When Sadiq Khan Came To ELLE: 'I've Always Been A Feminist.'

This month, London Mayor Sadiq Khan redefined the term 'femininity' for ELLE's fourth annual 'Feminism Issue'. As a result, we invited the Tooting politician to come down to ELLE HQ to talk fatherhood, feminism, Trump and Strictly Come Dancing

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'Don't Google the word 'femininity', it breaks your heart,' warned London mayor Sadiq Khan, moments after sitting down in front of a wide-eyed audience of ELLE team members, following a delayed journey on the Victoria Line.

Yes, ladies and gents, the man who gained more than 1.3 million votes in the London mayoral election in May – the single largest mandate for any individual politician in British history – gets the tube like the rest of us.

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This morning, the former Shadow Minister for London and current Mayor of the capital came down to the ELLE offices to discuss the importance of feminism, gender equality, Donald Trump and activism in 2017.

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His visit comes the same month the ELLE's fourth annual feminism issue hit the shelves – an issue in which the father-of-two penned an emotionally charged description of what femininity means to him. In it, he said:

Everyone should be free to be exactly who they are and who they want to be, at any moment, with no barriers or constraints put up by society's expectations or norms.

Sounds like a pretty good definition, to us.

Here's what else we found out from the ELLE office's favourite politician:

Why was it important for you to write a piece on feminism in our ELLE December issue?

'I've always been someone against discrimination in all forms, be it gender, age or race. But, when you become a dad, you recognize the fact your child is a girl means her ability to fulfill her potential is limited by her gender. I've always been a feminist but this was turbo-charged when I had a daughter. I've always been lucky to be surrounded by strong women. Femininity also means you've got to be comfortable with who you are.

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Do you think your daughters' generation (Khan has two teenage daughters) is more politicised?

Young people don't realise their politicised. They're more aware nowadays. But, there's never been a better time to be a woman or man.

London is the greatest city in the world: we're a progressive city, we're one of the richest cities and there's no other city where I'd raise my daughters. But, if you are born a girl, your life chances and your ability to fulfil your potential are less than if you were born a boy. And, that's in one of the most progressive cities in the world. That can't be right.

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More than more than half of my deputy mayors are women – the people in charge of transport, policing, fire and environment. There's a great quote from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – who by the way is one of the coolest politicians ever, he really is that good – and he was once asked when he became PM why half of his cabinet were women, and he replied, 'It's 2015.' So, when I was asked why more than half of my deputy mayors are women I say, 'it's 2016'.

In terms of Transport For London, it's a fact that if you're a woman and you use public transport, you're more likely to be harassed, molested and assaulted than if you're a man. We now have sixty per cent of the TFL board that are women.

Yesterday, we announced that our new business advisory board – which advises me on business policies – and 10 out of 16 people on the board are women. But, they're not appointed by virtue of their gender, but because they're brilliant. If it's the case you can't find talented women to find jobs, it's because you're mixing with the wrong people. Talented women are there.

With Donald Trump now president-elect, do you think attitudes towards women and minorities are regressing?

We can't allow that to happen. Anyone who saw how he campaigned and watched some of the footage that was revealed will be mystified that he's now president-elect, soon to be President of the US. Yes, it will bring with it challenges but don't let yourself get depressed. I'm not depressed about it.

There are too many feisty, intelligent, savvy feminists, men and women in America, to allow some of the things he's said and his behaviors to raise questions and allow it to depress us.

Are there any communities or groups in London that are getting overlooked that we need to do more for?

I did a People's Question Time recently and the children wanted to ask me about FGM and I said: 'Saying FGM doesn't really do justice to the injustice that is Female Genital Mutilation. It's worth saying the words out loud, that's what is it. Forced marriage is duress.'

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie did a TED Talk and said that 'many of us think that the less feminine a woman appears, the more likely she is to be taken seriously'. Sod that, I want to be as feminine as I want to be.

Do you think 2017 is an important time to be an activist?

The bad news is that in 2016 we had Brexit and the US presidential election. And to warn ourselves ahead of 2017, we have big elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands so there are challenges in Europe, too.

Of course there are challenges but there are a number of things you can be – you can be cynical, full of apathy, laissez-faire or you can be an activist. I've always been an activist since I've been young, whether it's human rights, politics, feminism. I'll never change.

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When I made my maiden speech when I became an MP in 2005, I quoted my father – which is a quote that comes from Islam, the religion I practice – and it's, 'If you see something wrong, you should change it. If you can't change it, you should at least voice the fact there is an injustice. In your heart know it's wrong'.

You were inspired to study law from the program LA Law, is there anything int he current media that's inspiring you as mayor?

Suits is great as is Modern Family but I'm no Phil Dunphy. I'm currently watching The Crown but I see things that inspire me all the time.

I recently went to see Alicia Keys and met her backstage – more importantly my daughters got to meet her and she gave them a hug. She was great. I never underestimate the importance of role models. There's a symbolic importance of people in positions of power being decent and great but also the importance of television programmes.

I'm not inspired by House of Cards – it's an act of fiction – and nor do I want to do Strictly, even though I love Ed.

Sadiq, if you fancy joining us every Tuesday morning for a pep talk, we wouldn't say no.

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