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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)

Yeah? Remember how, as a result, we came to be familiar with a little something called Radical Feminism? Me too.

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.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Ellie

    Hear hear!!
    There’s also a good article written in response to the disappointment of Naomi Wolf’s criticisms of the alleged rape victims:
    http://bgnews.com/opinion/feminist-betrays-roots-by-supporting-assange-in-rape-case/
    Because even out spoken feminists feel the pressure to remind progressives that they’re still in the club.

  • Miss Understood Nomore

    Brilliant…just what I wanted to say. Thanks

  • Edgar Friendly

    “And yes, I realize that Assange has not yet been proven to be guilty of anything.”

    Not only has he not been found guilty, charges have not been filed. At least one of the women has left a textual record of her bragging about bedding him. In August. When it supposedly happened. One of them threw a party for him the day after she was supposedly victimized. Incidentally, this is the same woman who various outlets have reported has ties to the CIA. Four months later, Julian Assange is all of a sudden a rapist, coincidentally right after he drops a diplomatic bomb on the US government.

    Michael Moore is aware of (at least most of) these things. I know that because I read the article you linked to, and in it, HE links to another article that points out most of these things. I was aware of them beforehand, because this is generally available knowledge that’s all over the place. I think you should be aware of these things if you’re not, because, well, the link was right next to one of the parts of the article you quoted.

    If this still smacks to you more of a rape investigation derailed by the misogynists on the left than a way to put pressure on a guy who poked the world’s biggest superpower in the eye — while also releasing a bunch of documents that basically prove our government fights dirty like this all the time — perhaps your judgement is clouded by the fact that you’re so heavily invested in this one issue?

    By the way, Michael Moore and almost everyone else (certainly myself) who has come out in support of Julian Assange thinks that he should face these charges, despite all the BS surrounding them.

    “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.”

    Or maybe he was talking to all those who would immediately write off someone who has made a demonstrable contribution to liberty because they’re tarred with the brush of a terrible accusation with no proof to back it up? You know, what you’ve done. Sigh… I don’t know, your interpretation is as good as mine. Oh, wait, there’s more to the paragraph:

    “For those of you who think it’s wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he’s being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please — never, ever believe the “official story.” And regardless of Assange’s guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself.”

    Wow! It seems like that’s exactly what he was saying.

    The funny thing is, the reason he has to say that is because the reasonable people on the left just flat-out don’t tolerate rape. So not only does the left NOT turn a blind eye towards rape, it’s so abhorrent to them that no matter what good Julian Assange has done, as soon as somebody, anybody, calls him a rapist, he’s a pariah. Even if it didn’t happen.

    • @Edgar

      You serious man! Your response is really fuckin condisending and frankly inappropriate. The entire point of the article is that we need to be more careful about defending people who are raping/sexually assualting/violent towards others.

      I felt that Meghan Murphy has written a really awesome article and I think that we do need to be careful about our responses to these things in activist circles (when I saw we I mean as a male). Radical and good people do bad shit too – regardless of the crazy shit and conspiracy shit we hear out there. The less we tolerate this stuff and hold people up and accountable for the shit they do the less it’s going to make it acceptable and also ‘tolerable’

  • Meghan Murphy

    @Edgar
    And by ‘so heavily invested in this one issue’ do you mean feminism? Or rape? Are these issues ‘clouding my judgment’? Or are they, um, maybe, you know, the WHOLE POINT OF THIS BLOG. You have, not surprisingly, all at once completely missed the point of the entire discussion and debate around these allegations as well as made clear, exactly what the point is. And guess what, douche-for-brains, I’ve read ALL of those articles. And more. If you had done any reading or research at all around these issues and debates, you would have realized that everything you say here has been said a million times over by other MRAs and apologists. What’s that you say? He hasn’t been found guilty? Moore thinks he should face the charges?! You know how to click on links?! On the internet?! OOOH INTERESTING. TELL ME MORE.

    Not a one of the feminists who have participated in, or discussed #mooreandme has ‘written off’ Assange or the good that he has done in making public these documents. Rather, the point is that a) it IS indeed possible for a man to do good things for the left AND bad things to women, and b) Moore’s language was offensive and problematic, regardless of what he is ‘aware’ of. He has since, you are right, corrected this language, and clarified (here for those who haven’t seen it or did not listen to the show we did following up on #mooreandme with Jaclyn Friedman: http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/12/21/5692437-the-michael-moore-interview)

    The point is, also, that many people (I am unsure as to whom you are describing as ‘reasonable’ and assume that you would include yourself in this group of ‘reasonable people’, though you are clearly misunderstanding just about every point I am, and all the other feminists are, making) on the left DO tolerate rape and sexism and will ignore these issues so long as this man is doing other ‘good’, progressive things. That or they will make excuses for him and blame the women. Just as you are doing here.

    You are engaging in classic rape apologism in the most oft-repeated and boring way possible. “At least one of the women has left a textual record of her bragging about bedding him. In August. When it supposedly happened. One of them threw a party for him the day after she was supposedly victimized.” Uh yeah. We know. This kind of apologism IS EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.

    Get back on your MRA blogs where you belong.

  • Although I want to be on the Left, too much of the male Left abandonment of women has made me become an anarchist and leave behind the male-orientated structures of the Left.
    The Left will build up individual heroes of men – and if they are accuse of violence to women and children it more than just pushed under the carpet, as most men on the Right would do – it is instantly justify and explain in usually patronising language of how no Leftist hero could even imagine treating women and girls as objects. That is what other men do – never men on the Left.

    This is exactly the same as the constant Leftist defence of their consumption and being in the management class in the sex trade. They defend the sex trade because they make their porn is harm-free and good for women – whilst the nasty porn is made by the Right. That their consumption of the prostituted class is always done with “respect” and is obviously mutual and equal. This is utter bullshit – but it make the Leftist consumers of the sex trade ignore the violence and degradation that is the backbone of the sex trade.
    More it is i they were honest – the Left want to keep porn as their entertainment, and don’t care about the destruction of the women inside that porn – instead they frame as “not real” pain and degradation, that is must be liberating and empowering for those women, and anyhow it made by Leftists so that’s ok then.
    The Left want to keep easy access to the prostituted class. Therefore put on a veneer of safety and get it to appear regulated by placing it indoors -regardless that the vast majority to all women and girls is indoors and when they isolated with a violent man. This is made worse when a punter knows he owns the prostitute.

    It should be remember that many of the leaders in the sex industry – whether Larry Flynt or Huge Heffner etc – would frame themselves as Left-wing heroes. These “Kings” of porn manipulated Leftist language to say that it is liberation for women, that it make sexuality freer and it anti-censorship. This makes sure the Left never look at the extreme violence, for it is made out it only play-acting.

    It is this taking over by the porn culture inside the Left, that means that too many on the Left will refuse to even imagine their heroes could treat women as a person to rape. Instead, as inside porn-thought that the woman lead him on and manipulate the innocent man.

  • Bravissima to Meghan Murphy for her clarity and courage. I’m just sorry she still has to explain these basics (yet again) to the dunderheads, 41 years after my “Goodbye To All That” (#1) became a classic. Robin Morgan

    • Meghan Murphy

      I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear from you, Robin. Thank you for all your work, it has been absolutely foundational for all of us.
      In solidarity, Meghan

      • And your work is “futurational” for my generation! Have you ever written for Ms. or for The Women’s Media Center? If interested, write me via the contact emails on my website. In sisterhood, damn right. RM