Book: Living in an armed patriarchy

Living in an Armed Patriarchy: Public Protest, Domestic Acquiescence
Lynda Walker

This booklet takes its reader back in time to the years from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, years that shook the North of Ireland profoundly in many ways. It is an example of the kind of writing about historical events that departs from mainstream, bourgeois history: it writes about the experience of the dispossessed from their own point of view. It records aspects of their suffering and their resistance and does so with compassion as well as personal involvement.

The people most likely to achieve lasting and real change in the North of Ireland, as is shown in the years under examination here, are those who are the worst affected by this grotesque version of capitalism manifest in Britain’s strife-ridden colonial backwater. Here, as the author shows, civil rights were slow to arrive and in some instances have yet to be achieved—in glaring contrast to both the Republic and Britain. Indicatively, the absence of a woman’s right to choose and same-sex marriage can be linked to the greatest handicap of this artificial statelet, political sectarianism, which was fuelled along contrived religious lines to divide the working class.

It is an account of the experience of working-class women in a political battle that propelled them forward to ensure that their demand for civil rights also included equality for women. It shows that the long, hard struggles of working people for progressive change can lead to success, allowing us to conclude that historians interpret the world in different ways but that the important goal is to change it.