THE ONENESS IS THE GREATEST – #SANCTUMBRISTOL, by @elizabethethird

Cross-posted from: Elizabeth the Third
Originally published: 19.11.15

Every time I have read about spirituality, and usually when I am reading anything vaguely self-help-y, and sometimes when I am trawling through the Internet, there is a message that keeps coming back. That we are one. All of life, all of the Universe is, or is part of, the same organism, essence, energy.

I’m not too interested in debating or justifying this though I’ll happily discuss it, and often do, when someone is willing to engage with the idea. But without any religion, I have always believed that somehow we are all connected. I don’t know why, and I can’t really explain it. I don’t need to.

My best friend believes that we are imbued with the Holy Spirit, the same spirit of her God; my other best friend is an atheist, but does believes that we each have a soul, or spirit of some kind, and that we are connected to each other through mutual dependence and a moral responsibility to each other, simply by being alive and in proximity.

I’m not sure I can describe my experience of ‘oneness’, other than to say that at times I feel a connection, an emotional mirroring, and a rush and pull so visceral that it’s frightening, as though the soul I haven’t yet decided whether or not I have is being clamped and dragged from my body. I often shut that feeling down, especially since this happens most often when I am faced with the pain of others. Pain I’d rather not feel with no power to act on it, that’s not mine to fully grasp anyway, that’s distorted and egged on by my imagination and my adrenal glands.
Read more THE ONENESS IS THE GREATEST – #SANCTUMBRISTOL, by @elizabethethird

Diane Abbott Appreciation

Diane Abbott was the first Black woman elected to parliament. Here are 4 love letters to Abbott and, in her own words, the racist and misogynist abuse she has received over the years for standing up for her constituents and women across the UK.

Diane Abbott & Unrelenting Misogynoir , by Danielle Dash

Diane Abbot was the first black woman elected to the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament in 1987. Bridget Minamore’s article on The Pool outlines clearly and succinctly “racism and misogyny explains why there are so few black women in politics.” Minamore details Abbott’s experiences of misogynoir (the intersection of racism and sexism) as an example of the challenges all black women politicians face “all Members of Parliament (especially the female ones) get online abuse. But still, I’ve never seen a white female MP get abuse at the scale Abbott does.” The online abuse Minamore’s article focuses on isn’t from your average, backwater troll. It is public figures “journalists who write about her and her parliamentary peers” and so confident are they in the acceptance of misogynoir by the British public, they do not even seek the protection of anonymity online trolls enjoy. …

Racism and misogyny explains why there are so few black women in politics, by Bridget Minamore

Diane Abbott – the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons – is easily one of the most well known female politicians in the UK. She is also, arguably, the most attacked; if you want to look into the pits of world wide web abuse, try having a scroll through her twitter mentions. Saying that, all MPs (especially the female ones) get online abuse. But still, I’ve never seen a white female MP get abuse at the scale Abbot does from people who should be relied upon to show a decent level of respect: the journalists who write about her, and her parliamentary peers. …

Like all women, the way we look is often disparaged, but brown skin takes any sexist mocking or criticism and adds a grimy layer of racism to it – like the icing on a particularly shitty cake …

We need to talk about Diane Abbott. Now. (EXPLICIT CONTENT)  via @MxJackMonroe

…  Diane was first elected as an MP in 1987, the year before I was born. She has been dedicated to serving the British public for longer than I have even been alive. Hold that thought. Understand it.

Diane was the first black woman to have a seat in the House of Commons. She MADE HISTORY. Her father was welder, her mother a nurse. How many working class kids do we have in politics these days? Fuck all, really.

Diane went to Cambridge University to study history. IN THE SEVENTIES. In 2017 only 15 black kids went to Cambridge. Sit down and listen.

Diane worked for the Home Office in 1976. She was so smart they put her on a course to fast-track her career. (I’m just getting started.)

Diane was Race Relations Officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties from 1978 to 1980. (Big fucking job. Bet you couldn’t do it.) …

Diane’s political career began in 1982, on Westminster City Council. Then in 1987, I’ll say it again, she became the first black female MP.

In 2008, her speech on civil liberties in the counterterrorism debate won Parliamentary Speech Of The Year in the Spectator awards.

That speech is here. Watch it, and then come back.  https://t.co/qNMvtilMa1

Polly Billington: The shame of those who doubt the truth of Diane Abbott’s illness  via @labourlist

Diane Abbott is, as Stephen Bush recently wrote, an astronaut. She has gone where no-one like her had gone before. It is worth remembering why: the first black woman ever to be elected to parliament 30 years ago, British politics has been transformed in her lifetime, partly because of what she has achieved. Being black female and working class make life difficult enough now: in the 1970s when Diane graduated from Cambridge and joined the Home Office fast-stream she was smashing barriers, for others to follow. You don’t have to like her, or agree with everything she says, but you have to admire her grit and resilience, not least these past few weeks. …

I fought racism and misogyny to become an MP. The fight is getting harder | Diane Abbott

The Nobel prize-winning author Toni Morrison once said, “If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” And as a young woman the “book I wanted to read” was a narrative where a black woman could be a member of the UK parliament.

It was an extremely unlikely aspiration. After the 1983 general election, out of 650 members of parliament in total, there were no black, Asian or minority ethnic MPs – and only 23 women. But I ignored the odds and was elected in 1987, the first ever black woman MP. The campaign was tough. A brick was thrown through a window at my campaign HQ. Many Labour party members worked hard to back me, others went missing. The Times had marked my selection by complaining about my “rhetoric of class struggle and skin-colour consciousness”. Judging by the wariness with which I was treated when I entered the House of Commons, many MPs agreed with the Times. …

Reflections: Kizza Besigye And Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution

Cross-posted from: Uncultured Sisterhood
Originally published: 17.01.15

As the 2001 Uganda presidential elections loomed and the drama that came with it ensued, I hit voting age with no fanfare, rather, steadfast preparation for a matter of greater personal urgency – final examinations. It wasn’t up for discussion that I wouldn’t participate in the election fracas. Attempts at that debate came up again in 2006, and were avoided altogether by 2011. Being a woman, the right to vote isn’t something I take for granted in a world that is still as sexist today as it was centuries ago. But it always seemed piteous to stand in line for an ink-stained thumb and claims that one had exercised a constitutional right in a shady political environment.

Thus, although I have a high level of interest in Kizza Besigye, particularly the motivations for his campaign(s) against the presidency of Yoweri Museveni, it hasn’t materialized into actually voting for any of these men, or their opponents – seeing that members of the establishment and many of the so-called opposition seem to be cut from the same cloth; looking out for their personal share of “the national cake” to the continued exclusion of the bulk of the citizens of this country. Yet, choosing not to vote out of despair without committing any effort towards the solution, is not only unhelpful, it is in fact the head-in-sand attitude that has in some ways contributed to our present situation. 
Read more Reflections: Kizza Besigye And Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution

US Government lost woman’s citizenship records, condemning her to live as an illegal alien

Cross-posted from: Slutocracy
Originally published: 26.04.16

Citizenship-felicito-rustique-jr-CC-Flickr-e1447206570577-800x553

Photo credit: Flickr / U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Felicito Rustique

 

Sally Anne is a US citizen. She came to the US as an 18-month-old when she was adopted from India by her American parents and became a naturalized US citizen. But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement lost her documentation during the switch-over from paper files to a digital system.

Sally Anne didn’t even know it until 2012, when she had to prove her citizenship status to renew her driver’s license as a result of a new law — the Real ID Act of 2005.
Read more US Government lost woman’s citizenship records, condemning her to live as an illegal alien

THESE DISCUSSIONS HAVE FRAMED CLINTON AS JUST A WOMAN WHO DESERVES CERTAIN VOTES by @grainnemcmahon

Cross-posted from: Feimineach
Originally published: 06.03.16

We reached the stage where this discussion about Hillary and the women vote has become “this old chestnut” already. That’s how much it’s done the rounds.
Read more THESE DISCUSSIONS HAVE FRAMED CLINTON AS JUST A WOMAN WHO DESERVES CERTAIN VOTES by @grainnemcmahon

Inequality has a female face by @NatashaCody

(cross-posted from Un Tywysoges: I’m not a Princess, I don’t need saving….)

As it’s Blog Action Day today, I felt it fitting to launch my new blog. And in honour of the same, my first post tries to pull together my thoughts on the subject of Inequality.

I suspect that when the team at Blog Action Day decided upon this year’s theme of inequality, they were talking about the growing gap between the very rich and the very poor (see Lagarde here). But for me, inequality takes many forms and can be thought of in many different ways. What I find most concerning however, is that one particular demographic suffers inequality more than any other; women.

Whilst the situation of women varies from nation to nation, here in the UK there is still much to be done before English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh women can be truly claim to be equal to their male counterparts;

In work

The Gender Pay Gap in the UK is 15.7%, having increased 0.9% from 2012[1].

Only 18% of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the UK are majority women-led[2].

If you’re looking for female role models at FTSE 100 companies, you won’t have to look hard but you will still have to look – women make up only 23% of FTSE 100 boardroom posts[3].

In politics

There are 32 million women in the UK. That’s 51% of the population (a majority). But there are only 147 female MPs (23%).

In Wales, where we have 50:50 representation at a European Level, the Welsh Government and local authorities are lagging behind…

  • 42% of AMs;
  • 27% of the Welsh Government Cabinet;
  • 17% of Welsh MPS
  • 9% of Council Leaders, and 27% of Councillors are women[4].

In society

Between 2012 to 2013 around 1.2 million women suffered domestic abuse and over 330,000 women were sexually assaulted in the UK.

One in four women will be affected by domestic abuse in their lifetimes.Two women a week are killed by their partner or ex-partner in England & Wales. 54% of rapes in the UK are committed by a woman’s current or former partner73% of domestic abuse is carried out by men against women[5].

Almost a third of girls experience unwanted sexual touching in UK schools1 in 3 teenage girls have experienced sexual violencefrom a boyfriend. 1 in 3 young women experience sexual bullying in school on a daily basis[6].

37% of female University students have faced unwelcome sexual advancesFemale students in full-time education are at higher risk of sexual violence than the general female population[7].

These statistics paint a bleak picture of equality in Wales, and in the UK. As children, girls play with increasingly gendered toys, and as they grow, are presented with gendered career paths. They are inundated with media messages which crow about how the perfect woman looks like X, weighs Y, works at Z, and enjoys sex like a porn star. We’reobjectified and commodified.

Inequality takes many forms, but they all have a female face.

 

[1] http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/latest/press-releases/gap-in-pay-between-women-and-men-widens-after-years-of-slow-steady-progress/

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/small-business-survey-2012-businesses-led-by-women-and-ethnic-minorities

[3] http://www.boardsforum.co.uk/boardwatch.html

[4]http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/publication_pdf/wrw_2014_english.pdf

[5] http://www.welshwomensaid.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=49&Itemid=55

[6] http://ukfeminista.org.uk/take-action/generation-f/statistics/

[7] http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/oct/11/campus-nightmare-female-students-rise-sexual-harassment

 

Un Tywysoges: I’m not a Princess, I don’t need saving….: a good mix of political commentary (Welsh), and scribbles about the other passions in my life; namely, travelling, reading, really good food, and learning Welsh. I’m a prolific Tweeter, for me sins – @NatashaCody

Harriet Harman and Labour’s own “woman problem”

(Cross-posted from UK Politica)

Harriet and Labour’s own “woman problem”

POLITICS Harman 183331

The treatment of Harriet Harman these past days, as with that of her whole political career, by the political and media establishment only serves to underscore her point: women in politics cannot reach the top without vehement misogynistic ridicule. Even before Harman had delivered her speech the knives were already out. Outraged at her criticism of his old boss, McBride rushed to attack Harman’s speech as “bilge”, without engaging with her main point about representation in whatsoever.

Now, of course it’s obvious to anyone why Ms Harman is bringing this up and in public no less: she wants to be Deputy PM. Indeed, she practically said as much on Newsnight. However, there are two issues here:
a) Personal motivation does not make it impossible for her to be genuinely concerned with representation and sexism in politics
b) If she is just trying to jockey for power in government, well, WHAT ELSE DO YOU EXPECT?

Harriet Harman has been a senior figure in politics for decades, and is currently the longest serving female MP in the Commons so the idea that she shouldn’t be ambitious is preposterous. Naked ambition in senior male politicians, such as Boris Johnson, is expected and does nothing to dampen their chances to gaining power. Conversely, women like Harman is ridiculed and reprimanded for being so shameless. Ambition is apparently unbecoming for a woman. We’re meant to sit quietly in the corner and be asked to join in by gallant and generous men, not demand our place at the table and shout when we’re ignored.

Even if McBride is honest when he says that Brown wouldn’t have made anyone Deputy PM, her point still stands. Can you imagine Alan Johnson or Jon Cruddas accepting that they wouldn’t become Deputy PM like Prescott? Does anyone think that serious concessions wouldn’t have been made if that was the case – a good Cabinet position perhaps? Or are women just expected to want less and be grateful for it?

Of course there is the McBride argument that women like Harman aren’t promoted or take seriously because they’re useless, however such an argument would be more compelling were it not for the legions of useless men at the top of every bastion of power (Jeremy HuntPaul Flowers and the lovely but ineffectual Tristram Hunt to name but a few). Given their sheer numbers one can only presume that female under-representation has more to do with sexism inherent in a “chumocracy”.

One could argue that Harman should be savvy enough to lobby for the Deputy PM role in private, rather than run to the media but surely that would to assume that she hasn’t made her feelings clear in private before, which we know not to be the case.

Ultimately Harman’s move may have not earned her any more friends in Westminster but it does mean that Miliband may have to park his plan to abolish the Deputy PM role and make room for Harman (or indeed Clegg in the likelihood of a Coalition – where that would leave Harman is another question entirely). Once again it seems that women have to force themselves through the corridors of power and risk chastisement and ridicule for it, or spend their careers overlooked and under-valued. Labour is right to criticise Cameron over his pitiful lack of women in Cabinet but to show that the Shadow Cabinet’s diversity isn’t just for appearances Miliband has to take a look at Labour’s own back room and answer some serious questions about the role senior Labour women have to play in the election campaign.

 

UK Politica: As a young feminist of colour, I blog about mainstream politics and current affairs, as well as as identity politics, from an intersectional, left-leaning perspective [@uk_politica]