by Jennie Harvie
The more things change the more they stay the same eh?
My exposure to the relationships in the left confused me. The same degree of authoritarianism and power through forms of violence was evident, even from those who passionately argued and fought for others; for freeing others from the oppression of sexism, capitalism and imperialism. It took me some time, years in fact, to understand the power that one's own culture and society has over one's life and behaviour. I believed that once one accepted the oppression of women, and the place violence has in our continuing oppression, then one would automatically eschew all forms of violence and intimidation.
It was with some degree of shock that I came to learn that this is not so. That women could be as violent and oppressive as men; that we could use the same artifacts to claim a superior and dominant position as men; that we could be bullies and abusers just like men; that women could demean and put down women just as easily as they could men; and that claims of ignorance or not properly knowing, could be made against those who had not "read the right book", even by those who claim the personal is political; were all difficult to either see or challenge. After all how could one challenge a woman on this matter, especially when that woman was a leader of the women's liberation movement? Apart from everything else it would give the "other side" ammunition to use against all of us.
But indeed we do have to challenge this behaviour, not just in others but also in ourselves. We must grow up so to speak, and value the contributions and capacities of all - from each according to their ability to each according to their needs. We must foster and nurture all, particularly the young ones coming up, and share our knowledge. Importantly from my perspective we must get our noses out of the books and learn the truth that lived experience is an authentic basis of knowledge. We must name the crimes, sexual predation and rape when we see or experience them. Euphemisms of sexual liberation cannot cover up the truth of what occurred to many women in the left.
In many ways it seems to me that we have not in fact come along very far. I have a friend Corey. She is the same age as our third daughter. She is a presenter of Megahurzz on 4ZZZ, a feminist, and she is a socialist struggling with the same old same old as we did. Recently we talked about the left in Brisbane today, still faction ridden (although this time, she tells me the Trots are in the ascendancy), and still led by controlling old white men who are still imbued with authoritarianism, the sexism about which we railed, and as well these old fellas still do not wash up their own coffee cups. They still do not like strong independent women. She gave a talk to a group of young socialist women last weekend, which I attach for you to read and consider - a voice from the present.....
Read Corey's Speech (39KB)