Labour has dismissed women like me. I’ll struggle to vote for it | JK Rowling

On Thursday evening, I went to the best book launch I’ve ever attended, and I’m including all of the Harry Potter launches, crazily memorable though those were. This one took place in a large, old wood-panelled room in the middle of Edinburgh, and the evening was so warm the windows were open, so we could hear the distant strains of bagpipes from the Royal Mile.

This was a belated, post-publication party for The Women Who Wouldn’t Wheesht, the book of essays to which I contributed, and which came out last month. “Wheesht” is a Scots injunction to be quiet: “haud your wheesht” means “hush!”

The book has contributions from 30 or so problematic Scottish females who didn’t agree with the former first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s vision of a country where a man could become a woman simply by declaring himself one.
Among the writers were politicians, journalists, activists and policy analysts. However, many contributors have no public profile. Some had written their essays anonymously.
I can’t use the word “ordinary” for the latter women, because they’re about as far from “ordinary” as you can get. These are the women who risked (and in some cases, lost) their livelihoods by standing up against an ideology embraced by Scottish politicians, state institutions and by the police.
These supposedly ordinary women fought because they could see no alternative but to fight: for other vulnerable women and girls, for single-sex spaces, for the right to speak about our own bodies as we please, and to retain the ability to call a man as a man, without which no analysis or activism around sex-based issues and inequalities is possible.
The women there were so funny, so brave, so determined; I don’t think I’ve ever felt as much solidarity in a room, a solidarity that stretched across party divides. I still felt elated and inspired when I got home.
[T]here I was, on the edge of my sofa seat on Thursday night, waiting to hear Starmer clarify his views on an issue that places many left-leaning women on the spectrum between anger and disgust at his party’s embrace of gender identity ideology. Did he still maintain that women and cervixes ought not to be mentioned together?
“On the biology,” Starmer began, “I agree with what Tony Blair said the other day, in relationship to men having penises and women having vaginas.”
“So you’ve changed your position?” asked the moderator. “On the biology,” emphasised Starmer, leaving the impression that until Tony Blair sat him down for a chat, he’d never understood how he and his wife had come to produce children.
In the interests of full transparency, I should say that Rosie Duffield’s a friend of mine. We’d probably have been friends no matter where or how we’d met, but we found each other as part of a group of women fighting to retain women’s rights.
She and I share more than the occasional meal and a fairly sweary WhatsApp thread. Last month, a man received a suspended prison sentence for sending both of us death threats. Rosie was to be taken out with a gun; I was to be beaten to death with a hammer. The level of threats Rosie has received is such that she’s had to hire personal security and was recently advised not to conduct in-person hustings.
The impression given by Starmer at Thursday’s debate was that there had been something unkind, something toxic, something hard line in Rosie’s words, even though almost identical words had sounded perfectly reasonable when spoken by Blair.
It seems Rosie has received literally no support from Starmer over the threats and abuse, some of which has originated from within the Labour party itself, and has had a severe, measurable impact on her life.
As long as Labour remains dismissive and often offensive towards women fighting to retain the rights their foremothers thought were won for all time, I’ll struggle to support them. The women who wouldn’t wheesht didn’t leave Labour. Labour abandoned them.

Source: Labour has dismissed women like me. I’ll struggle to vote for it

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