The news that Fawcett Society have been denied an attempt to challenge the legality of the government’s budget is obviously a blow to the fight for equality. However, it also illustrates some fundamental problems with ‘traditional’ structures and attempts to reform the system instead of radically challenging the social relations that are central to constructing the many inequalities that exist in the system.
It’s common knowledge that the judicial system is hardly gender neutral, nor is it very representative of the less ‘privileged’ sectors of society. The judge may see the bid as ‘academic’, but these cuts will involve a systematic attack on many women’s lives. There are talks of an appeal, but I think there needs to be more consideration of nontraditional forms of protest.
This is why the direct action initiated by the student movement against the cuts is fundamental to a broader anti-governmental protest. It illustrates the need for a radical movement to join in force with groups all across the spectrum. It relates to Murray Bookchin’s work regarding communal and civil relations influencing people’s experiences and resulting direct action and revolutionary activity. Thus, whilst some people may see the anti-educational cuts as an exclusive student movement; it is also a result of broader communal dissatisfaction in areas such as gender. Thus, Fawcett Society, amongst others, should explore the possibilities to appeal, but they should focus on a broader radical approach – we aren’t going to stop things if we primarily work through the system, the system that we are attempting to undermine.
I am no law buff, but there were clear grounds in my opinion for a legal challenge; even the Equality and Human Rights Commission is enacting a report into the nature of the governmental budget in relation to equality. However, there are only so many reports that we can have commissioned to say exactly the same thing; we need to take action that is more immediate and less able to be brushed off by elitist and hegemonic structures (may I add, heternormative and masculine). The budget and the CSR is clearly a gender biased, ideologically driven, traditionally framed programme, which spells out some of the worst cuts we have ever seen.
Enough is enough. For equality, we have to recognise that fighting within these structures will never achieve the type of equality we could hope to gain. Personally, I don’t think we will ever achieve full equality; there will always be the remains of the derogatory traditions that existed in the past – it’s evident in most areas of life. However, to achieve a society where women aren’t expected to do child work, stay at home, work in specific jobs – but at the same time, aren’t denied that right; that is the type of equality we need to strive for. Also, an equality that respects freedom of expression in areas such as sexuality, but which applies human right principles – something I have already talked about. The principles including diversity, social freedom and liberation.
The judge used excuses such as the complaint was lodged too ‘late’; pathetic. Also, the judge ignored that Fawcett’s bid wasn’t trying to get this judge to classify the budget as unlawful, as I understand it anyway. As one person on Twitter pointed out:
“To be clear: Fawcett were seeking permission for a judicial review. That’s been denied.”
Permission for further consideration; not for an out or right condemnation. Correct me if I am wrong; but I think the judge is wrong here. To have a predisposition about the result of a judicial review, would supposedly be against the rule of law. But as I said, there is obvious problems with attempts to go through the ‘proper’ legal channels.
We need to see a growing coordination of the movements; the student’s, the women’s, the disabled people’s, the LGBT’s (and the other diverse sexualities not included in that acronym – such as asexuality), and ethnic minority’s movements. All these groups are set to be hit by these government policies, as are many other groups – and obviously class cuts across this; but we must not view this within a narrow class framework; Bookchin eludes to the problems such a focus would have.
The women’s movement has suffered a blow, but in ways it was to be expected. The legal system is fraught with power structures that pose problems for these often excluded groups, to access justice. Only through civic based and broader based alternative political protests will we strike a real blow to the power structures that reinforce this society’s social relations.