For International Women's Day, Let's Put On Some Purplestockings And Go On Strike

08/03/2017 13:45 GMT | Updated 08/03/2017 13:46 GMT

all women everywhere

If you know your history of the women's movement you might have heard of the Bluestockings (a collection of intellectual women in the 18th Century) or the Redstockings (feminists of the women's liberation movement of the 1970s).

Well, time for the Purplestockings Movement of women who have had enough: Mothers. You. Me. Her. Us.

At some point, we might have forgotten that we have the right to be heard. And for our needs to be honoured. Well, let's speak out. The time is now, sisters.

Time to say it loud:

We have had enough.

There has been rightful anger about attacks on women's reproductive freedom across the world. Male pattern violence - including sexual violence - against women continues to be not only a reality but a feature of entertainment in film and television on a daily basis. Advertising and media continue to perpetuate damaging stereotypes about women's bodies, appearance, and role in society. Women and children were disproportionately hit by austerity, and continue to face measures which make the cost of living extremely tough: from housing through to stagnated wages.

However, there are some issues which often do not feature at the top of the bill, but which are issues facing mothers on a daily basis - and we should not continue to neglect them. We should think more widely than boardroom figures and the gender pay gap. As I've said on many occasions, some women are more equal than mothers.

We have had enough of walking the tightrope between invisibility and public shame - shame because our babies cried on the bus or our toddler had a tantrum on the supermarket floor or we, you know, just went about our lives. In public.

We have had enough of the political system which sees us only as employees or 'potential economic units'. As though 'jobless' means 'workless': try telling that to mothers working 24/7 with no pay, no holiday and huge, tiring, responsibility for a baby, a toddler and a child at school.

We have had enough of caring for everyone when, actually, there's nobody out there caring for us.

We have had enough of a misogynist society and culture in which it remains acceptable to 'blame mother' at the drop of a hat.

We are tired of the endless guilt we feel about everything from birth, to breastfeeding, to working outside the home, to 'staying home'. Every mother is someone's failure. How do you spell 'mother'? Easy: G.U.I.L.T.

We have had enough of media representations of motherhood as miserable, as though there is some unspoken contest to discover who is finding daily care of their babies the most boring, stifling and unjust punishment imaginable in the age of equality. Or sunshine, puppies and fairy wing fantastic. It is real: tiring, wonderful, frustrating, fulfilling, scary and all the rest of human emotion and experience. Idealising motherhood on the one hand or demonising it on the other has to stop.

We have had enough of policies which penalise us in pension entitlements because we dared to take time out of the workforce to care for our families, often at huge financial sacrifice at the time, too. As though our work in the home was a luxury.

We are tired of our workplaces discriminating against us for having a family at home - in pay, conditions and in prospects - or not valuing the carework and life skills we may bring back with us after time out caring for our families.

We have had enough of an economic system which values only that which is deemed to 'contribute' to GDP if it is typically masculine or of the 'public sphere'. As though our mother-work is leisure, the milk from our breasts worthless and our loving arms a barrier to more 'productive' activity.

We have had enough of standards which simultaneously idealise us and degrade us - we are the mythical earth mother or the bad mother. There is no room for our complexity, our humanity or our needs.

We have had enough of a society, which tells us that we need to be self-sufficient, independent and good little consumers - when we know in our hearts that community, inter-dependence and connection are what makes us all thrive.

We have had enough of failures in maternity care and the failure of our system to invest in comprehensive and compassionate antenatal and postnatal - including breastfeeding - support.

We have had enough of our children's needs being below the bottom line, as though family time is an optional extra.

We have had enough of a feminism which masquerades as promoting women's rights when it actually reinforces the message that a woman is only a full citizen if she is in receipt of a wage. A feminism which promotes childcare by anyone but a willing mother. A feminism which deems motherhood to be a privilege which must be shared or a burden to be offloaded.

We have had enough of a politics which fails to see the bigger picture: fathers being free to care, mothers being free to care and children being free to spend time with their family.

We are waking up to the injustice that says that we are more likely to live in poverty in our old age if we have taken time to care for our families.

We are beginning to realise that it is a con trick that mothers who care for their children are deemed unworthy of a living wage for care or a basic income to reflect and support our basic humanity and care work. There is not just a pay gap - there's a maternal income gap. And it starts with the unwaged care of children.

We have had enough of a system which still treats single mothers as deviant.

A mother's place is not in the home or in the workplace - it is where she wants to be.

We have had enough of workplace which demand that employers behave as though they do not have lives outside of work: fathers miss out on family time and are not seen as suitable candidates to care for children; mothers are penalised in the workplace because care is presumed to fall to them.

We have had enough of those values which fail to respect and fully value what women can bring to our societies - from life creation and birthing babies from our bodies, growing our babies on our milk and maternal care right through to the heights of our professions or creative and artistic worlds.

We have had enough of the cost of delegated childcare eating into the family wage. The sister of this complaint? If we care for our children instead, we are hit with a double whammy under which the sacrifice of our income and the family tax penalty (the system fails to recognise family-based care) decimates the family wage.

We have had enough of the suggestion that we can bring nothing of value back to the workplace after having children.

We have had enough of being society's scapegoat sat on a pedestal

We have had enough of decades of women's movement - and generations of patriarchal culture - which has left mothers who provide the care for their children (or who want to) marginalised, disempowered, impoverished, vulnerable and rendered 'unequal'.

We have had enough.

And we all know what happens when mum stops, stamps her feet and shouts "ENOUGH", don't we? It means she's got to the end of her rope. It means you need to listen up. Mummy's got something to say.

Fellow mothers, demand to be heard. Join a growing movement of mothers who want to see a better future for themselves and their children. Go on strike. Whatever you can decline, decline. Big or small, make a noise in public and online. If you are unable for whatever reason to withdraw your labour, mark the day of solidarity with something online or in public, or restrict your protest to as short a time as you feel able. The time is now.

Join the Purplestockings Movement.

Our time has come.

Me? I had planned to be at Parliament Square in the morning making a noise about mothers, then on to a speakout hosted by Global Women's Strike at 12. However, owing to illness in my eldest child I am unable to withdraw my labour or turn up at this very public event to speak out. So I will be online. I will be supporting Mothers at Home Matter and Global Women's Strike in their tireless work to raise issues which affect women, mothers and families. I will be sharing this article and other pieces. I will be in the garden in purple stockings, with a placard which reads:

"I was supposed to be on strike but then the Pox struck".

And ain't that the reality? For many women with caring responsibilities, we simply struggle to find the time or opportunity to head out into the 'public sphere' to make our demands. But we are here. And we must not be forgotten.

Liberating Motherhood - Birthing the Purplestockings Movement.

Read more on the blog

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today

Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com