The Elephant in the Room. Part Two
Many women have been exiled from the Left and exist as a splinter within a splinter. Women's rights are being attacked from every angle. Austerity has hit hard and Universal Credit is forcing more and more women into prostitution. Alabama wants to criminalise miscarriages. Canada wants to legalise sexual abuse by forcing, largely poor women of colour to wax the ball sack of any man who demands the service.
Gender critical women on the left exist in a precarious place. We have been exiled and our enemies are offering us shelter. Religious fundamentalists who we have been fighting on issues such as abortion rights and gay liberation are offering us platforms. In the UK, left wing media seems deaf and dumb when it comes to the debate between trans and women’s rights. Meanwhile, life long radical feminists like Julie Burchill are writing for The Daily Mail.
The debate around changes to the Gender Recognition Act has heated up and feminists are fighting feminists. Certain women who speak out are being forced into a nebulous middle ground and being branded The Alt Right, as the Left shrinks itself down into a smaller and smaller corner. The sad thing is this is not just happening within the Left or feminism more broadly. It’s happening within what is known as the gender critical movement. What does sisterhood mean? What is feminist solidarity if it comes with all these conditions?
How can black and lesbian sisters stand in solidarity with allies which seek to erase their civil rights? Can activists put aside their differences and fight against a common cause? Can Christians and radical feminists unite against porn?
What we do know is that Left and Right is a man made concept. The Patriarchy is here and it looks like it isn’t going anywhere. Women as a class are as diverse as the world at large. Should we try to create a space where they all feel free to share their views?
Make More Noise wanted to make this space and so decided to hold a talk addressing uncomfortable truths. What is feminism’s elephant in the room? We published part one yesterday, in which we asked leading feminists and campaigners to tell us, unmediated, what they think is the great feminist taboo. Today is part two in which the editorial team and those we invited to speak this Saturday tell us what they think is feminism’s great taboo.
“Check your privilege.” I was homeless and asking my best mate for somewhere to stay. I must admit this wasn't quite the response I was hoping for.
I have tried to understand this statement for many years but I just can’t. I think about it a lot.
I am a working class woman who has always held low paid jobs. I’ve been an administrator, a health care assistant, a teaching assistant. That’s my bread and butter. I am not ashamed. These jobs are highly skilled but unfortunately they are not well paid. I didn’t think that class mattered with my mates. They hated the Tories just as much as I did. But when it came time to put their morals where their mouths were...
Class is feminisms elephant in the room because it's not on anyone's radar. It should be. It should be central. There are lots of things that unite us as women but by far the biggest difference between working and middle class women is power. They have it and we don’t. They talk the talk but do they walk the walk? It’s a lot easier to spout off about intersectionality than it is to pay your cleaner a living wage. It’s a lot easier to identify as our spokeswoman, rather than budging up and giving us a seat at the table.
How many women in the movement with any kind of platform are actually working class? Not born working class but literally, like, have sanctions from the job centre working class? How many women with a mic have regional accents? How many are single mums, one paycheck away from destitution? Working class women have been marginalised within the labour movement. Why can’t we be centered in the feminist movement?
As feminists we talk a lot about patriarchy and the subjugation of women under male supremacy. We talk about male violence against women, we talk about male abusers.
But just as, when we talk about male violence, so many in society are quick to change the subject to “what about men that are abused by women,” so too when we raise the issue of female abusers in feminist circles we are often told that male violence is the real problem. This can deny the experiences of vulnerable women, looking for solidarity and safety in feminist circles, who have been damaged by abusive women.
I know, believe me I know, that societally it is male violence that is the problem. I know this. We as feminists know this. I have experienced violence from men. But, for some, it is abusive women that have left the most lasting damage.
The mirror of male violence is female abuse and we haven't yet found ways to categorise and label that in a way that doesn’t detract or distract from survivors of abuse at the hands of men OR women.
Having considered this question as carefully as possible, I have decided to focus on what may be a rather controversial observation. For that reason, I’d like to clarify from the off that I myself have been guilty of engaging in these very behaviours.
But I truly believe we must address this trend/tendency lest we allow misunderstandings, disagreements and ultimately divisions to fracture our movement in a way which will undoubtedly undermine our efforts to effectively combat the most worrying war on women’s rights that many of us have seen in our lifetimes.
Within activist feminist circles, I have observed a worrying decrease in tolerance for ideological pluralism. With most of our activism mediated through the internet, and with stakes and emotions so high, there is a growing tendency for minor ideological disputes to escalate into public disavowals, character attacks and a descent into factionalism.
Groups are in their very nature prone to entropy. This tendency will increase exponentially as our movement grows. We are a broad-church diverse movement of strong, intelligent and passionate women and allies of integrity and moral fortitude. We must not let seeds of division propagate to the detriment of our shared objectives.
Bernadette Hyland - Chair.
Bernadette is a writer, researcher and campaigner with an interest in working class and women’s history. She runs the Mary Quaille club which holds regular discussions on working class history and its links with contemporary political issues facing working people in a non-academic setting.
I am a socialist feminist. I have always been a trade unionist, a socialist, a second generation Irish person and have campaigned all my life to make this a fairer and happier society. Born in Manchester I am part of a radical tradition of women and men who are part of the progressive history of the north.
Women have always played an important role in changing society whether in trade unions, the labour movement, or feminist campaigns. In every wave of feminism that has swept through society women have sat down together and drawn up ideas and strategies that involved tearing down patriarchal scaffolding that has trapped everybody in negative and corrosive ways of thinking and acting.
Today after over 10 years of austerity - an austerity that has affected women more than men - it is difficult to find that same hope for changing society and ideas about how to do it. We need to get back to basics; how can we change society to encourage happier lives for women, men and children?. How are we going to go about it? Who are our friends and allies that we can work with. History shows that we can change society, now we just need to do it!
Posie Parker is a women's rights campaigner and a free speech advocate. She likes to think her place in this movement is to say the unsayable and to provoke debate amongst the wider public. In her own words: 'I don't do time consuming research, I don't offer support and I've no desire to be reasonable or respectable.' She bangs her own drum and is totally liberated from political allegiance. Women and children come first.
I am a women's rights campaigner and a free speech advocate. I like to think my place in this movement is to say the unsayable and to provoke debate amongst the wider public. I don't do time consuming research, I don't offer support and I've no desire to be reasonable or respectable. I bang my own drum and am totally liberated from political allegiance, this means that I pay no debt to those that do not speak for me and I cannot be castigated for not toeing their line. Women and children come first, I don't really understand trying to protect them whilst chained to an ideology that inhibits this.
I am interested in the free speech of all, I'd like to think I'm an absolutist but this has not been tested enough to say it's a belief I hold, fundamentally. I want to examine how we are grooming children into this cult of trans, how young women gleefully pronounce that they don't mind John, now Jane, sharing their private space or that they want their breasts removed as soon as they can get enough from their gofundme. I'd like to ask why schools are such a hotbed for this grooming and how supposed educated educators have escaped any critical thinking and are parroting absolute nonsense, why "being nice" is a five minute placating transaction and that searching for contentment with hard fought incremental gains is not something we value more highly. It's like we purchase contactless happiness on credit.
For me the elephant in the feminist room is the hierarchy feminists lift from the so-called patriarchy and use it to virtually beat other women.
Charlotte is a journalist and anti-poverty campaigner. Each week she stages a protest outside Ashton-under-Lyne Job center, offering support to claimants and sharing their stories on her blog which exposes the horrors of Universal Credit. This is her first time speaking out about the harms of gender identity ideology on women and the sexism she has faced within the labour party.
Your sex matters from birth onwards especially if you’re working class.
Girls are dressed in pink boys in blue.
Boys are expected to be loud, to play with cars etc and not dolls.
Girls are expected to play with dolls, look pretty and to be quieter.
Your sex predetermines how you’re treated at school, what games you can play, what subjects you can learn and how you learn.
Girls that want to stray from what is known as the ‘norm’ can be labelled ‘trouble causers’ ‘hyperactive’ and so it goes on.
Oh you’re rubbish..... You shouldn’t be doing that.. Don’t you want to be a nurse instead of a doctor.
Why don’t you get married and have babies, why don’t you settle down?
As a working class woman I’ve experienced all of the above and more. Because I was born into a working class family and parents affected by Margaret Thatcher’s policies I’ve never known anything else.
When the career advisor at school asked me what I wanted to do when I left school I was given a choice of either secretarial work, cooking and housekeeping related jobs or childcare. My parents agreed and I had to go down the childcare route because it took less time to complete the course and they needed another wage to contribute to the household. So not a choice really.
Even now my much older self is advised to do the same. I’ve had comments such as ‘Why don’t you become a child minder or a cook at school.’ Because I’m a woman and I’m still expected to do this kind of work.
It’s a never ending battle.
I’ve experienced the same treatment in my role as an activist and self employed writer. To be heard by any trade union you have to be louder and more persistent than male equivalents. We’re often spoken over and bullied by some.
Why does this continue? Because apparently it’s the way that it is, that it always is.
But we can change this and it’s up to us to do so.
Jo Bartosch is a widely commissioned campaigning journalist, published in outlets across the political spectrum. In 2017 she became a co-director of Critical Sisters, a feminist think tank dedicated to unravelling the twin man-made beliefs of gender and religion.
Feminism has a dirty secret; we aren’t allowed to voice it for fear of seeming unsisterly, but the truth is women are trained to hate other women. The ways in which this intra-sex civil war rages are heart-breaking and destructive, leaving many within the feminist movement feeling totally alone and under siege from all sides.
Whether its brow beating opponents with the clout of one’s academic credentials, spreading rumours or using a bastardised version of intersectionality to silence one another, the urge to put other women down in order to raise one’s self up is one of the greatest barriers our movement faces.
The world we live in is blind to male violence. Rape, murder, prostitution and pornography are accepted as inevitable; the result of men’s ‘natural urges’ which serve to remind women of our fate should we fall from their grace. In the face of this women’s inhumanity to other women might seem minor, but the effects of being hurt by those we should be able to trust are the psychological mirror to men’s physical violence. Blaming men for our own behaviour towards women might be ideologically correct, but it is useless in any practical sense
Sarah Phillimore is a family law barrister. As a disabled woman she has a keen interest in the parameters and reality of self identification.
Why am I interested in this? I am a woman. I am a disabled woman. The delusion of self ID as a cure for my unhappiness is shown to me, and every other disabled person in the world, every single day. We cannot identify out of ourselves.
But I am also a lawyer. Who has worked in child protection for 20 years. I have been campaigning since 2014 for greater openness and honesty in our debate about the family justice system.
So it would seem that my experiences both personal and professional have led me to this moment. There is so much to worry about that I have decided to focus my concerns on the implications for children.
My central hypothesis this: people would rather cause pain than feel it. We have a lack of mature discussion in our society about issues of grave importance to us all. I am quite sure that social media is partly behind this. I see the law being increasingly used as a weapon to silence people who step out of line, the rights of a few achieving dominance over the rights of many others.
And who suffers most in such a scenario? Those at the very bottom of any pyramid power structure – children.
So what supports my hypothesis?
· High court decisions only 3 years apart about transitioning pre schoolers
· The NSPCC debacle
· The intervention of Prostasia
What does this show me?
The inability or unwillingness of both pro-trans activists and pro-paedophile groups to distinguish the child with capacity and the child without.
And where does this lead us?
To the eradication of the rights of women and children to be protected from the imposition of men’s sexual will. And what is worse, our rights will be eradicated at the same time we are told WE are the villains, WE are the bigots.
The facts are always friendly. That was and will remain my rallying cry. Lets have proper discussion . Not all who wish to transition do so out of realisation of their ‘essential self’ – a self that no one apparently can define. Some will do so because they are predators. Predators predate. That is what they do.
The wolf is no longer at the door. The wolf is in the kitchen and claiming a legal right to be there. And I am now too old and too fed up to do anything other than speak up. This will not be done in my name.
If you would like to buy a ticket to our talk on the 27th of July in a secret Manchester location tickets are available here.
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