We’re So Tired.

I wrote this nearly two years ago, as a Facebook post, just after the pussy-grabbing audio tape was released, before Trump was elected. It went a bit viral, and the overwhelming number of women commenting about their experiences was diluted in the most familiar way – by men telling us that we were delusional, or lying, or obviously hanging out in the wrong places.

After yesterday’s brutal testimony, it looks like Kavanaugh will continue on to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Just as in 2016, we know there is no reckoning coming for the vast majority of men who do these things. A few high-profile cases, yeah, but the standard background thrum of harassment, sexism and fear will continue on.

‘He’s not a monster’, said Orrin Hatch.

None of the women involved ever said he was a monster. He’s just a man. Like so many men we’ve encountered over and over and over again. It isn’t monsters we fear.


 

Every guy that is looking at Trump in horror for everything he’s done to and said about women in this campaign: this is not even vaguely unfamiliar.

Sure, it’s horrifying. It’s somewhat surprising because usually men are better at not showing that side in public by the time they reach that point in their careers. But none of this is extreme or bizarre.

The debate was the platonic ideal of the situation most women in positions of authority or knowledge have lived, where we have to smile and pretend that we don’t mind conceding to the less qualified, less knowledgeable man who is shouting over us, interrupting us, telling us how we should be doing our work. We have to smile and take it because otherwise we’re the bitch, the harpy, the one who must have got the job on her knees.

And then this shit today. All of us have met these guys. He is intimately, grossly familiar. Pretty much every woman you know has been groped or grabbed or kissed without consent or warning. Most of us took years to even think of it as sexual assault, because it’s just one of those things that happens to us. Someone grabs your ass as you walk by them in a pub. Someone grabs your tits and grins as if it’s a compliment. If you complain, you’re a humourless bitch. It’s just a bit of fun! What the fuck is wrong with you? They go back and laugh with their mates about the woman shouting at them. Because it’s *funny*. Banter. They tell their funny stories about grabbing a woman’s body because hey, if she didn’t want the attention she wouldn’t have been wearing that, right? Hahaha. Funny.

Unless you’re ugly, of course, when for years you’re *jealous* of the women who get stalked and catcalled because they only ever tell you you’re a landwhale, that they’d fuck you if you wore a bag over your head, leaning out of their cars to tell you how hideous you are.

These guys are *everywhere*. They’re background noise to our lives. It takes years, decades, for us to start wondering if maybe they shouldn’t be, if being groped and harassed and threatened maybe shouldn’t be the cost of being female in society. It takes so long to even see it because it starts so early and because no-one really talks about it as a problem. Just one of those things. Banter. Funny.

It takes even longer to get angry. To stop smiling and looking at the floor and waiting for it to stop. And then, when the rage finally comes, they act hurt. Like we’re being mean. They’re not bad people. They don’t mean any harm. It’s just a joke. Banter. Funny. Fine, jeez, they won’t bother you. Eyeroll. God, this bitch, she got hysterical when I just brushed past her. Like I’d want to fuck her!I mean, who’d want to fuck *that*?

Locker room talk. Funny.

This is the stuff of our lives. If you’re shocked by what he’s saying, you haven’t been paying attention. Listen – really listen – not just to the women in your life but to the way men talk about them. Not all men are like him, but all women have encountered the ones who are. They’re as common as dirt, as insidious as cancer. They’re our friends, brothers, fathers, partners, coworkers. They’re the people we love, trust, work with, laugh with, live with. We strike a terrible bargain, usually without realising it: if we ignore most of it, or just quietly tut or glare in an ignorable way, we don’t lose our friends and partners and jobs and families.

We agree to pretend it isn’t happening, often so successfully that we stop seeing it ourselves. Until suddenly it’s there, centre stage for the biggest job in the world: the living embodiment of every man we’ve been groped by, raped by, harassed by, patronised by, diminished by. We can’t get away, we can’t ignore, we can’t pretend it doesn’t matter. In all his bombastic, overwhelming, naked misogyny, there he is,declaring his entitlement to the bodies of women he wants, his disgust at the ones he doesn’t, his repulsion at the ones that just won’t shut up. And everywhere, everywhere, his people saying ‘I like him because he tells it like it is’.

This is the world we’re giving to our children. These are the people they’ll live with and learn from.

Straws, again. (PG version)

So Seattle has banned straws.

I’m so far past done with this, but it appears to be grumbling on, so once again. I apologise in advance – I used up all my gentle approach words last time.

Banning straws because you saw that sad video of a turtle is nonsense.

Straws are necessary for a large number of disabled people.

1 – But plastics are killing the planet
Yes, that’s true. Here are some better targets which don’t actually have a functional use: balloons, balloons, BALLOONS. If your answer to this example – something which actually has a base of evidence to show it’s harmful as opposed to a single emotive YouTube video – is that children like balloons, then take a long look at your priorities.

Straws are a tiny, tiny fraction of the plastic waste we generate but apparently it’s reasonable to expect disabled people not to be able to drink like other people do but it’s unreasonable to expect a child to go without a balloon they won’t notice the absence of.

2 – but you can get paper/metal/glass straws

Yes. We know. You’ve told us almost as many times as you’ve told us to try yoga or cbd oil to cure us.

Straws of those types do not meet the same needs as most plastic straws do. They can replace some straw use, and offering a few different types is a good idea, but the bendiness and poseability of plastic straws is one of their main selling points. If you’re a cinema, offering paper straws in place of the large, non-bendy plastic ones is a good option to have.

Re-usable straws require that you’re able to use the kind of fine motor skills to clean them THAT YOU PROBABLY DON’T HAVE IF YOU NEED A STRAW TO DRINK. Also, social vs medical model of disability: why is the expectation that the disabled person should do all the work of finding accessibility, rather than some of that weight being taken by the society in which we live? Other people get to go out and have a drink without having to bring their own cups.

And this should go without saying but ableds keep screwing it up so: YOU CANNOT TELL BY LOOKING AT A PERSON WHETHER OR NOT THEY’RE DISABLED AND YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO THEIR MEDICAL INFORMATION. If you see someone using a straw in a place where there’s a straw ban, just move on with your day because your average disabled person is tired of people like you demanding to know what their disability is. You have no right to ask. If you are working and a person asks for a plastic straw, give them a plastic straw. You can tell them that you also have other types of straw available, but don’t ask them why they need it. Sure, don’t just give them out to everyone as standard, but if someone asks for one, give them it. In some pubs I’ve been in, they just have a jar of straws on the bar so that, if you need one, you can take it.

3 – But the turtle
Yes. It was very sad. It was a good video. We should absolutely be pressuring corporations and governments to tighten up how waste is disposed of. Plastic waste like that should never reach the sea. However, making life harder and more inaccessible for a group of people already excluded by society is a bad move if it’s just to pat yourself on the back about how green you are. It doesn’t make much of a functional difference to the environment and you only think that straws are pointless because you’re lucky enough not to need them.

Balloons, on the other hand. That’s a good target for the energy you’ve been using on this, if you want a simple, easy way to show everyone that you care about plastics without you having to make any major personal changes to your life.

Fiona Robertson for SNP National Women’s and Equalities Convener

I’m delighted to have been nominated to stand as the SNP’s National Women’s and Equalities Convener, and to have the opportunity to talk a bit about me and what I want to do with the position.

I joined the SNP in 2015, along with so many others, but not just because of independence. Disillusioned with party politics as a disabled person whose life was at the mercy of successive governments who wore different coloured ties to enact the same devastating policies, I had assumed the SNP was more of the same. On gaining power in 2007, however, they chose to support people most at risk from the cruelty of the DWP. Even though, as I have been told many times, ‘disabled people don’t vote’ (because of inaccessibility and disillusionment), the SNP still used their power to save lives and support people with very little economic, social or legal power.

Since joining, I’ve been involved with the set-up of the Disabled Members’ Group and helped roll out the Disability Equality Training we’re so proud of. I’ve spoken on the main stage at conferences to highlight struggles we face and the hopes we have for the future. The response has always reinforced to me that I made the right decision.

I believe the SNP can be the most inclusive, most progressive party in the UK. We’ve already done great work but, there is still much more to do. This year is crucial to realising the potential not just of the party, but of our greatest resource – our members.

I’ve talked with people from different groups and regions and developed five key goals.

1 – Put Women’s and Equalities Officers in touch with each other.

We need to be able to talk to each other to share skills, information, concerns and support. A network will allow us to identify needs and concerns, and we can share ideas on how best to approach sometimes quite difficult situations. We can learn from people who have had successes in increasing representation and see what might be transferable to our own branches.

Restarting the Women’s Forum will be a major part of this process – we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Julie Hepburn and other activists have already been working on this and I want to make sure they have what they need. This is critical in developing mentoring relationships and building skills for women interested in politics at any level. While we have made huge strides forward over the last decade, we still have a way to go before we reach parity and the Women’s Forum is where we will find the range of approaches we can use.

2 – Build on the Equalities Training

The Disabled Members’ Group training we rolled out to every branch means SNP members are more aware of accessibility and are thinking about how to make campaigning and other activities easier for people with a range of accessibility needs. Building on this success, we would all benefit from equalities training on the other strands too. The first priority will be providing Equalities Officers with formal training or support.

One of the things I love about being in the SNP is that the culture of learning is positive – rather than seeing equalities training as a ‘punishment’ for bad behaviour, we take the initiative because we want to be as inclusive as possible. We know we don’t know everything, and that we need to learn from each other. It leads to some fairly contentious conference debates! But it means we keep getting better, and I want to provide those opportunities to learn.

3 – Mandatory Training as Part of Vetting

While I love that many people willingly spend their free time showing up to training sessions, it’s important to formalise this for anyone standing for any elected office. Making it a mandatory part of vetting means our elected representatives have a working knowledge of key issues affecting marginalised people. It’ll also help avoid the need for damage control when someone says something harmful without understanding why people are reacting so badly. We all know how gleefully our political opponents pick up on these mistakes, so giving our representatives sound knowledge means they won’t have to deal with that.

4 – Create A Resource Base

Some time ago, I created a short document for people asking for advice on what disabled people need from the party, what issues we have within the party, what we are facing in general society, and tips on words and phrases to use or avoid. It’s only a couple of pages, but has been incredibly useful already. I want to develop a resource base where people can find out information on each equality strand and their intersections, can quickly access solutions to common issues, and a central area where people can ask questions they might be worried about asking publicly for fear of saying the wrong thing. This knowledge base should be built with the involvement of people from each equality strand both within the party and from stakeholder organisations like the TIE campaign and Inclusion Scotland.

5 – Centralised Access Fund

One of the biggest barriers to making our activities accessible is cost. Accessible buildings cost more money to hire, accessibility technology is often not cheap. It should be part of our commitment to building an inclusive party that we meet those costs. Accessibility is not just important to disabled people – single parents, carers, people on low incomes, etc, all have barriers to access too.

We want as many people as possible to be involved in our party. Our commitment to equality should be a badge of honour for everyone in the SNP, by celebrating and encouraging people to learn more about why these issues are important. I want to encourage us to reframe arguments so that people realise these issues should matter to everyone, not just to the people in the marginalised groups.

Whether or not I am elected as National Women’s and Equalities Convener, I will continue to help the SNP become the most welcoming, inclusive party in Scotland because if we’re genuinely a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns, that means we have to show up for each other.

Find out more at

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FionaforWE/

Campaign Twitter: @FionaSnp

Personal Twitter: @knittingquark

Email: fionaSNP@outlook.com