Among topics and truths I’ve tried hardest to ignore (fake cheese is bad for my health, drinking is bad for my liver, wrinkle cream probably doesn’t work), the number one most un-talked about, the number one issue I wish so badly to remain in denial over, is the sad, sad truth that many progressives, when made to choose between their heros and women (ugh, as if they ever did anything for the left – I mean where were they during the labour movement?), never choose women.
As Sady Doyle wrote, in response to Michael Moore’s public support for Julian Assange, who asks us to “Please — never, ever believe the “official story,” claims the sexual assault allegations are both ‘strange’ and irrelevant; essentially asking that the public to put aside these silly little rape accusations because Assange has done so much for the left that any wee rapes are negated (left-wing math! Like right-wing math but without the suits):
“But hey, Michael, you know what exposes a Big Lie, a lot of the time? Rape allegations. You know who knows all about big lies? Women who have been raped. Raped, sometimes, by powerful men within our communities; raped by men who were beloved and supported by those communities; raped by our fellow progressives. And we didn’t report, because we knew no-one would believe us; because we knew we’d be shamed and smeared and lied about and harassed until we agreed to go away and let the Big Lie continue to exist.”
And yes, I realize that Assange has not yet been proven to be guilty of anything. The point is that the left wants nothing to do with it either way. And the point is that, either way, progressive men still get to be considered ‘progressive’, ‘revolutionary’, and ‘activist’, regardless of their actions or attitudes towards women.
It’s almost like some men still function under the assumption that women should sit down and shut up while they do the important work. If you’re not with us you’re against us eh?
Hey, do you remember how, back in the 60s, all these ladies got fed up with doing all the cooking, secretarial work, and being sexually available to all those lefty guys fighting for civil rights and against war while consistently being ignored and belittled? Remember how Shulamith Firestone responded to the supposed ‘New Left’ by telling them to go fuck themselves: “We say to the left: in this past decade you have failed to live up to your rhetoric of revolution. You have not reached the people. And we won’t hitch ourselves to your poor donkey…we have more important things to do than try to get you to come around.” (1967)
The difference here is that, while Firestone believed that these supposedly progressive men would ‘come around’ because, eventually, they would have to; clearly they did not. There is still something missing within progressive discourse today, and that something is still feminism.
And while we, as progressive women are expected to tow the party line, get our ‘priorities’ straight by supporting left-wing men, unequivocally, where are our allies when the shit hits the fan? Somehow, progressive men stop being progressive when it comes to rape, when it comes to feminism. Feminism continues to be viewed as secondary to ‘politics’, secondary to war, secondary to the economy; though, as we know, women are also those who often suffer the most, in silence, in war, in poverty, and without equal representation or voice in politics.
When it comes to rape, I could not have possibly said it better than Doyle did, and can only add that this glaring omission of rape and the mass abuse of women across the globe is not new to the left. While it is perfectly reasonable to be up in arms over Assange being denied bail, it is not ok to be up in arms over rape. We are still not supposed to talk about rape. It is still a trivial issue. And when we refuse to stop talking about it, even the progressives look at one another and roll their eyes.
I know that many of you have experienced the kind of silencing that happens around assault. I have spoken, in particular, about the way in which small communities do all they can to silence victims and tell women, in no uncertain terms, not to ‘rock the boat’. It is made clear that we will be questioned and we will not be believed. When we refuse to be silent, when we refuse to be silenced, we learn our lesson by being ostracized and “shamed and smeared and lied about and harassed until we agreed to go away and let the Big Lie continue to exist.”
When Michael Moore says: “For those of you who think it’s wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations…” who do you think he means. ‘For those of you.’ ‘For those of you’…feminists? Oh yes. I imagine Moore and his followers know exactly who he is talking about. Oh you guys. You still here? Sheesh.
How much longer do I have to pretend not to be hurt. Or angry, even (*gasp*), that the left continues to treat feminism as not only a separate fight, but, apparently, an annoying fight, that gets in the way of the real issues?
How many more decades, oh lefties, are you planning on ignoring one half of your members? How much longer will you call yourselves progressives and refuse to acknowledge feminism? We promised to leave you 40 years ago because of this bullshit and here we are, in 2010, being shushed.