Hi, It is _International_ Women’s Day and I thought I’d share with you all something that no disabled person can be unaware of; that the fight for women’s rights isn’t over yet! A parochial view of feminism being all sorted because it is where you live is no help, nor is it usually true- people just prefer to shut their eyes. The ‘its all sorted’ attitude even when honestly believed usually signals the sort of attitude that is prepared to let abuse go on happening for a quiet life.
Where does sexism start? At a school where MANY of the students (maybe not all girls) are sexually assaulted on a daily basis by two male students and the teachers (women and men alike) did nothing? (these two went on to assault an eight year old whose mother reported them to the police. When those teenage girls grow up already KNOWING from that experience, that folk just won’t listen ‘It’s not important’ i.e ‘YOUR EXPERIENCES are not important. Young women who will then perhaps never have the confidence to realise when sexually assaulted at a later stage (as is all too common) that it was not their fault this time either , women who perhaps never have the confidence in the face of bullying and the ‘gaslighting’ that says ‘there is no prejudice, you are imagining it’, to fight back against the prejudice that does exist?
Does that make us lose heart? No! I once came accross the description of a woman who had previously been abused fighting back as, ‘healthy, self-loving rage’. That rage can be channelled into all sorts of causes. I would not deign to reply to one individual with a guilty conscience about the way women are treated, but every abused woman ho learns to fight back fights back HARD in WHATEVER she chooses to do, because she KNOWS that abuse and prejudice NEVER goes away whether that is sexism or disablism, racism or ageism, that ‘It’s NOT ‘only you’, that there’s always someone younger or more timid who needs defending and to help other women learn from that solidarity that THEY must not tolerate discrimination, not just for their own sake but for those that come after them.
While women are still forced into abortions in this country -the women the Facebook threads on International Women’s Day will largely forget, those with disabilities, those with a history of mental health problems, those simply perceived to be ‘less capable’ of raising a child – how can we say that all is equal? Free childcare so that they can continue their careers? These women would be glad of any role society would give them, but most of all they would like to BE that free childcare, and they are denied even that. Not that free childcare is a bad idea. Just that for some, even having their child is a dream that will never happen until we teach disabled women and girls that they have the same right to a family as anyone else.