The life of woman does not coincide with that of man. Their lives do not intersect; in many cases do not even touch. Hence the life of the race is stunted. – Eleanor Marx and Edward Aveling in ‘The Woman Question’ 1886
In Bristol, on 3rd May, the organisation ‘A Woman’s Place UK’ held a meeting on the topic of motherhood.
Outside, around 30 green (meaning wet behind the ears – remember that phrase? – where it comes from?) young people were doing the usual ‘transwomen are women, trans men are men, non-binary identities are valid’ (that last one not being easy to fit into the chant, either rhythmically or by way of meaning or political point).
I saw a tweet the other day which struck me as even further up the tree of ignorant surmise than the usual, claiming that A Woman’s Place UK wanted to put women back into the home and out of public life. Ironic, when you consider the Chair of this Woman’s Place meeting, Raquel Rosario Sánchez, has been doing post-grad studies at Bristol uni focused on all the things women can be and do in the company of women, despite the intense bullying of those anti-feminism activists.
Oh I know, they say they are not anti-feminism, they say we’ve got feminism wrong, that we are selfishly focusing it on female people, female lives, and female needs. The videos from this Woman’s Place meeting will be online soon so, if you’re reading this later in the month, click the title below and go take a look for yourself.
But back to Eleanor Marx’s statement: The life of woman does not coincide with that of man. Their lives do not intersect; in many cases do not even touch. Hence the life of the race is stunted.
Please think about this, even if you are married. Even if you are happily married. Most women have needs and abilities that are either frustrated and forced inward, or are shared with other women. That is why just about all societies, all over the world, all through history, however repressive they were, had some form of women’s place, some opportunities for women to share and learn from each others’ experiences as females.
I’m certainly not a man-hater. One of my favourite people in the whole world is my partner, a man: given he’s a man who grew up with three sisters, and so never doubted that women will gather as women sometimes, and that there’s no point in, no reason to, nothing to be gained from, trying to stop them. Perhaps that’s why we have such a good partnership.
I see little sign of man-hating amongst the ranks of the women’s movement, either. True, they are less boringly likely to start gushing about men as the average woman does, but the fact that the movement discusses women’s lives does often lead to talking about male violence. Is that not something the movement’s detractors could do with giving some thought to?
Lots of women are lesbians. They tend to come in for a lot of stick, and the occasional beating from others who hate, and are fearful of, women who centre women. Why is that?
Lately, people assume any feminism that centres the female is ‘radical’ and therefore should be protested – but most women are not radical feminists. Real radical feminists design their lives to centre females. They research and develop female culture, politics and life-skills. Why should they not? After all, there are specialists in all fields. We don’t criticise a writer for giving most of their time and attention to the keyboard, or a nurse for giving most of their time and attention to the hospital, and women are over half the population, most of them living in male-designed environments, so it’s easy to see that the work of radical feminists is important and necessary. It was, after all, feminists who brought us the vote, and what legal rights we do have.
Some criticise the movement for ‘speaking for all women’. We do not – except in the occasional comment that omits ‘the’ or ‘our’ before ‘women’ – but we do speak *about* all women, and we seek to defend all vulnerable women (which, in a male dominated society, is likely to be all women, at some time or another).
So why the resentment against feminists? If you remember that the core principle of feminism is a critique of gender, you will also remember that the core work of feminism is to centre the female. It need not be anything at all to do with trans people. Trans people who are female are welcome to join in. Trans people who are male are not (although Woman’s Place UK meetings, such as the one under discussion, are public meetings, so anyone can come). Those young supposedly pro-trans protesters don’t seem to realise that trans people have existed for a long, long time – and for most of that time, most of them did not spend their time trying to break feminism in the belief that it would make them ‘real’ women. The sex-based rights part of our movement challenges queer-theory based gender-ideology, not trans people.
The fact that society objects to women gathering to talk about life as a female, and how to protect and promote the values of life as a female, seems to me to be incontrovertible evidence, should it still be needed, that every society needs a women’s place.
As for the XR-promoted protest – as with the socialist groups I used to support, I was worried that their attacks on women’s politics would prevent women being what they need to be – that is, feminist, socialist and environmentalist, but there’s no danger of that now, as the women’s movement is growing and learning fast, and is doing feminism, socialism and environmentalism. Women are not ‘politically homeless’ where there is a women’s place.
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