Yep, she was right, wasn’t she (you know the quote I’m thinking of). I know, I know, someone’s going to say ‘oh, society loves *this* woman, and *these* women…’ Yep. I thought that too, for most of my life. I knew loads of blokes who were decent to women, and loads of successful women, shining up there on the pedestals of business, sport, entertainment, even in parliament. Everyone loves them!
That’s not really love though is it. That’s rewarding the obedient. That’s tokenism. That’s exceptions. Yes, yes, she’s very edgy but still obedient, and that’s still not love. I’m thinking about what happens to women who centre women. Women who support women. Women who know what’s in the interests of women, and shamelessly say it. *Those* women.
Every now and then – maybe once or twice a century – something happens that reminds us what happens to disobedient women. Of course, not everyone notices. Those who don’t pay attention to the sex industry, the workings of the judicial system or the DWP, or the methods of science, politics, education or international business rarely notice it at all, but once you’ve stumbled across or diligently uncovered some of the evidence, you can’t unsee it.
It’s seeing it, howsoever it happens, that makes you a real feminist. As an example, here’s some evidence @volewriter collected from the field of 20th century education that are now flying around Twitter, with people saying ‘oh my goodness, I had no idea!’ (still):
If you are thinking ‘oh, that was way back in the 20th century’, please bear in mind that that is when the educational, professional and economic status of your mum or your gran or your great gran were decided, and they are still living with the consequences, and probably, so are you.
Do you remember how that bitch Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles? Then that cow Linda whatsit stole Paul MacCartney? And as for that trans-hating J K Rowling, she definitely deserves all those death and rape threats, for saying… well, what was that horrible thing she said? Did you check? If not, here it is…
She was talking about that dreadful “terf”, Maya Forstater, who lost her job for… for what? For saying sex matters when you’re analysing taxes. And for carelessly referring to a male with a beard as ‘he’, when that male preferred ‘they’.
If you have not noticed the largely Stonewall-led attack on women’s legal rights in recent years that led to situations like Forstater’s and Rowling’s, you are probably of the opinion that a lot of women are becoming increasingly raucus and unpleasant, and show a shocking lack of empathy towards trans people.
If you did notice what Stonewall have done, and/or the willingness of politicians, the police, and quite a lot of amateur observers to ignore this unquestionable threat to women’s rights, you are probably thinking more along the lines of the US commentator who recently said women are showing great restraint in not burning everything to the ground, or as Paul Embery put it…
I’m a lefty. I’ve been to countless rallies addressed by trade union heroes who would turn a passionate shade of red and vibrate with indignation as they yelled out their speeches. Now, whilst I passionately agreed with every word they shouted, whenever I saw, for example, Tosh MacDonald or Ian Hoddesdon heading for a microphone, I would scurry to the back of the room in a desperate attempt to protect my hearing aid batteries.
But, we are told, the women campaigners are too loud, they ‘lack nuance’ and amazingly, women who haven’t yet noticed society hates them, agree. If you’ve been at the receiving end of the kickback campaigning women receive, you probably find yourself worse injured by the quiet sabotage and deft slurs of those women than by the absurd rantings and unconvincing threats made by misogynistic men but, if you were surprised, you don’t know your history.
What is it that society teaches men to fear, when they see disobedient women?
Our society hates women, and is and has always been very good at casting women’s campaigns as vindictive, hateful or a threat to other, supposedly more vulnerable groups. Here is a pamphlet from 1919, in which a group of school masters explain how women are seeking to destroy families and starve children by asking for equal pay.
A couple of choice details from the leaflet…
Women have ‘gone too far’ and want to be made ‘social superiors’ (because they’re asking for equal pay to be included in policy).
Personally, I always look for ‘race, sex and class’ in any cases of political demonisation, because those are the favourite weapons the establishment uses – when people feel threatened and want to fight back, or just simply when they want more, the public conversation will somehow find a way of blaming ‘them’ – and ‘them’ will be racialised people, people marginalised by socio-economic disadvantage, or the old favourite – *women*.
It works so well because there’s a triple whammy there, and if people manage to see through one or two of the dividers – or a few manifestations of each, they then feel very virtuous and ‘right on’, and stop looking – so very, very few of us manage to see clearly through the dividers of race AND sex AND class.
But the suffragettes and the equal pay battles were 100 years ago, and the 11-plus is long-gone – surely, things have changed?
Of course things have changed – things are always changing but the triple whammy, the three big weapons, remain as effective as ever. The challenge, always, is to recognise their *current* forms.
The darling of the left
Here is Owen Jones, speaking to canvassers in my town the night before the election in 2019 (if you can’t stand listening to ranty speeches, worry not. Click the link, and you’ll see I’ve transcribed the relevant parts of his speech on the page below the video).
He was praising the suffragettes, and listed some of the treatment they suffered, and I was standing there, smiling wildly (because I was an officer of the CLP hosting the event) and I was watching the faces of the women in the crowd, many of whom had experienced just such treatment, and very recently. Here are some examples of how suffragettes were presented to the world, and the treatment they got as a result…
The really astonishing thing (if you weren’t expecting it) about the Owen Jones speech is that, had you gone to look at his Twitter feed at that time, you would have found it spilling over with bile against women on the current campaign to protect sex-based rights. ( Three years on, he still doesn’t get it. )
All Stonewall et al needed to do to trigger the wild misogyny in people like Jones was to translate women’s “hey, if you’re cancelling the sex-exemption, that has consequences for us” into ‘hysteria’, ‘fearmongering’ and ‘transphobia’. That was enough. Ever since then, all those who’d sucked up our society’s endemic hatred of women have been screaming ‘terf’ and ‘transphobe’ and now, several years down the line for most women on the campaign, patience is wearing thin, women are increasingly angry and impatient when faced with all that rubbish, and large swathes of society are saying ‘oh yeah, what a load of loud-mouthed harpies, we always suspected they weren’t real socialists/feminists/nice people.’
On yer bike!
Women, you should not be surprised. This is what it’s like, when women are out on an important campaign. Yes, we’ve lost money, friends (not the real ones of course) security, political positions – but so did the suffragettes, so did the equal pay campaigners – but they won, and so will we.
We know instinctively the kind of flak we’re going to get – we also know they’ll say it’s only ugly, old, unsuccessful, bitter women (Turbulent Spinsters) doing it. That, people, is because most younger, less stalwart, less financially secure women dare not take the risk of stepping into the firing line, and even those who do have that courage often feel they have a responsibility to see their kids safely into adulthood before they do so, in case they end up poor, or in jail as a result.
They are calling this the fourth wave, to distinguish us from the faux feminism – the ‘pole dance your way to liberation’ lot that have been operating in the name of feminism in recent decades (just like those capitalism-friendly hippies that were around after the ’60s). Thing is, each time there’s an important women’s campaign, women activists find out how much our society hates women, and so they become feminists. And here we are. The sisterhood is thriving. You are not alone. If you’re new to the campaign, and you haven’t found the sisters, here are some good starting points.
FiLiA: the biggest and best annual women’s get-together in Britain
Woman’s Place UK organises meetings around the country where women can discuss their views on women’s issues
Sex Matters are running a campaign to ask council candidates for May whether they support women’s rights
Or grab yourself a copy of The Radical Notion, and check out some of the groups mentioned in the articles.
There’s probably a local group where you live, too. If not, don’t worry – start one. They all start as two or three friends round the kitchen table, or in the coffee bar. I assure you it is worth it. For all the losses, insults, indignities and stresses and strains that can result from being seen as a disobedient women (or, as they are currently known, ‘terfs’), finding the sisterhood and feeling the power of it is a not-to-be-missed experience.
The welcome you’ll receive profoundly changes your life, and understanding that you’ve joined the project to try and create a society that does not hate women is a daily joy – especially if you have daughters. Women do not regret it.
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