Another ‘better together’ opportunity lost

This is my only my second post for the village aunties. In my first post I said that I wanted to “be properly engaged and informed from all sides” in the independence debate, and I made a plea to both sides not to “rely on scare tactics . . .”.  Some time has passed since that post, and I’m still waiting for that engagement. However, an interview with Alistair Darling published in the Sunday Observer has engaged something today which has prompted me to take to the blog again.

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Spreading the Village Aunties’ Homemade Honey: Women’s Workshops on Social Media

For International Women’s Day I thought I’d start making concrete plans around extending the scope of village aunties in Scotland.

When I had the idea for this blog, it was all about a collaborative media venue for pro-independence feminists of the left to contribute to Scotland’s conversations, arguments and plans for the independence campaign, and for Scottish independence itself.

Part of the dream was to get loads of women blogging and tweeting and otherwise using social media to contribute and to discuss and to refine theories and to organise. I hoped then and still do that 1,000 feminist flowers might bloom all over the social Web; it’s never been about this blog being the only place for pro-independence feminist writing.

So the next stage after getting the blog going was always going to be starting up workshops or collaborative learning groups for women who want to write, comment, discuss, contribute to Scotland’s cybernat revolution, but who would like a bit of support to get going.

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Joan, The Burd, Morag, and The Village Aunties: Women and the Cybernat Revolution

Cross-posted on A Burdz Eye View after Kate Higgins serendipitously invited me to write a response to Joan McAlpine’s article, on the 15th anniversary of my arrival in Scotland from New Zealand (yeah, today)!

So the Burd disagreed with a bunch of other cybernats (including me) about Joan McAlpine’s article, you know, the notorious article drawing an analogy between escaping an abusive marriage and Scotland escaping the Union.

Early on, the Burd realised that some people she respected were surprised at her strong reaction, and she said that she might be “over sensitive”. I thought: as soon as a woman starts censoring herself with the kind of words used by misogynists to dismiss us, there may be something worth hearing underneath. Weirdly, even though I totally disagreed with the Burd, it was the first time I’d felt a real pang of sisterly solidarity with her. I so wanted the discussion to continue, with the participation of the other women who were chiming in.

Anyway, being a tenacious Burd, she kept in with the discussion and explored her own reaction. I ended up agreeing with one point she came to: that Joan’s piece doesn’t make the leap successfully between a domestic violence analogy, and why an independent Scotland would be good for women.

I’m drawing this picture as a way to show what happens when a bunch of women, and some non-sexist men too, engage in respectful discussion around a heated matter. Doesn’t happen very often on the social Web; nor do you often see women as the main players in a discussion outwith the feminist blog-o-phere. And even there, sometimes sisters tear each other to shreds. It all mirrors meatspace painfully well.

Addressing this lack of women’s voices in the Scottish pro-independence social media sphere was the reason why I set up the Village Aunties. The Burd and Joan seemed like lone voices in the wilderness. And, although I think that Bella Caledonia and Newsnet Scotland are excellent pro-independence sites with mostly excellent sexual politics (and growing numbers of female contributors), I wanted there to be a space specifically carved out for a feminist voice in our brave new world. Oh the hopes I had.

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Wake up and engage the electorate

Referendums, or at least talk about them, seems to be the rage just now, what with the SNP conference and the European debacle bubbling up again in the Tory party. For once I actually find myself in agreement with Tory cabinet ministers around calls for a European referendum as being as waste of time (not to mention money) right now. Like the rest of my fellow Aunties, it’s the talk around the Scottish independence referendum that is of most interest to me.

The results of the May election awoke something within me that had lain dormant for far too long. For the first time in over a decade I was actually excited about politics, the future and a realistic chance of a proper debate over Scottish independence. I still have a bit of a post election tingle, however as the nights draw in, I’m starting to feel bogged down and more than a bit pissed off by the lack of engagement from the other political parties. Why do they continue to ignore us, the electorate who categorically rejected their mandates? Why do they resort to the same old scare stories about the doomsday scenario of the break up of the Union, questioning the “right” of the evil SNP to actually ask the people what they think?

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