What a shame it doesn't actually say an awful lot about feminism.
What is does, purposefully or not, is tar all far left organisations as rapists.
When I saw Cohen's article, it had been tweeted with the accompanying statement 'why the far left rape'. And I couldn't let that go unanswered.
And this is why.
Apart from the fact that the SWP isn't the entirety of the far left, the far left do not rape, it is individuals who rape.
Tarring everyone with the same brush is in itself anti feminist. All it does is enable those who would rape by hiding them in plain sight. If all far left wingers are expected to rape then this is not going to be a problem is it? It is actually, in its own strange way rape apology.
Yes, there has and continues to be something very wrong in the hierarchy of the SWP when a woman who has been brave enough to speak out about rape is not supported, Yes, there is something very wrong when rather than support her through the extremely dicey waters of the British Justice System, a system that we know is anti women and prone to the same rape apology and slut shaming misogyny as the rest of society, they decide to do the 'justice' in house. Yes, there is something very wrong when any subsequent court case would now be tarnished precisely because of this kangaroo court that saw the accused walk free. (aside: what the fuck could they have done but expel him had they found him guilty for fucks sake?)
But you know what?
Not all far left organisations are like that. Cohen tarring them all with the same something is rotten in the state of the SWP brush is wrong headed lazy journalism at best. At worst it is, or at least appears to be a personal axe to grind.
I am not a member of the SWP, nor would I ever condone what has occurred here, but I am a member of a left wing faction in my union. It isn't perfect, not in any way, shape or form but it does take rape very seriously. And is trying to educate itself into being a better feminist ally.
And what of those who hold far left political views who are not in any organisation? Are they just waiting for their chance to rape unsuspecting women? No. Not all of them. And to suggest, even tacitly, that being a far left winger means that you are is offensive, insulting and just plain wrong. Worse, it feeds into the rape culture it is fighting against.
And what of those SWP members who are trying to do the right thing? In an organisation that is as shady as Cohen is trying to paint it we would never have known anything had happened at all. But we have. It has been shouted from the rooftops by those who are defending their female comrades and railing against the very misogynist rape culture that enabled this to happen.
I find myself wondering, is this actually a political issue? (I mean, apart from the fact that feminism, rape, rape culture and misogyny is always political) Is this a left v right thing?
I was asked what I would be saying if it were a right wing organisation. I examined my own bias, as a left winger and came up with this.
I would say that there are some rapists in the far right. I would say that those individuals are responsible for their own behaviour. I would say that rape culture and misogyny had something to do with it. I would point out that misogyny and rape culture are embedded in the policies of the far right in a way that it isn't in the far left. I would also say that though I abhor far right politics with every fibre of my being, see my post on 28,000 votes the BNP got in the London Mayoral Election, that I would applaud anyone who brought this to light.
I would say that this is a right v wrong issue.
And I would applaud anyone who brings misogyny, rape culture, victim blaming or slut shaming to light.
The far left doesn't rape. People rape.
Cohen would do well to remember that.