If I was going to be really bitchy… well alright, I am going to be a bit wicked. Here’s why…
Some years ago now, a group of trade unionist women got together to deal with the blatantly obvious clash between Stonewall’s advocacy of sex self-ID and women’s legal rights.
(I think now everyone’s seen what’s happening in sport, in politics, amongst children exposed to the queer-theory driven gender-ideologists, I don’t need to explain at length how if you tell everyone, even the most twisted of sex-offenders, that they can just say “I’m a woman” and gain access to women’s spaces and services, you are in fact presenting a challenge to women’s legal rights?)
Alert and courageous women from all areas of politics, as well as women who weren’t particularly political, agreed there was a clash, and joined the campaign for women’s rights to be taken into consideration when the government considered Stonewall’s demands. When the government failed to listen, a whole range of women set up groups, each within their own political spheres to meet the obvious need for a debate and a negotiation.
Now obviously, Women Uniting speaks to the parties represented in Westminster but beyond that, “all women” is going to include women from left and right, from lesbian and other minority groups, socialist, environmentalist and anti-racist groups, to those with no political allegiance, including chancers, racists and general trouble makers. Now, the left has always had a bit of a problem with misogynists and, like all areas of politics, it also has a problem with people who are a bit dim and easily led, so when Stonewall set about suggesting that the ability to distinguish between male and female was a form of racism, there were those who happily swallowed the idea that the women’s rights campaign was “far right” or “alt right”.
The evidence for the prosecution
Some right-wing women have spoken up for women’s rights.
Some pretty unpleasant, populist men fancied a ride on the controversy.
And as with every movement ever, some saw it as an earning opportunity.
None of that is a disaster. Those traders are no better and no worse than the ones who sell you mediocre sandwiches for a tenner at conferences. Most people, left centre and right, understand biology. What they do about it varies though, which is why we need to make the distinction between lefty women’s campaigns like Woman’s Place UK and Labour Women’s Declaration and firmly anti-racist, anti-exploitation, everywomen groups such as FiLiA on the one hand, and blatantly capitalist and white supremacist groups on the other.
It should be obvious that lefty political groups and parties should give their support to organisations like Woman’s Place UK and LWD, not the right wing ones but unfortunately, the lefty misogynists and the dafties made the most noise and for several years, most of the left cheerfully wrote off feminist comrades as “right wing” or even fascist, if they tried to talk about women’s rights.
The need to explain
If you are one of those who’s been calling women’s rights activists terfs, bigots, nazis, or if you are one of those who’s looked on in silence as feminists are hounded out of your councils, trade union groups and political offices, please listen to this speech by socialist and feminist activist Ali Ceesay. Do you see how emotional it is? Have a think about why that is.
Well I was in the audience, and it brought me to tears and I’m willing to guess I was feeling the same burning mix of hurt and frustration that Ali was. To think that women with years of courageous activism behind them have to stand up at conferences and explain that feminism is not right wing, that socialist women are not racist, that we have a right to organise in defense of women’s spaces and services, is heart breaking and infuriating.
If you’ve stood by and watched women hounded out, and thought “oh, it’s far too controversial, I’m not getting involved” please now take responsibility for what women like Ali go through when they stand up to speak our truth for us.
But we get the last laugh…
…oh look, Nigel Farage wants to be friends with Mick Lynch! That (by the yardstick of the left) is proof that Mick, the RMT and in fact the entire trade union movement, are far-right racists and fascists, Ha ha – get out of that, you bigots!
You know what? I ain’t laughing. I know there would be far, far more women supporting our current trade union campaigns if they hadn’t been driven away by the shameless misogyny and ignorance of some on the left. Please get your act together. Sort it out. Support women’s rights with the same public response that you do anti-racism and other socialist campaigns. Speak up for your female colleagues – yes, even the ones who’ve long gone. You can still undo some of the damage by stating publicly what happened. It will bring women back into the trade union campaigns and my goodness, the cost of living campaign needs all hands on deck this winter.
Speak up, and please do it now, because the reason the likes of Nigel Farage want to be friends with the likes of Mick Lynch is that the Tory party is falling to bits and there are even worse would-be right-wing leaders waiting in the wings. Stop driving feminists away from the left. Rediscover solidarity. We need it, now.
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