Thursday, 26 July 2012

Breaking news: Tories are disingenuous idiots. Again.

Well, I said that I'd soon get my fire for writing back, and nothing could have performed the job better than the soul-enema-inducing hogwash peddled in the Graun on Tuesday. Written by Amber Rudd and   Andrea Leadsome (so incorrect it took two of them to shovel the lies in), 'You're wrong Harriet Harman, Conservatives make better feminists' is the duo's ode to Thatcherism, and makes the spurious claim that not only may one be a Tory and feminist, one is a better feminist when a Tory.

To which I say:

I use my massive fingers to smite Cabinet members on the weekend.

Crude as my feelings may be, I think I'm justifiably pissed off when a national newspaper prints the feminist equivalent of the Cottingley bloody Fairies.

As I've said before to Louise Mensch, I do not think that word means what they think it means.

I'll start by critiquing the pair's rabid attack on Harman. They claim she's only slamming Tory "feminists" to further her own career, to 'polish... her reputation as the hard woman of Labour' - a claim which is frankly laughable. Truth be told, I quite like Harman. Although I make it a rule to generally despise politicians, she's always stuck to her guns and has got so much flack for it it's unbelievable. Blackshirt enthusiasts The Daily Mail make a running joke of her commitment to equality and diversity by constantly referring to her as 'Harriet Harperson' (because OMG wanting commitment to not being a bigoted arsehole is soooo hilarious). Even more liberal publications joke about her 'radical feminism' (she thinks women are people, how adorable). Anyway, Harman's been blowing the left-wing feminist trumpet for a long time, and really doesn't need the publicity of stating the obvious to further her career. You know who might need publicity by critiquing opposition members? Two backbench MPs no-one's had the misfortune to hear of before.

In the next paragraph, Rudd and Leadsome point the figure at the real menace to egalitarianism, TEH UNIONZ. You see, apparently if we watch a film that's set in the 1960s, we might see some sexism. The horror. OK, their argument goes like this: film shows trade unionists (in the 1960s) opposing equal rights for women. Trade unionists are linked with Labour, Labour are linked with the left-wing, therefore anything anyone on the left says is automatically null and void because... something. 

Now let me get my ranting gloves on for this. All right-wing economic societies are automatically sexist, because it benefits them massively. By denigrating the work done by half the population, one may overvalue the work done by the other and therefore get them more credit/recognition/cash monies. So in a capitalist society, saying that 'women's work' has no value allows you to underpay them and allow them fewer rights (for starters). I expanded on this idea here, but I think the quote "women work two-thirds of the world's working hours, produce half of the world's food, but earn only 10% of the world's income and own less than one percent of the world's property" sums the situation up nicely. 

Let me also add that of course the TUs in the 60s opposed rights for working women. First of all, it was the 60s, women hardly had any rights. When the film was set, abortions had been allowed to be performed in hospitals instead of filthy alleyways for about six months, there was no equality legislation and women being permitted an education was still a generational issue. Not exactly enlightened times. Secondly, as I mentioned above, key to the capitalist regime is to divide people into 'worthy' and 'unworthy'. If the plant had got rid of the women, then men would have taken their jobs. Since society at the time was utterly convinced of men's 'worthiness' over women, then it's hardly a chore to see why the TUs wouldn't stick up for them. Unless you are a complete ninnyface of an MP, apparently.

Oh and while pearl-clutching about the horrors of unionism and the Labour party in the 60s, they conveniently forgot that during the first part of the communist revolution in Russia (before Stalinism), women got full reproductive and working rights - this was before they were allowed to vote in America for fuck's sake.

They then discuss all-women shortlists. I'm not their biggest fan (imagine a parliament with 600 Nadine Dorrieses), but whatever. They claim that AWSLs prove that Labour are evil sexists, because they're only used to counter their members' innate hatred of women. Yeah, they probably are used for that, but surely that's better than nothing? There's 81 female Labour MPs and 45 female Tory MPs (which include such distinguished figures as Theresa May, Nadine Dorries, Louise Mensch, Maria Miller and Priti Patel, so maybe only 40 female human MPs). So Rudd and Leadsome's solution appears to just allow people to be as sexist as they want and maybe at some point for no reason they will change their minds? Huh.

The next paragraph is so silly it requires quoting almost in full:

Give a woman a Conservative prime minister and we will increase opportunities for her to get jobs, for children to get a good education, for hardworking families to improve their lives, for young women to get apprenticeships and for entrepreneurial women to start businesses. Conservative feminism is about boosting women to their full potential. We are optimistic and ambitious for women. Labour's policy towards women is still about the state protecting them. They don't believe women can achieve for themselves. What patronising rubbish.

OK, we have a Conservative PM. What have we got? Cuts in corporation tax redistributing money from women to menSavage cuts in female-dominated areas, which are more likely to target the women in those areasMeasures to preclude beaten women from accessing legal supportSurestart centres? Gone. Access to Violence Against Women Services? Almost gone. Benefits for mothers? Slashed. Housing allowances? You what?  Rape crisis centres? Nuh-uh. Disgusting attacks on reproductive rights. Provably bloody harmful 'abstinence based' sex ed being taken seriouslyCharges to access child maintenanceCharging us money to not have a husband.

Some of this shit might have been shot down, but it was all proposed seriously by our benevolent Tory overlords. I don't know about you, but I feel far more patronised by a government that claims to know that a) If I have sex it's because I'm a slut, b) if said sex results in pregnancy I'm too stupid to know what to do about it, c) I should make sure I have money stashed away for if I'm beaten or raped, d) if I lose my job due to their cuts I'm a sponger who doesn't deserve benefits et-fucking-cetera.

As @skipjack451 said, "it's the same bullshit as when they try and claim that they're better for the working class than Labour - even the rationale is the same, 'we are better for you because we force you to fight extra hard for every little thing'". If hard work is so good for people, how come none of the Tories have ever lifted a fucking finger? Oh, I'm sure Cameron fought so hard to go from Eton to Oxbridge to being given a £90,000 first job by his wife's family. I mean, diddums! He might have broken a nail!

The rest of their article is Mean Girls-style sarcasm combined with yet more historical cherry-picking and tiresome party promotion, and it's frankly not worth my time to go through.

In sum, Rudd and Leadsome are terrible writers, woeful historians and quite possibly have had their heads up Cameron's backside for so long that they've not actually heard what Tories do for women, because as we have seen, what Tories do for women is to treat them as idiotic brood-mares who simultaneously both don't deserve jobs, yet should pull themselves up by their bootstraps to get them. But don't expect equal pay, because your company could pay you in buttons and there'd be no way to find out.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Hi all, this is just a quick post to keep everyone up-to-date with what's going on with me.

You've probably noticed I'm not on Twitter or on the blog much any more. I started a job about 4 weeks ago. I'm having a really good time, I'm working from home testing things and evaluating stuff for Google (can't say much more than that I'm afraid). The conditions are great, I get to choose which hours I work and as long as I do more than 10 and less than 40 a week, I get to choose how many too. Unfortunately, when I can do something and have an incentive I will work like a fucking dog at it, so at the moment I'm trying to find a balance between working, writing and socialising. At the moment writing has really taken a back seat, since I'll spend four days of the week putting in 40 hours then need to spend the other three days doing literally nothing just to make my brain function again. I'm looking to redress this balance, but after 10 months of being unemployed my brain's in a cycle of 'EARN ALL THE MONIES! NOW SPEND ALL THE MONIES ON GIGS AND BEER!'.

So yeah, I don't know when I'll be back, but hopefully soon, because I miss writing and I miss everyone on Twitter. In the meanwhile, I've not turned my back on politics or activism, I just don't really have time to discuss them. I'm currently organising a Clit Rock gig to benefit Daughters Of Eve which will be in Brighton on August 5th and going to some Smash EDO demos, as well as other various causes. I'm also in talks with a UK-based feminist group to do some fundraising for them and starting to get more involved at the Cowley Club. Finally, I'm looking to start publishing some vegan recipe zines soon, so if you're interested in that, hit me up.

If you need to get in touch with me or just fancy a chat, I'm immediately alerted to any @-mentions on Twitter, comments posted here or anything on the Forty Shades Facebook page, so I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth.

Be excellent to each other, and I hope to see you all soon.