Here we stand, approaching the end of 2016 and looking at a whole new year ahead. With Trump being inaugurated in January unless a Christmas miracle stops a racist Pussy Grabber from sitting in the Oval Office, 2017 looms with a dark shadow already. Worryingly too, a peek preview of Le Pen sharpening her focus on the role of French President isn’t exactly filling hearts with love and hope either. Yet, amidst all that darkness, there’s a little light, too. And it’s coming from Scotland.
An amazing thing’s happening because of voices in the independence movement; Scotland’s padding out a Yes campaign claim about a desire for national progressiveness with evidence in women’s voices affecting real change:
Because the content of these voices is so authentic and compelling, the world’s ear’s turning to listen. After listening, readers are validating and amplifying what they hear by sharing links to our new media, clearing a space for voices from Scotland in far reaching conversations about change.
Scandinavia’s often lead the conversation on education, childcare and healthy lifestyles. Increasingly, since the independence referendum, I catch myself smiling and wondering if Scotland’s gains in challenging societal biases for elitism and patriarchy could develop to become an international reference point as well as an internal meeting place for like-minded folks spearheaded by the likes of the brilliant Women for Independence. Thanks to increased awareness about how life chances, power and land ownership are so clearly dominated by who your Dad’s Dad was rather than who we each are there’s a buzz that just wasn’t there before. We’re waking up – and it’s a metamorphosing, beautiful thing.
Ignoring the credibility that feminist voices from Scotland bring to our country and the independence movement is like saying we’ve found ten new oil fields but fuck it, we’ll focus on trying to flog sunny golf holidays and shortbread instead. Perhaps it’s time people who feel this dynamic somehow emasculates them or our nation put their egos on the parcel shelf and, for a week or two, gave the other side the benefit of the suspended doubt and spent time listening to the feminists in their lives.
Rape Crisis Scotland’s statistics tell us one in ten women in Scotland have experienced rape and one in five have ‘had someone try to make them have sex against their will’. Those numbers mean none of our families are unaffected by rape culture. Women may not have told all their stories publicly but these stories, secret and disclosed, are in the fabric of all our identities. At 51% of the Scottish population, we ignore and sideline women’s issues at the peril of all causes worth fighting for.
When one country moves forward, the pressure on all countries to own and discuss backward cultural convention is heightened. If we want to be taken seriously as a nation with the guts to claim caps of progressiveness lying untouched by detractors and peers along the way, Scotland must keep a tight grasp on wrestling the nettle of issues at the leading edges of human rights. The dots are joining up to make a picture – no progress for improving women’s safety and impact? So what if that means no progress at all?
Like a paperweight on documents detailing plans that’ll mostly never see the light of day, at present in the UK one person’s luck holds thousands of other people’s talent down. Patriarchy hurts and limits us all by enforcing a societal script for too many young men being indoctrinated into mostly inescapable cultures of crime and violence. In parallel, too many young women are dually conditioned that reacting to life by protecting themselves and others must always be prioritised over self-actualisation.
All nations with a history of being under a cosh must take difficult steps in untangling servility from complicity. Right now, we’re in a cycle of behaviour that means we often do the work of those who oppress us by continuing to oppress each other, like involuntary muscle memory. Don’t believe me? Ask any woman writer working within the independence movement how much of the persistent channel of hate-mail she receives comes from Yessers taking issues with her appearance, sexuality or just her right as a woman to talk at all.
The election of Trump’s already proving to be a trigger for emboldening racists, just as Brexit’s doing too, but these same factors may also be straws lain on the camel’s back in Scotland which up the nerve of those of us unwilling to wait another generation (or four) for a post-feminist result signalling we do live in a progressive place and not just one that kids on about wanting it for dissolvable headlines.
We have a light but we also have darkness and it’s time to decide which to stoke. Reality’s shaping up to a choice between a Scotland foregrounding a cacophony of fighting men’s voices or independence via the road of true progressiveness with clear evidence of positive cultural change. The chances of having both are, I believe, about as naively optimistic as trying to wipe out a summer midgie population with a citronella tealight. It’s time to get real about where our strengths lie and maximising all of them. Now’s the time to fully aid and abet women in using their voices because with help from allies, we have an exponentially positive and magnetic trick up our sleeves for a Scotland daring to lead.