During my History lessons at school I have memories of being horrified by the nuclear bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Overwhelmed that more than 200,000 people died in Hiroshima and 150,000 in Nagasaki- that many more died though subsequent injuries and long and lingering illness. I recall not accepting the justification I was taught – that these bombs were inevitable and necessary to end the war.
I gave birth to my daughter in 1987. I recall a documentary on the women of Greenham Common around that time. A woman spoke of meeting mothers from Japan who told her that after the bombs were dropped they were not congratulated on being pregnant. Rather they waited anxiously for up to 9 months, wondering if their unborn child would survive. I remember during my pregnancy taking all the advice I could and knowing that I was largely solely responsible for what this woman described as the ‘safe passage of life’ of my unborn child. The mothers in Japan had the responsibility to secure a safe passage for their babies taken from them.
As I’ve grown up I’ve realised that as a feminist I reject the patriarchy of war. We live in a society that defines dominant qualities as belonging to ‘real men’. We hear of qualities such as ‘hard’ and ‘strong’. Combative phrases such as ‘defending honour and nation’ are used frequently in our military. These are qualities and phrases that leave out women’s values, and men who reject patriarchy. When it comes to war we know women are used as weapons; ignored; devalued; raped; starved; killed, and subjected to other unspeakable atrocities.
I have heard senior politicians say Labour should not be defined by a debate about Trident. That somehow it distracts from the real issues- the Tories. It’s inevitable that as the media continues its assault on Jeremy Corbyn my Party may choose to fight on easier wins than Trident.
But I disagree, for I believe that everything is connected.
Nations who have the major nuclear weapons are behind most of the current conflicts; conflicts that are really about resources.
Here in the UK we are in unprecedented times, with a controlling ‘growth at all costs’ agenda being pursued by this Government. Not only does Cameron clearly have a problem with women but increasingly our position in the world is patriarchal. It’s about dominance and keeping other powerful nations-who also have nuclear weapons–on side.
What sort of country do we want to be?
There are 40 Trident warheads per submarine and each of these could kill over 1 million people. More would die from secondary radiation exposure. Then there is the environmental impact. This destruction is unthinkable.
There is growing support for the view that getting rid of nuclear weapons is the way to achieve a safer world. For me it’s about taking responsibility for all life-for humanity.
Jeremy Corbyn spoke in the House last year and said:
“A secure world is created by looking at the issues that divide the world- the racism that divides the world; the poverty that divides the world; the environmental destruction that divides the world.”
He went on to ask:
“Can we not look in a different direction and deliver a different foreign policy, rather than hold to the arid idea all we need to do is spend phenomenal amounts of money in order to threaten to destroy the whole planet?”
My answer is Yes please – what’s yours?