WEP is dead. Perhaps you already knew. Maybe we have been hugging an ever-stiffening corpse for too long now. But hold on we did. Now it’s time to let go. The writing is on the wall. The wake is booked*.
Let me tell you what finally snapped us out of our stupor.
A small thing, maybe.
But a key indicator.
WEP social media channels hide comments that mention the word sex. And variations thereon.
So, any comments that mention sex-based rights are hidden. Even mentioning our caucus will get your comment hidden, and you won't even know. (More on this here)
You know when you experience a revelation, like a penny drops. And keeps dropping.
That guy … shit! He .Never. Even. Really. Liked. French. Cinema.
That kind of thing?
The Women’s Equality Party went to the trouble of banning the word SEX from their page.
And you know it’s not because they faint at the idea of sexy sex. Nooo. It’s not copulation that makes them blush, it’s those damn women who keep talking about their sex. Not their gender (which is fine), their bloody sex. Their sex-based oppression. Their sex-based rights. Their sex class. Those sex stereotypes.
Look, it’s not like we haven’t known we were the unwelcome witnesses to the increasingly incontinent, incoherent, withering decline of WEP. We’ve watched membership numbers free fall (despite obfuscation from party spokespeople, the database doesn’t lie) and seen resignation after quiet resignation of brilliant women from party positions.
We’ve been watching with wry smiles as the party apparatchiks find more and more ways to redefine, reinterpret (or just invent) policy and guidelines to exclude actual feminists.
Did we ever think that we’d be ratified as an ‘official’ caucus? No, not really. We were interested to see how the Protected Characteristic of sex would be excluded from criteria though, so we let them tell us. Apparently, the very nature of the party means that’s covered. Well, we might agree. Except even the word sex is hidden on party social media so, we’re thinking not.
At the last (online) conference, in 2020, many of our members proposed a motion to uphold the Equality Act. That was it, we just wanted the party to commit to existing protections being protected. That was protested in the chat by a senior party member as a smokescreen. Women’s rights. Including around pregnancy and childbirth. A smokescreen. Disability rights. A smokescreen. Protection from discrimination due to race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital status … All a bloody smokescreen, apparently.
We are AWFUL.
We were supposedly attempting to derail conversations resulting from the Members Assembly. There’s lots about this on our blog, but the summary is that members had a (very) guided conversation which was going to be about proposed reforms to the GRA but then they were scrapped so it became about how policy should be amended to include, erm, not just women. You can read the party webpage and see how that went.
Actually, we were happy enough to have that conversation. And the results that WEP sat on for A VERY LONG TIME also showed that, whilst participating members were happy to seek to be inclusive in many ways, they felt that the party should still be looking to protect women’s rights to single-sex provision, in shelters and changing rooms, for example.
This assembly was meant to create the question/s for a full member’s consultation. This was proposed by Sophie Walker at the 2018 conference and ratified and has STILL NOT HAPPENED.
You getting a vibe here?
Talking of things that have still not happened, we don’t yet know when the party conference will be. It is 2022. It’s usually October. Last time it was the same time as FiLiA Conference. That’s the biggest annual feminist conference in Europe. VIBE.
It is mid-July and we still don’t know when WEP Conference is, or if it’s online or in-person. It’s almost like they don’t want members running the party, despite conference being the decision-making part of WEP. Apart from when it’s not. Because in between conferences the steering committee has decreed they can do what they want and ask permission later. This is due to a rule that says the steering committee can make decisions that can’t wait til biannual conference. Which is fair enough, except that apparently a whole lot of important stuff can’t wait.
We have sat through all these shenanigans, I think, pretty patiently. Like a tutting parent, we have been hoping it’s a phase and one day we’ll wake up to find the party scrubbed up in their best clothes, cheeks shining and ready to Do Feminism once again. But, alas.
Fear not. Whilst the spectre of the party remains, we remain. We continue to bear witness. And, let’s face it, to be a huge, irritating thorn in the side of the party. We just want to see this thing out. But we won’t ask you to do the same. Save your hard-earned money and your brilliant energy and join those groups who are genuinely fighting for women’s rights and freedoms.
We see you, FiLiA, Women’s Place UK, Sex Matters, Fair Play for Women... and all the rest. And hat tip to the women still slogging it out in WEP, doing the tough work of feminism in a too often hostile environment.
You give us hope.
*And yes, see you all at FiLiA Conference in Cardiff for the MOTHER OF ALL WAKES.
The Women’s Equality Party is dead. Long live women’s liberation!
By the way, this blog and our group will continue. Our bloody brilliant members have been writing interesting and informative pieces that we will publish and share. Please get in touch if you’d like to contribute.
And join our mailing list (via the box at bottom of the web pages). You never know, WEP might reincarnate! Or something like it?
Dammit, we just can't help holding on.
In sisterhood, we persist.