Othering

othering

ˈʌðə/

verb

gerund or present participle: othering

  1. view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself.
  2. “a critique of the ways in which the elderly are othered by society”

 

Like many I am so raw today. There is no doubt our work is of paramount importance in light of the tragedy unfolding before us in Manchester. Love is the only remedy for this. I believe bringing in the next generation with a greater capacity for love is our solution and it drives my work. Yet there is so much hatred. The agenda of terrorism is met. We are running around bumping heads – I had to block someone’s social media hatred already and it’s only midday. I’m yet to travel home on a plane as a Muslim – this is always interesting – today I have learnt to expect scrutiny.

 

I had already decided to write this post and it seems deeper and more tangible with the emotions of today.

 

In the last few years I have noticed a trend amongst the wider world but specifically amongst the birthkeeper’s of hating on each other. I see it in organisations. I see it in competitive practices. I see it in judgement of each other’s difference especially when it comes to a woman’s ability to earn a living. I see it in racism and othering. I see it in bitching.  I see it in separation all the time. Where does it come from? What on earth is happening? It is exhausting me!

 

Why shouldn’t we all do things differently and offer different services and pricing structures and flavours? Different accents, backgrounds, languages, skin, religions and ways of viewing the world. Often women want to look at their “mother” when they are birthing – why shouldn’t they have the opportunity to do this? Women are all individual – it would make sense that their birth servants were too.

 

Is this something we have inherited from our patriarchal systems? Women are pitted against women always with only one acceptable way at a time. Our mothers were all told in the 60’s and 70’s you must have a non-existent arse or you are hideous – our daughters are told you must have a huge one or you are a monster. Everyone over 35 should be induced at 40 weeks. Red hair is evil and on and on and on. There is never acceptance of difference in that culture. We must not join in.  There is no self-appointed queen of the doulas/yoga teachers/educators/midwives.  There is no right or wrong. We have to go to Rumi’s field and all hang out. I am forever struck by the irony of the love of Rumi these days whilst the othering of Muslims grows.

 

We must really listen and try to understand. Especially not undermining and judging. I love to see choice. I love diversity. I am a Londoner – we thrive on a Columbian breakfast, Trini lunch and Pakistani supper. It’s all we know. Trust me life is better with flavour.

 

Perhaps I live a blessed, sheltered life – maybe I’m a Pollyanna but I have come up in this world of birth and women and mothers being taught it is ALL about love and acceptance. That love is the only medicine. The only way. The way you power yourself through the sleepless nights of squeezing hips at birth, sore nipples, patriarchal medical models of care, traumatised women, low income and so on. We have so much to contend with already. I know personally many birthkeepers with Chronic Fatigue, ME, kidney problems, depression and so much more. Let’s shorten that list by loving each other more.

 

Let’s also stop taking away from the intelligence and decision making abilities of women. In this judgement are we assuming women are not smart enough to see, to read, to make choices – we need to stop mirroring the system we are trying to improve and begin mirroring the original system we still have access to in indigenous grassroots midwifery. Women supporting women with love. There is no other way.

 

As I finish my thoughts I challenge you to seek out at least one woman this week you have othered and wish her well. Send her love. Support her. Help her. Love is the only way.

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burkinis or bikinis?

I was asked for my thoughts on the burkini debate and got on a roll – i thought it might be useful to share it

 

“…..yes….we have a problem don’t we! being forced to strip by the religious police of france is a big statement as to where europe (and much of the western world) is going with this demonisation of muslims that is going on

 

for me i am reminded of the women who had their heads shaved for daring to love a nazi soldier…..zaynab and her caravan of women and children having their clothes torn from them as they were walked from iraq to damascus in the sun ….mary magdelene being marketed as a prostitute by the male version of christianity….the midwives and witches being called whores because they could survive without men and very often did ….i think on the whole muslim women are searching for peace and love and God and trying hard to be charitable with their acts and their goods for the sake of Her and that is why they are being demonised in that same vein…

 

for me a woman should always have choice and indeed many of the major religions (including the religion of secularism) have this at their core so why we should now be saying you should dress any kind of certain way – even in the quran it tells us over and again there is no compulsion in religion – covering is a choice that some make and some do not….i think we should all be free to dance along the beach in our thong or swish along it in our burka as long as that is our choice..the debate should come in about what might be better for us!

 

do they really believe that banning a certain way of dressing is going to decrease terror attacks? how many of these terror attacks are actually carried out by women? i’m betting under 1% – as my dear mentor mama tells me all the time we need to start saying male-based violence for ALL of these things….i might suggest that this sort behaviour does little but fan the flames…

 

i might add that i’m equally appalled at religious police in other countries that force women to cover up and demonise those that don’t – this goes both ways for me

 

can we also imagine for a moment if a policeman in iran for example came down on a nun like this and made her remove her habit?! i believe such an act would start a war…that nun is wearing that outfit for the very same reason that this woman had her burkini on because they want to live the tradition of mary (peace be upon her) – what on earth is wrong with that?!

 

we need muslims women’s voices on this issue of course but i am so buoyed by voices of those women that are from other walks of life – it’s a sign to me of how women are coming together to support and grow and protect one another and it is truly a beautiful thing to behold

 

for me this is an issue for all women. if we ignore this we go back to the days of men having ultimate control of women. we still have so far to go – let us not step backwards at this point in the worlds history…”

 

This debate for me is indicative of the stories i face daily with the women that i work with of being forced under duress and “law” to carry out humiliating tasks they would never choose that damage the fabric of their life forever.

 

feminists, tribes and complete w@$%ers

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i woke up this morning fairly peaceful – drinking my tea and catching up on the world i came across the news article that RooshV (google him i WILL NOT be linking to his site in any way and increasing his traffic!) is organising a tribal meeting for men who subscribe to his views this saturday at 8pm in two venues in scotland but also elsewhere in the world. they are meeting in a public place and going off to a secret meeting place.

“…any women attempting to come along will be filmed with footage sent to his worldwide “anti-feminist” network who will then “exact furious retribution”……” read more about it in the article i saw in the national here .  this to me is like a red rag to a bull – of course we have to go and make sure this doesn’t happen. i wonder what that furious retribution is? why not make this threat to any man that might come along too? its not surprising that this threat was directed at women is it? this is a man who believes that rape on private property should be decriminalised. furious retribution from a man who is famous for talking about legalising rape intimates they will be raped or subjected to some kind of sexual violence – even by words on the internet.  i have three women in my family who have been raped – two of them more than once – all on private property – every time it was non-consensual sexual violence – every time they were hurt and damaged beyond belief – every time this will impact their life and those they love forever – every time all our hearts tore apart.  rape is NEVER justified and should NEVER be encouraged and ANYONE that is supporting him is a potential rapist or enabler – we must go to these meeting points as women AND men and object and protest and be heard. sexual violence is very, very common and on the increase – lets change that.

i admit i went to his website to gather further information – he puts his points across very eloquently and articulately under the guise of rebuilding and healing the fabric of our society that has been so damaged by feminism. i read carefully the post entitled “do not have sex with feminists” including comments on how its just like not picking up fat women (for fucks sake!!!!) and how to rid yourself of a feminist if you come across them in a bar or nightclub (which interestingly he suggests you shouldn’t be picking women up in anyway) – i was particularly taken by the advice that if a woman says to you as a man if you believe in equality you are a feminist your response should be lol i don’t talk to feminists and you immediately turn your back on her. i’d like to see how this one goes down in glasgow on saturday night – please do let me know if you hear about the ensuing woman on man horrible violence that is sure to follow this behaviour! guess what rooshV? feminists generally don’t actually want to have sex with misogynistic rape-friendly wankers so i think you’ll all be safe. there was however one woman commenting asking if she could come along to the all male meeting – i like to think she’s going to let off teargas or something but i fear it may be that she has some issues she needs to work through.

i am so angry and what better thing to do with that anger than use the energy. so i wrote this and i call you all to join me at Glasgow’s George Square or Edinburgh’s Grassmarket or wherever it may be in your local city that men are gathering at 8pm to go off to their tribal meeting (don’t even get me started on the term tribal!), contact the police, call your MP’s office, do whatever you can and let your voice be heard. we really need to hear mens voices on this too – we need men to be really vocal in saying they don’t want this for their gender, for their partners, sisters, mothers and daughters. lets shut this down before its even started.

Votes for women

It’s pretty irritating how a lot of people are appropriating and selectively-remembering Suffragette resistance to support shaming people who don’t want to vote.

[See #Suffragettes on Twitter for numerous examples if you haven’t seen it on your own social media feed(s) already.]

Not voting is a totally acceptable response to what a total failure representative democracy is. 

Just because women fought for women to vote doesn’t mean that women have to vote in order to be worthy of that right. By this logic, every pro-choice woman must have an abortion.

Rights are about being able to have your autonomy recognised so you can make choices for yourself instead of being told that you can’t because of who you are.

While we’re on the subject of UK Suffragettes and people ‘fighting’ for women’s votes…

Fighting literally happened. 

When the letter-writing, petition-signing, peaceful protesting, leafletting and general campaigning pleasantries didn’t cut it they split in two groups.

One of them militarised. 

Led by the Pankhursts, the Women’s Social and Political Union burned down churches and empty properties of wealthy elite, smashed shopped windows, defaced all-male spaces like golf courses/cricket clubs/horse racing tracks, went on hunger strike, assaulted police officers, bombed public buildings including Westminster Abbey and destroyed the contents of letterboxes with fire and corrosive acids.

Would you support Suffragettes today?

This part of history is continually, purposefully pushed aside to aid the shaming and silencing of angry, vocal women who take direct action. Support for or any cooperation with the Pankhursts is erased. Davison’s death is viewed as a singular, failed militant act. The rest are remembered liked Mrs. Banks out of Mary-fucking-Poppins. Some of them may have been, but a lot of them weren’t.

Angry voices are important to remember and respect. Violent responses are important to remember and respect. They are intrinsic to any liberation struggle. All responses are worthy and justified. There is no ‘right’ way to respond to your oppression. It is your choice and it is not okay to police the responses of others.

We would not be where we are today without aggressive, hostile activists.
We cannot move forward without them. 

Game-changing militant activists are erased and/or condemned. Prominent activists who have engaged in both peaceful and more aggressive forms of activism are only be remembered in history if their militarism erased.

When Suffragette history is taught and/or discussed, the Pankhursts are criticised for ‘setting the women’s movement back’.

Please, stop.

Even today, in places like Baltimore and Ferguson, when a liberation struggle takes matters into their own hands they’re continually told they are setting their movements back. That this isn’t the correct way to respond. That they shouldn’t result to violence.

Is there any other choice? Why do we care about property more than black people unjustly killed by white, police murderers who get slapped on the wrist and sent home on paid administrative leave?

Do you think people and governments would respond like this if they were actually setting the black rights movement back? No, cos’ people are responding like white supremacy is being challenged. They aren’t responding like the status quo is being maintained.

This is really paternalistic. Oppressed people are not naughty children. They’re human beings demanding the power, autonomy, privilege and social liberation that other people are born into. You can only get so far by engaging with the system.

Women born after the Suffragettes are encouraged to believe that it was not at all to do with those efforts but only the well-behaved, easy-to-swallow ones that made all of the progress all on their own. By following the rules! By keeping the system intact!

I see you, women’s activists, ignoring Baltimore… and I’m side-eying you for it.

This selective history teaches women activists that they’re supposed to be palatable to make progress. That they should exclude angry, radical people and their voices from their spaces.

But instead we should go *all guns blazing* against the Sanitary Product Tax? 
We are still fighting to for the world to recognise and support full reproductive autonomy for women.

But instead we should focus on campaigns like Emma Watson’s UN-backed HeForShe campaign?
Cos’ really, it’s men’s marginalisation in a movement that really isn’t for them that’s important. Not the black women, queer women, trans women, sex working women, working class women and disabled women still purposefully excluded from the women’s movement.

The point of a liberation movement is not to be palatable to your oppressor.

It is to challenge them.
It is to make them uncomfortable.
It is to take their power away for yourself.

Most importantly, it is crucial not to act like your oppressors or aspire to gain the same exploitative, oppressive status of your oppressors within the current system. 

If people like you, you’re doing liberation activism wrong.

So, go ahead…

Remember the Suffragettes, but remember them correctly and don’t think for a second that they’d support vote-shaming tactics.

That is setting the women’s movement back.

This fabulous post was originally posted by the fabulous wysewoman hailey 30th april 2015 Here