The Left has forgotten what feminism looks like
Marching on International Women's Day. Credit: Daniel Pockett / Getty   

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You should be able to rely on the Left to be on the side of the feminists.

After all, socialism is supposedly about true egalitarianism. And as a lifelong campaigner for women’s liberation, I am well aware that male Leftists think of themselves as feminist allies.

Conservatism, on the other hand, is not so friendly towards us. It often favours a commitment to so-called traditional values and ideas, isn’t so keen about change. And let’s not talk about Thatcher – she was certainly no feminist. She was a classic example of a certain type of right-wing woman who espouses the view that women are to blame for holding themselves back; it’s not the patriarchy’s fault, and they should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps as she had done.

And yet, in recent years, I have experienced far more direct sexism from these so-called feminist ‘socialist’ men than Tory ones. When they speak about fighting for equality, more-often-than-not they mean ‘among men’. They are actively supporting activities and industries that harm women and girls. They are calling feminists bigots and they are waving the flag for fundamentalist religion.

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Do I exaggerate? Let’s look at a perfect example of the shift in attitude on the Left, as epitomised by the new brand of hard-left brocalists that surfaced with Corbyn’s cabal.

Owen Jones, a hard-left journalist, campaigner, and one who should attacking the exploitation of women, is a classic example of the socialist hypocrites I’m talking about. In an  article for the Guardian back in 2015, the Corbynista poster boy defended a serving member of Parliament, Simon Danczuk, who was exposed as a prolific pornography consumer.

And yet, only a month earlier, Jones had lectured other men about why they should do more for feminism. In the article defending Danczuk’s use of porn, Jones also criticised the fact that three judges had been dismissed from their positions because they “watch(ed) porn on the job”. They had, he said, been “publicly embarrassed and dismissed”. Instead of recognising that pornography directly harms women and girls, Jones sided with the male public servants who were enjoying women being exploited instead of doing their jobs.

He’s not alone in this view. His Leftist chums in the Labour leadership agree with him about the rights of men to consume women through pornography and prostitution. Corbyn and John McDonnell  both  believe in decriminalised pimping, brothel owning and sex buying – all in the name of women’s liberation, of course.

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Jones is also notorious for  lecturing  women about who actually  has the right  to decide who is female or not; he regularly berates anyone who dares suggest that people with penises are not actually women. In one of his  articles, he declared that the group of people he terms ‘transphobes’ (who refuse to accept men as women) will be consigned to the “wrong side of history” for their views.

This wasn’t how it used to be. Remember Tony Blair? Hard-line Leftists may despise him, but many feminists did not. He was the one who introduced women-only shortlists in order to successfully address some of the massive imbalances in parliament. What has the great socialist leader Corbyn done? Decided that the base-line criteria for being included on a women-only shortlist is to have self-identified as a woman

There is no clearer way to dominate and disenfranchise women than to insist that we don’t even know what one is!

The Tories, on the other hand, no longer the reactionaries of old, are more open to the idea that women are full, equal citizens than those macho Momentum types who act like thugs around female MPs who refuse to toe the hard-left line.

As the typical Leftist male gets his boxers in a twist, crowing his support for everything from stripping to legal brothels, the Conservative Human Rights Commission is holding an urgent enquiry  into the harms of the sex trade. Meanwhile, the kerfuffle over men who define as women being allowed on all-female shortlists is being challenged by men writing for right-of-centre publications.

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Even stranger, though, is the Left’s new attitude towards religious fundamentalism. Once the Left baulked at the idea of hardline religious doctrine because of the inherent misogyny and homophobia. Not any more. Now the political Left is full of men defending the ‘right’ of women to be covered in a full-face veil in the name of modesty but some on the Right are respectfully challenging.

I do think this shift has come about as Leftist men have latched on to a distortion of feminism that is all about individual ‘empowerment’, and nothing to do with challenging male power. This ‘fun feminism’, in which baking cupcakes and pole dancing are deemed liberating, lets woke dudes off the hook.

But as far as I’m concerned, if men like a particular brand of feminism, it means it is not working. And it is hardly surprising that there are certain men would rather cheer on the idea of a woman walking around in a basque rather than dungarees; men who prefer the ‘slut’ marches to the angry Reclaim the Night demonstrations. Rebrand feminism so that men are no longer threatened, and everyone’s happy. Except the actual feminists that is.

It seems to me that when it comes to feminism, and defending the rights of women to live as equal citizens, the categories of Left and Right don’t imply what they used to. Politics has been turned on its head. Let’s face it, if Corbyn and his henchmen believe that it’s fine and dandy for a man to decide he is a woman, and shout ‘bigot’ at those of us that refuse to accept this madness, we may as well go to the Tories for a little old-fashioned courtesy.