“You look me dead in my face, Then act like you don’t see me”

Paris Lees learnt how to be a woman the same place I did. A council estate. Her’s was a little whiter than mine, Clifton rather than Radford, but it was Notts, and it was working class and it was not easy.

My role models for womanhood wore colourful lipstick, and gold hoops. Went drinking with their mates, shouted obscenities when they saw fit, and struggled to get by. Some of them used the sex industry to support survival. Some of them the checkouts at kwiksave. I remember one woman driving a van, her earrings were the biggest of everyone’s. All the mothers needed some form of welfare too. I knew we were poor but so was everyone. Until secondary school I didn’t know we were to be hated for being poor. It never occurred to me that not everyone got free school meals and so the ones who did should be made visible with a plastic token to denote their class.

20 years later and we still hate poor children, we really hate poor mothers and we hold a special form of hate for working class women who defy middle class expectations of female empowerment. Never mind that our foremother’s were working to support the family out of necessity before the first wave of feminism started to find out how their buttons were made and by whom. Never mind that the power to organise has been known and utilised by working class women as long as we have existed. There is still a special kind of arrogance from a certain subset of feminism, that feels our culture defies their standards. That our way of being is not feminist enough. That our refusal to stab our brothers in the back denotes a lack of sisterhood that must be radicalised out of us. That our enjoyment of harmful cultural practices denotes a lack of understanding of what a harmful cultural practice is that must be patronised into us.

Self deprecation is the default setting for the “funny woman”. It’s seen as acceptable to laugh at your fat, to belittle your own intellect, to make yourself small to make everyone else in the room feel large. This is a result of female socialisation that garners a lot of sympathy. It isn’t threatening to men but nor is a threatening to individual women. Collectively it does us no favours.

Self objectification is another result of female socialisation. It too does nothing to threaten men, nor is it a threat to individual women. Collectively it does women no favours but when ones primary goal is to survive that is what one must do. Coming hard for the women who use patriarchal constraints to survive, who wear the femininity that is policed so heavily as a shield, who objectify themselves to get paid but know reality, that isn’t sisterhood.

We’ve told you before, I’ll tell you again: don’t hate the player hate the game. That’s class politics. When your sex as a class politics do not even include all of your sex class you are setting yourself up for a terrible fall.

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“Forgive but don’t forget, Girl keep ya head up”

They set up their “charities” in our communities. They cherry pick our brightest and our best.

They break up our families and they give our kids to “nice families” to give them a “chance”.

They step into our kids lives when against all odds we raised a fucking belter and offer to mentor, or to accommodate or to sponsor a scholarship.

They harvest our pain and make it into the all lives matter of feminism.

They consume our accounts of poverty and abuse and sexual violence and sell books about it.

They send their artists into our estates to film us and paint us and caricature us.

They invite us to the races and then make a sport of mocking our heels and our tits and our skin tones and our hair.

They take all our good jokes and sour them with their hate.

They criminalise us. Imprison us. Fine us. Lock us into the cycle. Then ask us why we won’t break free.

You’re not clever. You’re not funny. You’re not artistic. You’re not compassionate. You’re not kind. You’re not special. You’re a monster that needs to stop feeding on us. All of you.

I don’t believe it’s Suzie an all de other girls I meet…

This is not a long thing. I’ll come to the long thing in time. And best be ready. But for now… This is necessary because it is central to our current conversations

First off this is not a “Becky thing”. Like I’m not so loving my whiteness I gots to sing it from the roof tops. I am not Katie Hopkins.

Secondly WoC I use when women who sell identify as such ask me. Generally I say black to mean from Africa or the African diaspora… Like that’s including the Caribbean. If I need to explain why please pick up a book and come back later. Liverpool has good museums too. Mixed black heritage is usually read as black in the UK too. I say asian to mean from Asia or the Asian diaspora. I know in the US folks think south east when they hear asian but in the UK they usually think Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi… Anyhow I’m saying like generally the continent like same as Africa is a continent. When I capitalise Black it’s to refer to “political Blackness”, non white without centring white. It’s quick.

So back to me. I’m white. I’m not doing the white person thing of breaking down what percentage of what country my great grandfather’s are from… I don’t even know. I know I’m white.

So I am not a WoC. I am not Black. I am certainly not black. Something about being grouped in with “WoC” is bothering me. It’s because other white women see me seeing race and they racialise me as minority ethnic. As a woman of colour. As Black. There is an assumption that white women can’t see or articulate when racism happens so I can’t be white. That is a part of why racism isn’t being addressed in white dominant spaces.

I look as white as Julia Stiles in save the last dance. I am not a racially ambiguous woman. This is coming from perceptions of what whiteness does not how whiteness looks.

I need white women to see we can be white anti racists. We can and we must.

The makings of a perfect bitch

“One is not born a woman, but rather becomes, a woman.” – Simone de Beauvoir, “The Second Sex”

Having been recognised of the second sex at birth my becoming a woman has been a lifetime of action and reaction, socialisation and surviving socialisation. I have never once come out as a woman. I have always been treated as such regardless of what I have said or have not said.

The ability to decide that you’re not out in your chosen gender identity is a luxury rfab* women never got and currently do not get. Come at me.

The dominance of gender identity in so many feminist spaces is pure gaslighting for too many of us. Typically the conversation will go yeah I look like a woman and sound like a woman and describe myself online as a woman but I might not be a woman it might not be safe for people to be out as their chosen gender in work or in life.

Get. To. Fuck.

Because it’s safe for me to be “out” as a woman? It’s safe for me to apply for jobs and be read as a woman of childbearing age who might go off and have babies and cost loads of money? Yeah totally safe. Safe for me to walk pon road in my female body with a cunt any next man feels he’s entitled to comment on at best and invade at worse? Fully secure.

Safety? Fuck safety. Everyone’s just trying to survive this. And I’m fully annoyed at the audacity of some people. Go fuck yourself for real. This isn’t you woke. This is you acting the twat mate.

*rfab, recognised female at birth

You can’t sit with us

http://www.womeninprison.org.uk/research/key-facts.php
http://inquest.org.uk/statistics/deaths-of-women-in-prison
http://www.open.edu/openlearn/society/the-law/criminology/doing-prison-experiences-women-the-uk-prison-system
http://www.poverty.org.uk/87/index.shtml

You’ll find a few links above. Before engaging with what I tell you please read at your leisure. I know what I’m speaking to be truth. I also know so many won’t accept truth unless “objective”. That usually means it comes from someone they believe to personify objectivity. I don’t jump through those hoops but you can keep reading till you feel ready to listen.

So women’s space. Sex segregated space. Single sex services. It’s easy to portray feminists concerned about females, as mean girls obsessed with where trans people pee when you frame a debate on women’s space as a bathroom panic. Funnily enough I don’t know a single working class woman who hasn’t seen a man having a piss. The dirty buggers do it anywhere they want after enough to drink. This isn’t hysteria about a penis hidden in a cubicle privately urinating. We’re genuinely not sat clutching pearls at the idea of non-op transwomen having a whizz and leaving after washing their hands. Sex segregated spaces and services extend beyond public bathrooms, even if most are fortunate enough to never need to use many of them.

The sex segregated spaces most likely to be used by women who are working class, and vulnerable because of male violence, are prisons. And we need to talk about prisons.

Women in prison are more likely to have experienced domestic violence, childhood emotional, sexual or physical abuse and/or to have been through the care system than women in the general population. These women are most likely imprisoned for non violent offences (84% of all women in prison are not there for violent offences). We’re talking about women having been through terrible trauma, trying to heal from abuse and being imprisoned for committing offences, that are not violent, while trying to survive. These are the women who are expected to make concessions and forgo sex segregated space for the comfort of male offenders undergoing transition. And these are the women being ignored while left wing men shout about nasty women being bigots and creating a bathroom panic.

Are you fucking kidding me? The women these left wing men made a living off telling their stories to demonstrate their right on credentials. The women used to show who is hurt by inequality, picked up to strengthen a socialist argument as if their lives are nothing more than compelling filler to sit between statistics, then dropped when no longer useful. These very women, working class, lone parents, benefit claimants, survivors of poverty, abuse, the care system and domestic violence. The women on the front line of the war on the working class. These women still need to give more. To concede, to give way, to accommodate and to comfort transgender offenders wanting access to women’s space.

And if they don’t give way, and if the women arguing they shouldn’t have to don’t give way then transgender prisoners will kill themselves.

Well fuck that. I’m done being told women’s boundaries are responsible for other people’s suicide. That’s abusive, coercive bullshit. It should not even be entertained. It especially cannot be entertained in the context of females already experiencing disproportionate levels of mental health struggles in prison. When suicide attempts are at a rate twice that of men in prison and seven times that of the general population. When deaths of women in prison are at their highest levels in 20 years. No.

We can do more to care about women dying in prison. Women born female, raised as girls and living as women shouldn’t be dying in prison anymore than men or trans offenders. Women matter. We are not a barrier to overcome, a nuisance to talk over and responsible for everyone else’s comfort and safety. Women can fight for women.