Words spoken by a woman who has become the figurehead, a queen, for one part of the women’s sex-based rights movement. It’s a dangerous statement, standing alone. It’s a fantasy, a fictional position. I found out recently that the full quote she lifted the phrase from is, “I never lose – I win, or I learn something.”
That’s better. That makes sense to me. Like many socialist activists, I was a Labour Party officer during the Corbyn years and, like so many others, devastated by the loss of the 2017 and 2019 General Elections, and literally laid low when Jeremy Corbyn resigned in the face of the second loss, and Jennie Formby followed him by stepping down as General Secretary, handing the administration of the Party back to the sharks who had thrown two elections against us.
We are pro-reality
The sisterhood fighting the sex-based rights campaign from a feminist, socialist perspective are very keen on saying we are pro-reality, pro-biology. If we are to be pro-reality, we need to accept the wisdom of those step-downs. To expend all your energy in a determined battle to look as though you’re winning, whatever, is to follow the example of toxic masculinity. You end up hurting people, and hurting yourself. When you hurt someone, you hurt all of us.
Lessons learned in Labour
To continue my analogy, Corbyn’s and Formby’s resignations should have been taken as an important message. “I took up this post,” Formby said, “to support Corbyn’s leadership of the party.” They were telling us it was over – not that socialism was over, but that we’d lost the battle for the Labour Party. We were too hung up on heroes and figureheads. If we were really in socialist mode, we would have picked up on what they were saying, and dropped the Labour Party immediately – not the struggle for socialism, but the Labour Party. [see footnote] There was no need to collapse on the sofa in an exhausted depression. We merely needed to have a rest, then get going again the next week, with energy and optimism. Had we done that, there would not have been waves of demoralised activists deserting the movement. We would have been much further along than we are now in re-shaping the trade unions and other lefty groups to organise outside the Labour Party – either as a force to lever Labour into a more useful position or a coalition of socialists to replace it.
We’re doing that, but we’re late, and we’re disorganised – that is because we waited for Mr Corbyn to sort it all out for us. Let us not make that mistake again. Let us not make that mistake in the sex-based rights campaign. Right wingers and centrists will do what they do, but there are hundreds of thousands of women now who are working both for socialism and for women’s rights. It’s hard going because many socialists still equate real feminism with ‘transphobia’. They hamper us, they divide the movement, and we suffer losses. So, we have a difficult road. So, when one of us loses something, we need to say so, and get help, or get another sister to take over. No-one is the queen of a socialist, feminist movement.
We need an autonomous, women’s liberation movement – Pragna Patel
The women’s liberation movement is eternal and like socialism, it’s had its high times and dormant times, and a million victories and defeats but right now, feminism is revving up and gaining numbers. Let’s do it the women’s way, make room for every sister, listen to every sister, think for ourselves and make space for each sister to acknowledge, fearlessly, when she personally is winning or losing something. It’s much less painful that way, and you get help when you need it.
[Footnote: this is NOT intended to denigrate the extraordinary work of the Labour Women’s Declaration. Labour is a lost cause to socialism for now, but it probably will be the next party of government. Given the contents of the Forde Report, and most MPs’ lack of concern for women’s rights, we needed some women to stay put and endeavour to prevent the Party riding roughshod over the interests of women – especially Black and working class women. LWD are doing that. Respect.]
Times are hard, and so the articles on this site are freely available but if you are able to support my work by making a donation, I am very grateful.