Just another woman’s testimony of sexual assault, sexism and male abuse of power in the labour movement

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My interest in the recent scandals on the revolutionary left is a personal one – I was a victim of sexual assault at the hands of a male ‘socialist’ and ‘trade unionist’ less than a year ago (it’s now March 2013). It was not the first experience of sexual assault (far from it, I lost count long ago) but I certainly plan it to be the last one where I’ll remain helpless, defenceless and passive, that’s for sure.

As soon as I can recover my health I will not only get fitter again, I’m going to train in some form of martial arts. Self defence is both a necessary and appropriate response to such threats from male abusers of women.

I agreed to not name this individual by the investigating party – it is not my choice but as I do recognise and am disgusted by the opportunist hypocrisy of bourgeouis newspapers r.e. The Independent and Guardian which use the ‘Comrade Delta SWP case’ to attack socialist and trade union organisations, I keep the name of this criminal in question anonymous as I do NOT wish my testimony to be used against socialists, left wing parties and trade unions by these capitalist immoral bloodsuckers (r.e. liberal ‘left’ journalists who attack Leninism in a wholy unprinicpled and dishonest manner).

Instead this is a message to my own ranks on the socialist left and in the labour movement as a whole: if you are complicit in covering up male abusers of women and protecting them, whilst leaving the woman in question out in the cold and without support from her comrades when she needs them most, you reap what you sow: you WILL be implicated in these scandals and will suffer the inevitable political damage including both attacks from the bourgeoius press and the ultra left sectarian groups.

BUT! This does not mean you can therefore dismiss it out of hand and bury your heads in the sand whilst the working class look on us in despair and disgust and we thereby undermine our own cause, including above all, our urgent need to recruit women workers and their families. This weakens the workers movement as a whole.

Women who experience rape, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, misogynistic bullying and sexism at their hands of our so called socialist ‘brothers’ have the right to be heard, listened to and yes, believed by you. We demand justice from our own side – so long as you TRY to keep us silent, discount our testimonies, call us liars, in effect – all to protect these men – the men who have hurt and violated us in the most degrading and demeaning ways imaginable – you deny us, women and the working class justice. Worse, you are making it harder for comrades to challenge this blatant counter reaction and division of the workers movement and thereby the international socialist struggle.

Finally, I must end on an optimistic note.

The new generation – young, energetic, fresh and the future leaders of the workers revolution both in Britain and internationally – do not share this tired, conservative outlook whatsoever. They – we – are the music of the future. It’s time socialists, marxists, trade unionists and community campaigners everwhere start listening and learn and correct past mistakes. Viva la revolution, Sara (my personal views only)

13 thoughts on “Just another woman’s testimony of sexual assault, sexism and male abuse of power in the labour movement

  1. I wholly agree with everything you say and you have my utmost solidarity and support. I’m just glad that you spoke out and that others (including myself) have too and I hope it inspires many women (which it will, I’ve already had hundreds of messages). Good on you, you should be very proud of yourself – you are the real class fighter.

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  2. It is of utmost importance that the labour movement is a place in which women can feel comfertable to come forward with any allegations of sexism or sexual assault in all it’s forms without being judged and with confidence that the allegations will be examined seriously and democratically with the fundamental agreement that no comrade is indispensible. This can only be achieved if the leadership of the labour movement actually do take up cases seriously and democratically with an attitude that nobody is indispensible.
    Apart from the fact that this should be a given to all those who believe in fighting for a better society, a fundamental product of a healthy democratic centralist structure in the case of revolutionary parties, apart from the fact that it should also be at the heart of anybody who believes in women’s equality (Especially in the heart of revolutionaries) it is also a fact that over half the world’s population and indeed a majority of the working class in the 21st century are women! There can be no strive towards a better society without our female comrades! And this man doesn’t want to be a part of a movement that alienates women or anybody else wanting to fight for Socialism.
    Now we in favour of bringing these issues to the fore in the light of the SWP’s scandal of it’s attitude towards both women’s emancipation and internal democracy (Or lack of!) at a time where the capitalist media have jumped on the case and used it to demonise left-wing politics, feel that other parties and organisations on the left must issue a statement on the shambles that emerged with kangaroo courts, significant splits as as mentioned the attack on the credibility of the left as a whole. We belive that remaining silent of the issue is irresponsible, unjust and damaging.
    It if for those who through a history of struggle and leadership amongst the wider working class throughout their history, often resulting in worker’s victories which hand in hand with their established roots the working class has established them as a vanguard party, where the responsibility of drawing lessons from this crisis lays. It is also a chance to refelct on their own handling of such issues.

    In this time of crisis we look to the leadership! But we as activists and many of us revolutionaries, also share their responsibility and this is why we can not be silent!

    I applaud Sarah Mayo, the un-named SWP member and Caroline Leneghan for speaking out and having the courage and passionate fire inside to want to better our movement.

    Some of our comrades and indeed friends have approached us with the argument that by demanding action we are failing to understand that this is a reflection on wider society, that we don’t understand that we aren’t immune to these issues because we are a part of socialist organisations and parties.
    Let me assure those comrades that we are read and comprehensive in the ideas of Marxism and that we do understand that we live under capitalist, class, patriarchal society and that these issues are a product that comes from that. We understand that even amongst those that are economically and politically inclined to socialist ideas, from an embryonic instinct to an advanced conciousness i.e the working class, sexist and other dicrminiative attitudes are rife and indeed potently in many cases. This is a situation that isn’t helped by the mainstream propaganda inflicted on the class every day, ofcourse owned by the capitalist class themselves. We understand that there are no invisible filters surrounding the left that only allow within their walls those purged from discriminative attitudes. We also understand that people can change over time but we are adamant in the duty of care we have towards our women comrades that fall victim to these vile products of this corrupt, decrepit society we are so determined to overcome. Moreover, despite this correct theoretical analysis that both we and our comrades share, we do not believe that ever man in society is capable of sexual assault or other forms of violent assault towards women. I’m sure our comrades also acknowledge this.
    In many cases the situation could boil down to whether we keep the offender in our ranks at the risk of alienating and excluding the victim and for us this is an easy choice to make regardless of the so called prominence of those involved.
    Sure, let people change but let them prove in some shape or form that they have to us and to the victim they wronged.

    Jaime Davies

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