“Leftist women report because of the commitment to our work, not in spite of it”


It’s an unfortunate truth that all liberationist movements are populated by people who lived with oppressive structures, and that these structures are often (sometimes unknowingly) reproduced despite the movement’s objectives. Alex Press writes on the tendency for leftist politics to retain misogynist structures that benefit men in spite of the professed objective of gender equality:

But the Left has never been immune to sexism and sexual violence from its leaders—from 1964, when the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Stokely Carmicheal said the only position for women in the Black Power movement was “prone,” to 2013, when members left the U.K.’s Socialist Workers Party after it refused to adequately investigate rape allegations against a leading member, to today, when ongoing revelations about alleged sexual misconduct by former SEIU vice president Scott Courtney, a key architect of the union’s Fight for $15 campaign, have resulted in Courtney’s resignation along with the termination of at least one other union staff member. In each of these cases, toleration of this behavior weakened the organization.

I am not alone in having experienced the immense pressure brought to bear on anyone speaking out about sexual violence in an organizing space. At worst, you become subject to reminders of the damage you can do to the movement by accusing a prominent man (it’s not always a man, but it usually is) of sexual violence. “The Right will use this information against us,” you might be reminded, or, “We can’t win without him”—the implication being that if you insist on bringing up a leader’s misconduct, “we” can’t win with you.

Read more here.

-Shiv

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