Karen Ingala Smith

So yesterdays budget.

Five years ago, equality was rolled back for working class mothers. The combination of institutional and financial transformation hidden under austerity, directly mirrored the pattern of austerity across Europe and rolled back equality for working class mothers. I say mothers, because the word mothers is important. This happened to women and the thing used to do this, was motherhood. The services and benefits that become necessary when you experience gender inequality directly related to motherhood. Mothers are in fact the majority of carers for children and experience inequality when they become parents that men do not. The rhetoric that governed these changes was directly about gender, unpaid labour and motherhood.

This received no comment, no opposition. Labour and the left made sure this was not discussed and the Tories not only did not receive opposition but this was facilitated in silence. The means by which women can survive and stay in communities, should they leave the shelter of a partners income was removed, by increments, the services we need, the shelters, the support, were cuts. The benefits we need to participate in the labour market were cut. Women have been pushed out of work on an astonishing scale. The services for our children were transformed so that child protection is now a frightening frightening thing for mothers who have been pushed to being less able to provide for their children, and adoption is being treated by the government as a way to make up for the erosion of the capacities to care for and protect children, and legislation that requires us to protect our kids from domestic abuse is being used to justify adoptions when we fail to do so. Legal aid cuts mean we run a heavy risk of being mandated by family courts to stay under the control of abusive partners who can use our children to coerce us.

After five years of each budget hitting single mothers more than ANY other group, yesterdays budget was the icing on the cake. A politically savvy chancellor realised the smartest way to sell cutting in work benefits was to make it about discouraging breeding. This is not new and has roots in deeply misogynist rhetoric going back a long way. Last night was a slow realisation ofthe scale of what has been done. A realisation that hasnt finished, as we begin to pore over the finer details of the budget beyond realising we live in a world where you need to ask for decent treatment by HMRC by justifying that your child was a product of rape. This is beyond anything the UK has ever seen.

The construction of economics and politics around a dubious homo economicus, means that right now e need to discuss women, mothers, carers, and the direct links between gender and poverty and austerity and motherhood. For five years we have been unable to discuss motherhood in the context of austerity, the left wont allow it, the only response of feminism to equality being rolled back was a campaign to get a planned banknote to run on time and a woman going to prison. Discussion of the motherhood at the root of this too heteronormative, offensive to feminists of all stripes and so women have been sent backl to the dark ages in silence.

As this was dawning, tweets from Karen Ingala Smith caught my eye. T his was her response to one of the very few mainstream responses to this. The barely existent discussion of the exploitation of MOTHERHOOD and unpaid caring labour to roll back equality.  Of changes that affect mothers. This is a woman whose profile is built on counting the corpses this creates.

Interesting piece by Yvette Cooper purportedly about women and the budget. The word woman appears 7 times.

The words family/parents,/children/kids appear 27 times. Yes, I know women are vastly disproportionately affected by being a parent but I

Don’t think it helps moves to equal parenting by treating woman and parenthood as synonymous.

And it fucks me off that childless women are disregarded. Apologies in advance to women who are mothers who may be pissed off by my tweets.

Apparently she doesnt think its helpful to discuss motherhood. Would much prefer to just count our corpses when we cant leave abuse. Apparently it is disregarding her as a childless woman when someone discusses the impact of an austerity program which uses motherhood as the leverage to roll back equality.

I told her to shut up, because quite frankly I assumed that a) she was joking or b) anyone who could utter such narcissistic self obsessed crap given what was unfolding, needed to be told.

Since then her friends, and it is her friends, her social network, have been abusing me for pointing out the harm that it does when a media figure who makes her living counting our corpses, has only that to say about what happened yesterday.

Abusive, clearly stating it is because they are her friends, apparently I need to be kicked out of feminism because these vacuous women are the gateway through which we must discuss inequality. Apparently the reason I find her disgusting comments offensive and damaging is because I am too stupid to understand the point she was making. I understand the point she was making.

Here is my point. For five years I have watched women’s lives being destroyed and now I am going to see that spread. There will be no discussion of it in the left wing media, because motherhood cannot be discussed. Feminism thinks motherhood is exclusionary, if we describe motherhood we are excluding god knows how many groups and if we point out that the invisibility of the labour of motherhood is at the root of the not only gender inequality andf poverty worldwide, but at the root of how austerity has been implemented it is offensive to those who wish to count our corpses. It’s not helpful for her move towards equal parenting of kids she does not have, for politics to discuss the way motherhood has been used to leverage austerity. It excludes her to discuss changes that don’t affect her and that she doesn’t have to live with. Miss Ingala Smith’s version of feminism is not one where we discuss the relationship of social policy, to our economic system and to economic inequality faultlines like motherhood can be discussed without being deemed unhelpful.

So I will reiterate here. I am not looking to audition to vacuous self obsessed twitter media feminism culture to discuss inequality I face and see. I am not looking for them to police my language and tone and certainly don’t want to be part of the school yard politics that defines that culture. But those tweets were disgusting and demonstrated precisely why it is that we have been hit with impunity to the point where we may beg HMRC for decent treatment if we can prove our CHILDREN were the product of rape, and where that wont be enough to remove us from the ever more vindictive web of social policy institutions that motherhood brings us into the control of. I am not looking to be part of your shallow self obsessed, selfie school of feminism at all.

You want a career counting our corpses Karen, that is fine. There will be plenty. And motherhood is at the root of why most of those women were vulnerable to becoming corpses.

I will not spend the next few days fending off your sycophantic moron friends and certainly will not tolerate the bullshit expressed in those tweets.


2 thoughts on “Karen Ingala Smith

  1. Well bloody said! Women (generally) bear the brunt of parenting whether in a relationship or not, and mothers who are single parents live daily with financial inequality, mainly because they have to work around their children in order to provide a life for their children. Child free women can work when and where they want, this is not a luxury afforded to single parents.

    Before anyone attacks me for the above, I am married, and I have children, this does not mean I cannot have empathy for those in more difficult circumstances to my own, and mine isn’t a bed of roses either.


  2. The backtracking over Tax Credits cuts (which would have most adversely affected single working mothers) is only temporary. If UC ever actually happens guess who is most disadvantaged?
    All that and the slashing of DV and Rape Crisis centre funding does point to a deeply mysoginistic government. Labour at the time were complicit too and pro austerity. Austerity is an economic lie and is an ideology simply to batter the poor and the disadvantaged whether they be unemployed, working, disabled, single parents, carers and even horror of horrors a combination of any of those situations.


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