Feminism in the Scottish post-referendum movement – #the45plus feminists rising

Village Aunties were awful quiet on this blog for the last part of the Yes campaign. We, and other feminist and social justice fellow travellers, were mostly busy doing other stuff: leafleting; hosting stalls; canvassing; registering voters; going on marches and rallies; writing in other channels; helping with other #indyref groups like Women for Indy, Scottish Asians for Yes, etc.; discussing indy with relatives, co-workers, neighbours and friends; etc. etc.

In the wider movement, no real feminist challenge to the various campaign activities took hold. None of the pro-indy leaders and coordinators thought the issues important to intersectional feminism, beyond “reaching women so they vote Yes”, were important to Yes. “Wait until after the revolution”: the standard cry of patriarchal movements going back forever, was implicit.

This is a shame, and it is something we need to remedy now, as the Yes campaign morphs into a movement to achieve, come hell or high water, the things we wanted independence to give Scotland. It is early days and we, all 1.6 million (and growing) of us, are still reeling and weeping and raging and basically working through our grief as we evolve into something new and powerful. We are becoming excited again about the potential for a new Scotland.

But from Village Aunties’ point-of-view, let’s be clear about a few things first:

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Village Aunties at the Independence March and Rally 2013

So we went:

Village Aunties take the train to the 2013 Indy March and Rally

Village Aunties take the train to the 2013 Indy March and Rally

Then we waved our banner about and enjoyed the march and rally greatly (we even got a round of applause as we walked up Cockburn Street, plus many many photies taken of us and congratulations on our sheer existence):

Village Aunties banner at the indy rally on Calton Hill.

Village Aunties banner at the indy rally on Calton Hill.

(Many thanks to Auntie Sveinn Jah for the above photo).

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Buffy in Scotland – Choice, Women’s Power and Independence

buff4x

About ten years have passed since the final episode of the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired on TV. Series creator Joss Whedon, who spoke in the Glasgow Film Theatre at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival, showed that pop culture can be non-sexist, a profound social commentary, deeply philosophical and entertaining at the same time. Buffy, Willow, and many other protagonists continue to be role models for generations of young women. Do we all need to become superheroes to change the world around us? With the economic downturn, climate change and biosphere decline threatening our livelihoods, it seems like that at times. But with the Scottish referendum comes a rare opportunity to envision change on a larger scale, by choosing a different path – a path which is not set on destruction, but on renewal, and on cherishing the things that matter to improve the quality of life for all. As a tribute to the ten year anniversary of the closing of the series, let’s imagine what Buffy would make of the Scottish Independence campaign…

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Cougars, Aunties and MILFs: The sexualisation of older women

Idly flicking through the stats for this blog I came across something strange.  Despite this being a Scottish blog, the majority of its readers would appear to be from India.  I was a bit puzzled by this and explored a bit more.  The most popular search term that people find their way here through is “aunties” – nothing all that surprising about that, but looking down the list and what aunties is combined with is eye-opening   At no 4 we have “village aunties sex“, at no 6 we have “aunties ass” with “nude aunties“, “sexual aunties“, “aunties sex” and “sex with aunties” all featuring prominently.  In fact looking down the list, I would reckon that over half the people who have found this blog through a search engine have done so through some combination if “auntie” with sexual terminology.

In Indian society, auntie is used as a term of respect by a young person for an older woman of social aquaintance.  A more formal equivalent in the UK would probably be “madam”, a term which is also sexualised through its association with brothel keepers. The sexualisation of older women is not entirely new – most teen boys develop a crush on a particularly attractive teacher with the assertions of Miss Jean Brodie and latent sensuality of Mrs Robinson exploring it in popular culture, but the recent popularity of the terms “Cougar” annd “MILF” (Mother I’d Like to Fuck) tell of an increased sexualisation.

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Of those who are forced to choose: Bernadette Devlin McAliskey

 

Only the very safe can talk about wrong and right

Of those who are forced to choose, some will choose to fight

– lyrics from Natives, song famously sung by Christy Moore, by Paul Doran.

The revolutionary heroes of the left who become icons on t-shirts and posters tend to have two characteristics. They are usually men, and they are usually dead. I’m thinking Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Bobby Sands, Steve Biko. Actually, I can only think of one who continued his mystique while still alive: Nelson Mandela.

Iconic poster Free Angela Davis, by F. Beltran, 1971

Iconic poster Free Angela Davis, by F. Beltran, 1971, from IISG on Flickr.

Off the top of my head it’s very hard to think of any women. Angela Davis, of course; she is still alive and still appears as an iconic poster image. And she’s been getting involved with the Occupy movement in the U.S. too.

Well, there’s someone who should appear in this pantheon, and she is still alive and has never sold out her socialist, republican, feminist credentials. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. I’m quite shocked at how unfamiliar this name seems to be to a lot of people here in Glasgow; growing up in New Zealand in the 1970s and 80s, I had heard of her. But between then and now, I’d not heard much.

Where did she go? Why has a woman who was elected to the UK Parliament at 21, who smacked the Home Secretary in the head the day after Bloody Sunday, and who was nearly assassinated in front of her children with seven bullets, dropped from view?

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