St Patrick’s Guinness

Well, it’s Saint Patrick’s Day again, and today as I walked through Liverpool the city was buzzing with the usual tricolours, green top hats, flutes and drums. 

As it is everywhere, Paddy’s Day is huge in Liverpool, and it warmed my heart to hear the Boys of the Old Brigade wafting out of a bar as I walked past. Commercially driven sentiment or proud cultural celebration – it makes no difference in the end as long as the city is alive with the rebel songs we know and love.

This year I had my usual sly wink and nod from my English friends, most of whom know I rarely bother with the spectacle anymore. I had the usual womb-ache that comes with seeing tiny babies dressed as pots of gold and laughed with the lads drinking and dancing in the street. And, as usual, I rolled my eyes at all those proud republicans lining up for their pints of Guinness.

It might not be too well known now, but it was certainly known at the time that Arthur Guinness was a staunch unionist, who opposed home rule and was accused of spying for the British occupiers. It’s also thought he provided men and other support to British forces in Ireland.

Described by historians as “steadfast in his loyalty to the crown” it is also documented that one of his descendants in 1913 donated £100,000 to the UVF arms fund, an enormous figure for the time.

During the lead up to the 1916 Easter Uprising, republican Guinness employees became afraid to join demonstrations for fear of repercussions in the workplace.

On the 29th April 1916, two civilians were murdered by British soldiers in the grounds of the brewery. They were said to be Sinn Feinn members, but were later found to be two employees with no connections to Sinn Feinn at all.

Later the company began to dismiss workers who were suspected to be involved in the rebellion or sympathetic to the revolutionary movement.

Arthur Guinness made it very clear he did not support his fellow Irishmen in their struggle for freedom, and wanted Ireland to remain under England’s control. He and his descendants supported and helped to fund the British against the Irish and continued to victimise republican members of staff afterwards.

Even as late as the 1980’s a PR spokesman for Guiness told the press that they should “make the distinction that Guiness is an English company” and distance themselves from the “Irish connection” as much as possible. 

Now I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll have a whiskey. 

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Morning Star Article 12/03/16 – Alexey Markov Interview

The ghost battalion are proving they are much more than just soldiers in the war-torn districts of Lugansk and Donetsk as they strive to bring aid and hope to the local area through a variety of social projects designed to aid in the rebuilding of the community. 

Despite the Minsk II ceasefire declared on February 15 2015 the situation in Ukraine remains unstable. Human Rights Watch claim that as of Autumn 2015 five million people in Eastern Ukraine are in need of humanitarian aid, with three million classed as “most vulnerable.” 

A United Nations report on the Ukraine conflict dated February 2016 reported that just 57,300 of those in need were assisted this winter, with UNICEF also claiming that up to 1.3 million people have little or no access to clean water. 

Commander Alexey Markov, a volunteer of Prizrak (ghost) brigade, has been based in Lugansk, the Russian-speaking industrial region of Eastern Ukraine since September 2014. 

“I had never been to Ukraine before 2014. After seeing the terrible scenes in Odessa of crowds cheering behind piles of charred bodies, I realised that fascism had been revived. As a Communist, I could not accept the fact that Nazis were again slaughtering innocent people, so I left my home and job in Moscow and went to fight in the Donbass.”

“When I first arrived, the city was dead. There was no electricity, no people on the streets and no traffic. All the shops were closed and there was no public transport. People were living in fear for their lives, under constant attack from the Ukrainian side. The destruction was clearly visible on all the main streets of the city.”

“Over the past year the situation has improved, and although many people’s homes, schools and hospitals were destroyed, life in the city is getting better. The city looks almost peaceful. Almost.”

The brigade which has its headquarters in Alchevsk has a strong social dimension, and has from its inception organised free meals through canteens sustained by the volunteers for large families and those on low income in the area. 

They have also provided products for schools and hospitals, as well as ensuring that the children of Alchevsk received gifts from the brigade at Christmas.

Although the work done by the brigade in the local community is invaluable, Markov is under no illusions as to the importance of international solidarity. 
“It’s very important that the local people understand that they are not alone in the struggle against fascism. Help from abroad may not be materially significant, but it is very important in terms of morale. 

Citizens are, however, in immediate need of medical supplies and equipment for the restoration of hospitals. It is also important that the reality of the war in Donbass is reported accurately in the West. It is imperative that European governments are encouraged to reassess their support for the Kiev regime.” 
 

Despite the volatile situation in Eastern Ukraine, which has seen in the past year ceasefire violations from both sides, Markov still holds hope for the future.
“Unfortunately, it is impossible to reach an agreement short of a military victory. I hate war, but the alternative is even worse.”

“I hope the children of Lugansk will soon live in a free, independent and socialist republic where nobody will ever again dare to kill or harm them, or compare them to ‘beetle larvae’ as the Ukrainian nationalists do. They will have a chance to become full-fledged citizens, and not ‘occupiers’ in their own land.” 

A spokesperson for the Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU) said: 

“We are a labour movement campaign organised to pressure the government to withdraw diplomatic, financial and military support for the Kiev regime, and to help bring about an end to the civil war which has seen the death of over 10,000 civilians and the displacement of over a million people.”

“Since the Kiev government has also frozen all social security payments to the east, including those to pensioners, the unemployed and  the disabled, it is vitally important that we confront this humanitarian crisis.”

Those wishing to show solidarity to the people of Lugansk can do so by contacting Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU) via sarucampaign@gmail.com.

Journalism coursework

Courvoisier launched its first ever global cocktail competition in Liverpool this week at McKenzie Whisky Bar on Rodney Street asking bartenders to use the history of Courvoisier and Paris nightlife as inspiration to create a new take on the classic champagne cocktail.
The event was attended by bar representatives from businesses all over the city including Jacarander, Some Place and Palm Sugar and began with the fascinating story of the history of the Courvoisier family and the cognac that conquered France.

Rebecca Asseline, a brand ambassador for seven years, explained how with the invention of streetlights and the explosion of nightlife in Paris Courvoisier was propelled around the world, and was the only drink served at the opening of the Eiffel Tower in 1886. Speciality chocolates accompanied the tasting session which explored the Courvoisier collection, and explained the intense and laborious process of ensuring luxury, quality and consistency year on year.

“This is why we come to sessions like this,” a representative of Mojo said, “you can get a lot of helpful information for competitions that can’t just be researched online.” And with the competition focusing on “The Golden Age of Paris” an inside edge on inspiration may be very helpful indeed. Amanda Humphrey, the Courvoisier Mixxologist told us “we want to inspire bartenders to create and explore new cocktails” but not before giving us an exceptional example in her unique twist on the classic sidecar. “Cognac drives good conversation” Rebecca affirmed.

The closing date for submissions is 25 March 2016, when six entrants will be chosen for semi-finals in London in April. Prizes include trips to Paris and Jarnac, and a chance to visit the exclusive Paradis Cellar to meet with a Courvoisier master blender, as well as a unique blend of cognac from the 1800s presented in an engraved crystal decanter.

Those wishing to enter the competition can do so at: http://www.barlifeuk.com/
 

Mothers’ Day

Mothers’ Day is probably one of the most significant days on my calendar. Yes like everything else it’s overly commercial and a bit insincere and all the rest, but every year Mother’s Day is different, feels different.

Let me tell you something – I wasn’t born a mother. And even tho I carried him in my tummy and watched him kick and felt him roll, it didn’t make me a mother. And even when I changed his nappies and wiped his nose and rocked him to sleep, that didn’t make me a mother. 

Back at the beginning, when I was so depressed I didn’t leave the house for months, there were nights I looked at him and thought “Oh god, what have I done? I’ve made a terrible mistake. I can’t do this.” 

I loved him, really I did, but not like I do now. I didn’t want him to cry, he was so lovely, he was gorgeous I wanted him to feel safe and warm and be loved, but I felt so awful that this tiny beautiful boy had been given a mother like me, who had to try and get out of bed, who didn’t gush and fuss every time he burped or cried. I loved him quietly inside myself, and afraid of what that meant. In the back of my head was sheer panic and a desperate need to find a way out. 

I didn’t find a way out, I found a way through, and I’m grateful for it every day. I learned to put more than just his immediate needs before my own. I learned to think of him in terms of his whole life, and not just what would get us through the day. I learned that he is his own person, not something that belongs to me. 

I learned that for some people that ache in your heart when you think about your baby and that peace that comes when you hold them close comes with patience and dedication and hard work, not always the first time you see them in the delivery room. 

My heart bursts with pride for him every day. He’s incredible. And he loves me like nobody else in this world ever can or will. And finally, I can say without doubt, without hesitating for a second that I love him more than anyone ever can or will as well. That didn’t come from me, he taught me that. This year, I really feel like a full and whole mother.

Something Written and Forgotten

Feb 2014

“Da da da…” he muses thoughtfully as he runs one hand over the other for the millionth time this morning. Fascinated by his own dexterity he opens and closes his sticky fist again then suddenly, shrieking with glee, he throws himself backward wiggling those fat little feet toward the ceiling.

He looks up at me with huge ocean blue eyes, waiting for approval, his tiny hands and feet beating furiously against the carpet as if he might explode with happiness at his newest discovery.

“Oh my clever boy!” I coo enthusiastically as I sweep him up into my arms. I nuzzle his neck and breathe in his sweet smell like I may never hold him again. He rolls into a ball and pushes his face into my chest, emerging with a huge smile that would melt the coldest of hearts. I brush the whisps of blonde and brown away from his forehead and kiss the smooth, warm skin. It is a delicious feeling, and I kiss him again as I squeeze him tight, holding desperately onto this beautiful moment of pride and discovery and love.

Soon he arches his back, his face contorts into a look of discomfort and the arms he so joyously punched back and forth a moment before are stuck straight out from his body like matchsticks, his red little fists screwed tight. He looks at me to make sure Im paying attention and then, with all the flavour of a recently bathed cat and a yowl to match, he wriggles and forces his way out of my arms and onto the carpet once again to continue his marvelling.

The emotions rise hard and fast. As he wriggles onto his little pot belly, my hot tears spill down my face and onto the carpet. There are not many eight month old babies who enjoy being held the way he was, and although his huge slobbery smile is back and he is once more reaching for my hair to climb up, the bitter sting of rejection deep inside is what I feel strongest.

I know that he loves me, I know it when I look at my cherubs face and see my own eyes, so full of wonder and amazement stare back at me. When he leans forward and stretches with all his might just to touch my hand. When he falls asleep nuzzled into my chest like he never can with anyone else. When he wakes crying in the night and just a stroke down his face reminds him he is safe and loved and sends him straight back to sleep. There is no doubt in my mind that the love we share is beyond all understanding.

And yet every bit of it can be washed away so quickly, so easily. The lump forms in my throat, the guilt washes over me in waves so strong I feel I’ll drown. The pain cuts into a piece of my heart never reached before. I know its not his fault. I know he isnt sending what Im receiving. I know hes not trying to hurt me, but right now I feel so overwhelmed and unbearably sad, it doesnt seem to matter whats real and whats not.

“I’m a terrible mother.” The familiar mantra rears its ugly head. I trawl through memories and parade them in front of me once again. I remember when he cried because I picked him up. When he sat on my knee stretching to play with Dad instead. When he gleefully stared up at him and shouted “DA DA DA!” in his biggest big boy voice. I remember every tiny slight and they cut like a thousand tiny knives. “How twisted must I be” I wonder, “to take such a beautiful baby boy and impose on him the responsibility for my feelings. What a monster I am.”

The thought terrifies me. I know no matter how much love I give or how much my heart swells with pride for his every breath, eventually Im going to fuck it up. Eventually all of that painful horrible mess inside of me is going to spew out and smother him, irremovable and permanent like hot tar. No matter how beautiful he is, no matter how amazing and comforting he finds me now – one day hes going to be old enough to realise that Im not supermum, and not just that but not even close.

What if this dark cloud which has slowly smothered and suffocated me for the last eight months swallows him too? How can I protect him from myself? How can I spare him this crippling heartbreaking agony of rejection and worthlessness and failure, which rears its head at the slightest opportunity? How can I teach him the fullness and satisfaction of being true to yourself, when I feel like a ghost, an empty shell of who I was?

The guilt is crippling, and I panic and I cry and I whisper apologies for now, for yesterday and tomorrow into his tiny ear as he rests his head on my shoulder. I pray desperately that God will spare him this agony I myself have inherited, and I pray for the strength never to show him the wreck I truly am.

I hate who Ive become, I hate that everything hurts when it shouldnt. I hate that even as I say “I know its not real” it cuts deeper than any physical pain ever could. I hate that my family suffers for my weakness, for my inability to control my irritation and my emotions in general. I hate that they have to spend so much time on my rollercoaster that often they miss out on their own.

Please God, if you need me to feel like this for the rest of my life, if I have to spend every waking minute feeling inferior, inadequate, stupid, worthless, lonely and small. So small… then so be it.

But please God, dont give this to my baby. Such an amazing gift I know I can never afford. Help me to raise a happy, healthy, stable child. Dont let him know that I doubted my maternal ability for a second, dont let him see my broken heart. Let him know that I love him unconditionally, that I would die for him if he so much as mused on it. Dont let him see me broken. Please God, dont let him see me cry.

No names.

There’s a photograph knocking about of the day we left Liverpool for Belfast. We’re all lined up along the edge of the boat. Everyone’s turned around, looking out to sea. Only I, on the end, stare grinning down the lens. Desperate for attention and validation as ever. 

I was eight, and I look excited. I was excited, I’d spent weeks telling everyone at school where we were going and I couldn’t wait to get there and see what adventures waited for me. I couldn’t wait to make friends, but of course I didn’t. When we arrived we were just too different, and after getting burned the first few times I stopped reaching out to people before long. 

When the new girl came, they were the same to her. Well, actually they were worse because she smelled bad and didn’t brush her teeth. She had the same name as me, and being that little and feeling sorry for her I thought that was a good enough reason to be friends. I didn’t really want to be, she made me play weird games about getting married and hiding under the bed even though nobody was looking for us.

She had a little brother, all covered in rolls of baby fat he toddled up and down the street in his nappy, his pudgy hands opening and closing when he saw me but I was way too little to ever pick him up. I used to bend down and cuddle him instead, but her parents hated that so I didn’t do it often. I can tell now that these children I played with were victims of abuse and neglect.

At eight years old it’s hard to imagine, firstly, that people like that really exist. Harder still to identify them in your own life. But the house smelled and was dirty, the kids were the same – the baby was never dressed, and often toddled the street alone in a sodden soiled nappy before he could even talk. The adults sat in the front room and smoked, they were not to be disturbed, ever. And if they were they would roar, and the kids would pale and run. And I would desperately want to go home.

One day the girl my age who kept bringing me here to play sidled up next to me and grinned, she cupped her hands around my ear and whispered hoarsely into it. “My brother wants to be your boyfriend!” She hissed, I could smell her stale breath between her fingers and it made my stomach turn. “Will you be his girlfriend then?” She was jigging on the spot now, flexing her fingers in excitement, her dark eyes shining. 

I felt the shame creep up my neck and across my face. I had no idea what to say or do. This boy was much older than us, I think he was about thirteen. I didn’t want a boyfriend, I didn’t want to be there at all most days, but when she asked me stuttering and blinking to come over and play I knew what she was really saying. “Save me. Don’t leave me in this house alone.” So I went, and I played, and I counted the minutes until I could leave. 

I had never been taught to be assertive, to protect myself or stand up for myself. I was taught to be seen and not heard, to be meek and mild, to just get on with things and not rock the boat.

It was this sense of needing to please people and hating to disappoint or embarrass them that made me finally say “Yes. Ok.” 

I avoided him like the plague. If I saw him coming I would run, hide under the bed like she showed me, or play with the kids in the street. I wanted never to be on my own with him, I was scared. But she didn’t understand, and she helped him.

I was outside with the baby, holding his hand when she called me over with a wry smile and said “you need to go to the kitchen!” 

I had no idea what a wry smile was, or what they meant. So I went to the kitchen. And there he was. Stood in the kitchen swigging cider out of the bottle. She slammed the door behind me and held it, I couldn’t get out, and I still don’t know if she knew what she was doing or if this was just a silly game.

He held my face and forced his tongue in my mouth. The cider tasted rank and I wanted to be sick, but instead I froze. Rooted to the spot in sheer terror. Soon she moved from the door and he stopped slobbering on my like a dog and the next thing I knew I was being dragged to the bathroom by my hand and she was singing some stupid fucking song on the stairs behind me. I asked her to help me, I was terrified and she was laughing. I don’t think she knew.

Next, in the bathroom, she held the door again while he held me against the wall and pulled down my shorts. I was shaking and afraid and I couldn’t speak, but I didn’t say no. Should I have? Would that have made a difference? In not doing so, did I give consent? Of course a child can’t give consent, but he was a child too. 

Eventually he freed me from the bathroom. I ran, all the way down the stairs and into the street and I sat on the kerb, shaking and breathing as deeply as I could. Trying my best to calm down. When her dad came and said it was time to go home, I could have kissed him. I got in the car and never looked back.

She asked me again, but I never went back to that house after that. I remember a year or so later, me and a new friend id made found a little boy crying and wandering the streets on his own. We asked him what was wrong and took him to her house to see if her mum could find his.

He told us another bigger boy had shown him his willy and he was scared and ran away. No matter what we said or did he would not stop crying, and it was making us scared. 

By now, me and my friend with the little boy were being marched down the street by their mums to this older boys house to see what’s gone on. The kid was still crying and it was stressing me out, so I squeezed his hand and I said to him, “don’t worry. It happened to me too, it will be ok.” And he stopped, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

The mums must have heard me, because when I finally got home my mum was waiting too. She asked me if I had lied to that little boy to make him feel better. I said no, it was the truth. I stood at the top of the stairs, waiting to be released to my room. She stood at the bottom hands on hips. She pursed her lips, looked at me and said “you know, if we go to the police station they will know if you are lying or not, and you will get in a lot of trouble. So tell me the truth – did you make this up?”

I had long been a liar. I was the middle child of five, I wanted attention and love so I made up stories of elephants in playgrounds and meeting celebrities at the shops. It was harmless, but it was annoying, and that reputation in my family stuck to me for a long time afterward. Nobody ever believed me, truth or not.

I thought about how long ago it was. I thought about the clothes I’d been wearing, the exact same ones I grinned so happily in on that photo on the boat to Belfast. I thought about them finding nothing, calling me a liar. I thought about the way my family would think and talk about me if they thought I had lied about this. I was sick to death of always being called a liar and never being believed. I was terrified of what the police would do if they came to the wrong conclusion.

So I looked at my feet. And I rubbed the toes of my trainers together, and I looked down the wooden hill at my mum and said, “I made it up so he would stop crying.” 

Her face changed, she relaxed. She told me to go to bed, and she went into the living room. That was the last time we spoke about it for ten years or more. That was the last day I ever told a stupid lie. 

Feminism

I never knew I needed feminism.

 I was a daughter of a pastor with very strong ideas on gender roles for men and women. I was expected to wear dresses on Sundays, keep my hair long and defer to a mans judgement on any issue of any importance. It was made very clear from as early as I could understand, that my purpose in life was to be a devoted and obedient wife. My parents believed their duty was to prepare me for this, and nothing more. 

As we grew older, my dad conceded on his harder lines. The  expectation to be a wife and mother was always at the forefront in how he viewed us, but he did eventually decide that possibly we could have careers as well. At least in the meantime, but only gender-suitable ones of course.

“She’s going to be a missionary, she’ll be a nurse and she will use that to spread the gospel.” My dad stated to my mum once, discussing their hopes for my future. 

“Why couldn’t she be a doctor?” My mum asked.

“She’s a girl!” My dad replied incredulous. I wonder how he really felt when I enrolled as a car mechanics apprentice at the age of sixteen. 

Sex education was not something I was ever allowed to learn, in fact I’m sure my dad even made complaints about diagrams I had to draw for biology. I would be told that that was a subject for parents to discuss with their children privately at an appropriate time. That time never came. Little wonder I was pregnant at 17, much to the shame of my dad.

I was told nothing about my period. I remember screaming from the bathroom while everyone enjoyed their Sunday dinner, thinking something was terribly wrong. Mum appeared at the door, took a look at me and disappeared. She reappeared moments later with a sanitary pad, thrust it through the door, and quietly retreated back downstairs. We were never allowed to use tampons, my dad was convinced that would mean we weren’t virgins anymore and we’d never find anyone to marry us.

We were expected to dress appropriately, which meant covering as much of ourselves as possible in order to prevent the sexual abuse that would surely be our own fault in the event of an attack. When I told my dad that grown men had made sexualised comments to me as I walked home from school he wanted to know why. What had I been wearing? What did I do and say to elicit this attention? Women, like children, must be seen and not heard.

By the time my parents marriage fell apart and we all moved to England in dribs and drabs, I had a fair idea that my upbringing was a bit strange to a lot of people, particularly those with no concept of a strict religious regime. I had begun to realise that things I had been told were untrue. I began to realise my self worth, and that I was much more than those aspects of me which would make a good wife, or mother, or nurse. 

Around this time, when feminism was a word I had begun using frequently, when those issues I had taken to be the norm became real issues of struggle and rebellion in my personal life, I came into contact with my first real, active, self-proclaimed anarcha-feminists. At least that’s what’s they said they were.

In reality, what I seemed to have stumbled upon was a hive of lunacy. I was led to believe that if a man looked at me and appreciated how I looked, then he was a disgusting pig. He couldn’t possibly just find me attractive. It must be perverse and oppressive – there was no mention of how I looked at the man. 

I was also told that despite never having been allowed to wear makeup in order to maintain my chastity, if I now chose to do so I was a slave to the agenda that men had set for me. That if a woman wanted to be a wife and mother, then they were cowing rather than fulfilling themselves. The woman I wanted to be was not a good enough woman for them.

It felt very much as though I was being forced to walk a tightrope. On the one side, I was pushed toward society’s idea, particularly the church’s idea, of what a woman was supposed to be. On the other, I was pushed toward the stereotypical image of what a feminist must be. 

You must cut your hair, dress differently, remove your makeup – I had thought the point of the feminist movement, in part, was to remove the norm of judging women on how they looked, but they were judging every woman who didn’t look like them. Feminism apparently had a uniform.

It seemed every nugget of truth and sense led to a labyrinth of contradiction and hysteria. Where before I may have at times felt coerced into sexual activity, now every sexual encounter was considered abusive, every recount of experience was combed for any sign of sexism that might be exploded and used to tar swathes of people. 

Every argument I had with a man was used as an example of the rampant sexism on the left – even though the men around me were some of the first men I’d ever met who even cared about feminism and women’s rights. In fact, the assigning of their own negative gender roles and stereotypes was a daily occurrence.

Despite the mantra of equality, that didn’t seem to be the aim; women were always victims or ‘survivors’, whatever happened was always traumatic, and men, especially the ones closest to us, were always oppressing us in some way. Apparently women were never powerful or in control enough to make their own mistakes. Instead of coming up with ways to overcome sexism in society, the only thing it seemed a ‘feminist’ needed to do was ‘call out’ men over the smallest fault, and be needlessly cruel or bullying to the men in their lives. 
 Of course I want to be seen to be as clever, strong, fast and funny as a man. But I don’t think the man needs to be made to feel stupid, weak, slow and ignorant to do that. 

This was not about the equality of the sexes. This was a power trip for a bunch of women who felt their subcultural friendship scene was a good platform to use to launch their own arguments and generalise them for the degradation of everyone. 

I split up with a boyfriend for example, a bit messily, but nothing that would’ve ended the world. Within a week, this was a saga about my abuse and oppression at the hands of a wicked sexist who was out only to ruin my life for his own perverse pleasure. 
Bollocks. 

People split up, people argue, people fall out and fall together. The constant use of ‘gender politics’ (which in this case was basically a game of top trumps – let’s not worry actually solving problems, let’s just have a competition of who can be the most oppressed) to launch personal vendettas was absolutely rife, and I’ve since discovered now happens across the left. 

Men aren’t the only victims: as soon as they realised I wasn’t going to use my break up to help them lynch my ex, I was shut off, probably denounced as an apologist. The idea of having an analysis of oppression, like feminism or Marxism, is that we can start looking out our problems rationally with less fear and greater unity; it gives us more confidence to speak up, and help others to speak up for themselves. 

It should make us feel more empowered and actually less oppressed. Instead everyone was constantly offended and aggressive, and I was terrified to open my mouth for fear of having a label slapped across my forehead to wear as an outcast.

I feel as strong as any man, but they would have me believe I am a waif with no strength other than that which I borrow from the feminist collective. Instead of encouraging bravery in women, they seem to encourage fear: everything is dangerous and traumatic, male and abusive. 

If men are loud and aggressive on demos, they are ‘macho manarchists’ and are only acting that way in order to push out women. When I’m at a demo with women, I’m just as loud and aggressive. What does that make me? Why is it assumed those qualities and behaviours belong only to men? 

Because of this I have always distanced myself from the feminist movement. I want to be part of a movement that makes us strong and courageous, and capable. A movement that facilitates us to work side by side with men, not drive a wedge further between us. I want to be part of a movement that Emmeline Pankhurst could be proud of. 

What I’ve seen is not a movement, it is the mass ego massaging of a certain group of women who think they know more about what it is to be the woman I am, than even I do.
Today’s feminism, my experience of it, is not what I want to fight for. Women are treated so unequally in this world, there is absolutely a need for feminism as much as ever, to help us understand our enemy and fight for equality. 

But by further splitting and splintering, chasing outrage and exclusion, we only alienate other women who really need feminism. Maybe not your brand, but you’re not every woman. Your personal experience is not more than everyone else – that doesn’t mean “check your privilege” it means collective analysis, targets, goals – solutions – are more important than petty vendettas and word games. 

It’s only when we begin to actually see ourselves as equal and treat each other accordingly that we will be able to implement this in our politics.