politics

We need to talk about the commentariat

I write this not for the Brexit ate my braahn baby crowd but for those of us who are willing to admit harsh truths in order to effect change. To know what it is we must do for the future we learn about the past and study trends so we can be better prepared for what’s coming. You don’t need an academic record in order to observe how the world is affected by narratives however, especially if you are burdened by unspoken rules placing you at various intersections of oppression, you experience them through social inequality. Speaking for myself I have been a keen observer of all things social and have been since I studied sociology at high school. It informs my interactions with the world. I never anticipated the backlash though, I had expected some resistance but not on the scale I received and not from the people I thought I could trust, the Guardian types keen on saving us all from ourselves.

When you learned about the Holocaust did you stop to wonder as I did, how so many were organised and in such a short period of time, carted off to their deaths without so much as a whimper from their white German neighbours? Did you marvel at the breathtaking ignorance of the allies who were allegedly unaware of the camps until it was almost over anyway? Perhaps now you know, given the ways in which truths are erased in our supposedly post truth world, and how narratives are framed, by those who claim to know better, those publications considered ‘leftie’ or socialist in some respects are squarely to blame, along with the perhaps deliberately embellished version of war we were taught on the national curriculum where Britain saved the world, and the Jews.

It could be true that some of us have a monumental chip on our shoulder, that we make excuses for our inadequacies or we might just be telling the truth. Recently the Guardian featured a story regarding the inhumane treatment a Dutch woman had received following Brexit when she applied for a British passport and was subsequently turned down because she had failed to include her original passport because *reasons*. There was outrage on social media not least because this mother of two was going to be ejected from the country minus her children, who did have British citizenship. How cruel the system was under Brexit, how devastatingly inhumane. Except this is the system and has been for as long as I can remember through my work with women who have no recourse to public funds. You won’t hear about them even if people like me blog about it. Where’s your outrage for women like Meena* and her toddler? She came over on a spousal visa from Pakistan and only just fell short of the then 2 year rule which stipulated residency in the country for at least two years under the supervision of a sponsor, in this case her husband, before she could make an application for indefinite leave to remain giving her full access to British benefits. He was violent. One day she made the decision to leave, because it was no longer safe enough, the violence was escalating and she feared for their lives. She’d endured his violent episodes but there was a limit. I’m only explaining this because she knew she had nowhere to go and so had suffered many months of abuse before she made the final break, potentially being faced with homelessness but that threshold had been crossed. Homelessness was preferable to certain death. Think about the hell she endured all on her own, without a clue. In fact she was one of the lucky ones and had a kind and thoughtful doctor, one who’d spotted the signs and knew of a culturally sensitive refuge that had a single room set aside for women with no recourse.

Subsidies for these women who, almost every time, fall through the net and get disappeared by the state or their abusive partners are practically non existent. There has never been adequate representation or provision for these women. When Meena traveled the two hours to the home office every time they said ‘jump’, baby in tow, she came back a sad shadow of her usual chatty self. I saw the state chip away at this personality, this woman who had every right to exist free from harm and to be supported in her darkest moments but instead she was yanked around like cattle to the slaughter. I can’t forget the way she cried as she prepared for the final hearing and was advised by her solicitor to bring all her valuables with her, if the home office denied her extenuating circumstances (despite the reams of evidence) she would be remanded immediately and sent to a detention centre. When we pleaded for the baby’s sake the home office, along with social services and even our own legal advisors said the state was obliged to provide for the little one and take her into care but Meena would still have to go. I was a temp and I left before her case was closed but I think about her even now and where she might be. When I read about privileged white women bemoaning airport queues, I think about Meena, and all the others the Guardian overlooked through indifference and probably racism, until Brexit provided the sacrificial king upon which to pin all of our woes.

Even more recently the Guardian published a lament from one Lindy West who left Twitter because it serves best the trolls, bots and dictators. I hear she wrote about the Nazism that Twitter is now famous for and also about all the ways she personally was sick of it and to be fair, this wasn’t regular trolling but a sustained campaign of abuse, harassment and stalking. I feel for her, absolutely, but I’m also a little pissed off. Anyone who knows what I and many other woc have been forced to endure the past few years will tell you the gigantic role journalists had in directing that abuse, harassment and stalking our way. When we protested the Guardian and New Statesmen ghouls for their hot takes on our lives they said we were bullying them and they as white middle class people with all the top jobs were being oppressed by us. What effect do you think that had on wider society? At a time when the far right mobilised in the wake of the killing of Lee Rigby these allegedly leftie papers were saying women of colour, queer people, trans people were bullying them and making false allegations of racism that were just unacceptable, oh, and intersectionality was just an elitist buzzword whilst poc had sinister undertones. You want to talk fake news?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

jonathon-haynes-race-card

This guy is an editor for the Guardian. When we called out the racism his girlfriend, who works for the New Statesman, was subjecting various people to, in her actions if not so much her words, this is how he responded.

His girlfriend later went on to ask:

farage-of-the-left

It is the middle class liberals and lefties citing Brexit as the root of all evil who have enabled the rise of fascism. Virtually every last one of them is white, plus a few tokens on hand to massage their egos. They did know, we tried to tell them a million times. They didn’t just do as they were told, they were the ones doing the telling. These are the facts we must remember.

It doesn’t matter what we think, as grandchildren of immigrants, and legitimate citizens of rainy fascist island, where our lives are scrutinised and twisted beyond our recognition. We are not permitted to defend ourselves or to react from a place of fear and vulnerability. When we react to these privileged white people’s assessments of our lives they double down instead of listening to us because they cannot believe we would have the audacity to talk back. We are bizarrely hostile, not understandably so. We should ask nicely, with our heads bowed and exult upon our colonial masters how special and superior they are, if we are to be given a voice, otherwise we simply do not exist.

 

READ NEXT: Part Two – Comments on the Commentariat

Advertisements

Anarchy in the UK

10297567_10152094651067113_7295527954385124276_n

What is anarchism and why was I so afraid initially to vocally identify as one? Perhaps it had something to do with the image I’d had constructed for me, angry Sex Pistols spitting into their microphones as they rasped menacingly about the queen (fair enough, actually), the same sex pistols I’d associated with racism cos punks were as scaring looking as the skinheads when you’re a brown girl trying to make sense of white subculture but are too afraid to ask just in case they do turn out to be a paki bashing neo Nazi.  There was Vyvyan from The Young Ones who frightened the life out of me as a small child (this was largely due to the metal in his face) and the response “there’d be anarchy” in every discussion regarding the breaking of rules painted a nightmare scenario where we’d all regress to a primitive state, raping and looting and bashing each other to death for larfs. Of course I would be afraid to say the words “I am an anarchist” when I did not want to be associated with such carnage and destruction (plus it also sounds a bit like antichrist).

Then I met some anarchists and they were thoroughly awesome people. I wondered where they’d been all my life as I reflected on all the people I’d made do with, accepted, despite their shades of bigotry because I’d felt there was no other choice and I was alone in my thoughts. Here was a bunch of people who just got it and didn’t need it spelling out. Anarchism is the antithesis of every social structure maintained by authority, disproportionately represented by white men. To call oneself an anarchist means to reject the ways of white men, and to challenge those perpetuating oppression whenever we personally witness it, affecting these changes wherever we have the power and influence to do so. I didn’t go to a posh university to learn all these fancy words and expressions; I was just born this way (in my rundown brown Muslim ghetto). Meeting others like me just helped bring everything in focus, and I was pleased to find they came in all colours, genders and beliefs.

To question the reason for everything is at the core of every true anarchist. Why do we do things in this way? Who benefits from it? Is it to any other person’s detriment, on purpose or inadvertently? How can we ensure justice? If these questions do not matter to you then how can you say you are an anarchist?

Anarchism isn’t about behaving like a dick or actively promoting self-interest cos you’re a libertarian who don’t-listen-to-no-one; it shouldn’t be done for the kudos or kicking back at the state cos you’re angry with your dad (although there is nothing wrong with that). Anarchism is taking a radical approach concerning all things and doing them differently. In this sense, most religions can be compared to anarchy (at the point of inception). A new way of being becomes possible, tired of the old (and often violent and oppressive) way of doing things, seeking to change things radically for the betterment of all, because you need to be inclusive if you’re going to spread that gospel far and wide. I believe Jesus was an anarchist, and Mohammed too. Feed the poor and stop raping/murdering your children are worthy (and radical) causes whichever millennium you’re from, and then, just like now, the people in power persecuted those seeking to end power and control by making a violent example of them.

We’ve all heard the ‘let’s fix class then we can entertain feminism’ orders. They come from primarily white men. There are some women socialists using the same tactic with regards to class and race but that’s another blog post. For anarchy to work, I’m sorry not sorry white men, you have to stfu. It’s not like you don’t already have your say right? White supremacy is a social construct as is patriarchy and when you refuse to shut up and listen you are doing both of these things. You’re simply maintaining the status quo and that as you’ve probably already guessed, is not anarchy. Me telling you to do this right now is not exerting power and control or authority over you but punching up at historical oppressors in a bid to be heard so you can stop being so abusive. I do not have any control over your opportunities but you certainly do mine.

The other huge difference between our arguments is the intention behind them. When I say “stop doing that” it’s because you’re hurting somebody. You bash back because you don’t like being told what to do, because you are entitled and used to getting your own way. When the context is so wildly different you cannot apply the same reasoning/survivor language we use to label us as hypocrites. The truly anarchist response to being called out, if you have the self-awareness to regulate your thoughts despite being bombarded by messages on how we must behave in a white cis heteronormative patriarchy is to reflect and think about why you’re being called out not hit back with abuse or dig a deeper hole with your defence. That is the sign of an anarchist, someone who appreciates their privileges and place in the world and seeks to redress the imbalance, however uncomfortable that might be.

Being an anarchist means having the humility to recognise the impact one’s own existence has on others. In a world where we ask people what job they do in order to ascertain their social standing and bank balance before we know anything else about them, we are an anomaly. It makes perfect sense to an anarchist to be preoccupied with the often murderous actions of governments and their followers, and usually for monetary reasons. It is more shocking that most individuals are not bothered. People are more inclined to follow a world sporting event religiously than protest the hundreds of children murdered to make way for it. I am an anarchist because I object to this way of thinking and being. In the pursuit for self-gratification we have allowed for atrocity. We’re convinced it’s not our problem.

If you are not an anarchist (or a true anarchist), you are complicit. To be an anarchist is to be without rulers, not rules (the rulers have created this cruel uncaring world for personal gain). When the rules include treating all living creatures with respect and always questioning your prejudices, you have to question the sort of anarchist who would object to that.

Being a dick is the norm; a true anarchist would know this.

First they came for the *Others

“Sorry, I know it is really terrible and fucked up that so many people got arrested yesterday, but please don’t compare this police response to the rise of Nazism or make lazy claims of ‘creeping fascism’. It’s offensive, shows a complete misunderstanding of what ‘fascism’ is, and totally disorients any opposition to racism or police aggression.”

A person, presumably a white male (based on the information I was able to glean) said this about a piece I wrote regarding my fears that fascism was on the rise in Great Britain last year when the far right mobilised in response to the murder of Lee Rigby. My fears felt real, I wasn’t being sensationalist to bring in the readers; I had been at a demo (the last of many) where white supremacists were given the time and space to spout their hateful ideology, bringing terror to the people of the area they targeted; Tower Hamlets (whilst multicultural it is known for its large Bangladeshi community). The police responded violently to the people attempting to protect the area, not the fascists who were being abusive in their language and threats to kill. 286 comrades were arrested that day; among them innocent members of the public who were not permitted to protest their innocence, they were kettled and led onto waiting buses, their hands bound together with cable ties. To me, the horror of went down that day (bail conditions forbidding any contact between arrestees and any right wing fascist group within the M25) felt like the beginnings of a regime where powers could be made up on the spot and this was a frightening thought when remembering the past. It’s a slippery slope right?

There was also the time (almost a year ago in fact, 22nd June) this friendly fella took objection to my white best friend slapping a white man on a packed bus for calling me a Paki. This one slap was (apparently) the beginning of the end of all white male supremacists and my friend and I deserved to be harassed and slandered for daring to defend ourselves. Nobody seemed to care about the sexual harassment that led to us telling these two entitled menz to back off (politely at first), nor the toxic shaming racist abuse they subjected us to. No, WE had gone too far this time. I knew at the time this was in fact the beginning of unchallenged casual racism.

I tried to report someone to the police for openly gloating about a racist attack on a mosque but I was silenced when they assumed my motivation was my religion. Being an atheist I refused to engage with people who were already racially profiling me. If the case had ever gone to court one search on Google would reveal Helen Lewis’ lies about me. I felt exposed and manipulated but I wasn’t to complain cos that meant I was self-obsessed and only after a meeja deal. I even wrote this to explain how vulnerable I was feeling.

The Left has systematically shut down the voices that challenge their very problematic beliefs (for lefties they are incredibly bigoted). This means most women of colour, women like me (anyone who is not white and wealthy actually). When I challenged them I was silenced and ridiculed and then thrown to the White Knights of Twitter who have called me every dirty paki bitch under the sun. People like Graham Linehan made this ok. His response to racist abuse against me was to mock me, not once acknowledging the words “paki” or “cunt” but instead fighting for the honour of that other model of white supremacist feminism, Caitlin Moran. Academics like Becca Reilly Cooper accused us of doing it for the kudos and ruining The Left but didn’t see the irony in her very right wing threats to sue anyone who utters her name (come at me).

(Have you noticed how white everybody is yet?)

The line between The Left and the Stupid Right was blurred even more when Louise Mensch got involved. There was no difference in how I was targeted by either side. The same patterns emerged; often these people mention my name but block me before I can challenge them. Their intention is the same; to silence me with outright racist, sexist, ableist abuse from the white majority of this land. I said last year that all of their actions were structurally racist; that you don’t need to say the Paki word to be racist. The very least I expected from people on this side of the political fence was to be heard. They could have told me I was wrong and I might even have listened but they never had any intention of living by their socialist ideas, they really are just pretending to be something because it’s trendy. They’re like political hipsters.

(Reminder: Helen Lewis was on a Channel4 news piece suggesting that the abuse WOC receive is down to class and not race. Wish someone had thought to ask a WOC that question)

Of course I hope I am wrong here but when future generations ask how it was possible that so many non-white people were terrorised and murdered by the English (this century), the answer will be the same as it was for Nazi Germany. The liberals and lefties let it happen. They allowed for the kind of rhetoric that othered anyone who was not able, wealthy and white. They lied about why it was happening; it’s not class war, Helen, it’s white supremacy.

..It’s the kind of white supremacy that speaks to white women about issues that affect non-white women in hijabs, not considering that they may be the experts here on account of living it. You don’t need to be a *something* to have an opinion ok?

..It’s because they abandoned anti-fascist actions at a time when the fascist right was growing exponentially.

..Or the fact they were given a platform so we knew exactly why they were hating on other humans, as if we didn’t already know.

..It’s the air time given to actual outright Nazis by the allegedly Left biased UKIP channel (sorry, BBC).

..How about the way ‘race is not a feminist issue’ (a white leftie feminist slogan)? Even though white supremacists routinely target women in attacks, pulling their clothes from them, mocking them for being ugly, hairy, mannish.

..Why would any of The Left lend support to me on the back of a few intense weeks of horrific racial bullying and death threats? Where my bank account was hacked and attempts made on my social networking accounts. Where people responded in earnest to questions posed my someone imitating me “I’m a pakigirl and I smell. Should my boyfriend dump me?” (or something) Where was the outrage for people like me?

..What about the focus on Muslims/Jews cruelly murdering animals when of course being bashed in the head and then having your throat sliced open is like well humane? Of course this issue needs to be drummed home by the BBC who couldn’t give the NHS the same attention but y’know, leftie bias.

..There was the time white feminism focused on sex selective abortions (a non-white problem apparently) which deserved our attention more than the sex selective IVF favoured in the west. Not racist though right? Not about denying non-white women the rights to their own reproductive health. Pro-choice but only for white ladies.

..Rape, right, it’s an Indian problem. Maybe it happens in The Congo too. But it definitely doesn’t happen in the same way here. Our rapists just aren’t as rapey as the non-white ones. The Asians, they even prey on young girls, like their prophet. Jimmy Saville just wasn’t as dedicated as the grooming gangs of Bradford.

..There are good immigrants and there are bad immigrants, right? If you jump through enough hoops (a 70hr working week (for no pay), making personal contributions into the system without indefinite leave to remain or any of the rights that affords a citizen, eyes cast downwards at all times, especially when there is a white person passing) then someone might pick you as their token Asian pet. This privilege may be whisked from underneath your feet at a minutes notice though. Don’t start getting uppity; know your place in this structure.

We’re expected to take all of this without objection. We’re to accept the unspoken notion that no part of this land (or the lands stolen from us) belongs to us, that we are not entitled to the same level of basic respect and recognition of human rights because we’re not descended from Vikings. We are expected to live with the constant fear of displacement (because we’re not worthy)? Our allies and comrades said and did all of these things. Farage and the other Nazis are just bolstered by the general support of white English people regardless of their claimed political allegiances. Theresa May now has powers to strip British citizens of their citizenship if they so much as suspect terrorism. But.. They already suspect every non-white person of this. How on earth was this bill allowed to pass without so much of a fanfare from the leftie press? Could it be perhaps because the leftie press is focused on dehumanising and othering groups of people they do not like? Trans women for example?

Nazi Germany happened because the Germans were concerned only with themselves. Under the guise of socialism (alarm bells) they convinced an entire nation that the Jews were vermin. Just like our socialists have been doing this past year about us. It was as Pastor Niemoller said.

We would all do well to remember the past because if we forget, we are doomed to repeat it.

*This is how and why

lauriepenny

Safe as Houses

Since Refuge announced it might have to close due to excessive funding cuts from the government, we have to question whether the withdrawal of support to such an institution is lawful and whether the local authority has a duty to provide shelter to those at risk of harm.

The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 was the first revision of DV legislation in over 30 years and put in place new powers to support victims at risk of or fleeing domestic abuse, through the courts and police e.g making common assault an arrestable offence and breaching of non-molestation orders, a criminal offence. It implemented a framework from which all agencies could follow a code of practice to ensure all victims were given adequate support and protection.

This was an enhancement to existing legislation – Housing Act 1998 and Homelessness Act 2002 – which aimed to prevent further incidents of abuse by providing an interim duty to accommodate;  an admission that where there may be reason to believe (a verbal declaration should suffice) a person is believed to be at risk of homelessness due to domestic abuse and it is not reasonable to occupy their current premises, the local authority has a duty of care to establish whether they are in priority need (under section 184 Housing Act) and eligible for assistance.

In my experience as a DV worker, priority need differed from one city/borough to the next. Single women without children were not considered in this category and as such, their only recourse to safe accommodation came in the form of a refuge. Even in cases where a service user had come to the end of their license agreement, whereupon they would become unintentionally homeless, local authorities would refuse to accept they had duty of care, suggesting that we move the survivor on to another refuge. So much for Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 – The right to privacy, family life, home and correspondence.

The role of a refuge is to provide temporary accommodation, a halfway house before suitable, permanent accommodation is allocated. As a rule, all the women passing through safe houses should submit homelessness applications on arrival, because they are in fact, unintentionally homeless. If, for whatever reason, the service user could not remain at the refuge, she was then considered to be intentionally homeless and as a result, not eligible for assistance. Survivors were being manipulated into staying at refuges.

I had a case once where the survivor was at an immediate risk of homicide. Police reports had been taken, her injuries photographed. She had been viciously attacked and her small children witnessed it taking place. Social services were involved. We were in the process of securing an injunction. A clear-cut case if ever there was one. Yet the local authority disallowed her application because the worker believed she was lying about her disclosure.  They simply did not believe her. She had presented with a hospital report but this was not enough. However, she was sent away with a list of refuges whom she would  have to call herself along with the advice that she may be in a refuge for up to 3 years, after which she would no longer be deemed priority need Band A and would be demoted to that of non-priority Band C. The housing worker suggested to my client that if she were to approach a refuge, the local authority might be more inclined to believe she was telling the truth. Despite the reams of paperwork and evidence suggesting she and her children were at an increased risk of homicide. Eventually, a multi-agency approach imcluding me and her social worker was successful in demonstrating the local authority did have a duty of care to “safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need” (Children Act 1989) which includes providing accommodation.

Essentially there are 3 options when fleeing:

  • Homelessness application
  • Transferring tenancy from current premises to another borough
  • Refuge

Local housing lists are stretched beyond their limits, many more people presenting at Homeless Needs Units than there are properties available. In order to transfer tenancy, another must become available. As a result, many women are forced to stay in hostile situations. Or approach a refuge.

The Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities states (paragraph 16.27):

“Housing authorities should develop close links with women’s refuges within their district… However, housing authorities should recognise that placing an applicant in a refuge will generally be a temporary expedient only, and a prolonged stay could block a bed that was urgently needed by someone else at risk. Refuges should be used to provide accommodation for the minimum period necessary before alternative suitable accommodation is secured elsewhere.  Housing authorities should not delay in securing alterative accommodation in the hope that the applicant might return to her partner.”

If Refuge are forced to close their doors, where will the non-priority, supposedly intentionally homeless survivors of domestic abuse go? Local authorities will no longer be able to place duty of care at their door. A system that has already collapsed under the strain cannot conceivably provide additional support. How will local authorities cope with a drastic increase in homelessness applications? Will they have temporary accommodation in place for women who urgently need to flee? Where will they find the stock to re-house these urgent cases?

There are no answers to these questions because we cannot magic provision out of thin air.

Anthem (Leonard Cohen)

I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

Petitioners.. Lend me your ears

Avaaz, 38 degrees, Care2… We British love a good petition. We can save the forests, halt Rupert Murdoch in his dark and dirty tracks. If enough of us get involved, heck, we could even save the NHS! Couldn’t we? Dr Kailash Chand’s petition to ‘drop the health bill’ currently stands at 151,565, surpassing the 100k mark backbenchers need in order to discuss the will of the people. By a long shot. The people have spoken, it would seem. The NHS is saved! Isn’t it?

Mark Donne wrote an enlightening piece for the Independent in which he explains that our collective voice has been given a platform that is not all we perceive it be. ‘Clicktivism’, signing a petition, hashtagging,  is holding us back and merely “provide an extremely convenient holding centre for disgruntled or livid voters. Most are unable or just too busy/ exhausted/lazy to attend a demonstration or occupation, but click here, “like” this and you have resisted: you (and the forces you oppose) can sleep at night.”

A ruse to divert us away from actually acting.  As a nation, we’ve been forced to subscribe to this method of activism because we have seen what happens when we do vote with our feet. Armed police on horses charge into crowds full of children, politicians strike up dialogue calling for water-boarding and rubber bullets and people get beaten and detained, their identities embedded into systems that will hold them for however long the establishment deem fit. We live in a tyrannical state.

When the Prime Minister of this country holds a summit to discuss NHS ‘reform’ and how these changes affect GPs yet refuses to invite said GPs, he is making a statement that the matter is not open for discussion. Why haven’t the BMA and Royal College of General Practitioners been asked to attend? Could it be because they oppose the bill and fear that rather than reforming the NHS, they are in fact destroying it? So PM Cameron is actively denying a voice to anyone that might object to his make-the-Tories-even-richer-by-going-private scheme. When a number of Lords and MPs look to benefit personally from us all going private, it makes it all the more sinister.

A selection for your perusal:

  • The former Conservative Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley is a Director of BUPA, the health insurance, private hospital and care group.
  • Baroness Cumberlege of Newick, Former Tory health minister, runs Cumberlege Connections, a political networking firm that works “extensively” with the pharmaceutical industry
  • Baron Newton of Braintree – Advisor to Oasis Healthcare on dentistry and general healthcare matters.
  • Lord Ballyedmond – Chairman of pharmaceutical company Norbrook Laboratories.
  • Lord Bell – Chairman of Chime Communications group, whose lobbying clients include Southern Cross, BT Health and AstraZeneca. Tim Bell has a conviction for ‘wilfuly, openly and obscenely’ exposing himself ‘with intent to insult a female’ under Section 4 of the 1824 Vagrancy Act.
  •  David Cameron – Nursing and care home tycoon Dolar Popat has given the Conservatives £209,000. The Ugandan-born dad-of-three has amassed an estimated £42million fortune as founder and chief of TLC Group, which provides services for the elderly. Mr Cameron made the businessman a peer shortly after entering No10 last May, and Lord Popat’s donations include a £25,000 gift registered a week after the Tories’ health reforms were unveiled last July.

HT @socialindepth

(For a comprehensive list of MPs and Lords set to financially gain from the dismantling of the NHS, please visit http://socialinvestigations.blogspot.com/2012/02/nhs-privatisation-compilation-of.html)

With all of this going on right under our noses, we have a right to be angry. We have the democratic right to protest, apparently we live in a ‘democracy’. Mark Donne agrees, posing the question to Noam Chomsky “what he thought the outcome would have been if the nearly 500,000 who have signed a yet-to-be presented petition against the privatisation of the NHS had joined the other 3,000 in occupying Westminster Bridge in late October.” Noam simply replied, “You would have no bill”.

Although petitions are proving to be entirely useless, history will remember we opposed this bill in our hundreds and thousands. To ensure an outcome, we need a million (wo)man march. Somehow we must fight back against the scare tactics employed to silence us. Disgruntled citizens the world over are saying enough is enough, organising marches, rallying, making their governments fear them and the will of the people.

Why do we remain so afraid of ours?

REFERENCES

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/mark-donne-could-a-renewed-activism-translate-into-serious-pressure-on-the-government-6256633.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/feb/19/david-cameron-nhs-summit-criticism

Redefining Feminism

I am a feminist. There, I’ve said it. I was once told that real feminists didn’t have to announce it to the world. This, after I’d made my bold statement to a police officer who was happily winding me up about how he wouldn’t employ a woman of my age as I was liable to get pregnant. I felt my use of the word had been appropriate for that situation but there were people that didn’t agree. Other women, in fact. A softly, softly approach would have sufficed, one where I perhaps ignored his comment or laughed along. After all, we didn’t want to upset the policeman helping us with our work. I wasn’t to express that I worked for a feminist organisation either. Although our work was about helping women affected by male perpetrated crime, in an all-female environment, we could not align ourselves with the dirty feminist word. Because it might upset the big men.

A search on freedictionary.com suggests the meaning of the word is as I expect:

feminist [ˈfɛmɪnɪst]

n
(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a person who advocates equal rights for women

adj
(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) of, relating to, or advocating feminism

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

Feminist: one who believes that women should have equal rights. But by calling myself a feminist, I am often perceived as something entirely different. There certainly are men, and women, who genuinely believe that women should NOT have equal rights to men and for them, feminist means murdering promiscuous butch lesbian prostitute but there are also those for whom feminist has become a grotesque caricature, one that prevents people who do believe in equality of choice for men and women from acknowledging or using it.

A friend I had known for a couple of years once decided she was not a feminist as she was happy looking after her home, husband and children. She also thought that I would have a low opinion of her for not having the professional ambition to go out and work. It took a while to convince her that feminism was supportive of women choosing to be mothers. The key word for me was happy. It was not about conforming to gender specific roles, but whether she was being forced to be a stay at home mother. In her case, she was not. Many will choose to stay with their children and many will not. And that’s ok too. Children need a secure attachment; they have two parents. The decision comes down to those two people and how they will manage their lives. It is not ok for strangers to dictate to either men or women how they raise their families and whether they have children at all. Least of all to look down your nose at them (Liz Jones really has riled me today).

The inappropriate use of the word feminist, originally by men, has soiled it in a way that it has never recovered. It implies aggression, intolerance and bitterness. When I expressed my beliefs to that policeman, I had not used the word as a threat; I had used it in disbelief. A representative of a partner agency working towards eliminating repeat incidents of abuse in the borough was relishing using words that made him sound like a misogynist. When Liz Jones used the word feminist, she said it with a sneer. She used the word feminist as one who does not believe in equal rights for men and women; she used it with the implication that men are inferior. She does not really believe this, it is what she has to tell herself. Liz feels women who are stupid enough to get pregnant and let their looks go are mumsy types without a feminist bone. But this is because she ‘secretly’ regrets not having children.

And there are many ‘feminists’ out there using it for the same reason.