Words by Kate Fox


Photos by @sachashoots


I remembered we’re all a little bit sexist,
including me,
newly discovered Guilty Feminist.
I projected my sexism onto people of a couple of centuries ago
and, fresh from learning about boy apprentices
learning maths and girl apprentices learning to sew,
and the way engineers were the elite of the mill
and always male,
I say to Carol that I presume women didn’t used to do that job.
She says that they weren’t able to do it then,
and corrects herself to say 
that they weren’t thought capable of it.


I’d wanted to ask someone 
about life-work balance
and mentioned some of the W.I ladies
had included pictures of bees in their collage,
to show they were always busy bees.
Carol says they’re a symbol of Manchester
turn up on bins, bollards, everywhere,
because of how mills were a hive of industry.


She said men would get the benefit of the doubt
they could do the job 
until they made a mistake
but women had to prove they could do it.
I was going to ask how they heck 
she got into that,
but bees were buzzing round my head
and a simile was starting to form
in my braincells. 
“Bees aren’t supposed to be able to fly 
are they?” I asked them, 
“Aerodynamically I mean. But they can fly”.


“Worker bees are all female”
says Carol hesitantly 
and mine and Ralph’s surprise makes her 
uncertain. We agree it’s unlikely
but don’t leap to Google 
so we can enjoy the possibility longer. 


Later, I look up worker bees

and she was right.
They are all female.
They don’t have children,
but carry pollen
back and forth for the Queen
and do all the other tasks in the hive
alongside the male drones,
but probably for lower pay.


I think of all the men
who come up in the search results
when you Google “The Industrial Revolution”.
I am full of glee
that this macho city
emblem celebrates a happily non-mothering lady bee.
Someone on my Facebook
says they’re not really female,
because if their egg-producing pipes,
are not used,
they’re diverted to make poison instead,
I decide I like worker bees even more
and that they are definitely female.
Carol teasing and being teased by Ralph
as she keeps the power pumping through the mill,
laughing at the idea 
of being interesting enough to put in a poem.
Worker bees,
who have had to keep on proving
they can fly.


Galchester Issue One 