Politically homeless? Not (quite) yet

A good few years ago, I heard that ‘the left have a problem with women’. Can’t say I had noticed – beyond everyday sexism and, you know, the patriarchy. I was too busy working full time, along with various bits of volunteering in the community and being a single mum. I re-joined Labour several years ago, and gradually immersed myself more in activism. In terms of sexism there was nothing to report here comrades, just some men in meetings talking to too much, grandstanding, and creating an atmosphere that could put women off. Pretty commonplace really, far too easily tolerated, but sadly it wouldn’t be out of place in any political party, workplace or family. Continue reading “Politically homeless? Not (quite) yet”

Gender: A view from Wales

The political context

Wales is a small country, with a small population (3.1 million). We are not England. We are not an offshoot of England. We are a separate, devolved nation with a small, socialist government. Labour has been the dominant political party for decades. They were re-elected with a greater share of the vote than ever before at the May 2021 elections. This socialist history has given us a progressive view of ourselves. This can be a positive or a negative feature. The negative aspects become clear when it comes to gender ideology. Continue reading “Gender: A view from Wales”

Feminism, class analysis and the aunties

I first read Sheila Rowbotham’s Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World as a young teenager. It made perfect sense. Women were oppressed and exploited, thanks to their role in reproducing humans. Capitalism had two greedy needs of women: give birth to and rear future workers; take care of existing workers, be they husbands, fathers, brothers, lodgers or complete strangers.

My limited understanding stemmed partly from my two aunts, both named Mary. Bad ‘Bopa Mary’ had me doing housework, while my boy cousin climbed trees. She was ‘training’ me, she claimed – presumably for a life of gender-stereotyped drudgery. She said: “The man is the breadwinner.” Good ‘Auntie Mary Walsh’ was single, child-free, employed, and told me: “A woman’s place is in her union.” Continue reading “Feminism, class analysis and the aunties”

Refuges: Women-only safe havens…or not?

Refuges are part of the everyday landscape of Wales, a part of the landscape that has saved the lives of numerous women and children. They are now also commonplace across many parts of the globe. No-one in their right mind would argue that they are not an essential part of women and children’s safety. They are recognised as such by the women that use them, as well as legislators and funders. Many women are only alive today because of women-only spaces.

The history

To understand how essential refuges are we need to go back to the 1970s when they grew out of the women’s movement. Women mobilised. Out of their activism and solid hard work they got us to where we are today. They were acts of immense courage at the time – by the women who set them up, and by the women who fled their homes and trusted in these new refuges. It was an entirely unpredicted and extraordinary development. Continue reading “Refuges: Women-only safe havens…or not?”