Having read a fair few comment threads and discussions across blog sites and social networks over the past few months, I feel a need to clarify some things in respect of the Safe Space for Women statement that I co-authored with Marsha Jane back in March.
First off, as the title of this post says: sometimes words really do mean what they say.
Or to put it another way: nowhere in the statement do we call for the handful of people that remain in the SWP to be ‘witch-hunted’ out of our trade unions or the wider labour movement. Nowhere do we state that anyone who hasn’t signed the statement must be immediately denounced as a misogynist or a handmaiden of the patriarchy; and nowhere do we say that anyone who disagrees with the way the statement’s worded should feel bullied or coerced into signing it just because hundreds of other comrades have signed, or be in any way ostracised if they don’t.
I’ve refused to put my name to lots of petitions over the years because I’ve not felt entirely comfortable with the wording. That doesn’t make me an enemy of the left, it doesn’t even imply I don’t support the fundamental cause the petition’s about. It just means I can sometimes be a bit of a pedant.
It can also mean though that sometimes I’ll read something into a statement or petition that isn’t even there. And that’s what I think has happened with this. People are cocking their heads, squinting their eyes, and reading between the lines. Except that in this instance there’s nothing to read between the lines so they’re making stuff up instead.