter reform is more convincing than ever.
There are apparently gazilillions of different proportional representation systems, but roughly it means that if a party receives 10% of the vote, they receive 10% representation, which is hundreds of miles better than the system we have now when a party receives 51% of the vote but 100% of the influence in parliament. The Electoral Reform Society explains one system thus; “At present, constituencies are represented in parliament by just one MP. Under a Single Transferable Vote system, each constituency is represented by a small group of representatives…This makes it possible for representatives of different parties to be elected in each ward, thus allowing more people to have representatives of the parties of their choice.” Having a group of representatives in each constituency will mean that it will be even more blindingly obvious if women are not represented there (same for other minority groups too). In many other countries more women are nominated under PR and the more women are nominated the more they are elected. Proportional representation also means that people can vote according to what they actually believe in (like, for example, electing more women to parliament, amongst other things) rather than tactically to keep certain parties in or out.
So yes. Women are still dismally under represented. Yes, teenage girls are growing up saving for boob jobs. Yes, we heard more about the dresses of the leaders wives than we did the policies of the female candidates. But it is time to say no. We wont stand for our outdated, old fashioned, unfair voting system any more… Takebackparliament , a coalition of a range of different voter reform groups have organised a demonstration calling for voter reform on Saturday. When you’re talking to your kids and grandkids in years to come about this bonkers election, don’t say you watched it on facebook and TV. Say you got involved and made a difference.
Join them this Saturday At 2pm at Parliament Sq.
*climbs down off soap box and sneaks away quietly….*
Photograph by Matt Bramford
A few Saturdays ago when the sun was shining brightly (think hard, capsule you’ll remember sunny Saturdays) I met up with the girls behind Make Lemonade. We met at Yumchaa, the delightful tea shop in Soho. We should really have organised a picnic, and in hindsight it might have been the best day of the year for it.
Make Lemonade, both vintage e-store and fashion blog, is the baby of Emete Yarici and Amy ‘The Mysterious Blonde’. This fashionable pair are like chalk and cheese – Emete the cutesy type, resplendent in polka dots and denim, and Amy the more devilish, Debbie-Harry-esque part of the partnership dazzling in sequins. It seems Amy has a bit of a reputation – her friend arrived at Yumchaa moments into the interview accusing her of having a hangover. Charming!
Illustration by Matt Thomas
As we settled into our teas (after Amy had dropped the lid of her teapot into her teacup, but we won’t dwell on that), the girls swiftly turned the tables on me to ask how long I’d been with Amelia’s Magazine. As I began describing the tale, I suddenly realised it was me who was being interviewed! I quickly put a stop to that.
We’d decided to meet up and have a chat because the Make Lemonade site had recently been given the Pearl Law treatment – one of our finest illustrative contributors, Pearl has revamped the site with fun illustrations of the pair at work.
Make Lemonade website illustration by Pearl Law
Make Lemonade began as Emete’s fashion blog in 2007. She was interested in contributing to the ever-expanding fashion blogosphere, but inevitably needed a source of income (I hear ya, sister). She decided to set up a ‘blog shop’ through Big Cartel, and landed a buying slot at a local vintage wholesale outlet. The girls went to uni together, and Emete naturally called upon Amy to go with her to the sale. Make Lemonade the store was thus born.
‘We found that we really liked working together, and that the pieces we picked out complimented each other,’ revealed Emete, or Amy, I can’t quite remember because it was so long ago. It also transpired that they each went for different items – Emete for trousers, Amy for tops.
The girls also run the odd real-life stall here and there, which have been huge successes. ‘In two days, we cleared almost three rails of items,’ Amy told me. Emete revealed that they might have sold more if Amy had not tried half of the things on and refused to let them go, casually explaining that, when worn with the tag hanging out, it would boost sales. I guess that’s the trouble with retailing a product you genuinely love, and that’s clear from this pair.
Their philosophy, they told me, came from the all-too-familar fact that ‘so many vintage shops rip you off’ and it has always been their policy to retail clothes under £20 – little on the site (go on, have a look) sells for over £15. The website has been met with acclaim by many a fashion blogger and stylist, and they’ve heralded a lot of respect from the industry. I find the idea of vintage shopping online, where items have been cherry-picked by two vintage-lovers, far better than in a vast warehouse where any old thing will be squashed onto a rail.
Both the e-store and the blog act as a ‘creative outlet’ for both Emete and Amy, who are currently studying at the London College of Fashion and have a range of part-time jobs, too.
So what influences them when they’re on their buying trips, or in general? ‘The 70s!’ declares Emete. ‘I like the floaty, romanticism of that era. I also love looking at old family photographs, old magazines, that kind of thing. The LCF library is incredible. They have every edition of Vogue. I can spend ages down there!’
Amy, in contrast, is a 1980s child. ‘I love Debbie Harry, and everything 80s!’ she tells me. She’s a big music lover, too, so naturally is influenced by a range of bands. It’s this stark contrast that makes the site work, they (and I) believe. Sometimes you meet people who totally overestimate their influences but with this pair you can see all of these things at work.
Illustration by Pieter de Groot
The name stems from the olde English saying ‘If life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ but there doesn’t seem to be many sour lemons with this twosome. They get on so well – that is clear – at times I totally lost control of the interview with either me, them or all three of us in hysteric fits of laughter. I find it difficult imagining them ever disagreeing about anything. Of course, as an intrepid journalist, I had to ask. ‘We do argue,’ confesses Emete, ‘but hardly ever, and it’s always sorted within minutes.’ They pretend to have meetings, telling friends and family that they are discussing the future of the business when really they’re out looking for the best place to drink tea, or, on one occasion, sipping champagne at Fortnum & Mason.
Emete is the self-declared realist, while Amy is a dreamer. Amy tells me ‘Emete does get a little stressed sometimes, while I’m shouting ‘We’ll be FAMOUS!’, so I have to pat her head every now and again!’ The success of the site is in part thanks to friends and family who’ve been ‘roped in’ on numerous occasions – driving vans, designing leaflets, and loads of other tasks. They often feel guilty about this but most often everybody’s happy to help.
Illustration by Matt Thomas
So how did the collaboration with Pearl come around? ‘Pearl had been a customer of the site,’ the girls explained. ‘She bought a tweed jacket, and had emailed to ask how she could alter it. We got chatting from there, and told her we were looking to revamp.’ They gave Pearl a brief, discussed how the website works, et voila! As Pearl is a vintage-lover, they naturally paid her in clothes.
We chatted about influences, likes and dislikes, reading lists, that sort of thing – both Amy and Emete read Vogue Magazine as a base and vary their reading from there. Emete confesses to ‘occasionally’ reading Look magazine. She told me, Sometimes, Beyoncé just does it for you,’ – a statement with which I agree wholeheartedly.
So what does the future hold for Make Lemonade? ‘We want to grow the site,’ the girls told me, ‘and make MakeLemonade more than a shop. We’d like to create a community of people, through hosting events, workshops, that kind of thing. Something that draws people together.’
Already on the agenda is to increase the quantity of menswear, a t-shirt collaboration, and the girls recently branched out into being London tour guides (well, who better to ask than a pair who have meetings at Fortnum & Mason?) They produced this cute little guide detailing where and when to visit London hotspots, using lemons and as a meter. More lemons = more expensive. Simple!
As much as I could have enjoyed drinking tea and discussing Beyoncé all day, we all had things to do, including taking some snaps of the girls, one of which appears at the top of this article. Naturally I looked like a prize pervert photographing two girls in Soho Square at 11.30 in the morning, but it was a fun end to a fun meeting.
You can find both the store and the blog here.
- Sugar and spice: Make Lemonade opens vintage fashion pop-up shop
- Welcome to the unique world of Tobacco and Leather- part one
- Dolling up in Dalston
- Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration launch party illustrations: meet Joana Faria
- Ani Saunders interviews Amelia Gregory about ethical fashion for The Muse TV