Let's review: Black History is relegated to one month a year, the shortest month; Asian History month is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month now officially proclaimed Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, takes place in May. It celebrates the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Native American day or Indigenous People Day is formerly Columbus Day and Hispanic month is supposedly in September and why have I never heard of any of them other than Columbus Day which seems to be inconsistent throughout America how it is recognized.
So today was International Women's Day. Okay. How was it acknowledged here? Not at all. What about where you live? In Mississippi it was recognized by passing the most restrictive female reproductive/abortion access in the country. Good times.
I thought about being a woman and I finally have admitted it sucks. I realize had I been a man, my personality and my character would be respected, admired and rewarded. I would not be living alone, angry, and afraid as I am most of the time. When you get old in America regardless of gender you are already thought of as useless, more so for being a woman. I matter to no one but myself. I am utterly ignored and disrespected at my workplace and my community and I am not sure where I fit or belong and how to change that other than pack and move again. But there I am wherever I go.
I look back in my life and it was a hell of ride and I would very much like to continue on a ride, one different, one with less turns and risk but no less thrills and is this allowed? I read this essay in The Guardian and I realized that I am not alone in my thoughts and my anger is genuine it is worthy and it is more importantly okay. Yes I own my anger. But is it where I live or is it me or is it being a woman where expressing one's anger is unacceptable? I think it is all of the above. I truly struggle respecting women as I meet so few that respect themselves. Ask yourselves why that is?
The far right hates vaginas. Why doesn’t this anger the left more?
Identity politics ought to unite the left, not divide us. No progressive should be at ease while macho misogyny thrives
Thu 8 Mar 2018
• Marina Prentoulis is a senior lecturer in politics and media at the University of East Anglia and a member of Syriza London
From Donald Trump’s “locker-room banter” about grabbing women by the pussy, to the instructions of the Philippines president to shoot female guerrilla fighters in the genitals, a clear target of contemporary fascistic and “alt-right” politics seems to be vaginas. This isn’t a case of hidden patriarchal structures supporting gender inequality. It’s explicit and unashamed references that identify women either as the enemy or the subhuman other, subordinate to the pleasure of macho men. And it’s a trend that’s spanning the globe.
In Britain, the victim of this emerging culture was the MP Jo Cox. Some will argue that Thomas Mair, her murderer, was an isolated case, a disturbed Nazi sympathiser from whom we cannot generalise. But before we dismiss his crime as a one-off we should remember that gender identity, specifically masculine identity, is at the centre of fascistic discourse. Crime – against women or ethnic minorities – is often a resource for those who feel their masculinity is threatened. It is a way to be “male” again.
In Russia, the bare-chested Putin is endlessly pictured plunging into icy lakes or riding horses. It’s all designed to promote a particular type of masculinity but also a particular type of political ideal: of macho, authoritarian leadership, strong and ruthless towards its enemies. The enemies in question are often women who question the patriarchal status quo (Pussy Riot being a prime example). But other religious or ethnic groups are feminised too.
As the professor and activist Cynthia Enloe has argued, it is high time to rethink this relationship between leaders’ macho posturing and the type of politics they are likely to advocate. The personal is political because men in leadership positions with misogynistic attitudes are probably going to promote policies reinforcing intolerance. There can be no truly progressive politics while such misogyny is allowed to continue. Similarly, when an industry tolerates harassment and violence against women, that says a lot about the type of product it creates. The Harvey Weinstein scandal comes to mind here: how progressive can his movies be when he treats women as objects?
And to push it even further: how progressive can a country be if it permits this industry to go on unreformed? The micro paves the way for the macro.
Too often on the left these calls have fallen upon the deaf ears of a movement that is unable to recognise any struggle as important if it isn’t centred around class. Identity politics have been wilfully misinterpreted by parts of the left as an explanation for the advance of the far right – it’s political correctness driving them to it. This is done in the hope of promoting class politics, but it demonstrates that the left is sometimes stuck in an orthodox past, before the big “identity” movements, from the suffragettes to civil rights, took place. Across the world, it is the left that is struggling to articulate something meaningful while the far right is advancing.
Eric Hobsbawm, writing in 1996, contrasted the narrowness of identity politics with the universality of the working-class movement, which demands equality and justice for everyone.
Identity politics has been criticised by the left as “a moralistic, self-indulgent anti-politics” that fails to confront society’s material conditions. Such an interpretation ignores the fact that the material conditions of, for example, working-class men and working-class women are not the same: the latter are the victims of domestic violence by men and have shouldered much of the burden of austerity. This is not to downplay the importance of class, but rather to show how it intersects with gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality and a whole range of identity issues.
Above all, those who reject identity politics fail to recognise two important processes. First, how different demands on disadvantaged and excluded groups can come together to form a universal struggle. And second, how identity – class included – is not something fixed from birth. It is rather shaped and reshaped as we engage in common struggles. Nothing demonstrated this more clearly than the 2014 film Pride, about LGBT activists supporting the miner’s strike, contributing to the incorporation of gay rights in the Labour party programme in 1986.
For the progressive forces in society, the struggle of any marginalised people must extend beyond that group. When my vagina is the target of far-right hate, the progressive left better stand by my side.