I had to turn down an invite to a gig today, because I can’t afford the £3 admission fee. A friend of mine posted an up-date saying she couldn’t afford the 35p to “upgrade from a sausage roll to a pasty”. One woman thought she was hilarious, whilst another said she felt depressed that she could only afford a 10p bag of crisps.

Look, this is miserable stuff. I had to admit to a friend that I could not longer invite people round for food because I can’t afford it. Never mind, “I can’t go out”. It’s partially my fault because I just ‘had’ to donate some money to #BLT, I love those guys. They make me feel like life is worth living.

This is what is known as Relative Poverty. Whilst we may not be starving, luxuries and some necessities are out of the question. I find myself in the fortunate position of having paid off some of my debts from the old place, I never knew moving would mean that suddenly my pay monthly would cease and all these companies would start threatening to take me to court!

Anyhoo… I can afford to heat my house (for now), I can afford to feed myself, I can just about afford to pay the rent. I live in relative safety and I know how to count my blessings, even if occasionally I do struggle to maintain a positive out look. Me and my fellow women can have affairs without threat of death, it’s not something I would choose to do, but if my ethics should slip and I get found out, the worst that might happen is a good thrashing from the other woman. Even then, I am reasonably protected against that.

Some women (yes, even in this country) are at risk of severe mutilation and disfigurement for much, much less. Some women have been stoned to death, for adultery, when in fact they were raped. So, imagine, you are living hand to mouth either because there is no food or because you can’t get access to food and then you are controlled by threat of death, repeatedly.

Suddenly our relative poverty looks like a bit of a joke and the woman was right to find the pasty update funny. Imagine that you live in a country were all the above is true and you make a mockery of all the freedoms you have by choosing to wear the veil. It disgusts me as much as women in the west who starve themselves in the name of fashion (read sexual desirability).

Imagine then, that some of your most staunch allies who are fighting with you, to free you from oppression are being called racist and are actively silenced by the so called ‘liberal left’ who love to posture about their benign magnificence when really all they are doing is getting in the way.

I stopped moderating a few on-line groups because I was regularly silenced. By women. I was called racist, I was told I was too aggressive and I was told that I was too academic. I left the group because I was getting increasingly frustrated and filled with doubt. I began to question what I knew to be true.

A day or so ago, I was engaged in a debate about the veil and I let loose my feelings yet again, expecting backlash. It didn’t come. Furthermore, someone posted a link to Anne Marie Water’s blog. It is a breath of fresh air to me. Suddenly I am not a silenced and solitary voice. Suddenly, the crazy that I feel, trying to fight my little battles in my corner of the world don’t seem so worthless. Suddenly, my integrity matters again.

And then, I received some feedback from an on-line survey, which I had forgotten about. It is full of hope and yet full of despair. But mostly it is full of promise. It might not be perfect, but there is a discussion happening and it’s increasingly including men. We owe it to support people engaged in the discussion even if we ourselves do not participate. I thought that I was tired, but I was just having a rest. I’m getting ready to climb back in the ring.

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