No 1528 2nd February 2018
Capitalist press led "exposés", celebrity witch-hunts, evidence-free scapegoating and "moral" grandstanding reveal the reactionary outcome of the latest "new feminism" and its man-blaming diversions from the class war realities of capitalism's breakdown. Campaigns for women bosses and Tory BBC journalists underlines its middle class character. Like "old" feminism, the real impact of this super-reformism is to divert attention from capitalism's war depravities and Catastrophic economic breakdown and from the only possible way in which the gross inequalities, injustice and repression of capitalist society can be solved - through communist revolution. Sexism, female double-exploitation and rape are all huge blots on human existence but are constantly created by and RE-generated by capitalism itself just as racism, homophobic persecution and environmental degradation. All can be solved only by ending this system. Elevation of single-issue reform above Marxist revolutionary perspectives is part of the problem helping capitalist divide and rule and feeding anti-communism. Leninism is needed
Voices around the EPSR fringe have suggested that the #MeToo women’s campaign, to expose and bring down “male” abuse, might have a progressive “left” side that could even be an element in fighting against capitalism.
Although not overstating the case and giving direct support to this single-issue movement, the notion is advanced that at least aspects of it (a “left component”) could be welcomed, as an expression of the growing discontent against the capitalist order building up as its world crisis inexorably deepens.
Possibly even, the toppling of some of the more grotesque examples of abuse by bullying figures holding powerful positions, (such as the alleged couch-casting film director Harvey Weinstein), might express some kind of forward movement, weakening the ruling class.
Any such notions however would be a bad mistake.
It is not wrong to see this latest turmoil as both reflecting, and being caused by, the intensifying contradictions and paralysis of monopoly capitalist society, increasingly riven with inequality and the imposition of desperate Slump conditions while gross privilege and wealth flaunts itself ever more obscenely.
And there can be no suggestion of defending such crudities and abuses of power, or even of not welcoming such exposures when they are proven or admitted, of gross sexism and arrogant chauvinist presumption and bullying.
And the growing willingness to speak out in genuine cases can be welcomed as part of an overall exposure of the capitalist world’s degeneracy.
But that is not because all this is some kind of movement towards real “social advance”, let alone a “revolution transforming our lives” as one of the more hyperbolic Guardian feminists raved recently.
Quite the contrary; this bizarre and increasingly off-the-wall frenzy of mostly hysterical witch-hunting and (often) evidence-free character assassination reflects the desperation of the petty bourgeoisie to avoid and head away from, the increasingly obvious need for an all out transformation of society and its revolutionary overturn.
Turning up the volume on all this "super"-reformism is happening now precisely because the huge intensification of the crisis collapse of the entire monopoly capitalist world is raising fundamental questions; the aim is to stop any discussion of the real, revolutionary, problems facing humanity, (male and female).
The increasingly demented nature of its campaigning and especially around the quite extraordinary escalation of its attacks on men as such, as supposedly the source and cause of the problems in the world expresses a complete petty bourgeois fear of the breakdown and turmoil in society and a growing desperation to avoid seeing the great Catastrophe in the system and particularly the conclusion that must lead to, of the glaring necessity to overturn everything.
It is hostile to class understanding of the problems in the world and the revolutionary necessity imposed by the crisis, and wants to divert attention from such understanding.
It is an increasingly desperate holding of the hands over the ears and shouting “la-la-la, can’t hear you”, just as is the revival of "left"-Labourism, the condemning of “jihadism” and “terrorism”, and the nonsense of shutting down anti-Zionism by declaring it “anti-semitic”.
In other words it is anti-communist through and through and more frantically so than ever before.
So too is any supposed “left” variant, just as are all “left” variations on existing reformism and “left pressure” movements, which do not make the need to completely end capitalism the overriding perspective.
The EPSR has long declared all such single-issue politics like feminism, but including anti-racism, environmentalism, anti-fracking, LBGT “rights”, animal rights and various other causes, would provide a last ditch defence for the capitalist system, precisely because their fundamental philosophy is one of reformism, suggesting that such struggles can irreversibly alter capitalism, slowly but surely (see eg EPSR No 1032 and Perspectives 2001 paragraph 32).
Just like the old version, the “new” feminism now being hyped is thereby a giant evasion of the revolutionary class war questions that need urgently addressing as enormous social tensions and resentments build up everywhere through the grinding austerity of capitalism’s crisis catastrophe and its ever more depraved international warmongering “solutions” dragging the world towards another great trade war, Slump, and world war disaster (as in 1914 and after the 1930s Depression).
Worse still, its man-hating campaigns blaming a “crisis of masculinity” for the world’s troubles, play right into the hands of a ruling class increasingly using every splitting and scapegoating tactic it can find to keep the working class divided and thereby weakened, heading off the revolutionary class war perspective and understanding that alone can unify them and guide the class war to overturn the bankrupt private profit system to establish worldwide planned socialist production and the development of a rational and conscious society (including ending for good the iniquities of sexism and the suppression of women’s capacities, as finally the full flourishing of all individual talents and abilities becomes not only possible, but the necessary condition for the flourishing of everyone in a collective society).
Furthermore it is playing into the hands of capitalist censorship and suppression of reasoned discussion just when the greatest ever debate in history is required (and inevitably breaking out) to sort out all the gigantic questions of humankind’s future, and past steps towards it, not least the huge issues of the workers states and the first great attempts to build a different and rational world like the Soviet Union (including the enormous strides forwards made there in women’s education and equality in society).
Insane witch-hunting has already destroyed the lives of various hapless celebrity victims without any justification, each metaphorically lynched by a baying mob and sanctimonious celebrity posturing, on the mere whisper of gossip and unsubstantiated, often very dated accusations, all reported and treated by the bourgeois media as if they constituted irrefutable “proof”, often of “crimes” that are themselves wild exaggerations and distortion of normal, often clumsy, relations between men and women.
In at least one case, the Welsh MP Carl Sargent, these stampeded “moral” denunciations have pushed someone over the edge into suicide.
It is playing a thoroughly reactionary role, akin to the book burning repression of the Hitlerites and Arrow Cross fascists of the 1930s, and by doing so is itself a variant of those fascist attitudes (just as the PC “gay rights” assertion has been, in refusing to take up and examine the question of homosexuality, declaring all such discussion to be de facto “homophobia” to be suppressed or “no platformed” – see EPSR No 976 eg).
All of which is not to say that women’s equality campaigns have not taken up real injustices, nor that there has not been a climate of contemptuous abuse and taking of sexual advantage.
They have certainly have made society aware of much of this and have even made headway on specific issues.
Furthermore feminism has drawn attention to, and educated society on the millennia long history of female inequality, sexist abuse and exploitation and continues to show how it persists in modern capitalist society.
Past struggle has included hard won and bitterly fought-for suffrage and equality victories, over the last century in particular, including for the right to vote (a first partial victory of which is celebrating its centenary in Britain this month) and major trade union fights like the Dagenham women’s strike for equal pay and status 50 years ago, the Asian women’s battle at Grunwick with its mass picket support from the miners and others, and battles against sexual harassment supported by the dockers in Liverpool.
It has helped drive forwards all kinds of technology helping domestic lives especially and removing the brute force requirements of much labour to open up work opportunities.
And it continues, as in many ways the double burden of exploitation on women goes on, and is even worse in some respects through the near industrial levels of sexploitation, sex-slave trading and forced, profit-making pornography now prevalent (and a universal sexualisation of culture and commerce which confuses and frustrates everyone’s interactions, bemused and confused men as well as women).
Damaging sexist backwardness permeates right through class society and down into almost all levels of the working class too, which takes its lead inevitably from the dominant culture imposed by the bourgeoisie (and by feudalism and slavery before that).
But while awareness of all this is a crucial part of the struggle against capitalism, and all such specific battles can make a contribution in the overall fight against the unfairness, repression and exploitation of capitalism, they will either achieve very little by elevating these issues to the primary position politically or even worse, set back the working class by counterposing them to the fight for revolutionary class war.
While capitalism itself continues, it will always generate and regenerate every kind of antagonism, old and new, at all levels of society from the individual to communities, cities, countries, and blocs of countries, because of its essential competitive essence.
And it will end in the devastating “competition” of inter-imperialist trade war and world war, in which all such gains will count for very little in the wreckage and the slaughter, even if “emergency war measures” have not already taken them and other “democratic freedoms” away again (as the vote was “suspended” for 10 years and internment was imposed during WW2, along with “coalition” government, i.e open bourgeois dictatorship) and as measures like “anti-terrorist” surveillance and universal digital monitoring, and “anti-extremist” censorship like Prevent, are doing now.
The fundamental philosophy of feminism which suggests such single-issue advances can steadily change things for the better, fundamentally and permanently altering society step by step within capitalism, not only negates the value of such awareness, but becomes completely reactionary.
Furthermore the tiny gains which might be achieved for some women rarely make a difference to much of the world’s female population which does not get much attention anyway from a middle class movement more concerned with “getting a fair share” of the spoils in the metropolitan countries exploiting the rest of the world, than it is in real equality.
Campaigns to win equal pay for the grossly overpaid hacks in the reactionary pro-Establishment BBC or other parts of the capitalist controlled media propaganda machine, so that a few women too can get several hundred thousand pounds a year to pour out similar anti-communist poison and nazi-propaganda against assorted demonised Third World countries to the men, or stir up chauvinist poison hyping the likes of Little Englanders such Nigel Farage or UKIP, while ignoring, belittling or talking down anything remotely “left wing” with their “dogged terrier” interviews, are hardly an inspiration for the ordinary working class women struggling with collapsing schools and welfare services.
Ditto for the repeated complaint that there are “only seven female CEO”s (chief executive officers) running the major companies in Britain which plunder the privatisation system, and push the ever worsening work conditions, zero-hours contracts and reduced safety standards onto workers.
Or for the high flying models and film stars whose often highly sexualised images fill the airwaves.
Or worst of all, campaigning to get “equal representation” in the corrupt and self-serving parliamentary racket (and its more local equivalents), so that just as many (again overpaid) women as men can push their snouts into the trough of expenses, planning rackets, revolving door private industry jobs and lucrative “advisory consultancy” sidelines, using privileged knowledge and networking connections to pull in £100s or £1000s a day for telling big corporations how to position themselves to get public sector contract awards and government grants, or how to play for backdoor influence.
And just in general political terms, in what possible way can it make a difference to the working class to have even more Tory women for example – are not two such prime ministers, and a stream of appalling reactionary ministers, enough?
Conversely how does the notion of more Labour women, or any other kind in parliament, however “principled”, make any kind of advance since it helps extend even further the hobbling illusions of bourgeois “democracy” in the working class and the supposed possibilities of “steady progress towards socialism and a better world” if only, finally, “we can get some decent representatives”.
They are all pulling the wool over working class eyes with their pretences and opportunism, male or female and would do so even if there was 100% female representation (with perhaps an appropriate number of LBGT etc, and “gender fluids” and with the right percentages of “minorities” thrown in for perfect PC measure).
They all are thoroughly and consciously anti-communist and slickly ready to continue running the capitalist system, just as every Labour government and all parliamentary “representation” has ever done, changing nothing of any significance and disarming the working class, heading it away from the vital grasp it needs that only taking over and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat will ever transform things.
Feminism simply bolsters the biggest lie of all, that the capitalist world is really all there is, and changes must be and can only be fought for within that context.
In the real world conditions facing ordinary people in even the great Western nations, Slump austerity continues to unravel apace (see desperate poverty and deprivation in America detailed last week) or the grinding poverty imposed on the Greek working class for nearly a decade, or the bleak future for the young throughout most of Europe.
British workers are being hammered by everything from the disastrous failings in education and schooling at all levels to the savaging of social services, family provision and childcare; from the stagnation in wages for all to the cuts in workplace safety, security and certainty alongside it, as well as sudden shock bankruptcies and failures hitting thousands of families at a time, and corruptly wiping out their pension provisions, savings and hopes; from the mounting impossibility of ever being able to find and pay for a house to the increasing difficulty of getting anywhere at all to live that is not a rundown, rat or flea invested squalor hole, or a terrifying fire-prone tower block like Grenfell; and from the relentless ratcheting up of prices by the big monopoly corporations, by utilities squeezing out ever more profit from gas, electricity, and phone bills to exorbitant ticket prices for overcrowded train services.
Workers everywhere else continue to face the semi-slavery of the sweatshops, mines and plantations that provide the superprofits without which imperialism’s metropolitan countries would have to make even more severe and devastating cuts; but there is no mention by the feminists of the women in Bangla Desh for example, still working in the kind of conditions that saw 1500 killed recently when a jerry-built factory collapsed on them, or the even more primitive conditions faced by the exploited workers in the Sri Lankan and other tea plantations, or the banana growers.
Worse, throughout the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian women and children are being slaughtered, maimed, starved, bereaved and blown apart as “collateral damage” in the non-stop blitzing and destruction which has been underway for three decades, pulverising, blockading and sanction-starving Iraq throughout the 1990s (which alone killed half a million children, let alone their mothers), blitzing tiny Serbia and shooting up Somalia and Sudan, and then destroying country after country in the Middle East, or by the horrors daily imposed in Africa by Western provoked and armed upheavals like the Catholic church instigated “revolts” in the Congo currently, or in east Ukraine as the Western installed swastika-toting Kiev regime shells cities and kills thousands in the east.
All these direct or provoked imperialist wars have as one of their defining features the euphemistically named “collateral” damage blasting apart women filled wedding parties, christenings (or their Muslim equivalents) and house occupants in village after village and town, or even wiping out entire cities like Mosul and Raqqa.
And even if they avoid death, how many have lost their homes, been driven into refugee camps, or desperate and deadly dangerous migrant refugee treks?
How many women and children have been butchered and blown apart in Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Afghanistan by NATO cruise missiles, bombing “missions” and the drone warfare which was hugely escalated by the Obama administration with its female foreign policy supervision under Hillary Clinton???
How many Yemeni women and children are among the seven million civilians (at the last count at least a month ago) facing not just hunger but outright inhuman famine deliberately induced by the non-stop, US and UK armed, Saudi Arabian bombing of Yemen, consciously knocking out vital infrastructure, farming and fishing, as well as indiscriminately terror-bombing the population? Or how many among the minimum 40,000 civilians there facing cholera death and who knows how many other diseases?
It is hard to answer because all (rare enough) capitalist press stories on this ongoing butchery and inhuman blitzing have been kept off the front pages, not least by the “new feminist” shallowness and its self-righteous moralising diversions.
No wonder the bourgeois media have so willingly taken up this issue and the flurry of witch-hunting around it.
Their eagerness not just to talk up this wave of “new feminism”, and even for that most capitalist of all papers, the Financial Times, to actually instigate one of the highly publicised “stings” against the Presidents Club charity’s men-only event, tells the real story of this much hyped and celebrity dominated upheaval.
It suits the capitalist system down to the ground.
The bourgeoisie’s grip on ideology and mass dissemination of entertainment, politics and information (or rather disinformation) has not noticeably been in favour of revolutionary changes and upheaval in the past, and even less so in period of crisis, political turmoil and economic uncertainty.
But it knows that whatever “calling out of male bad behaviour” and hobbling of the “patriarchy” is supposed to be underway, it falls far short of any real change to burdens and difficulties facing the enormous majority of women in most of the world.
And any minor discomfort for the status quo can be coped with.
Capitalism has absorbed and ridden with the gay rights issue for example, and ultimately turned it to its advantage as yet another market opportunity through the pink pound etc, as well as a useful component in supporting the status quo, notably in the re-election of the Barack Obama government in 2012, when the promise of “gay marriage” was the decisive element to win a majority to continue the coup-supporting, pro-Zionist, Libya-blitzing and drone-assassination presidency; the vote compensated for the disillusionment of other single-issue constituencies who were fooled into voting for Obama in 2008, like the black “civil rights” sections hoping a “black man in the White House" would make a difference and to some extent the feminists, swung behind Hilary Clinton.
So too it has adopted the latest wave of feminism and is even helping inflate it.
The President’s Club charity shut down makes the point entirely.
Making a few token sacrifices from just one instance of boorish and frankly adolescent drunken male behaviour in one of the many freemasonry like gatherings and networks by which the bourgeoisie makes all the real decisions in society (short-circuiting the laughable pretence of “democracy” and parliament, which is anyway part of racket) costs the ruling capitalist system very little.
It was only one of multiple such lavish and expensive events, and its “bad behaviour”, crass though it was, is nothing like the drug-ridden depravities, prostitution and degeneracy which the ruling class indulges itself in elsewhere, in clubs or private villas and multi-million yachts etc, and certainly a million miles from rape or even any serious forced abuse; so tame was it in fact that the “outrageous” incident of one drunk boor merely suggesting a “hostess” take her knickers off and dance on the table has had to be repeated in story after story.
And while some of the girls involved said they were “terrified” many others were not doing the event for the first time.
Complicity is shared, even if reluctantly, by the women who took the hostessing “job” and agreed to “wear black knickers” at the request of the agency employing them, run incidentally by a “business” woman.
Shutting down the charity is just a token and the whole week long furore is about as genuine as the famous incident in the film Casablanca when the police chief has to shut down Rick’s club under fascist political pressure, declaring he is “shocked, shocked to find gambling going on here” just as the maître d’ brings “your winnings sir”.
So too is the absurd grandstanding self-righteousness which, for example, sees small children denied possible additional medical aid and treatment because of some pompous declarations (driven by fear of mass moralising hysteria) that hospital charity donations are “tainted money”.
What self-righteous sanctimonious hypocritical nonsense!!!
If these posturing prats have any real principles why don’t they speak out against the relentless and deliberate running down of the National Health Service, the gross profiteering of the drug and medical equipment companies which cost it so much, the usurious bloodsucking of the “interest payments” for privatised hospital buildings, the syphoning of huge fees by labour agencies providing nurses and doctors at twice the necessary costs (even within capitalism), and the reality that the entire structure is being (not so) secretly run down and readied for full privatisation?????
But even that is not the real deflection of attention and the true depravity; that is the grossness of ruthless capitalist racketeering by which all these bosses, lawyers, City “investors” and the like accumulate their wealth (guiltily handing over a tiny portion for “charity”) by the exploitation of the world’s working class, and their networking class conspiracy to continue imposing its relentless greed, despite the incompetence bankruptcy and failure of the entire outmoded, outdated class ridden system.
And that would continue even if the entire City and all its bosses were replaced by women and such dinners were run with total decorum.
In fact its pretences would actually reinforce and bolster the very capitalist system which creates this chaos and hell for the enormous majority on the planet and which is about to plunge everything into far worse Catastrophe.
By suggesting that these are problems of “masculinity” – which are “re-educatable” – rather than of the exploitative relations imposed by all forms of class society and most of all by capitalism, the feminists help capitalism’s divide and rule confusions.
These are created by, and will constantly be regenerated by the endlessly antagonistic conflicts created at all levels throughout capitalism, from one individual treading on another individual to keep or win jobs, make a living and “get on in life” to districts, different industries, whole cities, regions and nations all competing with each other, desperately trying to seize some advantage at the expense of other groups, through their “mayorality” or regional growth plans and devolution (Oxford-Cambridge “technology corridor", Yorkshire devolution, the Bristol-Cardiff Severn bridge zone, etc etc etc. or even Catalonian “self-determination”, Scottish nationalism, or “regaining sovereignty” through Brexit.)
Blaming the old (baby boomers) for society’s problems, or immigrants, or assorted race scapegoats, or Brussels, (or not being with Brussels), or “the Russians” are all being encouraged too by the ruling class.
The “new feminist” puritanism and moralising is entirely playing in to the hands of this reactionary division mongering with its declarations that virtually all male sexuality or “uninvited” approaches towards women constitute “abuse”.
In its frenzy to avoid discussing what is really driving the great breakdown and collapse through capitalist society it has reached surreal levels of moralising hypocrisy, demonisation and vicious scapegoating itself.
Its lynch-mob trampling allover any pretence of justice has seen numerous victims strung-up on mere accusation or ignoring all reasoned defences and evidence.
One of the most prominent cases is that of film director Woody Allen, where a 25-year old allegation of “abuse” against one of the adopted children of his then partner Mia Farrow has been investigated twice by independent bodies and the case dismissed but where the tide of accusation and hate-campigning has seen his late career destroyed by grandstanding PC sanctimoniousness which chooses to believe the unsubstantiated accusations of one of the “sisterhood”, a woman who was seven at the time.
The objective facts of the case (and numerous hypocrises which are part of the hate picture built up against him by the feminist lobby) were set out in a long and reasoned Daily Beast article some years back, which among other things defended Allen from other allegations that he had “married his own adopted daughter” (the woman in question, Soon-Yi was the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and previous partner André Previn to whom Allen was unrelated); that it was outrageous anyway because of the age difference (the article points to the fact that Mia Farrow herself had married the 50+ year old Frank Sinatra when she was 20, around the same age); that this constituted circumstantial child abuse context when in fact she (Soon-Yi) was 19, young but a grown woman and a long way from the pre-pubescent 7-year old of the “paedophile” allegation; or the that Farrow’s own brother was actually convicted to serve 10 years for multiple counts of child molestation; that Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi is highly stable and has been for 14 years and many other points. But such reasoning and evidence does not stop the lynching:
Woody Allen’s latest film, “Rainy Day in New York,” may never be released.
[It] will either not come out or [will] get dumped by Amazon without any p.r. or theatrical release,” is how one film executive put it.
“He’s having trouble casting his new film,” claims the film-industry insider.
Of course, all this is coming following the news that stars of his films are moving away from the director and donating their movie salaries from his pictures to charity.
Dylan Farrow, Allen’s adopted daughter with former girlfriend and actress Mia Farrow, accused him of having molested her in 1992 when she was 7 years old. He denied the accusations, and in 1993, a court was unable to find “credible evidence” to support Dylan’s claims.
Allen has continued to work since the allegations first surfaced. But things are different now in the #MeToo era, which came to fruition with the help of Allen’s own son, journalist Ronan Farrow, after movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was ousted from Hollywood as many accounts of his predatory behavior were made public in an October 2017 report in the New Yorker.
Many members of the “Rainy Day” cast have since distanced themselves from the director. Timothée Chalamet says he will give his earnings from the film to charities that support victims of assault. Selena Gomez is said to be donating her salary to #TimesUp.
Additionally, Mira Sorvino, who famously won an Oscar for her work in Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite” in 1996, apologised to Dylan for having worked with her adoptive father.
Allen has made almost 50 movies and is known for creating Oscar bait: Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”), Penélope Cruz (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Michael Caine (“Hannah and Her Sisters”) and Diane Keaton (“Annie Hall”) have all won Academy Awards for their performances in his projects.
But those who have worked with Allen in the past cannot afford to do so now -- as things have certainly changed.
“Now, if a woman says [abuse] happened, it happened,” said a Hollywood publicist to Page Six. “After #MeToo, it’s utterly different circumstances. Actors don’t want their careers tarnished.”
However, there are still a few stars who have remained quiet.
...reps for Liev Schreiber, Jude Law, Cherry Jones and Elle Fanning did not respond. (Previous Allen stars Penelope Cruz, Michael Caine, Meryl Streep, Anjelica Huston, Sean Penn, Emma Stone and Steve Carell have also remained quiet.)
Kate Winslet, who has publicly spoken out against Weinstein, whom she has worked with, starred in Allen’s “Wonder Wheel,” as well as in Roman Polanski’s 2011 movie “Carnage.” She told the New York Times that “as the actor ... you just have to step away and say, ‘I don’t know anything, really, and whether any of it is true or false.’?”
One Hollywood agent put it; “You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” and “maybe saying nothing is the best thing.”
“After all, is Cate Blanchett supposed to give back her Oscar?” asked the agent.
Meanwhile, Diane Keaton, who has appeared in eight Allen films and dated the director in the 1970s, is standing by him, offering, “I believe my friend.”
No one need support the New York “liberal” Allen’s politics to declare this to be as reactionary as the McCarthyist witchhunting which, ironically, was the subject of the first serious film role he played in The Front.
Meanwhile even more demented is the pillorying and career destruction of upcoming Asian comedian, Aziz Ansari, accused of abuse by a women who had made an advance towards him, went on a date, returned to his apartment, stripped off and twice performed oral sex on him, before declaring that he had essentially, forced himself on her and effectively raped her.
This extraordinary accusation, and others like it, is so full of anti-male bile and self-righteous absurdity that it has drawn denunciations even from the “old guard” of feminists such as Catherine Deneuve, or figurehead authors Germaine Greer, and Margaret Atwood, and this piece in the New York Times:
I’m apparently the victim of sexual assault. And if you’re a sexually active woman in the 21st century, chances are that you are, too.
That is what I learned from the “exposé” of Aziz Ansari published this weekend by the feminist website Babe — arguably the worst thing that has happened to the #MeToo movement since it began in October. It transforms what ought to be a movement for women’s empowerment into an emblem for female helplessness.
The headline primes the reader to gird for the very worst: “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life.” Like everyone else, I clicked.
The victim in this 3,000-word story is called “Grace” — not her real name — and her saga with Mr. Ansari began at a 2017 Emmys after-party. As recounted by Grace to the reporter Katie Way, she approached him, but he brushed her off at first. Then they bonded over their devotion to the same vintage camera.
Grace was at the party with someone else, but she and Mr. Ansari exchanged numbers and soon arranged a date in Manhattan.
After arriving at his TriBeCa apartment on the appointed evening — she was “excited,” having carefully chosen her outfit after consulting with friends — they exchanged small talk and drank wine. “It was white,” she said. “I didn’t get to choose and I prefer red.” Yes, we are apparently meant to read into the nonconsensual wine choice.
They went out to dinner nearby and then returned home to Mr. Ansari’s apartment. As Grace tells it, the actor was far too eager to get back to his place after he paid for dinner: “Like, he got the check and then it was bada-boom, bada-bing, we’re out of there.” Another sign of his apparent boorishness.
Grace complimented Mr. Ansari’s kitchen countertops. The actor then made a move, asking her to sit on the counter. They started kissing. He undressed her and then himself.
In the 30 or so minutes that followed — recounted beat by cringe-inducing beat — they hooked up. Mr. Ansari persistently tried to have penetrative sex with her, and Grace says she was deeply uncomfortable throughout. At various points, she told the reporter, she attempted to voice her hesitation, and that Mr. Ansari ignored her signals.
At last, she uttered the word “no” for the first time during their encounter, to Mr. Ansari’s suggestion that they have sex in front of a mirror. He said: “‘How about we just chill, but this time with our clothes on?’”
They got dressed, sat on the couch and watched “Seinfeld.” She said to him: “You guys are all the same.” He called her an Uber. She cried on the way home. Fin.
If you are wondering what about this evening constituted the “worst night” of Grace’s life, or why it is being framed as a #MeToo story by a feminist website, you probably feel as confused as Mr. Ansari did the next day. “It was fun meeting you last night,” he texted.
“Last night might’ve been fun for you, but it wasn’t for me,” she responded. “You ignored clear nonverbal cues; you kept going with advances. You had to have noticed I was uncomfortable.” He replied with an apology.
Read Grace’s text message again. Put in other words: I am angry that you weren’t able to read my mind.
It is worth carefully studying Grace’s story. Encoded in it are new yet deeply retrograde ideas about what constitutes consent — and what constitutes sexual violence.
We are told by the reporter that Grace “says she used verbal and nonverbal cues to indicate how uncomfortable and distressed she was.” She adds that “whether Ansari didn’t notice Grace’s reticence or knowingly ignored it is impossible for her to say.” We are told that “he wouldn’t let her move away from him,” in the encounter.
Yet Mr. Ansari, in a statement responding to Grace’s story, said that “by all indications” the encounter was “completely consensual.”
I am a proud feminist, and this is what I thought while reading Grace’s story:
If you are hanging out naked with a man, it’s safe to assume he is going to try to have sex with you.
If the inability to choose a pinot noir over a pinot grigio offends you, you can leave right then and there.
If you don’t like the way your date hustles through paying the check, you can say, “I’ve had a lovely evening and I’m going home now.”
If you go home with him and discover he’s a terrible kisser, say “I’m out.”
If you start to hook up and don’t like the way he smells or the way he talks (or doesn’t talk), end it.
If he pressures you to do something you don’t want to do, use a four-letter word, stand up on your two legs and walk out his door.
Aziz Ansari sounds like he was aggressive and selfish and obnoxious that night. Isn’t it heartbreaking and depressing that men — especially ones who present themselves publicly as feminists — so often act this way in private? Shouldn’t we try to change our broken sexual culture? And isn’t it enraging that women are socialized to be docile and accommodating and to put men’s desires before their own? Yes. Yes. Yes.
But the solution to these problems does not begin with women torching men for failing to understand their “nonverbal cues.” It is for women to be more verbal. It’s to say: “This is what turns me on.” It’s to say “I don’t want to do that.” And, yes, sometimes it means saying piss off.
The single most distressing thing to me about Grace’s story is that the only person with any agency in the story seems to be Aziz Ansari. Grace is merely acted upon.
All of this put me in mind of another piece published this weekend, this one by the novelist and feminist icon Margaret Atwood. “My fundamental position is that women are human beings,” she writes. “Nor do I believe that women are children, incapable of agency or of making moral decisions. If they were, we’re back to the 19th century, and women should not own property, have credit cards, have access to higher education, control their own reproduction or vote. There are powerful groups in North America pushing this agenda, but they are not usually considered feminists.”
Except, increasingly, they are.
Grace’s story was met with so many digital hosannas by young feminists, who insisted that consent is only consent if it is affirmative, active, continuous and — and this is the word most used — enthusiastic. Consent isn’t the only thing they are radically redefining. A recent survey by The Economist/YouGov found that approximately 25 percent of millennial-age American men think asking someone for a drink is harassment. More than a third of millennial men and women say that if a man compliments a woman’s looks it is harassment.
To judge from social media reaction to Grace’s story, they also see a flagrant abuse of power in this sexual encounter. Yes, Mr. Ansari is a wealthy celebrity with a Netflix show. But he had no actual power over Grace — professionally or otherwise. And lumping him in with the same movement that brought down men who ran movie studios and forced themselves on actresses, or the factory floor supervisors who demanded sex from women workers, trivializes what #MeToo first stood for.
I’m sorry Grace had this experience. I too have had lousy romantic encounters, as has every adult woman I know. I have regretted these encounters, and not said anything at all. And I have regretted them and said so, like Grace did. And I know I am lucky that these unpleasant moments were far from being anything approaching assault or rape, or even the worst night of my life.
But the response to Grace’s story makes me think that many of my fellow feminists might insist that my experience was just that, and for me to define it otherwise is nothing more than my internalized misogyny.
There is a useful term for what Grace experienced on her night with Mr. Ansari. It’s called “bad sex.” It sucks.
The feminist answer is to push for a culture in which boys and young men are taught that sex does not have to be pursued like they’re in a porn film, and one in which girls and young women are empowered to be bolder, braver and louder about what they want. The insidious attempt by some women to criminalize awkward, gross and entitled sex takes women back to the days of smelling salts and fainting couches. That’s somewhere I, for one, don’t want to go.
The answer is faraway from “teaching young men” anything of course, which like all the “old guard” feminism still refuses to see the real issues.
Young men will continue to learn from porn films because capitalism drenches the world with pornography in order to make a profit.
Perhaps young women should also be “taught” to behave differently too, and not to suggest, like singing idol Ariane Grande, who influences multitudes of teenage girls, that the most interesting men are the “bad boys” (and therefore least likely to “ask permission”) as in the lyrics of her hit song Side to Side (which itself is about having had so much vigorous sex that she can no longer walk straight) and then says:
Feeling like I wanna rock with your body
And we don’t gotta think ‘bout nothin’ (‘bout nothin’)
I’m comin’ at ya
‘Cause I know you got a bad reputation
Doesn’t matter, ‘cause you give me temptation
And we don’t gotta think ‘bout nothin’ (‘bout nothin’)
Or perhaps the millions of older women who formed virtually the entire (turned on) readership and audience for the Shades of Grey books and films about a “dominant” male (with plenty of money incidentally) should be re-educated too?
This all makes a mockery of the ridiculous feminist notion that sex and interactions are some kind of near formal negotiation in which there is a clear demarcation of “consent” etc as in this ponderous explanation in one of the deluge of feminist assertions over the last few weeks:
Flirting is a prolonged smile or a cheeky text shared with someone who has signaled in some way that she is interested in you. Harassment is the imposition of verbal or physical contact without any cue that it may be welcome.
So nothing is allowed unless the women has “signalled”??
No man is allowed to make an advance on his own initiative or even approach someone who has not noticed him?
And all men must be highly competent in reading these signals we assume? No mistakes, no clumsiness, no lack of confidence or teenage (and later) angst or uncertainty or trying it on, is allowed.
Certainly no nervous blundering, no passion, no room for teasing, or coyness or pursuit or game playing, persuasion, or seduction??
No simply does not always “mean no” in the real world.
Nor is touching a woman before her “clear assent” always to be construed as “assault” as the feminist hyperbole would have it.
Much of romantic literature and art will have to be torn up obviously, as the Private Eye recently joked.(?)
Declaring that ultimately the issue is solely one of “male responsibility” is to slide into just the sort of female passivity the NYT author above is supposed to be decrying.
And it also asserts that there is no duplicity, provocation, or dishonesty on the female side.
But half a dozen recent cases of false rape charges suggest just the opposite:
The solicitor representing the student at the heart of a collapsed rape trial has dismissed a police and prosecution review of the case that resulted in an apology to her client as disingenuous and warned that the police’s determination to obtain convictions overrides their attention to other duties.
Simone Meerabux, a partner at the law firm Lam & Meerabux in Croydon, said she was disappointed by the joint Metropolitan police-Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) report into the case of Liam Allan and added that he would probably seek compensation.
Allan, from Beckenham, south-east London, was charged with 12 counts of rape and sexual assault, but his trial was abandoned after police were ordered to hand over phone records that should have already been provided to the defence.
After reading the review, Allan expressed his own frustrations with the way his case was handled, saying: “There were certain messages that were plucked specifically to go against me.
“It must mean at some point there was reading somewhere. I hope somewhere down the line there are consequences and lessons are learned,” he told Sky News.
“I don’t want one person being a scapegoat. There are other cases that have been dropped.”
The student, who was studying psychology at the University of Greenwich, was on bail for almost two years and spent three days in the dock at Croydon crown court before the case against him fell apart.
Metropolitan police officers eventually handed over messages between the complainant and her friends that cast doubt on the allegations against Allan. In one message, she was reported to have told another woman: “It wasn’t against my will or anything.”
...Meerabux told the Guardian: “The review refers to the near miscarriage of justice as errors. These errors were grave and very serious and cost Liam almost two years of his life. We are likely to be pursuing compensation on [his] behalf.
...“There’s such a desire to obtain convictions and it appears that this overrides the duties of the police and the crown.
Of course rape not only exists but is devastating and life changing and yet often left unpunished. All the issues raised about male bias in the justice system in a huge number of cases remain true and all the issues of fear, shame, intimidation and humiliation which prevent women obtaining justice.
But none of this is going to be solved while this barbaric and brutal system continues.
A million aspects of the contradictions of capitalism will equally interfere with both men and women finding a way to interact that is not thoroughly distorted and contaminated by all the kinds of considerations of self-seeking and material gain.
Until capitalism is removed from the scene there can be no way in which such relations can finally flourish without all the difficulties that there are and the fraught misunderstandings.
But the feminist hostility to communism, and to revolution is an obstacle to that only possible solution.
That manifests itself constantly such as in the feminist self-interest being elevated above all other considerations when considering the hounding of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange by laughable “rape” allegations from Sweden and ignoring completely the gigantic impact on American prestige of the leaks made through his organisation of the atrocities, callousness and sheer fascist brutality of its invasions.
In making an assessment of what that is about, the stitched-up and sanctimonious accusations from highly suspect individuals are given priority over the obvious determination of dominant US warmongering reaction to seize and silence this thorn in its side; a triumph which would set back anti-imperialist education and consciousness significantly. But that can go hang as far is this self-righteousness is concerned.
Or consider the hypocritical sight of the Golden Globes awards, and its “sisters solidarity” with the #MeToo campaign where the glitterati women stars all chose to wear black as a symbol, turning up in the skimpiest of designer “little black numbers” - known universally as the choice to wear when you are “on the pull” and frequently referred to in women’s magazine articles as overtly sexual come-ons, alongside the “fuck me shoes” review phrasings that are also frequently made.
The obvious question is why not turn up in baggy sweaters and loose slacks (by Armani of course if needed) if a protest about sexualisation is being made???????
But far more telling is the standing ovation for billionaire Oprah Winfrey and the urging that she should “stand for president” - the obvious candidate to carry forwards the PC standard as both a woman and black, giving the American presidential “democracy” racket a “politically correct” boost just as Obama did in 2008, cynically rescuing the discredited system after the disasters of the Iraq and Afghan wars had begun to bite.
Like then, and with Hillary “Lady MacBeth” Clinton, the manipulative bourgeois machine political reality and reactionary establishment links and funding, can all be ignored.
At least one slightly more thoughtful feminist was able to debunk some of this, though only by introducing her own brand of anti-communism:
Yes, Oprah Winfrey gave an inspiring speech at the Golden Globes last night. Oprah Winfrey also beat the war drums for the US invasion of Iraq. @shailjapatel
So let’s talk, again, about imperial feminism. That’s when women in countries that invade, bomb, and plunder other countries, forget that those countries their militaries are destroying also have women. @shailjapatel
Imperial feminists love girls in Muslim countries who want to go to school. But were silent when the US bombed Baghdad’s National Library, burning every PhD dissertation ever written by an Iraqi woman. @shailjapatel
Correction: the Baghdad National Library was burned by looters, after the US invaded and bombed Baghdad, destroyed Iraq’s phone system, and imposed a total blackout on the city of 5 million. Read Naomi Klein’s nightmare-inducing account.
Imperial feminists sponsor football camps for African girls. But look the other way when Palestinian girls who dream of playing professional football are brutalized, arrested, and jailed by Israel. #FreeAhedTamimi
Imperial feminists are genuinely passionate about what Gayatri Spivak calls “saving brown women from brown men.” Saving brown women from their own militaries and governments? Not so much. @shailjapatel
It gets complicated when imperial feminists are Black and brown women celebrities, shattering glass ceilings and kicking down doors in their industries. Because US global hegemony is also cultural, these women become role models for all women of color, everywhere in the world.
Because imperialism erases the histories of colonized countries, our schooling in the global South doesn’t teach us about our own barrier-busting, trailblazing, worldmaking feminist foremothers. Often, we have to study in the global North to learn about them. The irony. @shailjapatel
This supposed radical "left" version of feminism calls out the celebrities but its “right on” posturing simply introduces its own sly reactionary agenda by completely ignoring the gigantic achievements of the Soviet Union and by implication, rubbishing its huge workers state history.
Instead of hyping the slick anti-communism of fake-”left” reformist Naomi Klein and her folksy cooperative semi-anarchism and rejection of leadership – especially “big male” leadership like say, Lenin, Castro and Mao, – why not mention the enormous advances that were made for women in Afghanistan precisely by the self-sacrificing aid and training by thousands of doctors, engineers and teachers provided by the Soviet workers state to help its revolutionary socialist government in the 1980s??.
Anti-imperialism and the struggle for socialism can only be a fight by all the downtrodden, and the defeats it can and will inflict on imperialism are the key to opening the door to world revolutionary struggle as it pushes it back.
The implied condemnation in these tweets,of any struggles that are not yet lined-up with feminist prescribed roles for women, such as leaderships like Hamas for the Palestinians in Gaza, is itself failing to grasp the bigger picture.
But if that is the militant leadership that is making the running at the moment then condemning it, as all the fake-“left”s do, is to line up with Zionism and imperialism.
That is just what the infamous Peter Tatchell “gay rights” countermarch protest was doing against the Palestinians in 2004, (EPSR 1242 20-07-04):
So-called “human rights” became more successful than ever as a major battering ram for the Western imperialist controllers’ non-stop worldwide propaganda priority to wipe out communism.
This homosexual counter-demonstration against Palestinian “homophobia” inevitably completely sabotaged the aim of the protest to draw attention to the unbelievable suffering and humiliation still daily tormenting this 8-million strong Arab nation who have now been ethnically-cleansed out of 85% of their own homeland since 1945 to make way for “Israel” at Western imperialist insistence (approved by a tame UN), and whose assassinations, mass murders, beatings, house demolitions, and increasing effective total imprisonment in refugee camps and patchwork reservations, criss-crossed by Zionist military highways and other non-stop surveillance and interference, continue nonstop today, ignored by the whole world.
This greatest longstanding colonial-genocide tyranny in modern records can remain without public attention or sympathy as far as these homosexuals are concerned who are only interested in their own message.
Such extreme anti-communist individualism could not care less that by undermining this key anti-imperialist struggle in the world, the rebirth of international socialist revolutionary perspectives is further delayed.
Some other “liberal” feminist celebrities are less subtle and give away the reactionary reality of all this even more clearly, poisonously backing up and spewing out the Western Goebbels lies and propaganda as in these (edited) quotes:
...Despite being prohibited by international law, sexual violence continues to be employed as a tactic of war in numerous conflicts from Myanmar to Ukraine and Syria to Somalia. It includes mass rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, and rape as a form of torture, ethnic cleansing and terrorism. It accounts in large part for why it is often more dangerous to be a woman in a warzone today than it is to be a soldier.
In our different roles we have seen how conflicts in which women’s bodies and rights are systematically abused last longer, cause deeper wounds and are much harder to resolve and overcome. Ending gender-based violence is therefore a vital issue of peace and security as well as of social justice.
The Nato Alliance was founded to safeguard not just the security but also the freedom of its peoples: in the words of President Harry Truman, as “a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression”.
For nearly 70 years Nato has stood for collective defence against military threats. But also for the defence of democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law and the UN Charter.
We believe that Nato has the responsibility and opportunity to be a leading protector of women’s rights.
In particular, we believe Nato can become the global military leader in how to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict, drawing on the strengths and capabilities of its member states and working with its many partner countries.
Over the coming months we will be working together and with others to identify ways in which Nato can strengthen its contribution to women’s protection and participation in all aspects of conflict-prevention and resolution.
First, by building on Nato’s commitment to integrate gender issues into its strategic thinking as part of its values and reinforcing a culture of the integration of women throughout the organization including in leadership positions.
Nato’s senior military leaders, have a vital role to play in being positive role models, and promoting the role of women in the military.
Second, by helping to raise the standards of other militaries. Nato and Allied countries are involved every day in training partner militaries around the world. We want to explore ways in which existing training on the protection of human rights and civilians, including against sexual violence, can be strengthened.
Third, Nato has developed standard operating practices for soldiers in the field, learned through mandatory pre-deployment training. Standards and training are not the only answer, but they ensure that personnel recognize the different ways in which women and girls are affected by conflict and are trained to prevent, recognize and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.
This is a vital part of helping to create lasting cultural changes, including debunking the myths that fuel sexual violence and deepening understanding of the centrality of protection and rights for women in the creation of lasting peace and security.
Fourth, Nato already deploys gender advisers to local communities in Kosovo and Afghanistan, while Nato’s female soldiers are able to reach and engage with local communities. Stronger awareness of the role that gender plays in conflict improves military operational effectiveness and leads to improved security. Strengthening this culture can only benefit Nato’s contribution to peace and security over the long term.
Fifth, Reporting on conflict-related sexual violence is now one of the tasks of Nato commanders. Nato is also creating a reporting system to record instances of gender-based violence compatible with UN Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Arrangements.
With this data, which will be shared with the UN, Nato soldiers will be able to discern patterns and trends so that they will be able to respond more quickly to prevent potential violence. By reporting crimes and supporting work to bring perpetrators to justice, Nato can challenge the culture of impunity, including for senior leaders and those most responsible.
Nato Allies have strongly committed to put these issues front and center every day, in how they train soldiers, in how they operate in the field, and in how they interact with civilians who find themselves in combat zones.
We will also be urging more concerted action in the wider world. By working together with business, civil society, governments and political leadership writ large, international organizations such as Nato can help lead the way toward ending impunity for sexual violence in conflict.
Jens Stoltenberg is NATO Secretary General. Angelina Jolie is co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative
That such a gobsmacking inversion of reality can be set out in a piece which declares the major warmongering and blitzkrieg instrument of imperialism to be a “protector of human rights” after 20 years of devastation and destruction of entire countries, (directly by NATO or by the main members within it) testifies to the debilitating effect of seven decades of anti-communist brainwashing propaganda and shallow consumerism and complacency in the Western world.
But anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together in the working class will be able to draw the appropriate conclusions from this about the reactionary reality of feminism and single issue politics, and from that about the fake-“left” groups (Trots firstly but also the revisionists who fail to take up these questions and tacitly go along with these “super-reformist” causes) all desperate to evade any Marxist and revolutionary debate and polemic.
And more of course; the entire single-issue agenda is also a major instrument not just to evade the discussion but to shut it down completely with the “safe-space” and “no platforming” censorship; exactly suiting the capitalist ruling class.
Its continuing pretences about democracy and “freedom” don’t allow it to shut down socialist and Marxist argument (yet) other than by obliquely referring to “extremism”.
But this “left” suppression is becoming laughable – even the Guardian’s resident reactionary art critic is appalled :
Manchester Art Gallery says it has removed JW Waterhouse’s 1896 painting Hylas and the Nymphs from its displays “to prompt conversation”. Yet the conversation can only really be about one thing: should museums censor works of art on political grounds?
There can only be one answer if you believe in human progress.
To remove this work art from view is not an interesting critique but a crass gesture that will end up on the wrong side of history.
My, what a utopia these new puritans have in mind – a world that backtracks 60 years or more into an era of repression and hypocrisy. The great freedoms of modernity include, like it or not, freedom of sexual expression. Even a kinky old Victorian perv has his right to paint soft-porn nymphs.
Hylas and the Nymphs is no masterpiece. Its mildly erotic vision of a Greek myth is very silly, if you ask me, and if we were in front of it now I’d be poking fun. Yet we’d be looking, talking, perhaps arguing. Remove it and the conversation is killed stone dead. Culture falls silent as the grave.
This painting is pretty mild stuff compared with some truly great art that, by the same logic, should immediately be removed from Britain’s galleries. The Rokeby Venus by Velázquez clearly needs to return to the National Gallery stores, where this silken nude can lie on her sensual sheets without causing offence. Titian’s Diana and Actaeon also has to go – its display of female flesh is truly gratuitous. And there is just enough time for Tate Modern to cancel its forthcoming Picasso show, which is guaranteed to contain a jaw-dropping quantity of salivating sexist visions.
Creativity has never been morally pure. Not so long ago, in the 90s, art was deliberately shocking and some were duly shocked to visit galleries and be shown Myra Hindley, unmade beds and toy Nazis. Now the tables have turned, and it’s cool to be appalled by – in this case – art made over a century ago.
Mr Bowdler’s wildest dreams never had it so good.
The world rapidly needs to come to its senses and start seriously discussing and grasping a perspective of just what it faces, the greatest disintegration in history.
It is that which is throwing all these questions into the air come what may, and shaking human relations to the roots.
But only by taking up and developing the revolutionary debate and theory, and the leadership of the class war that the capitalist Catastrophe is relentlessly forcing the working class and proletarian masses to take up, can anything be sorted out.
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