Category Archives: feminism

Getting oneself hurt

The omnipresent harassment of women. An idiotic and right wing Twit wants to know why women do not constantly call it out. Because we could end it. Plainly. The answer is that very occasionally, and for particularly egregious examples, we do. I myself go to court later this month to witness to one (alleged, it is sub judice) attack. But we do not do it because it is so constant.


Call out every drunken bloke who leers and calls us hen and is over-familiar? How? Who would come to our aid if he got nasty? We are all skilled at wriggling out of the situation without causing annoyance, or getting ourselves hurt. Because that is how subtly the blame comes home to roost on us. ‘Getting ourselves hurt’. Not ‘Being the subject of an unprovoked attack.’


It is the man in the street, the bloke in the coffee bar, the one in the book shop, the poor soul we meet when we are working. Most of it is low level. Mostly we can see an easy way to steer ourselves out of it with no more than social tact, and prudent behavior, and kind inoffensive words, and a sigh and exasperation we never show.


For all that, totting up my closest female friends, 75% of them have been raped. I do not have a single female friend who has not at some time been in some way sexually assaulted, and touched in ways they tried hard to prevent, and, although I had the good luck to avoid rape, that certainly includes me.


I could detail the times I was most scared. Walking down a road, in a busy area, but for the moment, in the early morning, deserted, there was the stranger who unzipped his flies and began jerking himself off. The conference for church lay readers, many years ago now, and not in my current denomination, when one of my fellows began to waylay me at intervals during the day. Again and again, I slipped out under his arms and again and again they enfolded me. I ensured visits to the ladies happened when he was engaged in some activity (if they see you go in, they know you need to come out and they will be ready). I walked corridors in company. It never occurred to me to report him, for you can be quite sure he would have put the blame on me. He would have been in trouble, but some mud would have stuck to me.


Have things improved? A little. Both the above I would now report. I might even be believed. And a good deal of my life has been lived in the company of men who just never behave like this, who admire and respect (and detest and squabble with) women whom they see as people in their own right. But despite being a pensioner, despite the lovely blokes I know, the fact is that every year and most months I will practise the skills of guarding my eyes, giving soft answers, and keeping my fear to myself.


Equal marriage! Rejoice!

Scotland is to have equal marriage – not just equal civil marriage, but religious faith marriage for those who want it too.  And I am dancing on the head of a pin with innumerable angels.  For those who need a translating: I am very pleased and giving thanks to God.

Why?   Firstly because the slur implied  by  insisting that same-sex marriages were some how different-and-inferior and only Civil Unions is now to be wiped away.  Justice will be done and love acknowledged.

Secondly because I think in a perverted and back-handed way the opponents of equal marriage are right.  This new acknowledgement does change things, or rather it acknowledges a change which took place a long time ago.  It shifts the understanding of marriage from its being about gender-roles to its being about love between equals.  Far from regretting this, I rejoice in it.

I actually think this change was begun before the Victorian period, and pretty much complete in the early to mid 20th c. – but in as far as some in society have struggled to recognise it, I am delighted to see it even more openly acknowledged.

And yes there will be troubles and tantrums ahead in the Christian denominations, and a great need for inspired and courageous and calm resolute leadership.  But that is for tomorrow.  For tonight – rejoicing.

Women are images of God.

So, a man who has shot three people has finally taken his own life, and 100 people on Facebook are applauding his actions in punishing his cheating girlfriend – according to Today.

Why be surprised? After all, about two women a week are killed by domestic violence. Let me put that another way. We live in a society where, every week, two men think it is perfectly all right to murder women they used to claim they loved. To ‘punish’ them for the way they dress, who they speak to, not having dinner on the table at the right time or some other trivia. So shooting the poor lass, murdering her partner and seriously injuring some other bloke doing his job is par for the course, actually. I mean, who would not want to stay in a relationship with an abusive man as long as he apologises for his violence at intervals?

And I fear that domestic violence is the unacceptable end of a continuum of an attitude to women which finds clergy and laity of the C of E promising to leave the church if they cannot be promised a system for appointing bishops which is untouched by female authority at any point whatever – if at no point a woman has any command over them at all. Oh yes, these men would not of course beat up a woman. They are not violent, they are not (in that way) cruel. And that is really true, I am not being ironic. If any of them read this, they will be very angry to see themselves in any way bracketed with Raoul Moat. I can understand why. All the same, and at risk of hurting people I do actually like individually, I think they are part of the same problem, part of the same continuum.

It boils down to this. Either women are are really people, in just the same why as men are, or they are not. If they are, then they deserve respect and to be heard in every area and on all issues. If they are not, they do not. People are made in the image of God, and they can carry parts of his authority for him. Those who are not people, cannot. End of.

And although I do not want to hurt otherwise nice people, it is time for them to come to terms with the fact that women are people too. End of.

Monsterous regiment

Yesterday somebody told me he had changed his opinions on women priests. Older than I, he felt he had grown up in a world where it was natural for men to be heads. At first he had voted against women priests, then, knowing some good ones, had come to support them: ‘But when we have women bishops, they will just run everything,’ he added, gloomily. A monstrous regiment of women, more total than anything against which Knox protested.

I can’t actually see it myself, although with so many old women in church, of whom I am one, I suppose it is natural to suggest that old women may end up running everything.

The ability to change the mind strikes me as laudable. I don’t think I am good at it. I was born into a family where concern for the environment was part of daily life, and parents got more exercised over felled trees than many another outrage. My mother had been a career woman, and I was not the first person, nor yet the first woman, in my family to go to University. In assuming that one’s sex was irrelevant to one’s career choice, I was just taking on the values of my parents. Racism was sin, and closed minds a crime. One of Dad’s closest friends was gay, and actually Mum didn’t think it was all the same to be gay or straight, but I did from my earliest understanding of such matters. Dad was a socialist, and although Mum was, on paper, a Tory, she was an old fashioned ‘one nation’ Tory, and her dislike of Mrs Thatcher was intense. The infamous ‘There is no such thing as society’ damned her for ever. Care and concern for anybody unfortunate was just part of the home ethos.

I am a card-carrying liberal from the cradle. And like all card-carrying liberals I find it natural others should join us. I fear I would not find it natural should I suddenly find myself no longer believing in the equality of all people.

But liberal converts, male ones, should calm their fears. Should we female liberals ever happen to find we actually ARE running everything, we would know we had got it horribly wrong. We would know we needed to get somehow to a happy state where we are more concerned with the person than their gender. Something that for all the time elapsed between my parents’ deaths and now, we still seem to struggle with. Extraordinary that the church, with all the tradition that all ‘souls’ are equal before God, should still struggle so hard with this.

Feminist issue?

Neither my dearest friends nor my worst enemies have ever suggested I was much of a feminist. But I do wonder if these shoes, these beautiful Doc Marten boots, represent a feminist issue.

I was buying nice-but-sensible boots, when I saw them, in the sale, and my heart left my chest in one bound. I wanted them, but, oh but, I was too old for them. Now here comes the feminism. Do men ever get too old for clothes, for shoes? I think not. Any man who wishes can wear whatever gender-appropriate and decent clothing he wishes. I don’t think ties or boots, or tops ever become too young. But it is otherwise for women. I have the legs for these boots, but not the face for them.

If only I could have convinced myself 110% it really was a feminist issue, perhaps I could have bought them. I failed. I comfort myself with the very nice boots I did buy.