This post comes to your courtesy of thoughts provoked by this post at Shakesville [trigger warning for sexual assault]. But really, I’m surprised it hasn’t occurred to me previously given, well, the reaction to almost every guest post I’ve ever made at The Standard.
Stop being so angry. You’re hurting the movement.
Stop talking about leftwing men committing sexual harassment/assault. You’re hurting the movement.
Stop criticising Labour, you’re hurting the movement.
Let’s think about that phrase, hurting the movement. What do [usually white straight middle-class cis men who happen to be leftwing] mean by “hurting the movement”?
Making the movement look bad? Scaring people away from the movement?
To refer back to Melissa’s post at Shakesville, I would’ve thought that tolerating, excusing, and ignoring sexual assault hurts the movement in precisely those ways. It certainly makes the movement look bad. It certainly scares some people away from the movement.
Oh, wait. I think I see the problem.
When people talk about making the movement look bad, or scaring people away from the movement, they don’t mean just any old people.
They mean other usually-white middle class hetero cis men who currently aren’t hip to the movement. They mean outsiders who are just like them, so are people they presume will get on board when they realise how awesomely cool that board is.
They don’t, i.e., mean women. They extra specifically don’t mean feminists.
And this is where another of my favourite issues comes up: the entitlement complex of the left.
Because the only way this makes sense to me is if those people who are telling feminists to shut up about fucking sexual assault are assuming that they’re safe in doing so. It’s not like we can stand up and say “well screw you and your thinly-veiled sexism, I’m voting for a party that’s openly misogynist! Haha!” It’s not like we’re all going to flip them the bird and refuse to vote at all in their inherently patriarchal set-up-for-men’s-interests system, right?*
So they feel safe saying “shut up about your silly women’s issues”. Because we have to be on their side. And gods know that they do have a tiny point in that openness about any issues in the Occupy movement will be instantly leapt upon by the media machine as proof that these protesters are just silly/stupid/ignorant/evil/selfish/dysfunctional/doomed to failure.
But it coincidentally also allows them to go on pretending to be amazing revolutionaries sticking it to The Man without questioning their privilege or deep-seated impulse to defend rape culture.
Myself, I’m a fan of professional wrestling (and True Blood, and the occasional trashy romance novel, and South Park) and a ranty feminist blogger. I can cope with the notion of actively critiquing the things I hold dear and admitting they’re not perfect. Dare you to give it a go, dudes.
*Some radfems probably will/do, but I assume the dudebros don’t tend to read their blogs.