Sophie Walker took part in a web-chat on Mumsnet this week.
I am a member of WEP, and have been since the very first day membership was available. I acknowledged that it can be problematic – a very “top down” approach to feminism, but I really felt that it was something I wanted to be part of, and that no one organisation could be perfect or tick all the boxes I needed, but that this approach was a vital one
However, the statements made in this webchat in particular are causing me real problems. Sophie Walker said:
“I am old fashioned enough to believe that one is not born a woman but rather becomes one. The process of becoming a woman is a messy one, filled with contradictions and influenced by many different factors”.
And this brings me up short, as it almost feels like victim blaming. I didn’t choose to be a woman, I am one. And the point about the discrimination I face as a result is that it’s not based on my choices. It doesn’t matter that I’m child-free by choice, I am still seen as a “maternity risk” by some potential employers. Discrimination doesn’t start when we declare ourselves to be women; we know that girls also experience discrimination, just take a look at Pink Stinks or the testimonies on Everyday Sexism. We can’t choose whether or not this is the case – the patriarchy is something imposed upon us.
I am really struggling to see what Sophie Walker meant by this statement. What is the point of a Women’s Equality Party that believes women only face discrimination when they choose? What is the point of a Women’s Equality Party that doesn’t really believe that women exist?
I am deeply troubled by these statements. I haven’t made a decision about my membership yet, but I don’t feel that I can avoid that decision much longer.