“Identity Politics” and “The Left”: a brief rant

“Identity politics” is a disparaging term used by people on “The Left” to talk about all forms of oppression that do not directly and specifically affect heterosexual white men. It includes struggles against all the forms and manifestations of racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, fat hatred, sexism, misogyny, and many others besides.

We frequently hear the complaint that “Identity Politics” is destroying the unity of “The Left”. But that unity never existed, except in the imaginations of those who struggle against class-based oppression while simultaneously ignoring, minimizing, or outright denying the existence of every other form of oppression.

Whenever I hear

Identity politics are destroying the unity of The Left.

I mentally translate it to

Why can’t everyone just do what I want? You brown people and women and queers are ruining everything with your pesky demands that I act like your lives and experiences actually matter. Waaaaaaaaaaaaah. (Throws toys out of crib.)

And most of the time, that seems to fit.

See for example:

Privilege Politics is Reformism
Independent Working Class Association: Multiculturalism & identity politics – the reactionary consequences and how they can be challenged
New Statesman: The problem with privilege-checking



FAC Review: Important Info & Update


FAC 2013 Review Meeting: 23rd Jan, 8:00pm @ The Friends Meeting House http://goo.gl/maps/4ME7Y

Festive Feminists! Before the holiday merriment begins – an update prior to our Jan Review.

Please have a good think ahead of our important January meeting as we will be making key decisions that affect the group. Feel free to bring some of your own notes to the meeting if you want, to ask questions in advance by replying to the email sent round on our mailing list, on the facebook event page or here in the comments.

What is this meeting for?

The review meeting in January will be to decide on the direction or aims of the group, try to fix any problems, and to decide on key issues affecting the way the group is run and what it is. It will not be a theoretical discussion meeting, but will be a practical planning and admin meeting. We will try to reach consensus decisions, but votes will also be taken. Unfortunately, we will not be accepting votes from those who do not attend, or suggestions for goals from those who cannot put any work into making those things happen. In short, if you care- attend the meeting. Decisions made at this meeting will affect the whole group and will be binding until the next review or similar admin meeting.

Who is facilitating this meeting?

Two women from FAC [one a long time organiser and one a newer member] will be running this meeting, and they aim to get through all items on the agenda, get final decisions from the group on key issues, allocate tasks and responsibilities if needed and all within a time limit of two and a half hours! Because of this they will be facilitating in a direct way and may have to push for decisions and limit discussion time.

Who is this meeting for?

Anyone can come to this meeting. It is particularly important to come if you care about the group, if you are involved in organising or if you have a particular point of view you’d like to have represented. Because no one person is ‘in charge’ of FAC or responsible for making things happen, if you wish to see changes or certain things happening you will have to help to make this a reality.

What will we be making decisions on?

We will be making decisions on items from the agenda, which has been circulated through the mailing list and on the facebook event page. You can add items to the agenda by editing the googledoc or replying to the email circular, however, we have a time limit for this meeting and some items have been requiring attention for months- so our facilitators will have
to prioritise.

What if we don’t get to talk about everything?

We have enough money from our funding pot to organise an extra meeting if this is needed- this could be in the same place or somewhere else, and could also be on a Saturday or a weeknight. We will decide at the end of the January meeting if this is needed.

Happy Holidays!


Fact Sheet: Feminist Action Cambridge exposes Care Confidential’s Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Cambridgeshire

See also today’s Press Release

Last year, pro-choice group Education for Choice found that pregnancy counselling centres run by Care Confidential were giving false information to women seeking advice on abortion. (The Guardian, 2 August 2011). Care Confidential, who were one of the groups trying to get government contracts last year to run counselling for women seeking abortion, have around 150 of these pregnancy counselling centres around the country, including three in Cambridgeshire. While Care Confidential have said that they have revised their practises following last year’s revelations, Feminist Action Cambridge were concerned about the presence of ‘crisis pregnancy centres’ in Cambridge, Ely and Newmarket. We wanted to find out for ourselves whether they really were offering unbiased, impartial counselling.

‘Post-abortion syndrome’

Feminist Action Cambridge sent ‘mystery shoppers’ pretending to be in the early stages of an unplanned pregnancy into each of the three crisis pregnancy centres and audio recorded the counselling sessions. All three centres alerted the women to a made-up medical condition called ‘post abortion syndrome’. At Newmarket Pregnancy Support Centre the mystery shopper was told:

‘post-abortion syndrome […] you’ve got feelings of loss and anger […] A lot of people do get pregnant again very quickly, want to replace it. […] a feeling of distance from existing children, inability to maintain a normal routine, […] In severe cases it can lead to self-harm’.

Read the rest of this entry »

Press release: Cambridgeshire pregnancy advice centres misleading women

Here’s the press release which went out today.  Please share and quote:

Women seeking abortions in Cambridge are being given false information about risks and pressured to continue pregnancies, Feminist Action Cambridge has revealed.

Audio-recordings from Feminist Action Cambridge members presenting with unplanned pregnancies reveal the staff of clinics in Newmarket, Ely and Cambridge referring to a made-up medical condition and using emotional manipulation to discourage abortions.

Staff at all three centres referred to a condition which they called ‘post-abortion syndrome’, which the Royal College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians have confirmed is not a medically recognised condition*.

The centres were also found to be emphasising the risks of abortion while minimising the health risks of pregnancy, childbirth and post-natal depression.

Staff used emotionally manipulative techniques, including showing images of the stages of development of the foetus (in order to increase the guilt women might feel at having an abortion), telling one client that her mother may be upset ‘at losing a grandchild’ and another that ‘the clock is ticking’ because of her age.

They also used delaying tactics to get women to spend a few weeks considering their decision.

Despite anti-abortion lobby group Care Confidential being exposed last year as misinforming and misleading women who approached them for advice about pregnancy and abortion, they continue to claim on their website that they provide ‘unbiased pregnancy and abortion counselling’, all the while giving women false medical advice and using emotional manipulation tactics to scare them into not having abortions.  They gave the women pamphlets from US Christian group Focus on the Family who are opposed to abortion under any circumstances*.

Women who seek help in this matter have a very serious decision to make and they cannot make that decision without medically accurate information,” Cambridgeshire MP Julian Huppert said.

“And organisations providing that information have a duty to make it crystal clear if they have a particular religious or anti-abortion stance.”

A spokesperson from Feminist Action Cambridge said “The anti-abortion lobby in the UK has become more vocal and more militant recently. But we now know that they are using much subtler techniques too. They are targeting women when they are most vulnerable and lying to them about a medical condition that does not exist. These centres should give proper impartial advice or be closed down.”

Local feminists are holding a rally on Saturday 15th December at 12 noon at the corner of New Square and Jesus Terrace (right next to the Grafton Centre) to inform local women and protest against local anti-abortion centres.

For more information, email feministactioncambridge@gmail.com

*See link for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ statement that there is no link between abortion and mental health risks: http://www.rcog.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigning-and-opinions/briefings-and-qas-/human-fertilisation-and-embryology-bill/abor-0

*Focus on the Family are a US Christian group who are opposed to abortion under any circumstances.  We believe that the links with this group show that US anti-abortion tactics are travelling to the UK: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/social-issues/abortion/our-position.aspx

For further information please see Channel Five’s expose of crisis pregnancy centres last year:

The centres referred to are

  • The Haven Cambridge, Citylife House, Sturton Street, Cambridge, CB1 2QF
  • Ely Pregnancy Crisis Centre, Lighthouse Centre, 13 Lynn Road, Ely, CB7 4EG
  • Newmarket Pregnancy Support Centre, Unit 11, Studlands Park Avenue, Newmarket, CB8 7AU

Demo tomorrow!

The weather’s looking good for the demo tomorrow – sunny and not too cold.  So we look forward to seeing you next to the Grafton Centre on the corner nearest Midsummer Common – next to Christs pieces.  We’ll be the ones with the banner and fliers.  Here’s the flier we’re going to be handing out.  We’ll have more information tomorrow on the organisations involved, so this is just a taster!flier2 demo Dec 15 12Flier demo 15 Dec 12

Pro-choice Demo THIS SATURDAY

We’re counting down to our demonstration this Saturday to voice our opposition to the local ‘crisis pregnancy centres’ which give misinformation on abortion to women seeking help and support.

Local MP Julian Huppert who is a staunch defender of a woman’s right to choose has provided this statement in support of our demo:

“It is crucial that all organisations offering information or advice in
relation to unplanned pregnancy choices follow evidence-based guidance from
a professional medical organisation.

“Women who seek help in this matter have a very serious decision to make
and they cannot make that decision without medically accurate information.
And organisations providing that information have a duty to make it crystal
clear if they have a particular religious or anti-abortion stance.

“That is why I put forward an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill
that would have required that any organisation giving advice to women
considering termination must give medically accurate information.”

The demo will be this Saturday 15th December 12pm-1pm. We’ll be in Cambridge City Centre, on the corner of Fitzroy St and New Square, right next to the Grafton Centre and Christs Pieces.


We’ll be the ones with the banner.  Come along and show your support!

FAC 2013 Review

What do we want from and for our feminist group in 2013?


FAC 2013 Review Meeting: 23rd Jan, 8:00pm @ The Friends Meeting House http://goo.gl/maps/4ME7Y

This first meeting of the year is an organising meeting for us to talk to each other about how we are finding the group, what we like and dislike about it, how we might like to change it and what we want it to become.

Everyone who is involved with the group on any level can come and share their thoughts and feelings. At this meeting we may also want to take a vote on some decisions.

An agenda for the meeting will be circulating through the mailing list and on the facebook group, and anyone can bring up something to discuss.
If you would like to add something to the agenda you can comment on this blog post about it anonymously, reply to the email from our mailing list, or post on the facebook event [private to the facebook group]. You can also bring something new up at the meeting, or someone could bring your point for you anonymously [ie a written note] but we’d like to gather as many points as possible beforehand so we can try to make sure there is enough time to talk about each one.

Hope to see many of you there, hear your wants and hopes and see the group evolving.