Yes, women are asking candidates about sex. I do rather worry that unscrupulous politicians (like Boris Johnson) will just say whatever they think the women want to hear, whilst those who’ve been bullied will say absolutely nothing, whatever their views.
It doesn’t need to be complicated though. If you’re a candidate and receive ‘the questions’ you could simply go for complying with the law. I offer some answers that do that below but first, in a minute and a half clip, Shereen Benjamin explains where the women’s campaigns in Scotland are at, but it’s a neat summary that I think works for all the UK women’s rights campaigns….
What she says goes for thousands of women, up and down the country – councillors, MPs, civil servants, academics, teachers and medical staff, as well as women working as TU women’s officers, or directly in feminist groups. We wanted a debate, because law changes were proposed that affect our legal rights, and Stonewall responded by rallying their followers to yell #NoDebate and slandered anyone who tried to talk about the GRA. Considering that included any woman daring to take part in a public government consultation a couple of years back, how can the ‘informed’ views of MPs now be any use, when most women dared not mention or take part in the consultation?
Please look again at the accusations you’ve heard – I guarantee that most of them will go back to unevidenced accusations against women who dared to take part in or publicise that consultation.
Many women are taking part in the ‘respect my sex’ campaign, sending questions to local councillors, so that they can vote for candidates who aren’t scared of mentioning women as a sex-class. Please don’t be scared! You aren’t expected to start saying complicated things, they just want assurance that you acknowledge their biological existence. (Even Keir Starmer has managed that much).
You many well want to affirm your support for trans rights as well, because the world has very much portrayed the bullying and slandering #NoDebate campaign as ‘women’s rights v trans rights’. If you do do this, you’ll need to say a bit more about what you mean by trans rights because women who’ve been given a hard time over this have heard trans activists say ‘I support trans rights’ over and over, meaning ‘I support the idea that trans rights trump women’s rights and women are bigots if they so much as mention their current, legal sex-based rights’.
How about this for a good, simple response on the doorstep…
I support the UK Equality Act 2010, which includes protections both for trans people and for biological women, as it rightly should.
If things have been hot where you are, you may like to add…
I support freedom of belief and expression. I stand against bullying, abusive behaviour and discrimination. Where people perceive a conflict of rights, we need open, respectful and properly informed debate.
And don’t say ‘both sides need to calm down’. When was any political dispute ever calm? And anyway, you are probably saying it to a women who had to screw up all her courage to say anything at all. In this context, it is downright oppressive to say it (remember David Cameron? ‘Calm down, dear.’) Say rather, ‘we need a properly informed debate’.
If you’d like to know more, here’s a link to the cross-party ‘Women Uniting’ respect my sex campaign: Respect my sex if you want my ‘x’
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