Regressive is a mild word to describe the move contained in one of 40 Private Members Bills tabled by a quad of Tory MPs. The ‘Sexual Impropriety in Employment’ bill seeks to limit sexual harassment claims being brought in a workplace unless the alleged misconduct breaks the law and has been reported to the police.

Many women in the work place already experience a tilted balance of power in favour of the employer. Many women work in industries such as the services sector and the care sector on terms and conditions which do not bolster their employment security. Add to this the fact that Zero Contract Hours is a model of employment that is increasingly being used and you get a female workforce that is becoming marginalised and desperate.

The chances of this bill being passed is extremely low but the fact that it has been tabled demonstrates a high handed dismissal of the morality of women’s concerns and rights. What is the point of a drive to get women into top positions if the ones in the middle and the bottom will be made to endure employment at all costs? Women have suffered disproportionately under the austerity drive. There is very little leeway in terms of choice in the workplace unless you are the CEO or are in top management of some multinational organisation. Cutting away hard won rights and advances serves no one but the employer. This, I fear, is the intent of the bill. 

Feminist mothering is a perspective within feminism which positions the mother both as a feminist in her own right and as a mother who imparts her feminist values in the rearing of her children. Given the rise in the violence against females and the online abuse hurled at women who pose anything marked as ‘feminist’, never has the time been more ripe for mothers to practice feminist mothering. Here are the reasons why:

1. If you are teaching your child to be wary of a crime that is mainly male perpetrated i.e rape, sex abuse. This is as opposed to warning your child about ANY crime that can be committed by both genders i.e mugging, bag snatchers, gang violence etc.

2. If you are worried about your daughter’s skirt being too short (even if it’s at the knee!) for fear of something awful happening and she being accused of ‘asking for it’.

3. If you are worried about your son being exposed to jibes about being ‘gay’ or ‘a girlie’ because he doesn’t conform to the macho stereotype.

4. If you are worried about the constant gender stereo type images portrayed in the media about how girls and boys should behave and the effect this is having on your child.

5. If you are worried about the constant pressure on your daughter to conform with the early sexualisation of girls so as not to be different from others and not to waste her time by being too smart because boys will not like her. 

Yvonne Walsh and baby Harry who were found dead at their home

When will people wake up and realise that violence against women does NOT have boundaries of any kind. It is not affiliated to a political system, economic system, class system and, most of all, is not defined by post codes or any geographical boundary.

Tragically, a mother and her 9 month old baby were killed in the West Midlands this week. Newspaper reports seem to suggest that the man arrested over the crime knew the victims. There is a strong hint that domestic violence was the cause of the deaths. Residents who live in the area were quoted as saying  that it was “quite a nice road with nice people”. So, nice suburbia had been hit by violence thereby shattering the illusions of many who thought domestic abuse was only to be found in ‘no-go’areas for bad folk.

According to Women’s Aid, the UK’s national domestic violence charity, at least 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. That’s a quarter of women living in the UK and they cannot all be housed in deprived areas implicit in the opinions given about ‘nice road’.  Domestic violence perpetrated by males is caused by a desire to control and manipulate. Putting on a nice suit and tie is not a suit of armor against hurting women.

Postcode domestic abuse and violence is a theory probably discovered and propagated by the middle and upper classes to act as a lid on the truth of what really goes on behind closed doors in nice areas.

While maternal care and well being is an international concern in political and economic circumstances and a public provision in countries with state sponsored social care the celebration of pregnancy, by contrast, is often a private affair. The only time, in fact, when pregnancy is celebrated publicly is when a pregnant celebrity poses on the front of some well known magazine with her belly exposed.

I am choosing to mark the state of pregnancy in a different way. Yesterday was the Christian celebration of the ‘Feast of Visitation’ and has its’ roots in the biblical verses found in Luke 1:41 to 56. It is the day when Mary, who is pregnant with Jesus, goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth’s unborn baby leaps in her womb upon hearing the voice of Mary. Elizabeth is overcome and utters the words that have become the second line of the Catholic ‘Hail Mary’ prayer: ‘Blessed Art Thou Among Women and Blessed Is The Fruit Of Thy Womb’.

The motherhood narrative is one of joy and expectancy. There is a particular poignancy associated with the first rush of the excitement of a happy pregnancy which is universal in the human dimensions of joy and hope that it contains.