Is it always a ‘sell out’ to discuss difficult issues?


by Sunny Hundal    
5:06 pm - December 6th 2010

      Share on Tumblr

The discussion following Cath Elliott’s response to John B’s piece on Julian Assange has mostly been about the rape allegations themselves. But I think there are broader issues here that I want to touch on.

On Twitter earlier she said in response to me:

… is seeing how fast so-called leftie feminist men are to jump in and defend him and paint women as bloody liars again

and then

That’s the misogynist shite I was talking about before. The way left wing men always sell out women in the end.

I won’t get into how patronising an accusation this is because it has become far too common an accusation on the left.

* * * * * * *

I have written about the ‘sellout’ accusation for years, on race and religion. I’ve been called it myself around race issues & religion; for not signing up to socialist-left aims; for calling tactics of some climate campaigners counter-productive; for even writing an article on deficit reduction.

Lefties like myself who don’t always toew the line are constantly accused of being sellouts. When I attacked Asian community leaders in the Guardian, Madeleine Bunting accused of me destroying unity and setting back the cause of race relations. Sound familiar?

Several years ago the BNP decided to hold a march based on an article I had written about how Asian men in Keighley were ‘grooming’ young white women. I also had raging arguments when some wanted a C4 documentary not be shown for similar reasons. Guess what – people accused me of inflaming tensions then too.

On Friday, Julie Bindel also joined in the accusations on Twitter, having coincidentally written frequently about the same case. The same controversy also forced Searchlight out of Unite Against Fascism because UAF accused the former of aiding BNP narratives. What if someone accused Julie Bindel of ‘feeding into Islamophobia’ too, I asked. She didn’t reply.

* * * * * * *

To be clear, I have self-censored on Liberal Conspiracy as editor. I have rejected articles criticising lefties, feminists, environmentalists, the Labour party, Libdems and Greens because the criticism wasn’t valid enough to warrant the intra-left fighting.

But this supposed to be a place for the left. If we can’t openly and honestly discuss issues without accusing each other of ‘feeding into pernicious narratives’ – then were exactly do these debates take place?

John B raised valid points about the shambolic way the Swedish government has gone about the rape allegations. He acknowledged that our society underplays violence against women and that accusations of false rape are frequently made in the media. How many more caveats does an article need?

We frequently point out the importance of due legal process, especially when it concerns serious allegations. When Muslims are accused of being terrorists without evidence, and their lives destroyed by the media, do lefties argue that picking holes in the accusations is akin to aiding terrorism?

Neo-cons do that – lefties are meant to be nuanced enough to recognise that the ‘you’re either with us or against us‘ view of the world doesn’t end well.

I reject the view that just because some pro-feminist men occasionally say something different they’re “sell-outs”. We all recognise that there is deep-seated institutional sexism in British society and that this needs to be challenged.

But to say any nuanced discussion of rape statistics or individual cases is no different to misogyny is an accusation I reject.


Update: I’ve changed the headline because it refers more broadly, while the text of my article and my focus is this site.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Equality ,Feminism


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


1. Terrible But True

‘Do left wing men always sell out women in the end?’

Ridiculous and outrageous, of course.

It’s not just women.

On both counts (that’s ‘counts’, for any at the BBC)

I think it’s an overstatement to say that “[W]e all recognise that there is deep-seated institutional sexism in British society and that this needs to be challenged.” There are both men and women on the left who do not recognise that. I have worked alongside them, both productively and not. Cath Elliott’s statement might have been strong and provocative, but as a feminist woman on the left, I recognise where it comes from.

Sunny,

Possibly the best article of yours I’ve read for a long time. The answer to your key question is clearly no (or more technically, no more than they sell out men, children or animals – whatever degree they sell people out being a personal judgement).

I would suggest however that the danger here is assuming that different left-wing movements can sit together in perfect harmony. I don’t think the umbrella term ‘left-wing’ actually unites you that well (it is possible that I on the right may have more in common with your or Cath than you have with each other on some issues). Now this shouldn’t be a problem, but as you identify, people tend to scream betrayal rather than recognise the problem is simply different interpretations of facts or whatever.

And the interesting thing here is what this represents. Movements such as feminism or racial equality (is there a single word for an important movement like that?) tend to resort to the sort of dogmatic screaming characteristic of religion. There is a refusal to consider other viewpoints. From an outsider’s perspective it is quite worrying to see so many well-intentioned and often beneficial movements cripple themselves by assuming adherence to their code of behaviour is more important than working together. It suggests too many adherents of these beliefs think there is a right and wrong, and they know it, rather than simply a world to be negotiated. The left has much to offer, but it has to learn to deal with its internal issues to do so – otherwise those of us on the right can sit and laugh at the infighting. Which might be entertaining, but in terms of developing proper political life in this country would be bloody disastrous.

“That’s the misogynist shite I was talking about before. The way left wing men always sell out women in the end.”

I don’t know how to engage with an attitude like this.

Kate – I don’t claim to speak for all men who think of themselves on the left. Certainly, there is a lot of casual misogyny amongst old school movements. I’m referring specifically to this site (though I admit the headline is broader).

Sunny: “If we can’t openly and honestly discuss issues without accusing each other of ‘feeding into pernicious narratives’ – then were exactly do these debates take place?”

If you’re genuinely not seeing why something you’ve written is being criticised for ‘feeding into pernicious narratives’ is, then the answer is not to ask to be excused from being criticised as such, but to listen to what is being said, take women’s experience seriously, and learn about and engage with the wider issues (in this case around attitudes towards women, and issues of gender, sexism & misogyny).

“You” being a general “you”, not you Sunny specifically.

If leftie men genuinely want to tackle sexism and support women’s struggles, they really do need to get used to hearing men & masculinity criticised, and take it with a heavy dose of “if you personally don’t do whatever it is that is being criticised then it’s not about you personally”. Again, this is a general observation, and not simply about the Assange posts & comments.

Feminists are long used to talking with men who don’t get it. It’s bloody tiring, and we rarely hear anything new. If you want to help, help. If being actively anti-sexist & pro-feminist is just too much hard work, requires too much of you, then just keep out of feminists’ way.

For any men who do want to start to trying to get it, I recommend you take some time out to read the blogposts linked here (with an open mind and sitting down hard on the instinct to take it all personally):
http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2010/01/feminism-101.html

In sexist, male-centric, male-dominated culture, you’re socialised to take women less seriously than men, and so to take women’s politics & activism less seriously. You may like to think you are above that but you’d do better to be honest with yourself and be open to fucking up and understanding why you do.

(again, all “you”s meant generally).

Next time I’m accused of being a bit too “Harry’s Place” – as if that was meant to mean something – or a “decent”, I’ll just read back this blog entry to the offender.

As for Cath’s accusation, I’m sure she knows that the better feminist men of the left are geneder neutral with regards to who we criticise – I can hardly Sunny being anything else in private, and certainly cannot find any trace of sexism in his posts here.

I think its a very complex issue. Even now there is huge gender inequality, just look at the average pay for women, the pay gaps in various roles where gender is the only difference and the lack of women at the top of most professions.

In families even now the expectation of society is that the mother is automatically the primary care giver for children, manages the house even though the woman works full time too. How often do men just abandon their responsibilities and just leave the woman looking after the children.

This is all deep seated and its not just men that are the problem here some women have views that are far less progressive than men. I heard more than one woman suggest if you go into a private room with a guy you have flirted with then its not rape even if he forces himself on you. Same if a guy doesnt stop when asked.

We then move onto sex and sexuality. The conviction rate for rape is in what single figures? The estimated reporting rate for rape is estimated to be between 5 and 10%. Its disgusting we live in a society where justice for women who are the victims of rape and sexual assault is next to non existant. Its hard to know the percentage of claims that are malicious but I believe at the absolute max its 20-30% but I think its less than 15%. We focus so much on the very small number of wrongly accused men but not on the rape victims who are victimized, belitted and castigated in many cases. Ultimately false accusation is bad but not as bad as the act itself, and those who falsely accused should be jailed. The main problem for women who are named is that there are those unscrupulous men who might take advantage of this fact.

We then have attitudes towards sex and many are appauling, women who have mulitple partners are somehow unclean, whilst men who deliberately target women who are unable to provide real consent because they are emotionally upset or drunk are somehow “heroes”? So many times I hear rape and child abuse reduced to a joke, and men express the opinion that if she doesnt say no that means yes even if the woman is drunk to the point of being unaware of what is happening or passed out.

Sorry as a guy I say women get a raw deal the way our society treats rape, child abuse and violence against women and children is disgusting. As a society we need to do more to protect women and the left in my opinion should be about providing a fairer society and as women are still opressed in many ways we should prioritze helping women who make up about half of our society, unfortunetly the cuts as published here and elsewhere disproporationately hit women, women again bearing the brunt.

If any of the left are actually selling out women they should be ashamed. Thats not to say we shouldn’t condemn certain things such as false rape claims but its disgusting when we automatically trust some guy based on the fact he did something we liked and therefore might be targetted by the powers that be

Toe the line. It’s TOE the line.

I am glad you wrote this sunny. You know I don’t always (er…often?) agree with you on many issues, but I think throwing the term ‘misogyny’ around is a very annoying habit of some feminists.

Misogyny means ‘women-hating’ and that is a strong accusation which you do right to stand up against.

“In sexist, male-centric, male-dominated culture, you’re socialised to take women less seriously than men, and so to take women’s politics & activism less seriously.”

Am i right to interpret this as:

If someone disagrees with a feminist he or she is just wrong by definition because he/she is condirtion to thinkthat way – ie it is impossible to disagree and be correct?

That’s just seeking to impose another dogma.

…they really do need to get used to hearing men & masculinity criticised, and take it with a heavy dose of “if you personally don’t do whatever it is that is being criticised then it’s not about you personally”.

Or people could just be specific. I couldn’t give a toss if men get criticised because I don’t feel that our common gender gives us any affinity. If the whole damn gender gets broadside I don’t think it would be wrong to get a tad defensive. How would others react if I said that, “Jews/Australians/Millwall supporters are X…Well, if you’re not X it clearly doesn’t apply to you…“?

The tone of John B’s original post – calling Swedish law “deranged” for what he (mistakenly) understood to be the allegations – made me do a sharp intake of breath. It’s not a question of having caveats: when I read it, that’s the thing that stayed with me. In a world in which rape allegations are always subject to automatic disbelief on the part of the authorities and the general public, the tone of his article did, resultingly, sound anti-feminist. More than that: anti-woman.

And yet, Sunny, you’re still putting ‘feeding into pernicious narratives’ in inverted commas, as if it’s a silly intellectual triviality that feminists are making up. No, it bloody well isn’t. Those narratives form the reality that women are forced to live with every day, whether they like it or not. When we’re sexually assaulted and when we report it, not only are we not believed: we are turned into the villain of that pernicious narrative. It’s happened to me. It’s happened to a frightening proportion of the women I know.

Cath’s line about left-wing men “always” selling out women was misjudged, but frankly I can understand the anger that made her say that. Clearly, you can’t.

You seem to think feminists are telling you not to talk about these issues at all, I don’t know where you’re getting that from. It seems to me that the feminists who are engaging here – as per Cath’s original, well-judged piece on this site – are just asking that people who write about rape don’t say things that are stupid, offensive and misinformed. Is that too much to ask?

14. Chaise Guevara

TOE the line! Gah!

That extremely minor irritation aside, this is a fantastic article. Discussion is preferable to infighting, and this is one of those topics where the fur really starts to fly (I guess partly because people feel so strongly about it and partly because it’s a topic of special interest to feminists, who are often lefties but the terms aren’t synonymous).

15. Chaise Guevara

aardvark beat me to it. Sunny, why has this appalling error not been fixed? I am literally ANGRY with rage!

If leftie men genuinely want to tackle sexism and support women’s struggles, they really do need to get used to hearing men & masculinity criticised

I’ve not disagreed with that anywhere. But there’s also a fuzzy line where the view is that if men disagree on anything, they’re instantly misogynists.

This doesn’t just happen here. People are prone to throw around accusations of ‘racism’ at anything, and if someone white disagrees they’re instantly the KKK.

I would argue if someone throws around the word ‘paki’ without abandon that would be racist even if they didn’t agree.

But if someone highlights crimes by Asian men, and are then accused of ‘feeding into prejudice’ – and to disagree is to be racist – how would that sit with you?

Is it Islamophobic to point out that some terrorists are Muslims? Not any more than it’s misogynist to say that the allegations against Julian Assange are deeply suspicious (though I wouldn’t go as far as saying Swedish rape laws are ‘mad’ etc).

I’m not going to comment on the argument, because I don’t feel able to criticise Cath or Sunny!

For me, the most infuriating thing about being a feminist is that three quarters of the battle is trying to prove there is a problem in the first place, before the effort to solve it even starts.

The comment @4 might be ostensibly reasonable, but I just read it and thought ‘there is someone who has no clue about feminism and the struggles of women whatsoever.’

johnb’s caveats didn’t stop his blog post feeding into the rape-minimising narratives, however much he intended it not to.

He didn’t grasp that and continued to refer minimisingly to “poor bedroom etiquette” repeatedly in comments, and asserting in his post that Assange was definitely not a rapist. Also,characterising the actions and speculated attitudes of the complainants in a a trivialising way. He or any of us is categorically not able to assert any of these things at this time. His post relied heavily on statements by lawyers’ representing Assange which of course denied the charges and presented the circumstances around the sexual encounters in the best way for Assange, and cast aspersions on the Swedish authorities and on the complainants. It wasn’t a presumption of innocence, it was making the case for the defence. There was a lot of bluster in the lawyers’ statements, and that didn’t do johnb’s post and comments any favours. (I’ll comment more on Cath’s post)

The original article was awful and Cath’s rebuttal was perfectly fair, if tinged with anger at what appeared to be on the face of it a defence of someone accused of rape. Just because someone ‘on your side’ is accused of a crime doesn’t mean that you should leap to their defence. If they’re guilty then they’re guilty, Assange won’t be the first person that’s done a lot of good and then gone out and done something that’s bad.

That Sweden has a habit of prosecuting people at the behest of the US is another matter. If that’s the case, you can point to the fact that the timing is suspicious, and that the evidence doesn’t add up, but to claim that he’s innocent of the charges because it’s not even a crime here? That’s taking it in completely the wrong direction, we’re not talking about charges of adultery against a woman in Iran, we’re talking about rape charges in Sweden.

On the topic above, why shouldn’t the left criticise itself. The monolithic authoritarian right’s blind adherance to a single narrative over the past 30 years shows how dangerous it is to have one ideology that cannot be questioned. Labour didn’t win in ’97 because they had a single overreaching narrative, they won because the Tory message was discredited and reviled, every time they stood up to defend it, they dug themselves in that little bit deeper. Labour’s defeat in the last election came from a similar unwavering belief that all they did was correct without recourse to evidence or debate. If they’d listened to the progressives and the anti-authoritarians, maybe they wouldn’t have lost and we wouldn’t be stuck with a Tory party that is still reviled for their ideology, just not as much as the Labour one.

20. margin4error

I think the real issue is the “sell out” claim.

The left in particular talks in terms of “selling out” a lot. Attlee’s government was accused of it for not moving towards a more soviet style state ownership. Blair was accused of it for not hiking up taxes on the rich. We’ve all been accused of it quite a lot over the years.

And I think the reason is that many on the left think of themselves as morally pure – and so anyone with an alternative view is thus morally corrupt.

It happens outside of politics. Spurs and West Ham are both bidding to move to the olympic stadium. Both have fans with very different views of it. Some think moving is “selling out” their heritage by leaving their old grounds. Others think those opposed are selling out the interests of fans who can’t get tickets for their much smaller grounds.

Basically anywhere that involves notions of moral purity leads to claims that others “sell out” – it is utterly direspectful and maybe libcon should have a different view

The problem is that that article (post? whateversky) was blatantly misogynistic. And, for that matter, badly written and full of paranoid conspiracy theories, deranged assertions and dubious sources. It really had no business being published here; in fact if a similar article had been posted on a right-wing site (about a different issue, obviously) then there would be a reasonable chance of it being openly mocked here.

I don’t see why it’s so important to defend Assange’s honour anyway. It is quite likely that the charges are being pursued due to political pressure (which is not quite the same thing as the charges being political motivated) and perhaps that ought to concern us, but it doesn’t mean that we should automatically dismiss them as lies. It wouldn’t – or shouldn’t – have any impact on how we view the wikileaks project if it were to emerge that Assange is guilty as hell and is thus a terrible person. Terrible people do, after all, sometimes do things that we approve of.

Well speaking as a left wing woman may I say how sad I am that some left wing woman can’t see past the end of their own noses.

This whole thing does not pass the smell test. Man releases American documents, and is then accused of rape in a nice Scandinavian country.

Just like the American weapons inspector who claimed there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the lead up to war and then is branded a sex pest by the Us govt.

You’ve totally missed the point Sunny. The reason John B can be aptly accused of selling out women is that he accuses the Swedish authorities (plus the CIA, and God knows who else) of smearing Assange, by falsely accusing him of rape, without having any evidence to that effect.* He charges the authorities with ‘lying’ when they say Assange has been accused of rape. He says in one comment that there is ‘no plausible way he is guilty of rape under Swedish law’. At risk of stating the obvious, John B has no basis for any of this. He does not know what the women in question may or may not have said in the privacy of the police interview room. I think it is wholly reasonable for women to feel betrayed by a supposed liberal who is hellbent on pronouncing a man innocent of rape without access to many of the details of the case. Liberal Conspiracy also, I’m afraid, let down women badly by not insisting on stricter standards of evidence and corroboration. Irrespective of what in time comes out in the Assange case, the lasting implication of this episode is that, in the view of this site, we do not need access to the full facts in order to say that a man could not possibly be guilty of a rape – and that others must be *lying* if they say he is. Indeed, I think all bloggers have reason to feel let down by Liberal Conspiracy over this affair, insofar as they believe in what Will Straw would now have us call an ‘evidence-based’ approach.

*Actually, John B’s position has shifted over time. First, he claimed that Assange had not been accused of rape by the authorities, but only of some absurd non-offence that is only a crime in Sweden – namely not wearing a condom during wholly consensual sex. This claim was seriously undermined by the fact that there seems to be no such offence in the Swedish penal code, as well as the fact that the authorities have released a statement specifying that one of the charges is indeed rape. John B then went on to claim, differently, that although the authorities have accused Assange with rape, this is a lie. This claim, of course, falls foul of the fact that John B has no idea what the women may have told the police – like the rest of us, he only has access to the sketchy, contradictory reports in the media.

And yet, Sunny, you’re still putting ‘feeding into pernicious narratives’ in inverted commas, as if it’s a silly intellectual triviality that feminists are making up.

No – I put it in quotes to refer to what Cath said… I have otherwise acknowledged that the problems exist – in the same way that racism exists but not everything people say is racist.

are just asking that people who write about rape don’t say things that are stupid, offensive and misinformed. Is that too much to ask?

I don’t think this gets to the point I’m trying to argue above. There are a whole range of disagreements that take place in a very grey area, not just in feminism.

Unless we’re willing to honestly discuss those issues without accusing each other of being extremists, then no one can work together to resolve those issues.

If the aim of feminism is simply to tell all men to fuck off if they don’t agree on every single issue, then there will be no progress.

Keep in mind there are also lots of anti-censorship feminist women who disagree with their fellow feminists on a range of issues
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=7169348275

What I object is to is treated men with automatic hostility on issues and ignoring their past record.

The problem is that in Assange, the issue of rape has collided with something else that leftists should also feel highly strongly about: government dirty tricks, the abuse of the legal system, and censorship. (Or at least the suspicion of the above.)

I thought John B’s article was not his finest, and would have benfitted from more carefuful analysis and rather less polemic.

But to accuse him of “sell[ing] out women”, or feeding the narrative that “there’s no such thing as rape”…. well it’s just an utter crock.

“Toe the line. It’s TOE the line.”

what??

well Ellie Mae, I am a woman and I do not think I ‘understand the struggles of women’ either. I don’t think my struggles are bound by my gender identity specifically, any more than by my class, ethnicity, sexualities, geographical location, religion or otherwise, family background/education etc etc.

‘women’ and ‘men’ do not figure as a binary way of dividing people in my understanding of the world.

Do you think we might all be careful about using the word “misogynist”? There is a difference between accusing someone of having an attitude and casually calling them women-haters.

“If the aim of feminism is simply to tell all men to fuck off if they don’t agree on every single issue, then there will be no progress.”

Oh, for God’s sake, Sunny. It’s sad to see you resort to attacking a strawfeminist. Neither I, nor as far as I can see anyone else, is telling all men to fuck off if they don’t agree on every single issue. Nor, if you open Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex or Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse, will it say: “Of course, the point of feminism is to tell all men to fuck off if they don’t agree on every single issue. Ha! That’ll show ‘em.”

If that’s genuinely how you’re hearing what the feminist complainants about this issue are saying, you’re wilfully misunderstanding them. No feminists are asking you to agree on every issue. Some feminists have objected to John B’s characterisation of allegations of rape. Some have reacted with surprise and disappointment to his comments being published on a leftist blog. This does not constitute telling all men to fuck off.

I see Cath’s point and support her on this.

The problem with Band’s post – someone has mentioned this above – was that he rejected the rape accusation categorically.

What the left – male and female members of it – should be doing is taking the long view of the whole thing until it is resolved and acknowledging a range of possibilities – that Assange has done very important work, but may also have committed a sex crime, or that Assange has done very important work, but may not have committed a sex crime.

Cath’s point – and motivation, if I can presume this (she’ll correct me if I’m wrong) – is that men have been too quick to go for the second scenario. There’s a lot of reason to believe that Assange has been set up in this instance, but that’s no reason not to consider all possibilities. Women do get sick of women’s issues being dismissed out of hand and Band’s post did that, however inadvertently. It tried to dropkick the rape issue out of the park.

31. Chiase Guevara

@ Sunny

“what??”

It’s definitely “toe”. If you toe the line, you don’t go over it, so you don’t get a false start in a race. If it was “tow” it would mean “drag the line behind you”, which could make sense in some context, but not this one.

Re: toe / tow the line:

“Some metaphors now current have been twisted out of their original meaning
without those who use them even being aware of the fact. For example, toe the line is
sometimes written as tow the line.”

(George Orwell, Politics and the English Language.)

On the article:

“I reject the view that just because some pro-feminist men occasionally say something different they’re ‘sell-outs’.”

Whilst I agree with the statement, I’m not sure it applies in this instance. John B’s effort this time around and Unity’s article a few weeks back (since deleted) – you know, the homophobic one – were attacked because the language used in their polemic explicitly engaged with two very dark narratives which it is the duty of the left (and elements of the right) to oppose.

“That’s the misogynist shite I was talking about before. The way left wing men always sell out women in the end.”

I don’t think “always” is fair, but I’d agree that a vast majority of men – whether on the left or the right; consciously or unconsciously – by their actions *and words* engage with and ultimately entrench patriarchy.

It is, after all, the most long-established inequality on this earth.

I therefore feel that those who genuinely aspire to equality and freedom should absolutely take every opportunity to point out instances of misogyny and oppression – whether ‘intentional’ or otherwise; from left- or right-wing sources.

How could it be otherwise?

33. Chiase Guevara

@ 30 Kate Belgrave

“The problem with Band’s post – someone has mentioned this above – was that he rejected the rape accusation categorically.”

Yeah, or at least he didn’t try very hard to avoid giving that impression. This article is a lot better in a general context (i.e. as a critique of the behaviour of some feminists) than as a defense of Band’s.

“Cath’s point – and motivation, if I can presume this (she’ll correct me if I’m wrong) – is that men have been too quick to go for the second scenario. There’s a lot of reason to believe that Assange has been set up in this instance, but that’s no reason not to consider all possibilities. Women do get sick of women’s issues being dismissed out of hand and Band’s post did that, however inadvertently. It tried to dropkick the rape issue out of the park.”

In fairness, if instead of that the authorities had suddenly said “we’ve decided we want him for that unsolved murder”, I think people would have been a lot more inclined to assume it was a setup (oh, people might have disagreed, but it wouldn’t have turned into a row so fast). So what you say is true, but I think the controversy around it is increased simply by the fact that it’s rape he’s being accused of.

John B minimised the seriousness of the accusations facing Assange and parroted inaccuracies about the relevant law – but it’s perfectly possible to ask questions about the timing and the motives of the authorities *without* doing that.

35. Robert Anderson

I support you wholeheartedly Sunny. As an ex miner who helped initiate equal value claims for our female canteen staff in 1976, and who as a TUC tutor constantly champions the rights of women (practice what you preach is my motto) I find this kinf of general attack on men appalling. I also know that many on the left (as I reagrd myself) take pride in attacking other progressives instead of uniting in common cause. My response is to ignore them and let genuine progressives come together to fight for a healthier democratic society which is a very realistic aim!

27

Well then you must have the luxury of living in a world where everyone is equal.

no ellie mae I have the luxury of living in a world where gender is not the key demarcation of inequality. we all live in that world but feminists want to keep the illusion that gender is more crucial than any other form of division.

Soho Politico @23 – spot on. The original post by John B was very disappointing and the defence of it moreso.

I put up a link yesterday to the blog of Assange’s principal accuser who turns out, surprise surprise, to be a radical feminist with a repeatedly expressed hatred of older men. Now I have no knowledge of the precise truth of her allegation however it is clear, from what is known, that Assange is NOT guilty of rape. Or of anything else that would be against the law in most civilised countries.

Today Assange had a warrant issued for his arrest in the UK. He had his Swiss bank accounts frozen on a blatantly spurious pretext. This is a clear statement by the New World Order to demonstrate once and for all that there will never be freedom for individuals to say things they don’t want them to.

That’s a pretty important deal and, with all due respect, a discussion on whether or not John and Sunny are closet misogynists rather underplays it’s significance. We should not be diverted from giving Assange all the support he needs in his struggle with the forces of darkness.

37

That’s totally untrue. The reason feminists are so fervent is for the reason I outline above – that misogyny is often so endemic that many people, male and female, do not even acknowledge its existence.

It’s absurd that you can say that when a cornerstone of feminism has always been the fight against wider inequality. I can think of no feminist that would argue that women are worse off than other minorities. The message of feminism is that women ARE a minority, and that should be acknowledged and changed.

Progressive sites should be held to higher standards, because people convinced of their own left-wing credentials often can’t believe that they could possibly be guilty of spouting the same mysoginist nonsense that is uttered elsewhere.

The original article was yet another re-hash of the familiar “it’s not REALLY rape” story. Most of the comments on both stories uncritically buy into the “Women crying rape to frame innocent men” and “Feminists think all men are rapists” stereotypes.

There are arguments to be had but no progress will be made if the “debate” constantly throws up the same dreary old questions about the most elementary feminist principles.

Seriously, anyone who calls themselves progressive or a liberal or left-wing should take some time to read some of the excellent feminist blogs out there before sharing their cringeworthy thoughts with the world.

Try starting with privilege-denying dude.

Ultimately even the best of people can do bad things, people should at least keep an open mind about things unless they see evidence to the contrary. This whole case has been a complete farce as I commented in the previous thread.

Everytime is mentioned it does seem that in many quarters people don’t quite believe it and the first thought of many is that its the woman lying. Granted I don’t tar everyone with the same brush and this is mainly the prevailing feel from the mainstream right wing press. Then there is the trivialisation of rape and sex crimes in everything from comedy to newspaper editiorials. Its no wonder feminists are touchy on the rape issue especially when you consider how many reported rapists are actually held to account, when you add on the thousands of women and children who never report its absolutely appalling that the real rate of conviction is probably less than 1%, assuming as I said earlier that estimates are that only between 5% and 10% of rapes are reported.

Ultimately I think people should use some tact when discussing rape and sex crimes. Yes the reopening of this investigation was politically motivated but that does not mean that the charges should automatically be dimissed in such a way as the OP did. All I think is that people need to remember that yes to many women this is a touchy issue and with damn good reason.

I find it quite difficult to comment on the original posts about Assange because of the updates which confuse the issue. But I’m inclined to sympathise with Sunny (partly for the reasons touched on by Quiet Riot Girl) and agree with others who caution against overusing the word ‘misogynist’. I also thought the rest of the post made some eloquent and telling points about the difficulties involved when negotiating a way round complex and sensitive issues.

TW asks, “If someone disagrees with a feminist he or she is just wrong by definition because he/she is condirtion to thinkthat way – ie it is impossible to disagree and be correct? ”

No it is not about who is correct or not correct. I am saying that there is an entrenched and subtle bias, in men & women, against taking women seriously, against listening to what they say, precisely because we all are steeped in a sexist culture. I think that what follows from that is that people who are concerned about sexism stop and think hard about *why* they are disagreeing with or dismissing a feminist/woman’s arguments.

Barbara: “It seems to me that the feminists who are engaging here – as per Cath’s original, well-judged piece on this site – are just asking that people who write about rape don’t say things that are stupid, offensive and misinformed.”

Repeated for truth. Yes. Or that are conveying what they say they explicitly are not intending to convey.

Sunny: “there’s also a fuzzy line where the view is that if men disagree on anything, they’re instantly misogynists.”

This is the barrier I come up against again and again when engaging with leftwing men I know about sexism & feminism – raise something or talk about sexism, expecting to get a supportive response (because they are progressive men) and whoomph! a huge barrage of defensiveness and denial goes up, and everything gets turned around to being challenged to justify whether or not a particular man is or isn’t a sexist. It’s as if it’s regarded as something akin to narratives of guilt and sin and personal purity. To call someone sexist is apparently worse than the sexism. Plus it’s seen as akin to a criminal accusation, or a slur – the man feels put on trial, defends his innocence and so on, ignoring the fact that the social sanctions against sexism aren’t imprisonment or similar.

Calling out sexism isn’t done to irrevocably condemn or slur someone, it’s to challenge them to change, it’s to expect more of them. The ultimate goal is to transform society in a liberatory way.

So, if men are called out on sexism, they need to try and have some other reaction than denial. They need to put aside their personal need not to be seen or to have to think of themselves as contributing to oppression. Instead, as I said, a better reaction would be to try and understand why what they did or said was perceived as sexist and be open to the possibility that it was.

If it helps, think of us all being the sexist products of a sexist society. (Same goes for racism by the way). It’s no surprise that people act, think or speak in sexist ways. Once we’re aware of that we can look for effective ways to counter that. If we only hold that the most overt and intentional sexism (or racism or other oppression) should be criticised, we’re leaving a lot of the job undone. Good intentions count, but they don’t make unintentional harm caused any less harmful. (Analogy: if you stand on someones foot, whether it was an accident or not makes no difference to the pain they experience. Apologies are good but don’t work if you don’t actually get off their foot).

So, if men are called out on sexism, they need to try and have some other reaction than denial.

What? Even when they’re not guilty?

Oh sorry, I forgot. They’re guilty by definition.

@Kate Belgrave – taking the long view and acknowledging a range of possibilities isn’t just a view that should be confined to the Left. One would hope such is the preserve of anyone with a brain.

Sunny, at the moment LibCon seems to be indulging in a cliché glut. Above we have “Leftie brands other sell-out”. Elsewhere we had “Brits don’t often protest but…” A tad ridiculous all-told. Some people will always hold to dogmatic truths – but as I have said to you before, context is key. Arguing online, we have to take some truths as read, or we’d be arguing an infinite regression, since there’s no guard against the other person being an idiot and simply arguing black is white for the sake of it, or because they actually believe it.

The question is which truths. You don’t like some of the truths of the socialist Left, and they (myself included) don’t like some of yours. I know you do challenge them, as I frequently challenge you. That’s how this should work – not some side-swiping articles that seem designed to attack not just the views, but the people.

So, if men are called out on sexism, they need to try and have some other reaction than denial.

Cool. And when feminists are accused of man-hating, they need to try and have some other reaction than denial too. Deal?

The answer to the headline question – is it always a sellout to discuss difficult issues? – is surely no. However, as others have said, this should not be allowed to obscure the problems with the original JB piece: among them, the uncritical adoption of the defence’s point of view, the consequent assumption of the man’s innocence and the attack on the women for changing their minds (according to the defence), and the way in which the Swedish state and Swedish rape laws were attacked on the basis of rather limited knowledge informed mainly by the defence lawyers.

It is probably easy to find an anti-feminist who attacks Swedish laws as being radical feminist (after all, Sweden has in most respects a much better record on gender equality, though by no means perfect, than the UK has) and it is easy to find people (mainly on the right) who think Sweden is a totalitarian socialist state. But these are odd stances to be adopted uncritically by the left. Similarly the constant references to the superiority of Anglophone countries or Anglophone jurisdictions, I thought, were ill-judged and sit ill with the progressive internationalism we ought to cultivate. While the Swedish legal and court systems must by no means be above reproach (and nor must the British or any other), it does seem OTT to characterise them in this way on the basis of (a partial understanding of) a single legal case.

I thought I’d written ‘toe’, not ‘tow’ which is why I got confused. All sorted now, heh.

Barbs:
nor as far as I can see anyone else, is telling all men to fuck off if they don’t agree on every single issue.

If someone says (as quoted at the top) that leftie men always sell out wome in the end, I think the implication is a bit obvious there.

Cath also said this over Twitter:

@sunny_hundal Like I said, men can have whatever different views on rape that they want. But when it’s women who make up the overwhelming >>

@sunny_hundal majority of rape victims, I trust you’ll forgive me if I give not a shit what their opinions are.

I’m certainly not saying I want to dictate what constitutes rape or not, but there are legal definitions too which get invoked and talked about. If the men are completely not welcome in the discussion then I’m not sure what kind of discussion that entails.

Soho Politico – I think you’re putting some words into his mouth. He was dismissive of the Swedish authorities, but he is still right to say that the charge (which was since then clarified somewhat but not entirely) would never work in the UK.

Since you don’t know what the charge is either, to say the whole thing stinks and looks politically manipulated isn’t exactly rocket science (and it doesn’t mean that paints all women as liars because there was specifically a big caveat in there about how how rape is underplayed in society, which you conveniently keep ignoring).

Kate B:
There’s a lot of reason to believe that Assange has been set up in this instance, but that’s no reason not to consider all possibilities.

I think that’s the sensible approach. But there are real reasons why fingers can be pointed at the Swedish authorities – they still haven’t yet detailed the exact charge. They still haven’t released all the details of the case, and the way the case came about was shambolic frankly. To say that pointing this out is rape enabling is I think going too far.

Try starting with privilege-denying dude.

Grrr.. there’s no point telling someone who’s Asian and faced real racism in the work place that he doesn’t know the meaning of privilege. Thanks for the lesson, but I wasn’t born yesterday

It would be good if some of the commenters here engaged with what I say above about people throwing around the phrase ‘sell out’ without abandon (thanks Sarah AB).

and lastly – the context isn’t that whatever happens at the Daily Mail should be used an excuse to say that Libcon should not feed into the same stereotypes. We explicitly go out of our way to do that… as did the original article.

This happened a few years ago too when Unity wrote a piece questioning rape stats put out by Amnesty. He hates dodgy stats of all kinds and goes in guns blazing regardless.

At the time, when he said Amnesty was overplaying rape stats he was pilloried (and I had to step in, close the thread and ask him to run such articles by me first).

More recently, he accuses the govt of downplaying rape stats going by roughly the same methodology…. and he was linked approvingly.

Now I realise that we all have our biases and we like news / analysis that fits into prejudices. But do some people never want nuance? If being a leftie is only about having facts that fit into your own views, and accusing anything else of being motivated by racism / misogyny / Islamophobia etc – then I’m afraid the left will never get anywhere.

Women are just as capable as men of colluding with the CIA to trap someone who is inconveniencing the Empire. I would certainly prefer it if women did not choose to demonstrate their equality with men as agents of repression, but the fact is that they can and they do. Women can be villains too.

@50 In relation, supporters of Sarah Palin reduce any and all criticism of her, her stances, or of the pushing of her family into the public eye, down to misogyny.

@Ellie Mae I see feminists privileging ‘women’ over other ‘minorities’ every single day. And I don’t think women are a minority anyway. They are people, as are men, with multiple issues and relations of inequality that affect them as people.

53. Cheesy Monkey

Oh, get over your fucking selves—all of you. The original article was shit. The responses are shit. Osbourne’s chopper is about to fall and decimate social democracy in this country—how about diverting your energies to informing a bovine public* of the unnecessary hardships they are about to endure and how to fight back? Instead, you’re wailing and pooing about fucking semantics. The last time the Left concentrated on such ephemera, we were out of any meaningful power for 18 fucking years.

Rape is terrible. There are too few convictions due to judges. There are too few convictions due to non-reporting. Rape isn’t funny. Jokes about rape can be funny. In context. Assange is being smeared. Assange might actually be guilty. Nobody knows. Not even you. Or me. Poirot doesn’t know. ’Cos he’s fictional. But still. Women tend to get paid less than men. Women get paid less than men in identical jobs. If you find out that you get paid less than a man for doing the same job, take the company to court. Or humiliate your boss. Or both. Fuck the bosses. Figuratively, not literally. If you get paid less than a man doing the same job because you’ve been on maternity leave, fight for a primary carer’s income. Men aren’t arseholes. Men are arseholes. Some men are arseholes because they’re arseholes. Some men are arseholes because they get wound up when they hear the phrase “men are arseholes”. Get over yourselves. Wake up. Get moving. Rise up.

Just stop being a ineffectual bunch of dickcunts.

*in the sense that many people accept the cuts because they think that groups of people they don’t like are going to be far harder hit than themselves.

54. FlyingRodent

I think it’s pretty odd that so many people here would prefer to have an extended discussion on rape, when that doesn’t seem to be what Assange is charged with. I find it less surprising that there’s a hell of a lot more rattle about narratives and institutional sexism than there is about the actual facts of the case, or the whiffy manner in which they’ve emerged.

Further, I think there’s a gigantic, gaping void between “selling out women” and “saying things that annoy and infuriate some small groups of feminists” and I find the latter a lot less problematic than the former. In my expeience, groups of people who spend a lot of time discussing niche politics with like-minded comrades tend to be horrified when they discover that those outside their circles don’t automatically accept the same ideas.

“no ellie mae I have the luxury of living in a world where gender is not the key demarcation of inequality. we all live in that world but feminists want to keep the illusion that gender is more crucial than any other form of division.”

To a feminist the gender is the most crucial division, as sexuality is the most crucial division to someone who is LGB. It where the hammer of inequality hits hardest for you.

You can make arguements about which minority has it worst, but you can’t deny that a lot of minorities suffer from predjudice. I support my feminist friends, as any victory against predjuduce makes the world a better place for all of us, just as I hope my feminist friends support the gay rights movement, or anti-racism.

When any group of people is discriminated against, and remember it’s not the sufferers of discrimination that make the distinction, it’s those who consider the gourp to be inferior, it’s easy to recognise that group and point out that something needs to be done. Feminists for women, gay rights activists for homosexuals, anti-racism campaigners for ethic minorities etc.. It’s not the victims that divide people into arbitrary groups that need defending, it’s the bastards who discriminate in the first place.

They have had this problem among feminisms of different flavours for decades now: someone on the more radical fringes of the movements always criticise those who try to pick apart the complex issues of gender, race, violence and politics if they don’t pick them apart in precisely the way they like, or if they think the person doing the picking apart hasn’t got the authority to do it. For example, if a white man tries to discuss why it may appear there are many black single mothers, he gets accused of being both racist and sexist.

Sunny, this is the best article you’ve written for a very long time, and I think you make a very important point: if the left is to ever succeed, it can’t be afraid of discussing issues openly without fear of someone else within the left throwing around accusations of selling out.

For what it’s worth Cath is a good writer but I think her brand of feminism is more interested in semantics and moral superiority, compared to Sunny’s very focused approach to left wing politics which is to bloody well say it in order to do something about it.

Also – a quick question to feminist women here accusing me of missing the point.

Would you agree with the statement that in the end all white people are racist and will ultimately screw over racial minorities because they don’t understand their own privilege?

Sunny, I am glad this has happened. I think you are coming up against something very deep in feminism. I hope it makes you think deeply about your approach to feminism. Because feminism sure as hell isn’t going to think deeply about it.

53 and 54 – the most sensible posts so far.

@Akheloios

I couldn’t disagree with you more. I am a woman and I do not recognise ‘women’ as victims of anything. I am not saying gender inequality doesnt exist but that it doesnt exist along the binary ‘groups’ of ‘men’ and ‘women’.

If you want to discuss this further you can email me quietriotgirltwitter@gmail.com

or leave a comment on my blog http://www.quietgirlriot.wordpress.com

I don’t want to hijack this discussion as I think Sunny’s issue is more important here, about how some feminists call ‘misogyny’ when they are challenged and the accusation made against him that men are bound to ‘sell out’ women in the end.

61. Luis Enrique

FR at 54 has it

54 – it depends if you think these feminists are a minority within feminism or not. I don’t. I think they represent mainstream feminism in the UK and similar perspectives eg in the States.

And this post was about responding to a direct accusation about ‘left/liberal’ men with regards to women and feminism. That’s the topic of the discussion!

I think 53 has made the best point so far. The cuts are the biggest threat to people in this country male,female or other. If some feminists are going to automatically assume they cant trust men and that men are the enemy well more fool them. I know a number of men who are far more positive about women’s rights than some women are. Ultimately the original post was insensitive and had a number of issues with it not least of which was the assumption that there was enough information on the public domain to decide if this was or was not some fiendish plot by US Government to discredit Julian. The tone of the article trivialised rape and perpetuated many of the lying woman myths seen in the right wing press. Cath’s follow up was entirely reasonable apart from one phrase which was read differently by most pople to quote Cath in full :-

[b]Because it is the very antithesis of feminism to automatically assume that a man accused of sex crimes is innocent, especially when there’s no more basis for making that assumption than the fact that actually we’d really really like it to be true.[/b]

Now most posters have only bothered to repost the first part of the whole sentence. Many read that as Cath saying that feminism says that men should automatically be regarded as guilty, I dont agree with that, I think and from what Cath said later, this just means that just because we want him to be innocent because we like him doesn’t mean we should assume he is, thats not the same as saying assume he is guilty. The presumption of guilt doesnt mean anyone has to assume he is innocent it just means people have to legally treat him as innocent and can’t factually describe him as being guilty of the allegation, and also if a case goes to court that unless the prosecution proves him to be guilty he has to be found not guilty, as someone rightly pointed out thats not the same as innocent, this contrasts with a presumption of guilt where the prosecutor would make a charge and the defence would have to prove the charged was innocent. Now as for the rest of us we can think he is guilty can even let it cloud our dealings with him we just cant claim as anything more than opinion that he is guilty as charged.

“Would you agree with the statement that in the end all white people are racist and will ultimately screw over racial minorities because they don’t understand their own privilege?”

That’s not what Cath said, she said “The way left wing men always sell out women in the end”. She didn’t say in the end all left wing men are misogynists and will ultimately screw over all women because they don’t understand their own privilege”. She made a point that when the cards are down men often choose another issue over a feminist issue and she said that because that’s what you did. You defended John B’s argument rather than the woman who said that Assange had broken the law. Cath felt that meant you were propping up the idea that women lie about rape and you did essentially choose not to support the claims that woman has made. You were definitely saying that you think Swedish rape law is wrong (I’m interested in whether you have studied that law yourself or are trusting others to investigate that law). I think that you need to explain why you’re not selling out your own ‘pro-’ feminist stance in regards not only to that choice but also your comments in this piece because what you’ve done is make this into an issue about the entirety of left wing politics rather than about your response to a questionable argument.

As for left wing politics in general the truth is that the more extreme wings of it split into factions regularly. The same is true of politics on the right that aren’t rooted in the centre ground or related to liberalism. That’s no surprise because people tend towards extreme politics because of their beliefs- I’m not using the word extreme in a negative sense by the way, I agree with quite a lot that the SWP say what with being a socialist and everything but I wouldn’t join because of the lack of compromise. Why would anyone be surprised that political people accuse each other of selling out when they think they’ve betrayed those beliefs that they hold dear? It’s quite a different thing when a feminist says that to you because the politics they are talking about really are quite clear cut. In short I think your argument is confused and you need to separate the incidences of accusation from one another rather than lumping them together.

That’s not what Cath said

It’s precisely what she said. She said left-wing men always screw over women in the end, and that is “misogynist shite”.

I suppose one could jsuta about argue that it is the fact of the matter, rather than the men, which is shite. But I don’t feel under any obligation to charitably reinterpret away such an absurd broad-brush – and frankly sexist – insult. Her meaning is perfectly clear.

” I am not saying gender inequality doesnt exist but that it doesnt exist along the binary ‘groups’ of ‘men’ and ‘women’.”

No just mother and father and male rape victim and female rape victim and male employee and female employee.

@Nina Too be fair rape victims whether male or female get treated equally disgustingly in my opinion.

Although there is plenty of empirical evidence to show gender inequality in the work place. I found it interesting earlier the post about a white man being branded racist for talking about lots of black single mothers. How is it sexist to talk about the shameful behaviour of the dads?

I was going to say, I thought Flying Rodent wrote a highly pertinent piece on here just the other week about pointless infighting and focusing on po-faced nonsense, then he turns up here. Can’t say I’m the slightest bit surprised that this of course involves Twitter, the only purpose of using which seems to be to have completely stupid and farcical arguments with each other.

Nina I dont accept your perspective as the ‘truth’ of gender relations. I know yours represents ‘feminism’ and that is why I no longer identify as feminist. I don’t believe feminism is such a broad church as it makes out. But I expect you meant male ‘rapist’ not ‘rape victim’ as feminism tends not to acknowledge men who are raped very often.

Larry I wish I could help you with that definition of precise so I will, look up syllogism.

Quiet Riot Girl, it’s probably best for you not to identify as a feminist because you’re not one.

Thanks for confirming, Nina. I take that as a compliment.

Sunny: “If someone says (as quoted at the top) that leftie men always sell out wome in the end, I think the implication is a bit obvious there.”

As I said above, I think that comment was misjudged, though I can understand that Cath made it in anger and frustration. In any case, I don’t think one misjudged tweet undermines the entire feminist case on rape and rape allegations. Just like I won’t write you off for casually characterising all of feminism ever as “fuck off, men.” ;)

But, to call you on something else possibly equally as casual:

“Grrr.. there’s no point telling someone who’s Asian and faced real racism in the work place that he doesn’t know the meaning of privilege.”

The fact that you’re Asian makes you no more automatically capable of understanding women’s experiences than being a woman (any woman, including Paris Hilton and the Queen) would make you automatically capable of understanding Asian people’s experiences. People who have been victims of discrimination in one context are more than capable of being blind to other forms of discrimination.

Also, since you ask this:

“Would you agree with the statement that in the end all white people are racist and will ultimately screw over racial minorities because they don’t understand their own privilege?”

I would disagree that all white people are racist, just as I would disagree that all men are sexist or misogynist. But I would say that white people who are unaware of their privilege very often end up screwing racial minorities over without even being conscious of it, and similarly that men who are unaware of their privilege may do the same to women.

As for much of the rest of this discussion, I’ve already got a good few squares on Anti-Feminist Bingo: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/168/458582249_edbf713fd0.jpg?v=0

@73
Well done! Giz a shout when you get a line or four corners.

I love how feminists produce a satirical meme to undermine any arguments against them by suggesting they are inevitably sexist.

Anti Feminist Bingo and Privilege Denying Dude both do that.

How can you challenge the actual main principles of feminism without being called a sexist or misogynist or an anti-feminist?

@ Sunny: The point about “privilege-denying dude” was not directed at you but at some of the commenters. However, your reaction to criticism by feminists has been extremely defensive and to my mind has seriously misrepresented the actual accusations that have been levelled.

Sunny: thanks for this post.

he (mistakenly) understood to be the allegations

There is no evidence at all that I was mistaken. If any evidence is produced, then I’ll happily retract my claims. At the moment, the only account we have received of the prosecution’s case is the one disclosed by Assange’s legal team. In the event that the prosecution disclose their case coherently, in English (which, fortunately, they will have to do if they want to secure Assange’s extradition), rather than simply throwing around evil-sounding words, then criticisms of me on this front might actually be justified. At the moment, they aren’t.

He says in one comment that there is ‘no plausible way he is guilty of rape under Swedish law’.

Again, this is true. This is because the definition of rape under Swedish law is outmoded and requires the use of violence, whereas even the most extreme reports of the allegations against Assange do not suggest that this is the case. “Refusing to stop when asked during previously consensual sex” is not legally classed as rape in Sweden). It should be. But given that that is the law, you might hope that prosecutors would follow their own bloody laws.

If the prosecution’s case triumphantly pulls out some additional allegations that haven’t been made or reported anywhere before, anonymously or otherwise, then I’ll retract this point. However, the chances that I’ll have to are roughly the same as the chances that Julian Assange will be invited to the State Department’s Christmas party…

I think it’s pretty odd that so many people here would prefer to have an extended discussion on rape, when that doesn’t seem to be what Assange is charged with. I find it less surprising that there’s a hell of a lot more rattle about narratives and institutional sexism than there is about the actual facts of the case, or the whiffy manner in which they’ve emerged.

*This, in letters of fire sixteen feet high*

@Sunny:

“I think you’re putting some words into his mouth.”

No I’m not, I quoted him directly. If you find his words difficult to defend, it’s because they are, I’m afraid.

‘Since you don’t know what the charge is either, to say the whole thing stinks and looks politically manipulated isn’t exactly rocket science’

I don’t know what this is supposed to mean, I’m afraid. However, your continued defence of John B is becoming increasingly convoluted and, frankly, weird. The very simple point here is that, without access to the full facts, which is the situation that you, I, and John B all find ourselves in, declaring Assange categorically innocent, as John B has done, is premature, to say the least. Indeed to do so may reasonably be thought to imply a predisposition to believe that men accused of rape are always being fitted up.

Let me end my final contribution to this highly disappointing debate with some further words from John B – this time to me, on Twitter: ‘If I was wrong, meh’. This person does not care at all, I submit, about the veracity of his post, nor the consequences of his being wrong. It was a severe lapse of judgement on the part of this site to allow him to bring that cavalier approach to blogging here.

http://twitter.com/#!/johnb78/status/11393270772932608

79. This is a person's world

I am not saying gender inequality doesnt exist but that it doesnt exist along the binary ‘groups’ of ‘men’ and ‘women’.

Acutally, gender inequality does exist along [sic[ the binary groups of men and women. Otherwise, it ‘aint gender inequality.

80. julie bindel

Sunny, I did not NOT reply to your question about the Asian pimping gangs because you did not put it to me.

Twitter isn’t a great medium for this kind of complex debate (which, SohoPolitico, is why I haven’t replied to your latest barrage of tweets).

You said:

If it turns out you are wrong, you will have done massive harm, given the popularity of the post.

…which is ridiculous, hence my reply.

I was writing on the best information available at the time, which indicated that the charges against Assange were not about rape.

I made clear that *if* he was accused of not stopping when asked, then obviously, I would consider that to be rape.

I made clear that this was not an attempt to cast aspersions on the victims’ claims, but rather to point out that according to the only available account of the history of the night in question as disclosed by the prosecution to the defence, the victims’ accounts did not allege rape.

Given all the above, if it turns out whenever the Swedish prosecutors finally put their extradition statement together, that this *does* contain actual allegations of rape, then that doesn’t have any bearing on my earlier piece – any more than a piece saying “Julian Assange hasn’t been assassinated” would be falsified by him being assassinated.

Which was what I probably over-telescoped in my tweet. The intention of the tweet was:

1) if future facts falsify my piece, then I don’t believe that has any implications on my credibility as a writer. So “meh”.

2) if we let the fact that the Swedish government are smearing Assange without revealing what he’s accused of stop us defending him, when if he were accused of *anything other than rape* the entire liberal-left community would rightly be coming to his defence, then that would be a terrible thing.

Identity politics, doncha just love it?

“Several years ago the BNP decided to hold a march based on an article I had written about how Asian men in Keighley were ‘grooming’ young white women.”

I’m curious.

Why did you think that the race of these men was important?

me: “So, if men are called out on sexism, they need to try and have some other reaction than denial.”

pagar: “What? Even when they’re not guilty? Oh sorry, I forgot. They’re guilty by definition.”

See, that was exactly my point in my comment, a challenge to sexism is turned into a guilty/not guilty situation. It becomes about the man dramatically demanding to be absolved from a “charge” of sexism, not about the man considering why he might be being perceived as sexist and what he could do to avoid that in future. If being called sexist bothers him for the reason that he doesn’t want to or mean to be sexist.

53 Cheese Monkey & 54 FlyingRodent

Hear, hear! Don’t you people get it at all?

Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. Both the original post and the follow up by Cath generated a hell of a lot more heat than light, although looking at both threads and some of the tweets it’s Cath’s standpoint I find harder to take.

Breathtakingly stupid generalisation about left wing men always selling out women, throwing about unfounded allegations of misogyny, and making statements like:

“Because it is the very antithesis of feminism to automatically assume that a man accused of sex crimes is innocent, especially when there’s no more basis for making that assumption than the fact that actually we’d really really like it to be true.”

do nothing to promote Cath’s agenda.

captain swing ‘identity politics’ IS politics.

Maria, get a grip. If you call people sexists, they are liable to wish to defend themselves from what they see as a serious charge.

You might wish that people didn’t react that way, and instead beamed with gratitude at your revelation of a new way for them to improve themselves. Personally I’d like it if people could fly and echo-locate, but that ain’t how it is. Your experience should have taught you that by now.

That doesn’t mean you shoudn’t confront sexist behaviour, of course. But you might want to try to develop some approaches beyond shouty finger-pointing accusations.

Am I the only one who thinks point 53 is bullshit?

In case he / she hasn’t noticed, Liberal Conspiracy talks about the cuts all the fucking time. In fact, Sunny just set up False Economy, which is probably the best resource out there for fighting the cuts. Only last week, Cath was tweeting about an anti-cuts march she attended – trying to drum up support n that.

Issues like this don’t cease to exist because George Osborne’s decided to neuter the Welfare State – if anything they’re more important because they’re likely to become more prevalent as a result of the cuts. By ‘they’ I mean ‘inequality issues,’ by the way.

“a challenge to sexism is turned into a guilty/not guilty situation. It becomes about the man dramatically demanding to be absolved from a “charge” of sexism, not about the man considering why he might be being perceived as sexist and what he could do to avoid that in future”

I don’t think that changes it. The man in question could equally reply that your perception is at fault and ask you to consider what you could do to avoid similar mistakes.

Sunny – Good article, the left needs to be able to debate within itself without everyone being accused of heresy.

jb – if your writing had been as clear in the article as it has been in the replies here you could have avoided some* of the kickback but the points needed to be made. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out when the allegations are made clearer, (of course the European Arrest thingy will prevent any detailed discussion of this in a British court).

* Where some is a value greater than zero but not by much given the crowd.

The problem with the original article, to me, is the following. Firstly, the undisputed facts of the matter.
– two women reported to the police that Assange had done something of a sexually offensive nature to them.
– the Swedish authorities decide to charge him
– there is some confusion over exactly what he’s been charged with (but that confusion is not relevant to the rest of what I’m going to say).

John’s reaction is to look at the reported allegations and note that “He’s sought on made-up-weird-charges that aren’t a crime in the UK, or anywhere else sensible.” [1] and to say of the allegations (based on one source which is contradicted elsewhere) “Assange is being prosecuted for having sex without a condom, with someone who didn’t mind the lack of condom at the time, but who subsequently was cross about the fact that he didn’t use a condom.” and now infamously describes them as “bad bedroom etiquette”. In comment 91 of Cath Elliott’s post he states – and offers to clarify in skywriting if necessary – that he does not believe the women who reported Assange to the police to have been lying when they did so.

The implication of this is that the two women involved went to the police to truthfully report something that John dismisses as poor bedroom etiquette.

Sunny, John, do you still not understand why this might be taken to be a really big problem? Rape apologism is not just “women lie about rape” but also “women overreact and call things rape that aren’t”. These women – if you don’t believe they’re lying and/or MUST agents – felt sufficiently upset by what happened between them and Assange to go to the police. That suggests, regardless of what exact legal category it falls in, and regardless of the exact details of the allegations, something Assange did was beyond the boundaries of consensual behaviour. (Remember, most utterly unambiguous rapes don’t get reported, for a variety of reasons)

Bad bedroom etiquette is stealing all the covers, or eating crumbly biscuits. If someone feels upset enough by what someone else did to go the police then the initial assumption should not be that they’re overreacting.

Yes, the existence of the charges is very convenient for a lot of Assange’s enemies. Yes, the Swedish authorities are probably being strongly encouraged to treat the women’s reports with more seriousness than they usually treat women who report sexual offences (if only they took all reported sex offences this seriously as routine!). Yes, Assange is a thorn in the side of many governments who would like to see him fall. But none of that means that the women who reported him to the police should be implicitly or explicitly accused of lying (others in comments) or overreacting (John, and others in comments).

And you have to assume those women are either lying or overreacting, and dismiss absolutely – as John does, e.g. in comment 147 on the original – the possibility that the allegations are more than has been reported by Assange’s lawyer, to get to John’s conclusion that Assange is “very clearly not guilty [of being a rapist or anything else a crime in the UK]” (emphasis mine).

Do you understand why lots of people felt that you were “selling out” (not that I’d use that particular phrase myself) victims of sexual offences – other rape victims as well as for this case – by using arguments tied into those particular rape-apologist beliefs, in your attempt to defend Assange against government pressure?

I noted back here in mid-November, that one of the problems with building a united left coalition was that including both feminists and people who were prepared to do things that used and/or reinforced anti-women attitudes [2] in a (conscious or otherwise) “ends justify means” pursuit of some other (itself worthy) left goal is doomed to failure. I do wish it had taken more than three weeks for there to be a very clear demonstration of that fact.

[1] Given that as best we can tell from translations, the English rape laws (if you loosely define sections 1-4 of the Sexual Offences Act as such) are actually far stricter than the Swedish ones, both in scope and punishment, something which John himself is noting in comment 77 of this thread, this isn’t even necessarily true.

[2] In this case, anti-rape-victim, but given the huge overlap between “women” and “rape victims” it’s obvious that anti-rape-victim is also anti-women.

Ellie Mae No you’re not the only one. It’s utterly ridiculous to suggest that just because there’s an argument going on about one thing, people can’t at the same time still be focusing on other things. It’s called multi-tasking….

Sunny

“Would you agree with the statement that in the end all white people are racist and will ultimately screw over racial minorities because they don’t understand their own privilege?”

Not screw over necessarily, but yes, I would agree that even the most right-on anti-racist white people can sometimes be blind to their own privilege and not see racism when it’s staring them in the face.

But if you’re going to use the race analogy, I’ve got one for you: say you wrote a piece pointing out the (inadvertent and completely unintentional) racism in something someone else had written, racism that to you was blindingly obvious and actually pretty fucking enraging, but then I and other white people disagreed with you, would you agree with the argument that despite never having experienced racism themselves, and despite them not recognising racist tropes in the piece that to you are as clear and blatant as the nose on your face, that their interpretation should privilege yours? Would you back down in the face of all their defensive white angst, decide that you were wrong and that white people can know more about racism than you do?

Or would you think – wtf do these people, who have never shared my experience, and who have never known anything but white privilege all their lives, know about this issue?

And if one of them then went on to write a piece that basically pulled you up for daring to get angry when the people you thought would get it didn’t, how do you think that would make you feel?

And completely off-topic, can we please have some kind of comment edit function on LC, because that’s the second time in as many days I’ve screwed up the bloody formatting on a comment!

This is like the time an Arab man had consensual sex with a Jewish woman and was then convicted of rape: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/21/arab-guilty-rape-consensual-sex-jew

Just a few points about the conspiracy theories which may be of interest to people.

The conspiracy theorists say that Assange will either be extradited to the US from Sweden, or extraordinarily rendered, and that Sweden is a US client-state that allows extraordinary renditions.

However:
1) The Swedish chief prosecutor has just rejected any possibility of extradition to the US. [1] (Admittedly I don’t know whether this constitutes a guarantee.)
2) Why on earth would the US rely on a 50-year-old extradition treaty with Sweden rather than the absurdly one-sided treaty that it more recently negotiated with the UK?
3) Sweden has halted US extraordinary rendition flights. It protested when they became known, and in April 2006 Swedish intelligence officers boarded a US plane. There was a subsequent row, and as far as anyone so far knows, no extraordinary rendition flights have made stops in Sweden since then. [2]

Given that Sweden is technically still a neutral country (albeit known to be pro-American), aren’t there limits on what it would be able to get away with in a high-profile case like this one? Why would the US take a risk on Sweden when it could ask the UK to do the dirty work instead? UK politicians have, after all, fallen over themselves to make clear that they run a “pro-American regime” and will do whatever the US asks. Yet so ill-planned was the supposed conspiracy that British police presumably weren’t informed: they rejected the original arrest warrant on minor technical grounds.

Finally, interesting to note that even Assange himself, though right to be paranoid, doesn’t share the conspiracy theory in its more extreme form. He acknowledges that the women’s original complaint wasn’t politically motivated but rather sprung from what he calls personal issues. [3]

[1] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=4222511
[2] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=4222371
[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/06/wikileaks-julian-assange-police

Also Cath why are these charges the most important issue around the whole thing? Why not wait until he’s been convicted, if he is? How about all those people your Labour Party have murdered in Iraq and Afghanistan? Obviously none of the war crimes that Wikileaks has brought to light are anything compared to your semantic feminist issues.

96. the a&e charge nurse

“Is it always sell out to discuss difficult issues” – “I’ve changed the headline because it refers more broadly, while the text of my article and my focus is this site”.
Great article, Sunny – but just to clarify does it allude to the notion of women being ‘sold’ out’ because of the need, mostly by men, to support ‘the left’s new poster boy’ (as Assange was described by one regular commentator)?

The charge, as I understand it, is that even supposedly enlightened men revert to type when certain kinds of rape stories emerge – this manifests itself in a distrust of the veracity of the women’s account – unless rape falls into the category of violent attack by an unknown assailant?

My suspicion is that men DO have a problem with certain accounts of rape signified on this occasion by an undertone, perpetuated by myself amongst other, that it is hard to feel too sorry for the two women involved in the Assange case since one of the unwritten rules of casual sex is it’s capacity to go horribly wrong sometimes?

My thesis is that most men are so desperate for sex that it is almost impossible for them to see a sexual encounter (between adults) as a form of abuse once a certain threshold is crossed (such as ending up in bed together after a few drinks).
Or put another way most will announce in portentous tones how important consent is while all the time fighting against their biological design, as well as the psychological mechanisms that induce a near delusional state when interpreting what women are REALLY saying to them in the bedroom.
We may not like this state of affairs, but the facts bear this dynamic out time and time again.

For example, what man does not smirk inwardly when a slightly older women (a teacher say) has an illicit affair with a 15 year boy – of course publicly certain types of men will feign horror and say that nothing short of a custodial sentence for the woman is appropriate in such cases – while inwardly thinking, why wasn’t I lucky enough to attract such a partner?

To return to the main discussion, I find it impossible to accept that women lie about being raped (except in a minority of exceptional cases).
The stats suggest that rape is all too commonplace and applies to a wide cross section of social types.
There is no evidence to suggest that fewer women are being raped.

Now leaving aside the legal aspects of dealing with this problem doesn’t such an enduring pattern tell us that men and women have very different perceptions about what is and isn’t permissible in the bedroom? – for me, that part of the equation is the hardest to address because men fear of being labelled as some sort of exception even though the rape stats suggest it is more likely to be the rule?

@ Cath

say you wrote a piece pointing out the (inadvertent and completely unintentional) racism in something someone else had written

There are some pretty basic logical flaws in the above.

If someone writes something, and it is not intended to be racist, then, by definition, it is not racist. You cannot be an inadvertent racist- you either believe in the potential superiority of racial groups or you don’t. The reader’s perception that something might have been written with intent to promote racism or by someone with racist views is irrelevant. All that matters is the intention of the writer.

I am aware that there is a modern preoccupation with sniffing out racists, misogynists, homophobes or whatever and calling them out for unwitting prejudice they have revealed, in the perception of the reader. It happens frequently on this site and the usual response is mortification and apology.

Of course, that is often highly amusing but, in truth, the guardians of our collective conscience have no greater legitimacy than the people who used to prick suspected witches to see if they bled.

“To return to the main discussion, I find it impossible to accept that women lie about being raped”

- 96

Which is what makes this such a perfect little charge.

Accusations of rape are easy to make and difficult to disprove.

I bet he’d be in the dock for pedophilia if kids could be relied upon to keep their stories straight.

99. Chaise Guevara

@ 88

“Am I the only one who thinks point 53 is bullshit?”

Nope, I’m with you on that. I don’t get the mentality behind telling people that they should be having a totally different conversation, as if we’re all somehow bad people for not being one-issue fanatics.

@Dmob – the events seem to have been rather different from how they were first reported. But, given that it seemed possible that a man might be convicted of a crime for coercing a woman to sleep with him under false pretence, is there anything about that crime which now makes it more likely to be committed by a man against a woman as opposed to vice versa (or some other combination)?

Well @53 has a good point that there are more important problems at the moment however its not like you can only debate one thing at a time. Cant discuss the cuts all day will make you depressed ;)

@82 Cath: I’m glad there’s something we 100% agree on. Didn’t we once have an edit function on the comments here?

@89 Falco: my original article was written in a bit of a Hitchens/Cohen state – in fact, I find it much easier to understand their prose now I’m writing in a longitude where 3AM weekend articles are Friday lunchtime articles. Busted.

@94 Richard: the suggestion AIUI isn’t that he’ll be extradited from Sweden to the US more easily than he would be from the UK, but 1) if he’s held either on bail or in remand in the UK, that will give much more time and certainty than would otherwise be the case for the Americans to bring in their best lawyers to cobble together something that will satisfy the US/UK extradition treaty; 2) if someone’s a dissident popular amongst liberal/left types, then accusing them of something which we hold as a shibboleth of evil (equivalent to how treachery’s seen amongst reactionary/right types) is a convenient way of detracting from that.

103. Daniel Factor

As a left-wing man I “sell out” women because….

.I believe men accused of rape to be innocent until proven guilty.

.I do not believe all men accused of rape are guilty and that there is no such thing as a false allegation of rape.

.I believe men accused of rape should be given a fair trial and not thrown in prison on an allegation alone.

.I do not believe that too fight to uphold due process in rape cases is misogynist and branding women who report rape “liars”.

Ok I am a “sell out”

104. Daniel Factor

“When Muslims are accused of being terrorists without evidence, and their lives destroyed by the media, do lefties argue that picking holes in the accusations is akin to aiding terrorism? ”

No and niether should they. Lefties/liberals quite rightly defend innocent until proven guilty for accusations of other crimes, especially allegations of terrorist offences. However when it comes to rape they run like frigtened children believing that to suggest men accused of rape are innocent until proven guilty is an attack on women and victims of rape and is to be betraying the women’s rights movement.

Daniel – from a legal point of view I guess everyone is or should be innocent until proven guilty. But I think the more usual response to a new story like this one would (should?) be complete uncertainty. The allegations might be true. They might not be true.

@ Daniel: Please God no more pseudo-debate about “innocent until proven guilty”. Cath did not say that Assange is definitely guilty, she criticised John B for his categorical denial that the charges against Assange could be valid.

@ Pagar: What?? Of course people can do or say things that are inadvertently racist, sexist, etc. They can do so without being card-carrying members of the BNP. We live in an extremely skewed society and are products of that society, so it’s not a surprise that even left-leaning people have inherited some pretty fucked-up values. We shouldn’t be ashamed to admit it, but we should be honest and work to improve ourselves, and not get defensive in the face of any criticism whatsoever.

@ cim: Yes! Exactly!

@ 86 QuietRiotGirl

“Identity politics is politics”

No it’s not, and nowadays it’s a major pain, if you believe that then, politically speaking, I reckon you can’t find your arse with both hands.

We needed Identity Politics in the ’70s and ’80s we don’t now when even the Tories have adopted them.

With identity politics you end up with this kind of shit.

With all that’s going on in the world and the UK and what exercises Liberal Conspiracy the most? “did a nonentity of a Labour MP issue a racist election leaflet?” and “does a condom breaking constitute rape in Sweden?”. Issues on the lips of all the UK population of course.

Dur.

It was this kind of tokenistic crap that helped do for the left in the ’80s.

Identity politics is to the liberal left what sectarian Marxist arguments were to far left Trot groups.

@AG1985

We’re well off topic here but you really cannot be allowed to get away with this nonsense.

Of course people can do or say things that are inadvertently racist, sexist, etc.

No.

People can say things that are deliberately racist or sexist. That happens, though rarely.
Alternatively they can say things that are not intended to be racist or sexist but are interpreted as such by the listener. In that case what was said was not what was heard and that can be a result of poor expression or poor interpretation or both.

We live in an extremely skewed society and are products of that society, so it’s not a surprise that even left-leaning people have inherited some pretty fucked-up values.

I disagree.

I think we live in a liberal democracy with a pretty balanced set of values. At an individual level we have our own values and I certainly don’t wish to be subjected to complying with yours, whatever they are.

we should be honest and work to improve ourselves

Of course. Provided that does not entail being censored in terms of what we can or cannot say.

However I rather think that’s what you mean.

@captain swing
I think ‘identity’ is a key aspect of politics. Not in the way you have cariacatured it though.

Look at Obama and Cameron. Do you not think it matters to them and their projects how they come across, how they identify themselves?

@ Pagar:

You don’t understand what racism or sexism are or how they are connected to intentionality, you don’t appear to understand what kind of world/society we live in, and you don’t seem to understand what censorship means.

111. Planeshift

Pagar, lets remove the emotive ‘ism’ from the debate and focus on a trivial example to explore the point. Imagine a sales assistant in a shop getting a ticking off from his manager for being rude to a customer.

SA: “I was not rude, I had no intention of being rude”
Manager: “It was clearly rude, you called the customer fat”
SA: “Well she was, I call some of my friends fat if that is what they are”
Manager: “well you are not supposed to say that, she thought it was rude, regardless of your intention”

Does the fact the sales assistant had no intention of being rude mean this incident is not an example of rudeness?

Does the fact the sales assistant had no intention of being rude mean this incident is not an example of rudeness?

No of course not.

We must all try to anticipate the effect of our words on those hearing them and should be careful not to cause offence where it is not intended. That is just a measure of good communication.

But let’s imagine a woman dressed up to go out.

“You look nice.”

“You look hot.”

“You look beautiful.”

Any of the above comments might be construed as sexist and no doubt Cath would describe the woman as playing into the hands of the patriarchy for dressing up at all.

So what do you say?

Well, you might argue that the best policy is not to comment at all but strangely I’ve found out that doesn’t get the evening off to a good start either……….

113. Shatterface

‘To be clear, I have self-censored on Liberal Conspiracy as editor. I have rejected articles criticising lefties, feminists, environmentalists, the Labour party, Libdems and Greens because the criticism wasn’t valid enough to warrant the intra-left fighting.’

Just to state the obvious, rejecting articles written by others isn’t *self*-censorship.

114. Chiase Guevara

A good point at 113! Censoring articles you don’t agree with and that you think will damage your cause is not all that noble.

I still like the article, though.

@93 –

This is like the time an Arab man had consensual sex with a Jewish woman and was then convicted of rape: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/21/arab-guilty-rape-consensual-sex-jew

Do you mean the first version of events released, or when the real version was released? http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/laurie-penny/2010/09/jewish-woman-chauvinism-rape

You are right in a way though. John’s post was shared a lot, as was the first version of the Sabbar Kashur case. Neither told the whole story.

I can’t pretend to agree with everything written here, especially some of the more extreme allegations of misogyny. But jeez, isn’t it great to have a bloody good argument, just like we used to in t’good old days pre-New Labour.

Larry @ 87 “Maria, get a grip. If you call people sexists, they are liable to wish to defend themselves from what they see as a serious charge.”

Again, what I’m saying is, stop seeing being called out on sexism within this legalistic framework of “serious charge” and “defend”. Being told that you have, or someone you like or feel affinity with has, said or done something sexist (or racist etc), is not the end of the world. Unless it’s some kind of blatantly unjust act of discrimination or abuse of power, it’s probably just one relatively minor sexist act in a culture full of background minor sexist acts (that shore up the big injustices). The person criticising the sexist act has probably spotted or put up with dozens of other trivial sexist acts that they’ve let pass because they can only do so much. They probably decided to speak up about a particular sexist act because it just got to them too much, or that there was such an audience to it that it was important to speak out in opposition to it. They may have also hope that the person doing something sexist and/or their audience, especially if they are people with progressive politics generally, would be open to hearing a challenge to sexism because they care about ending sexism and not doing sexist things.

cim @ 90 – that’s a great articulation of the problems with John B’s original post.

Chervil @ 98 – “Accusations of rape are easy to make ”

They really really are not. The vast majority of rape victims don’t ever bring themselves to report their assault. Many take a long time after the fact to even disclose to people they trust. Of everyone I know who is a rape survivor – I can think of at least half a dozen or more of my acquaintance off the top of my head – I know of no one who went to the police. For most, I don’t know anything about the men who raped them, no names, nothing – none of those men is going around with the shadow of a rape accusation blighting their life. I don’t give a shit about them, actual punishment would be an unrealistic pipe dream. What I really want is for them not to have done what they did, so that the people they hurt didn’t get hurt and didn’t have to struggle through the process of recovery and the effects of often self-destructive coping mechanisms to deal with what was done to them.

Taking care in how we discuss rape and being aware of the harm of common ignorant attitudes about rape and rape victims, and more broadly transforming how we view sex, sexuality and relationships, and ridding them of inequality, helps bring about a culture in which rape victims are more likely to get the support they need and to recover better, and in which there are less rape victims because less people commit rape and more people

This place is starting to scare me.

(hit submit by accident) … and more people genuinely value the free consent and enthusiastic participation of the person they are being sexual with – so all participants are enjoying themselves. And not mistaking compliance or giving into pressure for consent.

120. Chaise Guevara

@ 117 Msria

“Again, what I’m saying is, stop seeing being called out on sexism within this legalistic framework of “serious charge” and “defend”. Being told that you have, or someone you like or feel affinity with has, said or done something sexist (or racist etc), is not the end of the world. Unless it’s some kind of blatantly unjust act of discrimination or abuse of power, it’s probably just one relatively minor sexist act in a culture full of background minor sexist acts (that shore up the big injustices).”

It’s not a case of being *told* you’ve said something sexist, it’s a case of being *accused* of saying something sexist. You seem to be assuming that the accusation is as good as proof, which would explain why you have such a problem with people defending themselves.

When someone’s accused of sexism, or anything for that matter, sometimes that means they need to look at themselves, and sometimes it means the accuser needs to look at themselves. On recent threads on this site about rape and sexual violence, it’s generally been the accuser who needs a rethink (from my experience at least).

@ Chaise Guevara

Again, the language of “accusation”, “proof”, “defending”! It always comes up.

122. Chaise Guevara

@ “Again, the language of “accusation”, “proof”, “defending”! It always comes up.”

Yes.

Because if you say something about someone that isn’t true, they will defend themselves. I’m not suprised you hear this language come up a lot if you think proof is arbitrary.

Let’s try this out in reverse. If I said your last post demonstrated that you were a racist, fascist, homophobic kitten-kicker, how would you respond?

Maria -

What’s wrong with such language? We’re agreed our society contains a lot of racist assumptions, yes? If I commented, however idly, that you’d been racist in word, act or facial expression you’d probably take that fairly seriously. If you disagreed with my analysis – or, indeed, accusation – you’d presumably want to oppose the notion – and, perhaps, defend yourself – and ask me to substantiate the claim – or, to phrase it differently, give proof.

124. Chaise Guevara

*And i’d like a straight answer this time, not just to have three words quoted from my post at random.

125. Chaise Guevara

@ BenSix

Snap.

I think we have a serious case of “other opinions don’t exist” going on here.

Your post beats mine. As, indeed, does any that includes the term “kitten-kicker”.

127. Chaise Guevara

@ 126

I’ve been spending too much time at tvtropes lately, you see. Apparently “Kick the Dog” is the name of a specific character development technique…

@126 & 127

I love the phrase tho..it sounds like it came from that Daily Mail headline generator thingy ;)

say you wrote a piece pointing out the (inadvertent and completely unintentional) racism in something someone else had written, racism that to you was blindingly obvious and actually pretty fucking enraging, but then I and other white people disagreed with you, would you agree with the argument that despite never having experienced racism themselves

Cath that’s happened lots of times! I’ve frequently written about racism and Islamophobia where people have not agreed with me.

1. I don’t think they’re racist for not agreeing with me though.

2. This is a sliding scale. I once wrote a piece praising a guy for snubbing the Queen over the slavery commemorations and I knew lots of people would disagree. Another time I wrote a piece saying what a Boris spokesperson said about “go back home” in an interview was offensive.

Lots of Tories didn’t like either article. I disagreed with them, and some undoubtedly because they were racist or didn’t think about their own privilege – but I would never say that applies to EVERYONE who disagreed with me.

AllyF has disagreed me on CIF loads of times – sometimes on race issues, sometimes when I attacked Muslim groups. Is he unaware of privilege too?

We posted a piece disagreeing over Oxbridge policies on race – is that racist too?

And what about the times when Muslims disagreed with me over my stance on the MCB? Who is forgetting their privilege then?

I think it’s far too easy to disparage the intentions of the people you disagree with, and unfortunately that’s exactly what you’re doing here. Hence, my response.

@ BenSix & Chaise Guevara I’d want to understand why you considered that I had done or said was racist or homophobic and I would certainly welcome someone pointing out that I had kicked a kitten. Because I don’t want to do any of those things. I’d think about what was said & decide if I thought they had a point or not, and if so perhaps make an apology or other reparative action if appropriate, and would know better next time what not to do.

If on due consideration I thought you were talking out of your arse I’d wonder why on earth you’d think that of me, possibly decide that it was some desperate distracting or silencing tactic, and not let it bother me.

As a straight person I am mindful that I may well unintentionally say something ignorant or hurtful with regard to lesbian, gay or bisexual people. I don’t have their lived experience of homophobia, or of what it is like to be LGB. I can’t presume to know but I can listen to what LGB people have to say about their experiences and what straight allies can best do to support them. I try not to fuck up in this regard but if I were told that I was then the best thing I can do is to learn from it & try not to do it again.

It’s understandable to feel defensive in the face of criticism, and to not want to feel like you’ve done anything bad. But if I were to react to being called out for homphobia by making it all about my feelings as a straight person and to sideline the voice of the LGB person whose experience is marginalised generally would be rather arseholish.

We aren’t just criticising John B’s post completely out of the blue. Reasons have been given, context and factors that he overlooked or just was not aware of. You ask for “proof”, but his words, like those of all of us bloggers and commenters, are right there to be read and considered. The problematic aspects of what he wrote have been explained.

131. whatisyourmotive

“Another time I wrote a piece saying what a Boris spokesperson said about “go back home” in an interview was offensive.”

Your deliberate omissions do make McGrath appear to be a bit of a racist. However it was the person conducting the interview and not McGrath who introduced the subject of Caribbean migrants ‘going back home’.

“when I pointed out to him a critical comment of Voice columnist Darcus Howe that the election of “Boris Johnson, a right-wing Conservative, might just trigger off a mass exodus of older Caribbean migrants back to our homelands”.

He retorted: “Well, let them go if they don’t like it here.”

http://www.the-latest.com/blacks-should-go-back-home-if-they-dont-like-mayor

132. Chaise Guevara

Maria

“I’d think about what was said & decide if I thought they had a point or not, and if so perhaps make an apology or other reparative action if appropriate, and would know better next time what not to do”

Exactly. “Perhaps”: i.e., only if an apology was warranted. But if a man is accused of sexism you expect him to accept blame regardless of whether it’s fair, and if people try to argue with that you act as if they have some problem with their attitude and try to claim that the fact they use words like “blame” magically proves your point.

So you can defend yourself, but if a man does the same, he’s wrong for even trying. What a massive fucking double standard. I think it’s you that needs to be taking a look at yourself, Maria, and perhaps prune the sexism out of your attitude.

133. Chaise Guevara

@ 130 Maria

“But if I were to react to being called out for homphobia by making it all about my feelings as a straight person and to sideline the voice of the LGB person whose experience is marginalised generally would be rather arseholish.”

Here’s the other thing: someone arguing you is NOT the same as sidelining you. You need to be able to deal with the fact that other people have opinions that differ from yours. Until you do, you’ll keep demanding special treatment on behalf of yourself or the group you want to represent, and very possibly, in your own words, we’ll treat this behaviour as the “desperate distracting or silencing tactic” that it is.

Sunny, having read many of your posts since you were accused five years ago of being a sellout, it is apparent that in your desperation not to be accused of being a sellout in the Guardian again you became a sellout


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  2. LMS

    RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  3. CathElliott

    More often than not, yes: RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  4. sdv_duras

    RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw [strange this as I think it doesn't answer the question]

  5. Ellie Mae

    RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw < round 3

  6. Neil Hughes

    RT @MissEllieMae: RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw < round 3

  7. Sonya Thomas

    RT @cathelliott: More often than not, yes: RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  8. sunny hundal

    My response to @cathelliott – 'Do left wing men always sell out women in the end?' http://bit.ly/dLfVtw (cc @bindelj)

  9. Tom Scott

    RT @sunny_hundal: My response to @cathelliott – 'Do left wing men always sell out women in the end?' http://bit.ly/dLfVtw (cc @bindelj)

  10. Little Metamorphic O

    RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  11. Kate Joester

    RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw // Not always, but quite often.

  12. Jonathan Lintern

    RT @sunny_hundal: My response to @cathelliott – 'Do left wing men always sell out women in the end?' http://bit.ly/dLfVtw (cc @bindelj)

  13. Elly

    RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  14. Emily Davis

    RT @sunny_hundal: My response to @cathelliott – 'Do left wing men always sell out women in the end?' http://bit.ly/dLfVtw (cc @bindelj)

  15. Peppa pig..oink!

    RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  16. Welsh Feminist

    RT @CathElliott: More often than not, yes: RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  17. CathElliott

    RT @sunny_hundal: My response to @cathelliott – 'Do left wing men always sell out women in the end?' http://bit.ly/dLfVtw (cc @bindelj)

  18. earwicga

    RT @CathElliott: More often than not, yes: RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  19. SSP Campsie

    RT @CathElliott: More often than not, yes: RT @libcon: Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  20. richdavidson

    RT @sunny_hundal: My response to @cathelliott – 'Do left wing men always sell out women in the end?' http://bit.ly/dLfVtw (cc @bindelj)

  21. Andy Godfrey

    RT @libcon: Oh no the evil feminazis have accused LibCon of sexism. Of course they're not sexist, they're LIBERAL! http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  22. safefromwolves

    RT @sunny_hundal My response to @cathelliott – 'Do left wing men always sell out women in the end?' http://bit.ly/dLfVtw

  23. Steve Mosby

    Fascinating post/discussion on Liberal Conspiracy: http://tinyurl.com/2ahme64





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.