Women’s Equality Party

The Women’s Equality Party includes trans women.

“You could become a member if you like” said my feminist friend. Well, of course; they are hardly going to make the BNP’s mistake of only allowing white members, so opening itself to challenge under the Equality Act and eventual collapse. But would I be welcome? Yes: I had a look at their policy document: download the pdf here.

Its first paragraph welcomes us, desiring that “all genders are equal”. “All”, more than two. On page four, I read, WE also recognise that the binary words “woman” and “man” do not reflect the gender experience of everyone in our country, and support the right of all to define their sex or gender or to reject gendered divisions as they choose. That is me. I am a woman. And my friend is entitled to identify as something other than man or woman, male or female.

This is controversial. Before WE’s launch, the New Statesman interviewed its leader, Sophie Walker:

As anyone remotely involved in feminism knows, there are certain topics which can divide even the most united of campaign groups: stances on sex work and trans issues, for example. Walker won’t speak about either yet, but promises both – plus the party’s working definition of “woman” – will be covered in the party’s October policy launch.

The document gives no definition of “woman”. English speakers disagree on what the English word “woman” means; but on p18 it includes a picture of Sadia, from London, and her quote, in large print: “My Hijab does not make me a lesser woman. I am fed up of people thinking that I am oppressed in my religion, when in fact, I feel liberated. Trans women, Muslim women, Jewish women, lesbian women, black women: WE ARE ALL WOMEN.”

I love this: Old parties… are hampered by competing priorities and a combative culture that encourages politicians to emphasise difference rather than seek out common ground. WE are taking a fundamentally different approach. I wish they would specify what that approach could be, and particularly around finding common ground. Perhaps around welcoming difference, only seeking a single position where that is necessary.

I see that while they are not officially TERFs, their policy is SWERF, sex-worker excluding. They would decriminalise selling sex, and criminalise buying it. This is the “Nordic model” for which people get no-platformed by University feminist societies. They say the alternative is regulating and licensing the sex trade, and WE believe the first is the better option, while recognising that some of our members will support the latter.

Here is their policy launch:

7 thoughts on “Women’s Equality Party

  1. Hm, I’m yet to read as much about sex trade that involves women buying and men selling (it does exists) as I read about women selling and men buying. Perhaps this women’s party can bang on a few loud cans about this 🙂

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  2. That’s interesting, not heard of them. I’ll have to read the policy document but sounds promising. I agree that sex work is a problem for gender equality, but I can’t understand how criminalising any aspect of it wouldn’t further disadvantage anyone caught up in it. Hopefully if society is generally more equal it’s something that would change with the flow. Glad they are at least less judgemental about other aspects of life that can get snarled up in the gender equality discussions.

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    • The main problem of the sex trade is the exploitation of women, in sex trafficking and in pimping drug addicts. Criminalising buying sex makes the users criminal, rather than the women. The women can be witnesses. The exploiters can be prosecuted. As I understand it. The reason Student Unions no-platform advocates of this “Nordic model” of sex trade regulation is that students are often sex-workers.

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      • I just don’t see how that makes sense in the real world. It’s not something that will ever go away, particularly not by criminalising any aspect of it. It needs to be legal and regulated, to minimise the risk of exploitation. More effort needs to go into finding credible alternative ways of generating income for the women who don’t want to do it but see no alternative, or are trapped in even more sinister ways, than criminalising the men who are silly/desperate/selfish enough to pay for it. Education, education, education. 🙂

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        • The prostitutes would not be criminal. Some proponents suggest that trafficked women should be granted leave to remain in the UK, as an incentive to give evidence, and an additional risk to the traffickers.

          Here is an article with further links to arguments on both sides. It starts appearing even-handed, but ends saying I am firmly in the camp which argues that the decriminalisation or legalisation of prostitution will fail to protect sex workers’ human rights.

          And, Ultimately, research into prostitution – and the social and political systems which criminalise, decriminalise or legalise it – arise from an ethical sensibility about whether the buying and selling of women can align with women’s human rights. Although academic research is important, it is never undertaken from a point of perfect objectivity. No objectivity- especially interesting to me, as the person concerned plans to research transsexualism from a radical feminist perspective.

          So this, according to the writer, is what draws the line between the sides, Nordic v Licensing: a former prostitute describes three types of men who patronise prostitution: those who assume the women they buy have no human feelings; those who are conscious of a woman’s humanity but choose to ignore it; and those who derive sexual pleasure from reducing the humanity of women they buy. The writer wants to engage your sympathy and disgust.

          This pdf is the author’s submission to the Scottish Parliament. Here, fifteen academics argue the evidence. Key is the Scottish Government’s position that “prostitution is violence against women”. Criminalising users, who have more agency than the prostitutes themselves, reduces demand so reduces that violence.

          Of course, a university student being an escort to fund her studies has more power than a Moldovan teenager imprisoned by sex-traffickers. There are moral degrees. From the pdf, There is substantial evidence that the Sex Buyer Law is effective in reducing the demand that underpins sex trafficking. Sweden was the first country to introduce the legislation in 1999. An investigation of the law by the Swedish Government reported, “[a]ccording to the National Criminal Police, it is clear that the ban on the purchase of sexual services acts as a barrier to human traffickers and procurers considering establishing them-selves in Sweden.” Simon Häggström, Detective Inspector at the Prostitution Unit of the Stockholm Police reports, “We’ve had wiretapping cases where pimps say they don’t find Sweden attractive”. Trafficking is a crime crying to Heaven for vengeance.

          But then, trafficked women would not get licences. Perhaps a mixture of licensing, with criminalising the users of unlicensed prostitutes would best reduce the trafficking problem.

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