In the 1980s, government policy was routinely audited for its impact on women. But in the 1990s, feminist policy “machinery” was steadily dismantled.
Today’s Office for Women has a tiny staff and a low profile. It was not consulted on any of the major COVID-related policy shifts, like JobKeeper or changes to superannuation.
If our parliament is full of men who ignore, belittle and disrespect women, and women who enable these men, it is because we, the voters, have put them there. But we can also vote them out.
A women’s candidate survey, ready to roll out at the next federal election, is just one strategy from the women’s movement of the 1970s that might be worth reviving today. Women need to maintain their rage, but they need to turn it into political action, too.
Participate in WHRC’s side event at UN CSW 2021
Come along to WHRC’s side event to hear our outstanding speakers from all over the world discuss the harms that ‘gender ideology’ is causing to women and our sex-based rights. Speakers include Kara Dansky, Sheila Jefferies, Linda Louis, Marie-Claire Faray, Kathleen Lowrey, Jo Brew, Maria Binetti, Eugenia Rodrigues, Gunda Schumann, Rochelle Dean, Amparo Domingo and Anna Kerr. See full press release below.
Transgender people and lesbians are two groups that face hatred and discrimination, and differences of opinion exist within these groups. Some trans people and lesbians believe that being a woman has nothing to do with biological sex; others believe they are related, because female reproductive biology is the basis on which women have always faced structural oppression. Both perspectives have a right to be heard. Yet lesbians who believe the latter – many of whom have faced lesbophobia their entire lives – are facing persecution for their beliefs.
Take Julie Bindel, an important feminist voice whose decades of campaigning against male violence have made a material difference to women’s lives. Last week, an Australian bookshop issued an apology for “any hurt caused” by hosting an event with Bindel three years ago. They did not even have the guts to say what is offensive about Bindel, but it’s fair to assume they were referring to her views on gender.
Or Allison Bailey, the barrister suing her chambers and the charity Stonewall for employment discrimination. Bailey is a black, working-class lesbian and a survivor of child sex abuse who believes, as many women do, that there should be some exceptions to males being admitted to female-only spaces. After she tweeted about a group she helped found for people who are same-sex attracted, Stonewall filed a complaint to her chambers and warned that its relationship with them would be damaged unless her chambers took disciplinary action against her.
On Friday, a judge ruled that Bailey’s case has “more than reasonable prospects of success” and should advance to trial. That a gay rights charity stands accused of discriminating against a black lesbian illustrates how wrong it is to assume the rights and interests of all LGBTQ+ people perfectly align. Of course, that has not stopped white men telling Bailey that her concept of womanhood is not only wrong, it makes her a bigot.
Susan Hawthorne In Defence of Separatism is a timely book. When it was first written in 1976, although it was an important subject of conversation among many feminists it was not welcomed by academics or publishers.
Through careful argument, Susan Hawthorne takes us through the ideas which are central to her argument. She analyses the nature of power, oppression, domination and institutions and applies these to heterosexuality, rape and romantic love. She concludes with a call for women, all women no matter their sexuality, to have separate spaces so they can work together to change the world and end patriarchy.
The alphabet soup that defines an ever-growing part of society is splitting apart, an increasing number of Lesbians and feminists are tired of all the noise from Transgender women – that’s women who were born male.
“I’m a lesbian and I feel alienated from what is supposed to be my own community. There’s no room for women with my lesbian feminist politics. What I feel is the loss of the strong movement and community we had in the 70s and 80s and into the 90s. (I go way back.)
“The LGBTQIA+ movement is actually in the process of splitting. There are now LGB Alliances In the UK, Ireland and the US (that I know of.)”
RT:“What has the transgender lobby done for feminism in the US, and globally?”
SE:“It has weakened our ability to name ourselves, to talk about our bodies and reproductive capacities and our lives and to organize as females for our liberation as a sex.
“It has contributed to the destruction of lesbian feminist culture and communities.
“It has led to attacks on female only programs that we need due to sex-based oppression and discrimination, to allow us to advance in society. Those include battered women’s shelters, rape crisis centers, sports programs, affirmative action programs for females in employment, education and politics, such as special scholarships or training programs including for women studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) programs or entering the trades.
“And female only facilities/spaces where we are in various states of undress or physically vulnerable are being eliminated despite the persistence of male violence against women and girls that is still pervasive.”
The silencing of dissident opinion is frightening, a modern day witch-hunt. A clash of rights has emerged which can only be resolved by free respectful discussion and debate.”
This week, a full-page advertisement appeared in The New York Times. It was in the form of a letter addressed to the newly inaugurated President of the United States, Joe Biden.
“Dr President Biden,” it read. “You know this well: Mums are the bedrock of society. And we’re tired of working for free.”
The ad is part of a campaign called “The Marshall Plan for Mums” led by author, activist and founder of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani.
It’s backed by 50 high-profile women who co-signed the letter, including the founder of the #metoo movement Tarana Burke and actors Alyssa Milano, Connie Britton, Charlize Theron, Amy Schumer, Julianne Moore and Eva Longoria.
Together, they are calling for the US government to pay mothers for parental labour and to introduce a raft of family-friendly policies that could help rebuild the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Motherhood isn’t a favour, and it’s not a luxury. It’s a job,” the letter read.