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The Left Needs To Confront Its Own Sexual Assault Problem

The Left Needs To Confront Its Own Sexual Assault Problem

Alex Press

Our movements will never win as long as many of us are unsafe.

Protesters walk during the Women's March on Washington, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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I think the concept of institutionalized sexual behavior is what we are talking about here. The Moral Majority in its wisdom set the standard not the left so that is one big difference. It is not that sexism doesn’t exist, it is how it is tolerated. right now it is being used as a political weapon.

Memo from this guy to all women who don’t already know this:

All men are pigs (or dogs, or pick the animal you’d prefer to defame).

Some can assert some minimal level of self-control, some or most of the time.

Most of them, well…

Absolutely agree. Denigration of sisters for any reason is grounds for an exit from the movement. Justice is not a buffet: you don’t get to pick and choose who gets it on the Left (even if you have to prioritize in real life).

Our sisters are our equals in every meaningful way.


It is also tolerated in far too many “leftist” organizations, as stated in the article.

70-YO straight white guy. Yes, really.


Well sure but they are not as hypocritical about it. They don’t have 10 foot statues of the Ten Commandments in their bedrooms. The scope here is institutionalization, meaning many groups have it but don’t recognize it as a legitimate issue. That is different. There is also a system of retribution that isn’t discussed either. No one should be excused of this behavior.

Perhaps it is pertinent to mention the British “Workers Revolutionary Party” and its sexual predator leader Gerry Healy.

I recall a work colleague who was once a member and attended meetings at the “white house” saying to me a very attractive female walked into the room with Healey, he asked who she was…" oh, that’s his driver" not some muscle-bound bodyguard my friend would have expected to be Healey’s driver.

So, feminists infiltrate left wing organizations just to let the world know that Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmicheal were sexist. Got it!

Important conversation starter. Several thoughts.


Yes, like other organizations, progressives “need clear, immediate action against sexual misconduct.”

And yes, progressives should not imagine their organizations or individuals are “immune to the influences of a deeply sexist and violent world.”

And yes, progressives who call attention to any sexist practice must be supported, not intimidated or ridiculed - where sexist practices can range from setting up/cleaning up at meetings, to male/female access to positions of power, to respectful consideration of male/female input…all the way to outright, typically gender-specific crimes of sexual harassment and rape.

Second, this article has made me think about my progressive organization - a progressive caucus of a teacher’s union. A lot of members are women, a number gay - both occupying or having occupied central positions of power - and, perhaps for that reason, as well as my observations at our meetings, I do not believe that Ms. Press’s experience of being marginalized or shut up would be likely to happen in our organization. Of course, though I have a role - one editor of our newsletter - I am not on an ‘inside track’ and so, arguably, I am not in a position to fully gauge the question. It just doesn’t seem to be our culture…

In any event, citing my experience is not to gainsay the existence of sexism or the shutting up of ‘whistleblowers’ in other progressive org’s - and it sucks and is an outrage that Ms. Press has experienced this.

Third, having said the above, I consider Ms. Press’s important article to be more a conversation starter than definitive in any way - and I have a number of problems with how it formulates the problem.

To focus on just one criticism, despite brief mention of sexist practices, the article is ahistorical - in the late 1960w, post-World War Two U.S. feminism emerged strongly in reaction not just to sexism in the greater society, but sexism in the anti-war movement resisting the Vietnam War.

A fuller consideration of the problem would in some way make reference to this and have something to say about whether - as Ms. Press’s account leads one to infer - progressive organizations are as sexist as they were then, or whether fifty years of post 1960s feminism has changed…anything.

I don’t say that Ms. Press is singly responsible for addressing or answering this question - but I do fault her interpretive ‘frame’ for referring to progressive sexism, but making no mention of feminist resistance.