Women’s Fightback Report: the politics of rape

Last Friday (7 September) over 20 Women’s Fightback-ers got together for the October London discussion group.

In a number of different ways, rape is consistently trivialised in this society. It is all too common for women who make accusations of rape to find our sexuality – how we dress, our sexual activity etc – under the spotlight. This is part of a wider phenomenon of “slut shaming”, judging and repressing women’s sexuality; when it is used to justify rape it challenges women’s control over own bodies in the most extreme form. And in turn this is part of a wider mistreatment of rape victims by the police and the courts. Meanwhile rape has become a subject for “jokes”, with male comedians accusing those who object of prudish humourlessness.

Most recently, the Julian Assange case shows that even parts of the radical left are willing to justify sexual assault if it fits with their pseudo anti-imperialist worldview.Janine Booth, member of the RMT National Executive (pc), led us in an open discussion asking:
• Why do women experience these challenges in being believed and supported?
• How should socialist feminists respond to these issues?
• And if we believe those accused of crimes should be innocent until proven guilty, how do we combine that with ensuring that women who say they have been raped are believed and supported?
Janine structured the workshop around a set of questions or statements – many of which she had come across in reality in debates and discussions around these issues recently. We’ve typed them up below for you to have a look at – please comment below and have some discussion about the issues raised. Thanks to everyone who came and contributed on the night.
We also discussed the upcoming Slutwalk London 2012 and plan to be on the march together! Women’s Fightback will be joining sisters in a pro-choice bloc. More info on our events page soon or email women@workersliberty.org

Galloway’s words may have been clumsy but he’s got a point

Socialists try to force every issue into being really about class. but rape isn’t.

A man shouldn’t have to get permission before every insertion.

You’re either on the side of the imperialists or of the anti-imperialists. If you criticise Galloway and/or Assange, then you’re on the side of the imperialists.

Why should any woman, or feminist, support or join the left when its leading figures – such as Galloway – say such dreadful things about rape?

The Daily Mail doesn’t are about sexism or about rape; it just hates Galloway and Assange because they are left-wing.

The woman accusing Assange are just puppets of the CIA, perhaps being paid by them to make up lies.

She flirted with him; he was entitled to assume consent.

‘Consent’ does not have to be explicitly given, it is implied by a person’s actions.

She socialised with him afterwards she wouldn’t do that if he had actually raped her.

Socialist men can be just as sexist as other en; they can be rapists just as other men can.

Men’s sexuality is predatory. All men are potential rapists.

Abolishing capitalism wouldn’t abolish rape.

A person is innocent until proven guilty – and you can’t just take one person’s word as proof of guilt.

She snogged him, and willingly went to his bedroom with him. What is he supposed to think?

Once a woman has consented, a man is entitled to assume ongoing consent.

She didn’t say no, so she must have consented.

Why would the workers’ movement bother about issues such as rape – it’s not a workplace issue.

Men and women can be both victims and rapists – rape isn’t about gender.

Why would any woman, or feminist, join the left when its leading figures like Galloway say such awful things about rape.

Rapists are mentally ill and/or monsters.

Rapists are strangers.

The low level of convictions shows most allegations are invented.

The allegations against Assange are clearly just a pretext to extradite him to the US so they can execute him or lock him up.

Once a woman consents a man is entitled to assume this is ongoing.

You’re either a socialist – and against the US witch-hunt of Wikileaks – or a liberal feminist with liberal feminist prejudices. Make your mind up.

You Women’s Fightback/Workers’ Liberty lot just have an irrational hatred of Galloway.

He’s such a good looking guy – no woman would refuse him.

If there’s no violence it’s not rape.

Everyone knows the US routinely concocts charges against people they don’t like – it’s obvious the allegations against Assange are just the latest in a long like to frame-ups.



About esthertownsend

Socialist feminist

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