What does independence mean for a woman?

National Health System (NHS), media bias, poverty, foodbanks, education: The topics that women are discussing in Glasgow this very afternoon at a conference organized by the grouping Women for Independence (see hashtags #WomenforIndy and #WFIGlasgow) do not differ fundamentally from those that are also in the spotlight for political conventions or future forums. I don’t think it’s an indyref’s aftermath though, it’s rather a symptom of a new awareness and self-consciousness of women, and not only in Scotland. Many men react with scepticism or pity or even disgust when they hear about hundreds of women who come together discussing issues such as the mentioned above and many others. They react in the same way when the discussion comes to a women’s quota. I myself was always against that quota, because my honest belief was that efforts and competence should determine a professional advancement – and not gender. By now I think differently. Because the achievements of women in Scotland and all over the world are neither adequately valued nor adequately remunerated in very many cases. Either financially or ideologically. Women are still second choice human beings seemingly.

It’s funny – or sad, really – that it’s still necessary that women talk about these and further topics among themselves. Generally I’d say a mixed-gender discussion is the better way since feminism should not be about isolation from men or exclusion of men. But then, women have unfortunately a different attitude towards their kind than men have. Men have lived a healthy competition for centuries, but they also know how to take advantage of insider relationships. Where women usually tend to shake their heads in irritation – when men accomplish business while clinging glasses at the bar or even while peeing, and when men have no problem with reminding their pals of a long past favour to make an own demand now -, men are already on the fast track. Women can learn from that, but we don’t. In contrast, many women are catty, stand in their own way, tend to play their skills down instead of putting them in the true light. And many women respond with envy and resentment when a consexual acquits herself much better. We have to change that. Urgently.

Independence means so much more for a woman than the formal act of separating Scotland from Great Britain and forming a new nation, and that is why this conference today is not only interesting for Scottish women. It is more than that. Women in most, maybe even all countries in the Western world have to deal with similar questions and problems. There is our femininity on the one hand with all features that come with it. We want to love – be it a man or a woman, no difference there really -, we want to be loved for what we are. Some want to raise a family with children. But some also want to work and be successful, and that’s on the other hand where problems come in. How can a woman be a good mother, a good partner and a good worker at once? What does happen if the partnership fails? Is she able to manage taking care of herself and the children then? Or does she slip into a dependence, even more so if she’s not educated well enough? A dependence on a man or the state. Or maybe she’s already there when her partner works full time and she, considering the children’s well-being, works only part-time. Or maybe her employer has provided her with a fixed-term contract only, precisely because he believed she probably would want to have children and would not be available as full-fledged work force then, cost him money unnecessarily.

Women pay a high price for their personal independence. Be it in Scotland or in Germany, independence does mean a stable financial fundament in the first place. Education is important therefore, the better the education, the better the chances to get a well-paid job. But what then? Moving in with a man (or a woman) is partially abandoning independence. Marrying that person is a further abandoning of independence. Becoming mother and/or bad contracts shorten the rest of independence. But is it not equally our right, that choice to open up to another person, to get children, to unfold in what we do? So actually, it’s good to discuss independence of every kind among women, but we have to engage men as well. We are only able to make our independent decisions when men do support them. And the whole society really, by valueing what we give up with some decisions and according us a different kind of independence elsewhere.

But it’s still a long way. I know that from my own experience. I’ve given up some wishes for my personal independence. But I don’t regret.

©Maria Pakura

All these good news

Burst devomax promises? Evil accusations and defamatory comparisons? A mudslinging between so-called winners, indicating with a raised index finger that so-called losers have to accept their defeat and to shut up in particular, and the so-called losers who do not abandon their dream and run one of the biggest movements in modern Scotland? Ha, what a humbug, who’s a pessimist and conciders Scotland’s mood being entirely negative, just because there are a few tiny differences and some neighbours do not even say Hello to each other any more? Wearing rose-coloured glasses, I hopped tap-dancers-like through gorgeous Alba and gained good news, more good news and nothing but good news. Scotland is so beautiful these days, you just have to put things right…

Nicola Sturgeon is going to be next SNP leader and Scotland’s First Lady, erm, First Minister I mean. Brilliant.  What I’ve seen, read, heard of her during the three busy pre-referendum months indicates that she’s a person who’s committed to what she says and does with all her sense and soul, no matter what others may think of it. I do appreciate consistency and determination, so I give Sturgeon a pre-bonus of sympathy. And Scotland’s bright future is going to be even more amazing if news like that will not cause headlines in the style of “a woman takes the power” or “she will rule even though she wears a skirt“. Huh? So I probably have misread, right? Talking of people who offer the same expertise and competence as others, modern people totally don’t care if someone has balls or not. There! Not referring to courage btw. Alas, feminism is damn sexy when it’s so obviously wiped off the table: damsel in distress. Eventually we (we as in “we women” although that’s usually not the way I think) must be glad that Middle Ages are past, even though it could provoke a smile if fictional Middle Ages papers headlined “the shrew will speak in front of noble men, tighten her chastity belt’s screws“. But hey, a smile is positive. Good news!

Scottish customers have to pay for their grocery bags, starting today. 5p each at least. Amazing. When I think of the masses of ultra-thin plastic bags that pile up in my room every time I’m over, and if I gross up these masses to all wonderful citizens of Scotland, I think that the price still is not high enough to preserve oceans against this flood of waste. Environmental protection is also sexy, oh yes. This sensual experience, fumbling a wishy-washy canvas bag from the pocket, dewrinkling the toe-curling imprint and determining that the purchases won’t fit: indescribable. How many times has this dilemma led to lovely new acquaintances when I fluttered my eyelashes helplessly asking the handsome gentleman behind me to carry the water bottles which are too heavy for my delicate hands anyway to the car. To which I usually get the reply: “You’re emancipated, you’ll get on with this all by yourself.” Fxxx feminism. But seriously: Avoiding plastic is good, and creating own reusable bags is even better. Creativity keeps the mind fit. Good news.

According to BBC News, “Aberdeen is among the nominees for the Carbuncle Award, given to the most dismal town in Scotland”. How gratifying! It draws attention to the city which otherwise occurs in the news solely when oil reserves multiply themselves within a few days or a pal’s favourite club plays a match. By the way: Isn’t it wonderfully meaningless when twenty guys run after a ball, two more protect a net and all of them earn outrageously much money? Anyway. Aberdeen is certainly in the spotlight. And this fact perhaps might even involve a nice makeover of the urban architecture in one way or another. Everyone knows that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder though, and apples shall not be compared to oranges. Let’s imagine Edinburgh’s attractivity is an analogy to Missy Malone or – more international like Edinburgh itself – Dita von Teese, all three enchant with style and grace and a wee hint of savageness. And Aberdeen is, hm, no idea – maybe Susan Boyle? Her appearance is hardly comparable to her burlesque colleagues’ ones, but she rakes in money, she has a voice and people love her. Each has advantages. Good news.

Speaking of BBC, there are quite some people who not only ignore this broadcaster and everything concerned since referendum day accusing it of bias, but now also actively boycott it . “I do not pay my license any longer, I feel such a rebel”, I’ve heard more than once. Excellent! Indeed, there are exactly two ways in which a media empire might adjust to dwindling sources of money: It could struggle to regain them, with quality. And quality is always good without the slightest doubt. Or else, it accepts the situation with a shrug and helps itself to new sources of money by commercializing the programs. If I may play a fortune teller, the latter is likely to lead to even more people boycotting the BBC, which would guide the broadcaster to the financial scaffold sooner or later. By what the thorn would pull itself out of the flesh of those who consider it being a thorn. I’d prefer the quality way, but the alternative would also be a kind of solution. Good news therefore.

And more good news to come, I’m sure…

©Maria Pakura