Sunday, 3 February 2013

Why Nick Cohens are not the best femnists

There is a crisis currently unfolding in the SWP. The crisis came about after a rape allegation made by one party member against another, was dismissed by the Disputes Committee who knew the accused. There seems to have been a good deal of victim blaming during and after the investigation, and members have been expelled for speaking out about the situation ('secret factionalising'). 

There has been a considerable backlash against this blatant misogyny and suppression of dissent, both within the party and the wider left. I am not a member of the party and I suppose there are legal issues involved, so I don't want to go into too much detail on this. Richard Seymour - a party member - has written this brilliant post about it.

Today, Comment is Free have published piece by Nick Cohen, 'Why 'leftist revolutionaries' are not the best feminists'. A bit of an inflammatory headline, but hey, what else do we expect from CiF? Maybe it would be an interesting take-down of the misogyny that is rife in some quarters of the left, or the terrible effect victim blaming has on women's willingness to report rape. Perhaps he would make a point about how a party can only call itself 'revolutionary' if it fights for the liberation of all, and rejects patriarchy as well as capitalism.  

What was I thinking? It seems to me that Nick Cohen hates the revolutionary left (with particular contempt for the SWP) more than he hates rape and victim blaming. Cohen has used feminism as a tool to attack a political movement he doesn't much care for. He had a platform, and he used it to peddle anti-left propaganda. By doing so, he presents a false choice between the revolutionary left, and feminism. What a great feminist ally. 

 So, let's look at a few quotes: 

"revolutionary socialists hide the identity of alleged rapists." 

 Really, Nick? I'm a revolutionary socialist, and I am not in favour of anonymity for alleged rapists and I don't really know any folk on the left who are. I think what you meant to say there was, "The SWP hid the identity of an alleged rapist". Sorry it's not as reactionary, but why let a little thing like accuracy get in the way of a good opportunity to troll? 

"On the face of it, the protesters have no grounds to be angry. What kind of outfit did they think they were joining?... How can people be shocked when men and women who condone jihad fail to direct the alleged victims of rape to the police? It would be more shocking if they did." 

Some two-fold nonsense here, from Mr. Cohen. I'm not sure that the SWP can be said to support jihad. They support the right to self-determination for Palestinians, and oppose illegal wars against Islamic countries because they are anti-imperialist. That's not really the same as saying "'mon the suicide bombers", is it? 

Also, victim blaming much? Is "they shouldn't have joined a revolutionary party if the didn't want to get raped", going to become the new "If you wear a short skirt and heels, you're asking for it"? It's pretty understandable that the woman involved didn't want to go to the police. The police have been shown to mishandle rape cases and to treat women who make allegations as liars, subjecting them to inappropriate and sexist interrogation. The woman in this case made a decision as to how she wanted to proceed, and she decided she could't trust the police. It isn't her fault that the SWP failed to honour the trust she put in them. 

"One can make the same argument about Assange and Galloway." 

All I really want to say here is, Assange is NOT of the left. The guy loves capitalism so much, that he wants to make it more efficient. The left has a large number of terrifying misogynists, but we shouldn't have to take responsibility for him as well. 

"But a few Labour historians are more hopeful. They believe the SWP is dying and a foul Leninist tradition is dying with it. If they are right, not only will the air on the left be sweeter to breathe, but British feminism will have won a notable battle without the mainstream media even noticing." 

This is what Cohen gleans from this whole disgusting mess. Nothing about the horror of not being believed by your 'comrades', nothing about the fact that being a political woman can be dangerous. Nothing about the feminists within the party who are agitating for justice. Once again, the suffering of women is used as a political tool. We were told we went into Afghanistan for the liberation of women living under Taliban rule, and now liberals like Cohen are pretending to give a crap about misogyny on the left, whilst they celebrate the demise of a party they appose. 

Nick Cohen is a troll, but he's part of a tradition that uses injustice perpetrated against women as a political football whilst feigning concern. He is nothing but a vulture, and shouldn't be considered an ally by feminists of any political persuasion.