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WOMENS WORDS

A Woman’s Place is With Women

A group of us from South Somerset attended the Women’s Place UK meeting on 3rd May and very much looked forward both to hearing the delegates speak and meeting with other WRN members. The Women’s Rights Network is all about being with other women, making connections and supporting each other.

It was no surprise to see the 50 or so activists gathered in front of the venue, though. They had made their intentions very clear on Twitter earlier that day. A few women attending the event were clearly very uncomfortable walking the gauntlet of chanting protesters. Most of us walked past with our heads held high, smiling and feeling excited to meet friends - in stark contrast to the protesters who were masked and angry. They were so young, so naïve, and would have benefitted so much from listening to what the speakers at the event were saying.

Terfs Not Welcome In Bristol

The event chair, Raquel Rosario Sanchez, has been targeted by Gender Identity activists in the most shameful way, but despite losing her recent court case, Raquel has come out fighting. It’s embarrassing that a British university has allowed a PhD student to be so poorly treated that she couldn’t attend her own graduation ceremony, but Raquel made this WPUK event her graduation ceremony in its place – and what a fantastic tribute to her character it was. How many graduates are given three standing ovations by the audience, and are asked to chair their own graduation - introducing their professor as their first speaker?


Professor Marianne Hester OBE has researched mothering in the context of violence and abuse, and spoke of the way men take control of women through our bodies and our children. Pregnancy increases the risk of domestic violence fourfold and, where women are already experiencing domestic abuse, it is likely to increase further when they become pregnant. Professor Hester gave some graphic and dreadful examples. This is, she said, about control and because men are jealous of the attention a mother gives to her newborn.


The mindless chanting of protesters and their claims that “trans women” are the most vulnerable of women couldn’t be in greater contrast to the very real suffering that some women experience at the hands of men. No man can ever be pregnant or lose their unborn child thanks to the violence of its enraged father.


Mara Ricoy spoke about the fragmenting of women from each other and from themselves by the regulation of midwifery in northern Spain. She spoke of women who have suffered infections in childbirth – it was the cause of Mary Wollstonecraft’s death in 1797 – and how women themselves are too often blamed for the problems caused by the over medicalisation of childbirth.


Activists protesting about women talking to one another about women’s issues is just another manifestation of the perception that women are to blame for what men do to us. The ludicrous claim that women are causing damage by not embracing this newly invented “man-as-woman” concept is just the latest excuse to harass and scare us.


Victoria Smith spoke of young women in flight from femaleness and how this is further dividing women by undermining the interconnectedness of women across the ages. Girls are being taught to despise their wonderful bodies, hearing that having a word for females is demeaning, and they are resorting to cutting or starving themselves as a reaction to our pornified culture. Our culture continues to reflect the Aristotelian idea that women are simply gestators of the spirit that is delivered into their womb by a man, and this comes out in the language around Roe v Wade with the foetus treated as if delivered fully formed into a woman rather than as a new life that our amazing female bodies brings into existence.


This idea of a spirit essence of what it is to be a man or a woman being prioritised over the physical body is strong in gender identity ideology too. One of the audience observed in the Q&A session how the idea of the transgender child demands at some level a belief that the gendered soul is the child’s true form, and their sexed body is a mistake made by the mother that requires correction.


The final speaker, Milli Hill, spoke of the lack of respect given to women in the birthing room asking where the new language came from and who wants it? The claim that the word ‘mother’ is not sufficient - and that extending it to “mother or birthing parent” is simply ‘adding ink’ - is damaging to women, because it implies that people who are not women can give birth. This drive to remove words that bind childbirth to femaleness is pivotal because it stands in the way of the mantra that “trans women are women”. Is mother a word we need, or will parent do? Is woman a word we need, or will person do?


Words give form to our rights – we don’t have to apologise for wanting to keep our own words. And we are right to fight the new language that claims that men can be women, and that some people are neither men nor women in spite of their sexed bodies. If people give birth, then birth and maternity is no longer a women’s rights issue and can be consulted on and legislated for by anyone. A failure to support breastfeeding isn’t sex discrimination if men also lactate.


As we left the venue the protesters were still there, still chanting. Their mantras make no sense in the real world. Non-binary people are valid doesn’t even make sense in the theoretical world and cannot be explained even by those claiming that it defines them.


The balance of power has shifted, though. This WPUK event was an opportunity for women to connect, to network and to enjoy each other’s company. Despite the difficult and at times distressing subject matter, there was a lot of joy and laughter in the room and positive energy that the women gave each other. When it was over, we went to the Rum Bar and had a party. We didn’t give a second thought to where the protesters went.


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