For immediate context, this was written three days before the end of the summer holidays and in a flurry of rage and frustration-fuelled finger typing that recalls Tom Cruise’s frantic manifesto-writing at the start of Jerry Maguire. This manifesto, or diatribe, whatever you want to call it, is likely to be less cute and a lot less funny. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
What I want to talk about are the cutesy, ‘aren’t we funny’, ‘look at us, so wise and self-aware’ bullshit wine o’clock fancy-gin-drinkers who seem to populate websites and forums and comment threads as well as making up much too large a proportion of the mainstream media representation of mums.
What they think they’re bringing in terms of radicalism is just social conservatism dressed up in leopard print and smelling of ketchup and gin. These are the women who talk openly about their bodies and sex lives but are scathing about trans people, sex workers or open relationships. They’re the women who say they embrace difference but don’t want to go any further than same-sex Strictly or married, monogamous gay and lesbian couples. These are people who say they don’t mind if their kids are gay but would struggle if they said they were bi, trans, poly or kinky. They are people who will not stretch their prejudices out of their comfort zones. They share memes of gin and cats but also circulate anti-trans essays and ridiculous ‘moral panic’ articles about porn. They say they are open-minded but they sneer at the word ‘pansexual’. They say they are not racist, but do not question their own white fragility and internalised biases, nor do they take a look at, or want to hear about, systemic bias, abuse and supremacism.
I am sick of these women and the loudness of their voices.
I want all of these women and mothers to work together to demand things that will make an actual difference rather than talking about their right to drink proseccco while the kids eat lukewarm fish fingers, or to work or to spend their money on shoes. It is time for these women to grow up and look beyond their petty prejudices. Because, believe it or not, we do have more power than we ever thought possible, and not enough of us are using it for the things that really matter.
I want everyone to open their minds to the full complexity of the sexual and gender issues being discussed today.
I want everyone to understand the FACTS behind the alarmist porn and sex worker coverage in our media and to call out these platforms.
I want everyone to take a good long look at the biases they have and the ways in which they reinforce them and to DO the hard personal work of owning their mistakes and changing their behaviours.
I want everyone to consider the liberating possibilities of UBI (universal basic income).
I want everyone to demand increased pay for poorly paid delivery drivers as well as the childcare workers who make their lives possible.
I want everyone to support everyone’s own bodily autonomy and agency.
I want everyone to understand that when any unfairness exists in our world it affects all of us, and our children, in the end, and to question and challenge the things that they think they are safe to ignore.
I know I’m asking a lot. But I also know that, if we can start to think outside of the limited mental and emotional horizons that the patriarchy has boxed us within, we can make these changes and, in making them, we can change the world.