MP Nadia Whittome on What it Means to Be a ‘New Feminist’
The New Feminist embodies the fifth wave of feminism, it is inclusive to all women and expansive in its journey to destroy the stigma around the term ‘feminist’.
MP Nadia Whittome, the youngest member of parliament, is unafraid to identify herself openly as a feminist. She is a voice for the rising new generation of all women who speak out on behalf of equality. As the first BAME and Queer Member of Parliament ever to be elected in Nottingham, this new feminist has made history by knocking down boundaries.
The New Feminist asked MP Nadia Whittome how she would define a new feminist today, she said:
“To me, feminism is about fully dismantling the patriarchy and every form of systemic oppression. It’s about supporting the struggles of all women, particularly those who are most marginalised by society – such as migrant women, transwomen and sex workers. As Maya Angelou put it “not one of us can be free until everybody is free”’.
MP Nadia Whittome embodies this definition of feminism in every action she has taken since her election in 2019. She has notably been outspoken for the rights of care-workers, migrant women and transwomen in the last year and has paid the price for her bold activism.
When the Covid-19 pandemic became overwhelming in her community, MP Nadia Whittome returned to work as a care-taker for Extracare to help in any way she could during the health crisis. In the UK, there are 6.5 million care-workers and 58% identify as women. Of all caretakers, 61% reported physical illness as a result of care-taking, this is a sickening statistic during a global pandemic. After joining the care-home, MP Nadia Whittome publicly discussed a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Extracare on the late-show, Newsnight.
Extracare then, in the middle of a global health crisis, denied the shortage of PPE and made MP Nadia Whittome’s healthcare work redundant. Months after denying the shortage and essentially sacking MP Nadia Whittome, the company finally admitted to shortages of protective equipment for their care-workers.
This was not the last time her activism would be confused for defiance. In 2020, MP Nadia Whittome was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State in Health/Social Care. Shortly after accepting this position, she became one of the 18 Labour MPs to defy the whip and vote against the Overseas Operations Bill which would seek to decriminalize torture. MP Nadia Whittome described the bill as anti-human rights, and because of her strong outspoken moral ground she was sacked from her position as Parliamentary Private Secretary.
MP Nadia Whittome has a history for publicly speaking in opposition to norms, she has a history of challenging the authority and standing up for the equality and rights of all, even at the personal risk of job-termination. Even after Extracare made her care -work redundant and denied the shortage of PPE, MP Nadia Whittome continued to work to fix the issue through public appeals and protect the care-workers in a largely women-run field.
After getting sacked as Shadow Minister for defying the whip, she continued defending human rights and went on to focus on the rights of trans-women. In November, MP Nadia Whittome signed an open-letter that pledged solidarity for all womxn, trans-women especially. The letter specifically mentioned the call to end hostility and violence against trans-women. The letter stated–
“We are feminists and we write, on international day for the elimination of violence against women and girls, to express our solidarity with trans women, particularly transwomen of colour, who experience violence and hostility so frequently it is almost away of life.”
When The New Feminist asked MP Nadia Whittome what it meant to be a feminist, she included all women, highlighting migrant women and trans-women in her definition. That is what inclusionary feminism is, that is what a new feminist looks like. The official baby of the House made history when she walked in the door as the youngest MP and first ever Queer, BAME MP to be elected in Nottingham East.
Despite her youth, as she sits on parliamentary responsibilities, she does not fear backlash if it is caused by her activism for human rights and women’s rights alike. She is the voice of the new feminist, the rising generation of inclusive and outspoken feminists who seek to dismantle, in her own words, ‘the patriarchy and every form of systemic oppression’. She is a soldier for the fifth wave of feminism, she embodies The New Feminist.