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The European Union and Beyond

Too much Presence? Men’s Interests and Male Intersectionality

Political Theory
Rainbow Murray
Queen Mary, University of London
Rainbow Murray
Queen Mary, University of London

There is a significant literature considering the impact of female under-representation within politics on the representation of “women’s interests” (Dovi 2002; Mansbridge 1999; Phillips 1995; Sapiro 1981). It is recognised that multiple identities and intersectionality cloud the issue of women’s interests, with most issues being experienced in different ways by different women. While there is considerable disagreement on the extent to which women represent women, there is some consensus that diversity among women representatives is desirable in order to reflect the diversity of female citizens. However, there is far less literature considering the representation of “men’s interests”. It is taken for granted that men, due to their numerical over-representation within politics, are also well represented substantively. There is some discussion about the under-representation of certain social categories within politics, including the representation of race and class, and these discussions sometimes refer to men explicitly (such as the fear that gender quotas will boost the presence of middle-class women at the expense of working-class men) (Cowley 2013). However, there is an inadequate articulation of men’s interests, and of the ways in which intersectionality influences these interests. The relative lack of diversity among male political elites means that there are significant minorities within the male majority whose interests are overlooked. The majority status of men within politics has, perversely, resulted in the relative neglect of their interests within the literature and within public debate.
This paper therefore explores several questions. First, it raises the question of “men’s interests” and what they might be. Second, it considers which interests might be neglected due to a lack of diversity within male elites. Third, it questions whether over-representation actually exacerbates the neglect of certain interests, due to complacency and a lack of mobilisation on the issue.
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