On reflection: a woman’s place is anywhere but home?

It’s the time of year to draw breath, reflect, and clarify intentions for the new year ahead. This morning was exceptionally quiet in my noisy house, so I looked back through my long list of half-finished, unpublished blog posts. I may publish some of them, as they are a first draft of history. My preoccupations have not changed; neither have my opinions. I am clear about what I think we should do next, starting in 2022.

Underneath everything I say and do with regard to women’s rights and child safeguarding is my belief that misogyny and an abusive contempt for the natural environment are intimately – inextricably – linked. We can’t hope to decelerate climate change without reckoning with our habits of dominating and exploiting the sex that creates human life. I believe that all of our urgent problems stem back to one root: the mythic murder of the mother. I do not believe that the theory of evolution explains all of the misogyny inflicted on women & girls. Above all, I need to be able to talk about it, and confront it. I don’t want my children to inhabit the predicted apocalyptic wasteland, if confronting humanity’s biocidal impulses can possibly make a difference. Humans have solved worse problems, after all.

You might think that is a wacky belief. For me, it explains so many troubling aspects of being human. Wacky or not, it motivates me to want to make change. I want to make the misogyny that is currently running rampage visible, and capable of troubling and galvanising people again. I want my sex-based rights – not optional privileges bestowed by individual service providers – and I want power to reverse the backward trend in material conditions for women and children. There is a precondition for these desires.

We need a national conversation about women’s rights–what they are for, why we need them, how they have been undermined in recent times, and how to reclaim them. We need to restore child safeguarding, and allow it inform all “GC” campaigning. Real “inclusivity” demands that we drop our liberal-leftish, Anything Goes, Cool Girl personae, and do not fear being bracketed as Pearl-Clutching Vanilla Vipers. It’s okay to be where the uncool, post-bipartisan, disenchanted, un-beholden, unbridled, centrist mums reside. I am proud to stand there, and suspicious of those who think I should be ashamed. Women’s rights & protecting kids is far too fundamental to be a bipartisan issue. Political parties should serve our needs, and will work out how to if they want our votes.

The untouchable class, for the modern Left, is mothers. Ruth Serwotka (diplomat, negotiator of unbridgeable political divides, and all-round PR supremo) dismisses us as “domestic zombies” if we don’t have (presumably) full-time permanent jobs outside the home. Is it the ‘mindless airhead’ sexist stereotype of SAHMs that repels her, or the being-at-home part? Are we contemptible for depriving state coffers of their due, by failing to outsource our household’s childcare and cleaning to low-paid immigrant women? Are we ‘letting the side down’ by not showing up to a workplace to withstand a daily barrage of being ‘mummy-tracked,’ routinely undervalued, subject to double-binds, harassed, and gaslit, so that we can outsource the work of our homes to a low-paid woman who may, in turn, have to outsource hers? Isn’t that just a wonky pyramid scheme, run on the exploitation of women, blind to the realities of motherhood, on the misogynistic premise that it’s OK to do anything to women because we are innately suited to suffering to make other people’s lives more comfortable?

Maybe that has something to do with socialism, I really couldn’t say. All male-centric political visions see mothers as useful bodies to pump out more or fewer babies on demand, according to economic requirements; useful spare brains to either be corralled at home or pushed out into the workplace depending on economic requirements. I am as sceptical of them as I am of iterations of feminism that seek to ‘liberate’ women from our embodied reality, including our ability to make babies, and drive to bond with them after they are born, and protect them while they grow. Where political ideology attacks the human body, it immediately becomes suspect: a religion masquerading as a civic matter. I have had more than enough of reality-denying leftish fantasies.

Women remain a resource for men’s disposal, not because all individual men want us to be no more than that, but structurally and – to an extent – biologically. We are definitely not yet considered full human beings of equal worth – nowhere near, sadly. But this demand from socialist feminists that women prove our worth by wage earning outside the home, this shaming of women who don’t – has it anything whatsoever to do with women’s liberation, or the rights of women? Is making sacrifices to do the best we can by our kids shameful? Are we duty-bound to outsource our kids, or not become mothers at all? Would that make us acceptable socialists? Is the only good socialist woman one who refuses motherhood and appears to transcend the domestic? Is Julie Bindel the UK’s only real feminist? Is it not grimly ironic that patriarchy undervalues women’s work in the home, and that doing that work makes you – according to a professional socialist feminist – “a depressing bunch”?

Thanks for all the liberation, Ruth, but if you’re going to make left-leaning women who happen to be SAHMs, who want their full rights – not flimsy concessions – and who centre child safeguarding in their campaigning, into the target of repeated smears, you’ll alienate many of the women you presumably want to represent.

It is a peculiar, and very telling, insult and one I have – as you can see – been musing over during the school holidays. I recalled my mother’s descriptions of her own mother, waking up before dawn to get the fire going, and going to bed long after everyone else, managing a populous household on less than a shoestring. I remembered my father telling me about the time his mother fainted from hunger in a grocery shop. He does not recall ever going hungry himself, but seemingly she did. Is there no human dignity to be found within a morass of such indignities and privations? I’m damn well glad that my grandmothers persisted, despite exhaustion and deprivation, to do the necessary for my parents, because without that I would not be sitting in this warm house tapping out thoughts on my laptop regarding the status of mothers. To my grandmothers’ strength and endurance, I may owe much of what I am. We are not solely self-actualising individuals, but the fruit of relationships, the mother-child bond being the most central of all.

I am fortunate not to toil under such harsh conditions as my grandmothers, to keep my family going. But I do not kid myself that I can just dispense with all such work, and that my children could just take care of themselves now out of nappies. What I do at home matters. It counts, including the mundane inputs. It includes some of the most important things I will ever do, in relation to my children’s development. Does this state of being, that will not last forever, give me tunnel vision? Does it make what I say and do trivial, and contemptible? Does it make me a “domestic zombie”? No. Categorically no.

Socialists presumably know that nations are sustained by women’s off-the-books domestic labour; and that the next generation’s health and social contribution depends, to a large extent, on mothers’ loving care. It is the sine qua non. And men in power know it. They want mothers to continue that work, because they don’t want to do it – they are too busy competing against one another for opportunities to father children, and for the money and status to protect and influence them. Even if fathers did want to take over mothering roles en mass, we would not be happy. Many mothers want to mother, too, when they realise how much becoming a mother changes your horizons and your priorities. I don’t want to lay it on thick but, in my experience, this is simply true.

Ironically for Ruth, mothers who run households, and answer to no boss, are well-placed to speak against sexism and misogyny. Assuming that we are capable of dealing with periodic death/rape threats and institutional ostracism with stoicism, and can afford the loss, we need not temper our words so as not to offend powerful men and maniacal cults–unlike various high-profile employed GC women, we cannot be driven from our domestic roles for wrongthink. We are intellectually self-confident enough not to retreat with our tails between our legs when, for example, media socialists like Sarah Ditum – supposed arbiter of ‘nuance’ that is really just a lack of mettle (and, perhaps, professional freedom) to openly confront the abuse of male power – deem it “stupid” to object to misogynistic fiction by a man listed for a women’s prize. To my mind, it would be the height of apathy not to. One should always loudly object when one is being abused.

Unfortunately for socialists who hold stay-at-home mothers in contempt, many of us want to continue to do what we do from our private fiefdoms. We wanted to become mothers, and we do not want to outsource our children. We feel fortunate to be able to hold the fort at home while our kids need us – yes, even while our husbands need us – despite the significant costs and risks of doing so; despite the low status and invisibility of doing so. Even if we may live to regret it. Is that really so contemptible? And, if you’re sure it is, what does that say about you?

The female mammalian drive towards a period of self-abnegation for the sake of your offspring seems incompatible with liberal feminism, which centres individual self-actualisation to the exclusion of a state of being that most women will move through in their lifetimes. It is simply untrue that we are only of human value when working for money, when our contribution to human life can be captured on a balance sheet. But we do this caring work, for the most part, because we want our families to thrive, and we think of them as an extension of ourselves – part of who we are, in relationship. We do it because we are not solely individuals, but also interconnected beings. Family itself is not the enemy. It is not family, or motherhood, that women need to be liberated from. Spare me your rescuing, your arrogant admonishments.

Must we pretend that what matters to us doesn’t matter, in order to be represented? That would mean we are not represented at all. Employment rights matter, of course they do. So, obviously, do women’s rights that do not pertain to work outside the home. You can’t hope to represent women’s interests without grasping this. My grandmothers, my mother, and myself are not zombies. Sure, domestic routine with children can leave you feeling like a zombie, staggering from task to task on autopilot, but so can a day at the office, the factory, or the oil rig. Zombies are mindless and eat brains. Perhaps Ruth is concerned that a hoarde of indistinguishable, anonymous Mumsnetters will chew through the dogma of socialist ideology and liberal fauxminism with their ravening, un-fillable maws? I smell misogyny.

I smell hypocrisy, too. Are we all not beneficiaries of a woman’s domestic efforts? Unless we were raised in care, or by a lone father, we most likely have a mother to thank for everything from clean socks to school places, holidays away from home to hot dinners. Does it make sense to knock women for that work, that service, that extorted labour, that vocation, that act of love and care – whatever you call it (and it can be all of these at once)? Are we “domestic zombies” not simply doing the necessary? Did some bright spark not crunch the numbers to find that women’s unpaid labour in the home, if outsourced, would cost an unaffordable £80,000 per annum, thus making the liberal feminist ideal attainable only by the uppermost quartile? Much socialist.

In what reality does it make sense for someone purporting to lead the women’s movement to insult SAHMs for doing the baseline work of social reproduction and higher ape survival? Viva horizontal hostility and unprocessed misogyny! Good thing there is always a convenient mum available to defecate upon from a height, to make oneself feel an unearned sense of superiority. What a fantastic strategy for a mass movement of women! Excuse me while I rest my forehead on the desk for a moment or two.

Does it make sense to call yourself an agent of women’s liberation if you imply that mothers are to be exited from their homes and families, to be worthy of representation in that movement? What if “domestic zombies” decline to abandon their families for the sake of a utopian ideal based on the male pattern of existence in late industrial society? What if being at home really is the best option available to us, and our families, among few? What if – gasp – some of us even actively like it, and value it?

What if health problems, or caring burdens, or household finances, made it the only option? What if we were never going to have a career, but merely jobs of work for a lifetime? What if we move through different occupations over the years, including a stint of time at home when our kids are little – would that make us acceptable socialist women? What if we are not zombies at all, but clever, engaged and active individuals who, for a range of reasons, find that their best option – and their children’s, and even their husbands’ – is to keep the home fires burning? If we earn income from home, using our skills, does that exonerate us from the charge of being contemptible and mindless? Do we need to earn a certain amount to be free from the ‘domestic zombie’ stigma, or will any token sum do?

All of these mothers, dismissed with a disgusted epithet?

I get it. I know why lefty women keep quiet about stay-at-home motherhood: it opens a can of worms. Woman-centred worms, unpalatable and indigestible to male-centric political ideologies. Good. Let’s have at it. We need a woman’s movement with teeth, one that unapologetically, with a hard nose, and a harder head, asserts and advances women’s collective interests – and not just metropolitans with white collar jobs.

During the close of this year, it struck me repeatedly that many of the groups that resisted GRA reform are not interested in fighting for a renewed vision of women’s rights. Many “GC” fellow travellers prefer to tinker with the status quo.

In the case of women working in liberal professions, such as family law and therapy (I plan to write about Stella O’Malley, Genspect and the Gender Dysphoria Alliance), the status quo leads them to the absurd position of defending the indefensible, e.g. that some little boys and girls should be experimented on, and their lives made shorter and more painful – like poor Jazz Jennings – to appease the sexual fetishism of adult male autogynephiles. The law allows it, as the successful appeal against Keira Bell made clear, so it is a bridge too far to demand the abolition of the paediatric transitioning industry, and the laws that enable it.

In the case of male-centred socialist women in professional party politics, and its off-shoots, the status quo also leads them to the absurd position of defending the indefensible, e.g. that some men should be enabled to LARP in public as a caricature of the opposite sex, because they indulged their autogynephiliac fetishism to the extent of inscribing it permanently on their bodies. The law allows it, as the unsuccessful judicial review of a prison service made clear, so it is a bridge too far to demand the repeal of the gender laws that enable it.

In both cases, the political beliefs in evidence are illogical, and do not comport with the rhetoric deployed to see off GRA reform. Bad law creates nothing but mischief: illogic, hypocrisy, and atrocity. Why suffer it? Just change it instead. Legislation is repealed every day. It’s far from impossible. And, in making the case for repealing the gender laws, we cannot avoid making the case for the rights and dignity of women—which naturally includes the interests of children. Trans activism has merely given women’s rights campaigners the shot of adrenaline we needed to awaken from a long doze. And, in fighting for the rights of woman, the case for respect for the living world flows effortlessly: biophilia. Love of living Beings.

I understand why someone nominally “GC” in the professions would need to be seen to follow the law as it currently stands, but I do not understand why they hesitate to say that the law needs to change. Not given the profoundly disturbing nature of the atrocities committed in the name of “trans rights” – sterilising gender nonconforming children; confining female prisoners with rapists – neither of which would be happening were it not for the GRA 2004, and the gender reassignment strand of the Equality Act 2010, and their legal supremacy over the sex strand.

I add a caveat that, prior to the passage of the GRA, men who do trans had already begun (as compulsive, narcissistic, disordered autogynephiles will) to parasitise women’s protections under the Sex Discrimination Act (now defunct, and folded into the sex strand of the EA). One could argue that as a reason for leaving the GR strand intact – it might in theory maintain some conceptual separation between the ordinary category ‘women,’ and the Orwellian term for fetishistic men, ‘transgender women.’

In practice, however, the exemptions that are supposed to protect women’s sex-based rights are merely a privilege that a service provider may extend to women, rather than a right to which women using a service are automatically entitled, by default. And even if the exemptions were strengthened to have the status of an inalienable right, we would still be faced by a phalanx of fetish-addled, disordered, misogynistic men compulsively demanding access and eroding women’s boundaries, with the pathetic justification that they had their passport falsified. They won’t stop doing that to us until the law expressly prohibits it. I firmly believe that the law should expressly prohibit men from possessing spaces, activities and resources set aside for women, for any reason whatsoever. No caveats.

No. I do not understand why anyone who holds themselves out as acting in the interests of women as a class would want to retain a status quo that allows rapists into women’s prisons, and allows gender woo merchants to sterilise some children as the junior version of the illusory, dishonest ‘true trans.’ ‘It’s unlikely to directly effect me in my comfortable life’ isn’t good enough. I don’t accept that those women and children’s human rights are a justifiable cost of retaining the status quo. I do not consider the legal status quo, with regard to sex and ‘gender reassignment,’ to be tenable or sustainable. Neither do I believe that a sticking plaster – shoring up the exemptions is often touted – is a just response to the avoidable suffering of those women and children, for the simple reason that the deliberate & strategic conflation of sex & gender in UK law keeps the boundary porous for the benefit of male fetishists.

If a woman is to be imprisoned for petty crime – and there is an argument to be made that only the most serious of female crimes merit incarceration – let her at least be free from inhuman and degrading treatment: no man should ever be among the female prison population, period.

If a child is to be treated for complex psycho-social and clinical problems bundled together under the banner of the adult term ‘gender dysphoria’ (previously ‘gender identity disorder’) – and the science of child development tells us that it is wrong to force children into the category of adult disorders – let them at least be protected by the principles of child safeguarding: no child should ever be subject to ghoulish medical experiments, period.

Gradualism didn’t cut the mustard back in 2018 when WPUK meetings were met by woke/neoliberal leftish/trans activist/intersectionalist/’queer’ crowds who issued credible bomb threats, banged on the windows, threw water at attendees, and let off smoke bombs. The modest aim to halt undemocratic GRA reform was considered incendiary by the liberal establishment until, within three years, various institutions began to wake up to what they had midwived: what WPUK asked for was not remotely incendiary after all. It was sensible not to pass that law.

Gradualism won’t cut it now. Women really are in the existential fight of our lives. I refuse to accept that it is incendiary to repeal the gender laws that enable the sterilisation of kids, and the tyrannising of women in prison. Give it three more years, and more institutions will see the justice of that course of action. It’s simply sensible and sane to repeal bad law that causes extensive, avoidable harm. To enable male fetishists who want to see those kids sterilised, and don’t care about women being raped in prison, is entirely mad, and a complete departure from women’s rights and the rights of the child.

We won’t ‘lose the room’ by cutting through the fog of unreality still being pumped out by the gender lobby, enabled by gender laws. Would you advise gradualism and politeness to the tobacco lobby, to the professional climate change deniers? Is it not respectable to call attention to the harms of any lobby parasitising civil society and stealing our children’s chance of healthy, livable lives?

In 2022, I hope that GC gradualists will work with an endgame in mind: actual rights for women that nobody can take from us; and loopholes in child safeguards permanently closed. The demands trans activists make are not for genuine rights, but for unreasonable privileges at the expense of vulnerable others. There is simply no reason why we should tolerate such selfish destructiveness, and neither is there any reason to set our sights so low as to tread water against the prevailing current.

7 thoughts on “On reflection: a woman’s place is anywhere but home?

  1. Thank you for this awesome rant. Love it! It’s so good it inspired me to write a blogpost for our website titled The Russian Doll or Why mothers should rule the world. In the meantime – may write a teaser with a link to your post?

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  2. This is profound. Yes, a women’s movement cannot be other than biophilic. Gender ideology is biophobic. This fight truly is a life and death question on so many levels. And yes, a women’s movement that is uncomfortable with motherhood is simply incoherent. I am hoping this existential threat we as women are facing will cause us to clear up a lot of the incoherence in the women’s movement (though on many days I am not optimistic). Thank you again for writing it.

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      1. Also, don’t lose heart, because we are all clarifying our intentions right now. People are listening. Women are finding their flow.

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  3. Enjoyable piece. About time someone called out feminists who consider that women who stay at home are cabbages. It never was true. The role of (house)wife and mother is the bedrock of society, from which everything else grows. Running a home used to be a matter of fulfilment and respect. Now it seems that bringing up ones children and nurturing one’s home and marriage as seen as a waste of education.
    As to the Gender Critical movement, no gradualism will not do. The transagenda needs challenging before irreparable harm is done to women and children.

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  4. I never became a parent (I got married in my 30s and, was lucky to have gained seniority at a very stable middle-management job in retail sales I was working at the time I didn’t want to jeopardize: pre-Family Leave legislation — which, I’m glad, my eventual boyfriend turned husband mutually respected my decision of); however, I FULLY agree with your analysis. Women ARE the foundation and stability of the family, who cultivate and nourish the civilized enlightenment of the next generation; to precisely try to be aware of (and correct) the wrongs in the World.

    One element of “cool girl Feminism” I could never relate to, is: the notion that one’s simple demanding of accountability for equality under the Law — should(?), somehow, even always have to be couched in the context of a “woe-is-me REACTION” to Sexual-based injustice rather; than just an all-out self-realization “epiphany” of believing you/me/whomever CAN BE pro-active against the said injustice itself on the basis of its sheer wrongfulness for what it is. I mean, WHY are we still at a point in history where a woman’s opinion of seeking redress of grievances almost has to be “deemed worthy by some social kangaroo court hierarchy-or-something” *before* she feels she’s even got a chance of society first respecting her as a legal class(?). This may be an uncomfortable point for those “cool girls”, BUT: I think their overlying dependance constantly on the gay movement is what fosters A LOT of this self-imposed victim status attitude. I was raised a secular humanist and do not believe “Religion INC.” (what it’s always been like in America) should, within the realm of sanity, necessarily inflict itself upon reproductive rights or same-sex ADULT relationships (because, personally, those are someone else’s situation I have nothing to do with and I wouldn’t want them interfering in my life); however, I have never felt (for one) that gay men (whom, either: blame the planet for their “mother issues”; excuse the masochism of “Drag”; or can be just as disgustingly rude toward women’s bodies) represent some sort-of “allyship” (even though I absolutely agree that this tr*ns utter science fiction lunacy is as anti-gay conversion therapy as the worst homophobe could possibly have ever invented) which could remotely understand what in hell a 56 y.o. female has survived through up to this point. To me, that is why the aforementioned “cool girls” are now so worried about being called Right Wing. Still putting the male feelz first they are.

    Thank you, again, for sharing such insightful commentary!

    Liked by 1 person

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