Tuesday, 19 March 2013

One thing I will not do is shut up.

In the last few days a number of people I know have deleted me from Facebook, or blocked me. In the grand scheme of things, they don't matter. They're not my friends. They're not even my acquaintances. So why am I writing this?

It's because I post a lot about things that are affecting women and students, because I post a lot about how I wish my students' union focused on the housing crisis rather than a stupid fucking talent show, because I post about things that we are all happy to live in blissful ignorance of.

GUESS WHAT? One in seven women will be victim of a serious sexual or physical assault whilst they're in university. I am not going to shut up. One thing I will never do is shut up. Maybe you haven't ever been a victim of sexual harassment, maybe you don't think institutional racism exists- but it happens. It happens and affects so many students and I am not prepared to sit back and ignore what is happening around me.

I am not against constructive criticism at all- I think national officers should be held to account. But this isn't like the infighting within the left- this is people who fundamentally disagree that these things are a problem, and for the life of me I am never going to sit down and be quiet just because you don't like what I'm hearing.

Friday, 8 March 2013

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day- for the next ten minutes, anyway. I'm just back from the AGM of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland, where I've just been elected to the Executive.

And the point of my post is this- sexism is alive and well within our politics, not that many people didn't know this anyway. LPNI are (possibly along with Sinn Fein- though I'm not 100% sure) one of the only parties in the north of Ireland that use gender quotas in its elections.

The gender quota tonight meant that a well deserving woman was elected to one of the positions in the Labour executive. And then we proceeded to have to have a discussion about why we needed gender quotas in the first place.

It was depressing. More than depressing. I spend half my job explaining to people why my job should exist and why women aren't equal in society today. It is exhausting. Exhausting. I spent a good few days this week at a wonderful NUS Women's Conference- I didn't want to come home.

I didn't want to come home to a place where I don't have control over my own body, where I'm trusted to take care of a child but not make a decision regarding my own reproductive health. I didn't want to come home to a place where I spend my time explaining to men students why they aren't allowed to come to women's conference. I didn't want to come home to a place where this fight is intensely lonely, terribly exhausting and very often feels like a battle too big for one person.

On international women's day remind yourself that your sisters, daughters, mothers, colleagues, students, friends, aren't equal in society today. And then step up and commit to helping change that.