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WOMENS WORDS

It’s Time To Come Home

It was reading Mary Beard’s ‘Women and Power’ that something finally clicked into place for me. Mary speaks about ‘The Public Voice of Women’ over the ages. In ancient times it was declared ‘a woman should as modestly guard against exposing her voice to outsiders as she would guard against stripping off her clothes.’ Women were excluded from public speaking.

Throughout the classical world women had no voting rights and limited economic rights, often being viewed as property. So perhaps it is unsurprising women spoke little in the public and political sphere with no stake in it, and if they did, they were condemned and ridiculed.


However, all this changed when women got the vote at the beginning of the 20th century. Didn’t it?


Over the last 100 years women have made huge progress in the political and public arena, although we are still subject to sexist ridicule such as calling us ‘shrill.’ Despite these sexist barriers we were making progress. What I see happening now is the absolute haemorrhaging of women out of the political sphere thanks to misogynistic gender ideology. Women are resigning from their parties in their droves – from Labour, Lib Dems, Greens and SNP – and now feel politically homeless, abandoned by our parties as they call us ‘dinosaurs’ and say our ‘concerns are not valid.’ Once again women are being excluded from politics.


We are the women who say no. Many of us that were in political parties have now left, either pushed out for refusing to comply with this ideology or too ashamed of what our politicians have said on this issue to stay.


But I am not writing today to tell you about why many of us have chosen to leave, or have decided not to join. We know all those reasons too well. I have felt them acutely over this past year. I am writing today to talk to you about what that means and what is happening in many of our political parties.


When the women who say no leave our political parties, it leaves a vacuum. This vacuum has been filled with the voices of gender identity activists and misogynists, sometimes under the guise of being ‘trans allies.’ These have become the voices that fill the ears of our politicians and councillors, the loudest voice in every room.


These activists are often quite proud of the fact that they bully and shame women out of their party. When yet another woman leaves, they often share congratulatory tweets. Interestingly, activists from other parties also join in the celebration on social media, delighted that another woman who stands up has removed themselves from the political arena.


Oh yes, make no mistake. There is a concerted effort by activists to remove those women (and men) who don’t accept gender identity ideology from our political parties, and if they can’t do it by pushing through discriminatory motions to remove us en masse, they try to achieve the same objective on a case-by-case basis, with their appalling behaviour and harassment. These witch-hunts often cause other women to leave, too. The example has been set and they cannot believe how women in their party have been treated.


Some activists have even tweeted that they stay in their parties to ‘keep transphobes out’. Some have said publicly that they wouldn’t be able to represent a constituent who does not agree with them despite the fact they’re standing for public office.


The voices of these activists and misogynists work to get people in the party to ignore the voices of the women who say no. It starts with exclusion; saying anything about trans people should only include trans people. It ends with any woman expressing concerns being silenced with insults and shamed. This attitude is now pervading more than just issues of gender ideology. It is a gradual shift towards the voices of women safeguarding in other areas also being ignored. It is the gradual suppression of women who say no from the public sphere and denigration of their values. We have all heard the insults. ‘Pearl Clutchers’ and ‘Karens’; it’s a silencing technique specifically aimed at women.


But once we know this, some of us get quite stubborn. Once we know that’s the aim of these activists, we don’t want to give them the satisfaction of leaving. And of course, the good news is that many of the political parties have a caucus who do not agree with gender ideology. Whether it is Green Feminists, Liberal Voice for Women, Labour Women’s Declaration or Conservatives for Women. We provide internal support networks for members targeted by gender identity activists and misogynists. We are active in our parties trying to make changes and there’s a lot to do. We need all the help we can get.


Exactly what can be done will depend on which party you are in. Some caucuses can write motions for conference to try to change policies, some can hold events at conference to get the message out, some write to councillors and meet with MPs, and some may even write briefings for members of the House of Lords. You don’t need special skills for 99% of what we do. Just a willingness to speak to people, do a bit of organising and perhaps a bit of research - which you have all proven you can do because you didn’t fall for the nonsense that Mermaids and Stonewall have pushed.


So let me give you four reasons why we need the women who say no, who are willing to speak truth to power, back in our political parties and what you can achieve by returning.


1) Locally many of the grassroots members and councillors do not know a lot about this issue, if anything at all. By rejoining your political party, you will be invited to local events where you can speak to people locally and raise awareness of what is going on. Very often the only voice they have heard on this is that of an activist.


2) When an MP, peer or councillor does speak out, they need to know there are people in the party who support them. When the activists write calling for heads to roll, you can write in with your letters of support and provide research to back-up what you say, even helping supportive MPs and peers draft amendments to legislation. The more of us there are within the parties, the more courage we will give to parliamentarians.


3) A lot of the activists now sit in internal positions of power in these parties and quite frankly many are not very good. They lack knowledge and experience and are more concerned about their single agenda than the good of the party. They often leave our parties exposed and our politicians trying to defend indefensibly bad policies in interviews. Being a member means you will be able to run for some of these positions and stand on some of these committees, many of which have real teeth including candidate selection, to really fight back from within.


4) Finally, the fourth reason to join is that power resides in these political parties. They make and amend laws. What this movement has taught us is that we cannot trust the people we have in power with women’s rights. They are far too ready to throw them under the bus. We have seen this happen; we won’t make that mistake again. So, when this ideology falls, we absolutely need to be there to occupy the resultant vacuum, defend women’s rights and ensure nothing like this happens again. Not on our watch.


We are the women who say no. Many of the women who are left in our political parties are the women who too often say ‘yes.’ Who say ‘yes – sex work is work’ and ignore the exploitation, who say ‘yes – we should introduce “safe” porn into schools – as they’re “going to watch it anyway”’ – ignoring the normalisation such endorsement would give. And yes, these women also say ‘yes – transwomen are women’ and they ignore or minimise all the real-world consequences for women in prisons, in refuges, in sports and in hospitals. These women even call us names like ‘bigot’ or ‘transphobe,’ in order to silence us should we dare to raise concerns. When it comes to defending the boundaries of women and girls, too many of these women say ‘yes’ when they need to shout ‘no.’


Some of you have said to me ‘I can’t re-join until I hear them say x, y, z’ and I totally understand why you say that. But that just means it will take longer. Longer to get rid of this ideology from our political parties. Longer that our parties will be poisoned. Longer to peak those politicians and councillors. Longer before lawmakers will actually speak out - safe in the knowledge that they have internal support. It will mean more captured councils pushing through ‘transwomen are women’ policies and recommending school providers who teach gender ideology as fact.


Every day this ideology continues unchecked means that laws are not getting changed that need to be changed. It means the guidance isn’t implemented but is undermined. It means more children getting exposed to extreme forms of this ideology and ultimately it means more women and children are being harmed. We need people to stand up to this now and some of that needs to be done from within.


The political and moral vacuum that has been created by so many of us leaving has allowed misogyny and gender ideology to run unchecked through our political parties. So, I am writing to you today to ask the women who say no to join and rejoin your political parties and gender critical caucuses, because without your voices, your experience and wisdom, bad decisions and poor policies are being made and we remain politically homeless and excluded. We were forcibly excluded from politics for centuries; it needs to stop.


We need to take back what is ours, we need to take back our political homes.



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