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  • The Persistent Pensioner

In Search of Dignity?

Dignity at all times?

I was asked recently with others to come up with ideas that would get the attention of the media at a time when 1950’s women are out there protesting in large numbers and being largely ignored by the press and mainstream TV stations, in the Brexit chaos, that is an excellent smokescreen for, (In my opinion) ‘Other agendas’.

Having supplied one idea with a humorous and naughty edge, it received mixed views (which I understood). The main objection being ‘Undignified and not respectful of the memory of women that have died pension-less.' It made me think, which I usually do best at 3 am! Here are my thoughts on the subject...

There is nothing dignified about being forced to live in your car or a phone box because you had your pension stolen by an uncaring government, who saw you as an easy target.

There is nothing dignified about having to sell your home and downsize just to exist, instead of the retirement you had planned to ‘frugally’ enjoy.

There is nothing dignified about working in a physical job all your life and then being forced to continue in pain and fatigue, putting not only your own health and welfare at risk, but in some instances, those who you are employed to care for (particularly nurses, care workers and ambulances drivers / paramedics)

I interviewed a wonderful lady at the Media City protest recently and when I asked her to sit in a certain way, she could not do it because of the pain she was experiencing. That lady was a nurse, lifting our loved ones every day… Yet she stood and protested. Well actually she sat most of the time! What Dignity!

I saw a long standing protester dressed in purple and black robbers one'sy outfit addressing the crowd - What Dignity!

I saw women with daft hats, fancy dress and banners, all protesting loudly...with great dignity. I heard another saying how she intended to live till one hundred and thirty seven to get her stolen money back. Humour and dignity all rolled into one!

There is nothing dignified about being forced into the DWP system when disabled by age related conditions and having to go cap in hand for money to barely exist on, when you had the right to your pension that should have allowed you to retire with dignity. A pension that was taken without notice or conscience, by already wealthy and mainly male mp's who had no concept or true understanding of your struggle.

There is nothing dignified in being so broken down by the stress that you cannot function and every day and night is filled with fear for your future.

There is nothing dignified in having to prostitute yourself at sixty three in order to keep your house and eat.

THERE WAS… nothing dignified about being dragged to prison and force fed, in the fight for Women’s Suffrage.

There was nothing dignified in being beaten and terrorised by brutal tactics to break the spirit of the Suffragettes.

There was nothing dignified about dying under the hooves of a racehorse

Or was there?

Why are we so concerned with dignity?, when there is so much at stake!

There will be trolls. We will have our words and images manipulated in whatever we choose to do. They will ridicule us with stupid trite headlines!...This is the state of our country and its press... but I would rather lose my dignity and get the message out there! Be radical, be strong, be frightened, but be fearless. I conformed for many years, behaved like a ‘Lady’ and look what respect it got me for my contribution to this country!

We are women, first and foremost who have lived through the fight for equality for many decades and still see huge hypocrisy and imbalance. I will not conform to what people expect me to be in their image of ‘What is a ‘lady’ or what they consider dignified. That is their choice, not mine. I have dignity within and that’s all I need right now.

I choose to lose my dignity, if necessity decrees it FOR all the women who have died pension-less and in poverty and distress. Lied to and ignored by this and successive governments and left with no security in their approaching old age.

Dignity is subjective. It is something held within, that however broken and ridiculed you are...a simple lift of the chin and a defiant look can beat an opponent even though they think you completely defeated. Women lose their physical dignity in many ways over a lifetime, but it is only really lost if they actually manage to extinguish the light within you.

Dee Wild – The Persistent Pensioner September 2019

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