I have a great view of the pincers of sexism from here just now. When we talk about gender being oppression, we’re not just talking about different dress codes.
There have been ructions recently within feminism over women working with right wing organisations – particularly when trans-Atlantic link-ups have blurred people’s view, and led to some unsavoury alliances.
It’s one of the issues where I find myself sitting amidships – I have been encouraging cross-party discussions on several of the women’s campaigns because it’s so very obvious that women of all classes and world-views have issues in common, but we will not gain anything for women if we pass the initiative to people who are so far to the right that they want to “protect” women and girls from what those of us on the left know as liberation.
Meanwhile, those on the left who are opposed to the sex-based rights campaign will happily write off any women who, for example, get an article published in the Spectator or the Times (let alone the Telegraph or Daily Mail). They are the kind who automatically assume the views of a woman at the other end of the Labour Party’s left-right span can be discounted as ‘fascist tendencies’.
So here we are, trying to walk a subtle line, bringing as many women together as we can without running into those “too far right” thickets and then something else comes up that makes it ten times harder: working with right-wingers is beyond the pale but showing the slightest discomfort about working with socialists “just because” they are blatantly misogynist is an unforgivable failure of solidarity.
This is women caught in the pincers of sexism. This is what women mean when they talk of conflicting demands, of unachievable expectations. The most lethal weapon of sexism is gendered expectations. In this particular case, whichever way you look at it, the failure to produce a socialist revolution by next Tuesday can and will be blamed on feminists.