#NewParty #Brexit My Manifesto for A Working Class Women’s Party (Pt.1)

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Now, here’s an idea… The country’s in a completely Brexit meltdown of a mess. Politicians have abandoned us (or at least, that’s what it feels like) so there’s no one at the helm guiding the boat to safer waters. Even when the politicians do get their act together, I can honestly say that none of them inspire me that much. There may well be some wonderful back benchers, like the late and great Jo Cox MP, but we never hear about those doing good work. 
The conclusion I’ve reached is that we need a new party on the block. A working class women’s party (I’m including women on benefits who can’t work, like me, too) – thanks to Claire for that. I guess that makes the party the WCWP …. And yes I know that there is a WEP but they aren’t up to much. Very London centric and aimed at the middle classes, mores the pity. 
As I started this, I get to be PM (until I’m ousted when everyone realises I need to nap every 2 hours!). I’d also appreciate it if I can be minister for crochet please. 
A few positions have been filled already (not naming names or @ unless you want me to, happy to edit): 
PM

Deputy 

Chancellor 

Health secretary 

Secretary of State for DWP

Minister for agriculture and fishing 

Equalities minister 

Minister for economic ingenuity 

Hampstead liberal/Prosecco socialist 

US ambassador for all things lovely inc whiskey, pizza and puppies 
I’m never sure which is a minister or Secretary of State but I’m not sure it really matters. 
Quite a few job opportunities out there, just @ me on Twitter or comment on this blog and I’ll add you. 
WCWP need: 
Home Office 

Foreign Office 

Education

End of VAWG 

BAME minister 

Minister for cats 

Transport 

Industry 

Umm …. Just had a look online and there’s loads and I’m sure there are some we can invent whilst we are at it. 
Now there’s just the simple task of a manifesto and I’m keeping positive that we can all agree on it *eeek* 
Here are some ideas we can get our teeth into …
Ending VAWG is an obvious one 

End poverty by taxing rich people 

Female only safe spaces 

Children and teens taught stuff like how to fix a dripping tap, arts and crafts, cooking lessons that are actually of some use in the real world. Then sex education focusing on respect, consent and empowerment. 

I have to confess that I’m getting tired now and my brain isn’t working so this isn’t even the start of this. Feedback more than welcome. 
Love, tea and hugs 

Exxx 

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My Feminist Manifesto 

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This blog post may alienate people, I may lose followers, I may get blocked by a few. It’s fair to say that I’m struggling with feminism right now, I know that I am one, I just don’t know where I fit in. 
When you don’t live in London, or have disposable income, you’re not a minor celebrity, you don’t have a column, you’re too tired/busy/ill/restricted by having young children and no one to look after them ….. You being to wonder what good you do at all. The most I do these days is to tweet. I’m pretty run down with my MEcfs, depression and constant UTIs. It takes the shine off any activist badge I may have had (metaphorical badge obvs). To add insult to injury, the one charity I did support have drifted off and no longer seem to need me 😦 All in all, I feel pretty useless to the cause. 
Going back to my point about not knowing where my place in feminism is, here’s what I do believe in ….
Women are wonderful and I believe in the power of sisterhood. It can be uplifting and healing. 
Male violence; two words that are not any where near enough to describe the devastation that males cause to women. The statistics are out there to prove it. One woman or child dying or being abused at the hands of a man is too many. I don’t have a solution, no one does. I believe that men need to do more to call out friends, society needs to do more to cultivate boys and women need to occupy far more positions of power and influence than they do right now. That’s not something that can be done in my generation. 
In the meantime, women need safe places to flee abusers. They need support and guidance and this requires money and lots of it. 
Women should always be believed. Yes, some women do lie but often they are individuals who need mental health support. Society needs educating on victim blaming. It’s far too easy to dismiss issues like rape by focusing on things like what she was wearing or how drunk she was. The whole CJS needs an overhaul. 
You cannot change the sex you were born with. That doesn’t mean that you can’t change your gender. I appreciate that there are people in the world that suffer huge distress over their gender identity. It’s not for me to tell people who they are. Once again, society has a huge part to play. The whole ‘pink for girls’ and ‘blue for boys’ is creating an environment where children are seen as different just for liking something that has been arbitrarily assigned to a different gender. 
The trans issue that is ripping feminism apart right now is a place I don’t even dare to tread but I must. I believe that everyone has a right to be safe and to be respected. Everyone. 

I have been called a terf for not recognising penis as female. Terf is not a word I will ever use to describe a woman. 

Maybe I am on the wrong side of history but that’s a place that doesn’t appeal to me. 

I believe in safe spaces for women. Sometimes this will create conflict. I don’t believe that trans women or men are seeking to gain access to sex segregated spaces to harm women. This was a common fear when gay men were fighting for equality. I do think that men will abuse this and they have done. 

Trans people are affected by male violence esp trans men and this needs to be addressed. 
I worry about the erasure of women in society. Natal women are not womb owners or bleeders! Our biology has created unique joys and problems! These should never be neglected. 
Women should not be slut shamed, have to look and act like a doll, force themselves into shape wear etc Leave women alone! Respect our boundaries! 
I’m pro Nordic model and want to see an end to demand. Women and girls are not holes to be fucked! 
I’m pro abortion and I’m not afraid to say that. Her uterus is none of your business! 
I’m not anti men, I’m exasperated and pissed off with a lot of them though! As a Bi woman, I will never be ashamed to say that I find some men sexually attractive. That doesn’t make me less of feminist. It would be wrong of me to lie about that. 
I’ve ranted on for a bit now. I wrote this for my own sanity and you are free to disagree with me. Please don’t expect me to get into a debate with you though. These are simply my opinions and I don’t matter to the world of feminism anyway so you needn’t worry. 
E xxx 

Triggered by my vacuum cleaner – a rant about abuse of words 

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We live in an era where the terms ‘triggered’ and ‘trigger’ are no longer used to describe the experience of someone with PTSD but that of any one who can’t handle words or situations that make them feel uncomfortable. I thought I’d set the record straight on this as I’m sick of this word being used out of context. I’m also pretty pissed off that the *special snowflake* community has turned a way of me being able to express my trauma, into a laughing stock. 
I have never been formally diagnosed with PTSD, I’ve had therapy and been on courses for PTSD but never had the box ticked. It seems it’s an exercise in hoop jumping before they’ll do this. I’m in no doubt that I have PTSD and neither have the people who have been involved in my care. ‘Triggers’ was a word that I quickly came acquainted with and it was useful to know. 
When I get upset or scared or angry (or any negative emotion) I can look back and see if there was something that triggered it, triggered me. When I say words like ‘upset’, it really doesn’t hit the spot of how awful I can actually feel. Now that this word is in the mainstream, it’s very easy to just throw it about and use it to describe every time you feel a bit sad or put out by something. A similar example is the abuse of the word depression eg ‘My new shoes are ruined, I’m so depressed now.’ PTSD and depression are both serious mental health problems. Diluting the words that sufferers need to describe how they feel only contributes to the ongoing stigma of mental illness (yes, the stigma is still there and it’s huge). 
I thought I’d introduce you to some of my triggers so that you can understand (assuming that you’ve never experienced PTSD so please forgive me if you do know ….) what that word really means:
1. As mentioned in the title – I often mistake my vacuum cleaner for a person. That moment when you think there’s someone in the house, the fear builds and your jaw clenches… All from a split second of my brain interpreting the vacuum cleaner to be an intruder. It sends me back to a place and time that I do not wish to go to. At this moment in time, I haven’t learnt to control my triggers. 

2. Certain music and certain smells. I won’t go into specifics. Our senses are more powerful and influential than we, or at least I, probably give them credit for. I have being taught techniques that use the senses to stop flashbacks so they can actually be a good thing 🙂

3. I know that there are buildings and places that I’m not sure I could ever step foot in again. If I can avoid triggers then I do. The only time that I would consider facing a trigger is if it was affecting my quality of life. Sometimes avoidance is actually a good thing!

4. This is just a list of other triggers, some more potent than others …. Certain names, one born every minute – TV, door locks, open exterior doors, open windows, beds, night time, the noise of the extractor fan, being startled by someone, alcohol, drunk people, the smell of alcohol on someone’s breath, people who look a bit like my abuser, certain dates in the calendar …. 
The list could go on and on. This is the reality of living with PTSD, I’m fighting with triggers all of the time and it’s fucking exhausting! Being triggered isn’t about something or someone upsetting you, it’s about life changing situations that can reduce you to a curled up ball of mess on the floor. 
So yes, I’m bloody angry that this word is now mocked and laughed at because certain groups of people have adopted it. I see this word being abused (and I don’t used the word abused lightly either!) all of the time across social media and real life conversations. 
To those who misuse the word triggered and it’s many forms:
Fucking stop it! Grow up and accept that life can be shitty and upsetting at times but that doesn’t mean you are traumatised by it!! Get over yourselves, you cannot be protected from all the things that make you feel uncomfortable. There are many things in my life that upset me and I would rather not face but that doesn’t make them triggering. Your life will be so much richer and satisfying if you stop hiding from it. 
Ok, I may be being a little harsh. Do me one favour – please stop appropriating language that mentally ill people, like me, need to use to be understood and taken seriously. 
In the meantime;

love, tea and hugs 

Exxx 

The loneliness of a single mother 

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I tweeted a while ago that I have been trying to write a blog post about the loneliness that comes from being a single parent. It was rather touching that so many women tweeted back with a ‘me too’. 
This isn’t going to be a social analysis of why single mothers feel so isolated as I don’t have the intellect or the energy so apologises for the lack of facts! This is simply my account of how it feels. 
To cut a long story short, I’m a single parent for the second time. I have three children and in the last 9 years we have moved house 5 times – 4 times were in 4 of those years. This has meant upheaval of all kinds, from the changing of schools to the loss of friendships. When I left my ex husband in 2012, I found that after a few months, a lot of my friends just disappeared off the radar. Since then, I’ve struggled to meet any new people. 
I no longer have to do the school run as all three have a school bus and I now live in an area that is far from the people I mixed with. In short, I feel like a bit lost and rather sorry for myself. People that I thought would stand by me, buggered off when my life took such a different path to theirs. I was no longer a married mother with a mortgage etc like them. Maybe it scared them, maybe they thought I might bring them bad luck or maybe I changed and they no longer liked me. I’m not sure that I need to know why though! 
The impact on my self esteem has been huge. Where is my place in society now? It hurts when people tell me to ‘get a life’ or make stupid comments on Twitter like ‘I bet they have no friends’ as it’s true. I’m a total loser! I feel trapped in a life that I didn’t sign up for and no, I’m not moaning about being a mum. I’m moaning that I’ve lost myself and my life along the path that I have been forced to take. The path has turned into a massive rut that’s pretty impossible to get out of.
My ME/CFS, lack of money, inability to drive a car, shyness and so many other little things prevent me from climbing out of this hole that I’ve found myself in. I’m also terrified that people don’t like me or won’t like me. Maybe the reason why I have hardly any friends is that I’m not very likeable. I know people who really do lighten up a room when they walk in and their energy really is infectious, the same cannot be said for me! My social anxiety and lack of people skills can make me seem cold and negative *sigh* 
The odd thing is, I never thought that my life would be like this. I’ve been delusional enough to believe that I was put on this earth to be so much more than hum drum beige. Yes, being a single mother and looking after three kids is a very valid thing to do – I’m talking about having something in my life that is separate from my identity as a mother. I wasn’t born a mother after all. And yes, I do have a boyfriend but that doesn’t change my social isolation from needing (and I do mean needing) women in my life. 
When I’ve attended support groups, they have this wonderful ability to bring back the spring in your step. Surrounding yourself with like minded or even life minded women is a truly uplifting experience. For whatever reason, I’ve not been able to keep those friendships going once those groups finish. I’m convinced that lack of transport has a huge affect on my ability to socialise – so if you don’t have a driving licence and have the money to get one, get one! I wish I had when I was younger and had the cash to do so. 
As the rain pours down outside, I know I face another week of sitting in the house on my own. I go to my art class once a week but I don’t see it a social time, it’s my art time. There are other groups that I could do to but I can’t afford the bus fare or the risk to my energy levels. 
As a single mother, no one is there to cook, clean, wash and so forth apart from me. I have to balance my limited social life with my limited energy levels. There’s no way I can just not cook dinner or not make sure everyone has clean clothes. I hear women say that they wouldn’t know what to do without their partner, I can tell you what you will do – bloody everything and then have no one to gripe about it to last thing at night! 
I was hoping that writing this all down would help me feel better, I think that I feel worse! I’m so sick of being invisible and worthless to the world. My teenage self was so wrong to think that I was somehow special and destined to do something extraordinary. At the same time, I don’t wish to just roll over and accept my lot in life. I guess I need to patient and let my life evolve a little more. 
Love, tea and crochet

Exxx 

160000 say #BackOff to anti abortion protestors 

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In a world where only the celebrity focused petitions seem to gain huge support …. I’m so happy that my petition has reached over 160k supporters! I’ve been campaigning for well over a year now and visiting No.10 seems like a very long time ago.

There are times when I feel like giving in but knowing that there are so many of you who want the same thing keeps me going. 

You don’t have to agree with abortion to know that these protestors are in the wrong. Women should and need to be able to enter these clinics without fear or shame. They are doing nothing wrong and their reasons for visiting these clinics is NONE OF OUR BUISNESS! It’s really quite easy. 

If the protestors want to shout and wave banners then they can do it anywhere, several 100m away from the doors of clinics. It is time we did more to protect women. I know that abortion is not a cuddly topic like avenging a dead lion or having a late celebrity named after a new periodic element BUT women’s safety is so much more important and that is far more valuable to society. Then we can get on with our  

 lives and tackle everything else. 
Much love and solidarity 

Exxx 

https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-please-create-a-legal-exclusionary-zone-outside-of-abortion-clinics/u/15009390

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/114853

David Bowie’s death and being a feminist killjoy 

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Today, I have learnt the real meaning of ‘feminist killjoy’. It’s something that I have joked about myself, the one in the room who’ll put a downer on a much loved film or celebrity. 
There’s no joking today, only conflict with the death of David Bowie swamping the news and social media. I grew up with his music, ok I was born in the late 70’s but he was ever present. My favourite childhood film was Labyrinth. I went to see it at the cinema with my mum and even had a few books of the film. Later to have it on video, I watched it over and over again and could recite the entire script. 
As a young girl, I had quite a crush on his character of Jareth. He was exotic and beautiful. I wanted to be Jennifer Connolly in the dream scene ballroom, to be whisked off my feet and lose myself in his eyes. Those eyes! So taken was I that I didn’t want her to win at the end. 
When I became an adult, there was an uncomfortable feeling with the focus of the film being about a grown man trying to seduce a young girl but I ignored it as I wanted to continue to enjoy the film, the music. 
Today I was stunned to hear that David Bowie had died, no one knew that he had been diagnosed with cancer 18 months before. This man who had been ever present in my life, a man that I wished I could have been like, was dead. I shared my shock and grief with thousands of others on FB and Twitter and turned the radio volume up to enjoy his songs. Then I read this:
http://elegantgatheringofwhitesnows.com/?p=3655
Being a victim of rape and one who has had to live with a not guilty verdict, I couldn’t let this new information just flow over me like someone shrugging off an insult. I’ve read some of the testimonies of the 13 yr old involved and there is no indication that she felt that she was raped. I don’t blame her for that and can completely understand how a young teenage girl can be groomed into ‘sex’ without ever thinking of it as rape or assault. What I don’t understand is how a grown man can find a 13 yr old sexually attractive, I will never understand that. 
And so I have this conflict…. I can never turn my back on someone who was sexually exploited by men who were famous and charismatic and yet I feel like I’m the ultimate feminist killjoy for sharing this on the day of David Bowie’s death. It feels so terribly wrong of me to do that. 
How do you balance your enjoyment of someone’s work with their deeply unpleasant past? All too often we brush these things under the carpet because these men are so adored and revered across the world. What does that say to victims of abuse though? Are we saying that if you are exploited by someone famous, forget ever being taken seriously or having justice as this person’s creative genius is FAR more important?! 

I’ll leave you to decide. 
Exxx 

And so it is Christmas … (CW) 

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Christmas is an odd time of year. I was very lucky to have

l
  

lovely family Christmases when I was growing up. The excitement of the wait, the decorations, the tree, the ever increasing open doors on the advent calendar… Even when my mum had to work a couple of times, she still managed to make Christmas for us later in the day.
Fast forward quite a few years and then there was Christmas as a young, single parent. That was when the shine started to go out of the tinsel. I loved the couple of days I stayed with family but then it was back home to a house that was difficult to keep warm and that darkness you can only get from feeling like everyone is all jolly.
Don’t even go there with New Year’s Day! Many, many years of going to bed early only to be woken by WWIII in the form of fireworks. Then there was 2014…. 
Anyway, Christmas had become an odd mixture of joy and sadness. I think that is the way of things as you get older, more loved ones not being there anymore – some move away and some have died. Then I met my ex husband and everything seemed to sparkle again. 
After only two months of dating, he proposed on Christmas Day in front of my family. I was so happy, I was also so relieved to leave the stigma of single parenthood behind. With my sparkly diamond on my ring finger, I felt like I could take on the world.
This lovely cloud floated around for a while. I’m not sure when the rot set in but when we were married in the Spring, I wasn’t as happy as I should have been. Christmassy became a time of worry and stress. 
There was the worry over money for presents, the extreme worry over how much he would drink (and that was a lot), the stress of trying to keep up a happy front. This became increasingly hard as family fell out with him and didn’t want him there. I was emotionally torn apart. I now dreaded the start of Autumn when Christmas loomed large wherever I went.
Arguments over how much alcohol he had bought and how most of it had gone before Christmas Day still linger on in my mind. Needless to say, he had to buy more. The time he threw away youngest’s Christmas dinner that I had just put in the blender – she was 8 months old. I told him off and he reduced me to tears. I served our Boxing Day Christmas meal with teary eyes to a silent and miserable table. 
I’m doing my best to enjoy Christmas this year. There are triggers and memories with each tradition that I have to face but I am determined that my children will have a happy Christmas. 
It breaks my heart when I think of all the women out there right now who are dreading Christmas. To those women who might not be alive to see the new year in or who spend Christmas keeping the tears from flowing like a never ending river….I am with you and I believe you. I’m holding your hand and feeling your pain, your fear. He will use Christmas as an excuse to be extra vile and abusive. 
There are helplines out there, people out there who care and want you to be safe. I won’t think any less of you if you can’t make that break this Christmas or any Christmas. Please know that there can be joy and light again though. I hope you will find a way to leave one day and what ever day of the year that happens to be – may it feel like the best Christmas you’ve ever had. 
Much love 

Exxx