Wives of politicians are more than just pretty accessories, they have a strong voice and they are entitled to their own opinions.

How many times have I found myself at a dinner table or a cocktail reception, listening to others talking to my husband but not even trying to make an effort to have a basic conversation with me?

Sometimes, I would  just stand there and the person talking to my husband wouldn’t even introduce themselves to me. Being invisible or visible, depending on what’s needed, is a role that’s unsolicitedly assigned to us, The Wives of Westminster.

My first shocking experience of the “be quiet” role that the wife should have, happened when a respected senior politician that I’ve held in high regard, told me to “shush“ over expressing my opinion about the free movement after Brexit.

Although I haven’t taken it personally , I could not believe that someone I’ve barely known would just shush me like I was a little child. What I’ve realized at that moment was that I’ve crossed some invisible line set for what a spouse is supposed to be. What I know for sure is that no one handed me that memo, as if I’ve received such a handbook, I’d make sure to shred it. I am sorry, but we are not in the 50s and I do not live in one of the Mad Men stories.

Why is it expected from the wives to be a pretty scenery, laugh at jokes that are not that funny, and uproar in amazement on everything that’s been said?

If we accept to stay silenced what example do we set?

Why is it expected from a wife to be quiet and get involved only to the extent that makes other men comfortable and just enough not to make herself overly confident? Are we still in the age of Gloria Steinem, didn’t she stand up for women so our generation would not need to deal with this today?  

Yes, maybe we don’t know everything about politics just because our husbands are politicians, but we are not just presentable dolls who don’t have opinions or common understanding of the situation.

How many times did you try to talk to end up being ignored, listening to the echo of your own words? Or how many times you were abruptly interrupted and left in the middle of the sentence feeling belittled?

Political wives have the right to be their authentic self

Despite having a just second female Prime Minister in history of Britain, recently she was called a “stupid woman” by no less than a leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn. While that was said in the heat of the discussion when emotions were running high, losing control of the argument and resorting immediately to belliteleing someone based on gender is unacceptable.

Being able to be heard and seen is a basic human need. Respecting women is important for healthy relationships in the community.

If a man cannot hold up a conversation with a woman and respect her for what she has to offer to a discussion, then, we need to go back to basics and remind everyone that the role of a political spouse, or any spouse for that matter,  cannot be defined by outdated social prescriptions.

We are who we are. If we have a right to vote, then for sure we have the right to express our own worldviews and opinions. I, for sure, am holding on to that, and I am lucky to have a husband who does not limit my goals and dreams in any way.

Nevena Bridgen
Nevena Bridgen

Founder

Nevena Bridgen is the Founder of The Wives of Westminster. She is an opera singer and a wife of MP Andrew Bridgen.

1 Comment
  1. As the Shushee, you are a wife of and not ‘a member of the club’, thus your opinion is not considered to have an validity, particularly if it in anyway opposes that of the Shusher. This is an example of how British Democracy really works, as a wife of (and possibly as a husband of), you are not invited to play the ‘game’.

    May I suggest that you start extending your hand and introducing yourself… it will unsettle them.

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