There is a website called Labour List that, if you don’t know, sends out an eMail every morning to its subscribers with a bit of a rundown of news pertaining to the Labour Party with reference to daily events. Recently they installed their first female editor, Sienna Rodgers, and she has written an excellent eMail in respect of today being International Women’s Day. We don’t normally do this but here is the eMail in full:
I am so angry. Are you?
I think anger is the driving force for many Labour women. There’s the small things, like being reminded every month that there is still VAT on sanitary products. Then there’s the scarier things. Every evening, I worry a man will follow me home from the tube. (It happens less as I’ve gotten older, which I doubt is a sign of progress.) Let’s not forget that terrifying fact: every week, two women are killed by a current or former partner.
Misogyny is endemic in our society, an all-pervasive force that no woman can escape – whether she is rendered powerless because of it or she has privileges that allow her to internalise it and project it onto her sisters.
Just 32 per cent of MPs are women, but Labour has more female MPs than all other parties combined. Worthy campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp would suggest things are getting better – and these advances in our movement are certainly causes for celebration. Why, then, do I feel scared that girls now are having it worse than I did?
We need to address the difficult stuff. People might think calling for those in power to talk more about porn culture and rape is a little histrionic, and that such experiences are ‘exceptional’. But every single woman I know is affected by that culture – we have been sexually harassed and assaulted, and we’re angry.
Many of us are also tired, possibly lacking in confidence. As Angela Rayner said recently, that’s when Labour women can tap each other on the shoulder and say “go for it”. Men have a part to play, too – I’d never have become the first female editor of LabourList without a couple of them pushing me to do it.
The Tories and the right-wing trolls might sneer but we can’t be afraid to use terms like ‘patriarchy’, as shadow secretary for international development Kate Osamor writes. Because the most important issues are structural – the most difficult to tackle. We can do it if we stand together, united against misogyny.
Today, writing exclusively for LabourList on International Women’s Day, Unite’s Jenny Formby reminds us that we have never been ‘given’ anything. “From the vote to equal pay, we have always had to fight for it.” The equal pay act, the sex discrimination act, the equality act and the minimum wage are all landmark pieces of equality legislation delivered by a Labour government.
I truly believe that Labour women in power are the key to making a difference, and it’s why I’m proud to be a member of the Labour Party.