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Galloway’s sexism damages anti-imperialism

Cat Boyd argues that George Galloway's offensive comments over the Assange affair are damaging for every anti-imperialist, and that such sexism has no place on the left.

George Galloway has taken the “side of Assange”, in the ongoing chatter of rape denial, victim blaming and general women hating.

Lets be honest, Galloway does not have the best record on feminist politics (pro-life debate, anyone?) I suppose in my eyes, he characterises the arse-slapping, “give us a smile, darling” attitude that seems to pervade in “high-level” politico-males. I think men like that call it “charisma”.

Galloway has said Assange’s offences were “minor misdemeanours” that Assange was guilty of nothing more than “bad sexual etiquette” and most contemptible of all, “not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion”

Apart from having a complete disregard for rape legislation, his comments make my skin crawl. A disgusting little man spitting about sexual etiquette and “insertion” without consent makes me want to vomit. Galloway’s “political” argument seems to be shouting at the top of his voice CANT YOU UNDERSTAND YOU STUPID PEOPLE! IT’S A SET UP! And I quote, “ITS ABOUT WIKILEAKS, STUPID!” Yep, that’s right, you’re stupid. Cheers for that. I forgot, I’m just a daft wee lassie, who doesn’t have the first clue about Wikileaks, Empire or Imperialism. Reading between the lines, all I see is, “shut your mouth, woman. This is men’s talk”.

Galloway’s argument goes: The US and Britain are colluding to send an innocent man to jail for exposing military secrets. They have sullied his character by having him accused of rape- which, according to George, wasn’t really “rape” anyway. Anyone who cannot see this is under some kind of spell, blinded by the power of US/UK imperialism.

Regrettably for many people, Galloway’s comments simply play into the hands of the imperialist powers. By stating that he “[does] not believe either of those women” and that Assange didn’t commit “real rape”- is taking the side of imperialist power. To deny rape, you play into the hands of a system which is rigged against women. To deny women the right to challenge sexual offence, you play into the hands of a corrupt class, who uphold warmongering for profit, rape as a weapon for ethnic cleansing and occupation for military power.

If anyone has ever looked at the political landscape, or at left-wing politics and wonders why women don’t speak up as much, why women don’t seem as confident as men and why women fall away from their comrades, it because men like this still exist; In Galloway’s World, because I stand up for women who have been raped, I am on the side of the empire. Because I stand up for women, I am foolish. But in fact, the opposite is true. I am against imperialism, because I believe in women’s liberation. I am against empire because, under capitalism, sexism is endemic.

What I am least surprised at- is Galloway’s ignorance about the anti-imperialist, feminist angle. Galloway, I’m sure, knows that the war in Afghanistan was not about “bringing freedom” to Afghan women. Rather, it was to impose a Western dialogue which allegedly promotes human rights– but in reality- the cultural, political and economic domination of the West, was (and is) inflicted through the destruction of ordinary men and women. The objective? To underline, and once again secure, UK/US enduring power, military superiority and the subsequent free-market modernization. These themes- military power and the inevitable free-market “reconstruction” is what Galloway has spoken against, time and time again. It is what I speak against, but with the understanding that both military power and free-market capitalism have a negative impact on women: in Afghanistan, in Palestine, but also in Britain, Sweden and America.

Military power: domestic violence is 3 to 5 times higher in military couples than civilian ones. Men who have been in combat are four times more likely to be physically abusive. Young men, sent off to fight in imperialist wars, coming home damaged, and then damaging others. This is an obvious cost of imperialism, placed upon women. Economically, a UK military spending budget in the region of billions, whilst child benefits and tax credits are hammered: an attack on women in the name of imperialism.

It is the policies of the ruling class which institutionalise sexism in society. These are policies that fuel war and take money from education and healthcare. The policies of the ruling class promote violence against women.

See that’s the problem, Galloway’s comments are not only deeply offensive and vile, they are also deeply counter-productive for an anti-imperialist activist. Imperialism and militarism obstruct women’s liberation. Rape deniers, like George, obstruct women’s voices. When women’s voices are heard- then struggles will be truly anti-imperialist. Galloway’s comments serve to weaken our voice.

To be anti-imperialist, is to be pro-feminist. And Galloway just doesn’t get it.

All across the world, women are rising up. We are leading the movement against occupation in Palestine, for worker’s rights in India, against political repression in Russia, against Austerity at home, for a feminist Scotland. Men like Galloway are a dying breed. This isn’t simply a reflection of a “weak” electoral left, but that men like Galloway are becoming a symbol of the past. The left desires new leaders- women and men who are unambiguous in their opposition to sexism and patriarchy; accountable to the movement. Capitalism creates endemic sexism. To fight capitalism, we must try to root sexism out of our movement. And ultimately, that means rooting out men like George Galloway.

16 Responses to “Galloway’s sexism damages anti-imperialism”

  1. karen says:

    Great article

  2. Tom C says:

    Just been to a great reading group on Selma James ‘Sex, Race and Class’ (http://caringlabor.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/james-sexraceclass-read.pdf), and getting home to this article made my day.

  3. Crystal clear – thanks for the simplification!

  4. Ben says:

    This is an ill informed rant, Cat has clearly not paid much attention to what he was really saying or to the actual allegations that have been made. Allow me to supply some sources so you can see for yourself what the situation is.

    George Galloway’s comments on his podcast about the allegations of rape made against Julian Assange can be found at 13:55 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B4I5F05jNg&feature=plcp

    A lot of people clearly haven’t read up on any of this before passing judgement. There is a lot of misinformation.

    George was saying these allegations even if true, do not constitute rape. Here are testimonies & statements so you can make your own mind up: http://rixstep.com/1/20110204,04.shtml

    If you have a minute to read something else here are 15 overlooked facts about the case: http://notesonwikileaks.tumblr.com/post/15251907983/assange-extradition-fact-sheet

  5. Ed McArthur says:

    George Galloway is a sort of starlinist prince phillip(foot in mouth).Of course he is much worst than that he really believes what he is saying and it reflects his attitude to women which sadly is all too common amoung left wing males
    First class article Cat, I agree with every word

  6. Keri McGachy says:

    Peaching article, hits the metaphorical nail on Galloway’s head

  7. sandy says:

    WikiLeaks and Free Speech
    By MICHAEL MOORE and OLIVER STONE
    Published: August 20, 2012

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    WE have spent our careers as filmmakers making the case that the news media in the United States often fail to inform Americans about the uglier actions of our own government. We therefore have been deeply grateful for the accomplishments of WikiLeaks, and applaud Ecuador’s decision to grant diplomatic asylum to its founder, Julian Assange, who is now living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

    Ecuador has acted in accordance with important principles of international human rights. Indeed, nothing could demonstrate the appropriateness of Ecuador’s action more than the British government’s threat to violate a sacrosanct principle of diplomatic relations and invade the embassy to arrest Mr. Assange.

    Since WikiLeaks’ founding, it has revealed the “Collateral Murder” footage that shows the seemingly indiscriminate killing of Baghdad civilians by a United States Apache attack helicopter; further fine-grained detail about the true face of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; United States collusion with Yemen’s dictatorship to conceal our responsibility for bombing strikes there; the Obama administration’s pressure on other nations not to prosecute Bush-era officials for torture; and much more.

    Predictably, the response from those who would prefer that Americans remain in the dark has been ferocious. Top elected leaders from both parties have called Mr. Assange a “high-tech terrorist.” And Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has demanded that he be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Most Americans, Britons and Swedes are unaware that Sweden has not formally charged Mr. Assange with any crime. Rather, it has issued a warrant for his arrest to question him about allegations of sexual assault in 2010.

    All such allegations must be thoroughly investigated before Mr. Assange moves to a country that might put him beyond the reach of the Swedish justice system. But it is the British and Swedish governments that stand in the way of an investigation, not Mr. Assange.

    Swedish authorities have traveled to other countries to conduct interrogations when needed, and the WikiLeaks founder has made clear his willingness to be questioned in London. Moreover, the Ecuadorean government made a direct offer to Sweden to allow Mr. Assange to be interviewed within Ecuador’s embassy. In both instances, Sweden refused.

    Mr. Assange has also committed to traveling to Sweden immediately if the Swedish government pledges that it will not extradite him to the United States. Swedish officials have shown no interest in exploring this proposal, and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt recently told a legal adviser to Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks unequivocally that Sweden would not make such a pledge. The British government would also have the right under the relevant treaty to prevent Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States from Sweden, and has also refused to pledge that it would use this power. Ecuador’s attempts to facilitate that arrangement with both governments were rejected.

    Taken together, the British and Swedish governments’ actions suggest to us that their real agenda is to get Mr. Assange to Sweden. Because of treaty and other considerations, he probably could be more easily extradited from there to the United States to face charges. Mr. Assange has every reason to fear such an outcome.The Justice Department recently confirmed that it was continuing to investigate WikiLeaks, and just-disclosed Australian government documents from this past February state that “the U.S. investigation into possible criminal conduct by Mr. Assange has been ongoing for more than a year.” WikiLeaks itself has published e-mails from Stratfor, a private intelligence corporation, which state that a grand jury has already returned a sealed indictment of Mr. Assange. And history indicates Sweden would buckle to any pressure from the United States to hand over Mr. Assange. In 2001 the Swedish government delivered two Egyptians seeking asylum to the C.I.A., which rendered them to the Mubarak regime, which tortured them.

    If Mr. Assange is extradited to the United States, the consequences will reverberate for years around the world. Mr. Assange is not an American citizen, and none of his actions have taken place on American soil. If the United States can prosecute a journalist in these circumstances, the governments of Russia or China could, by the same logic, demand that foreign reporters anywhere on earth be extradited for violating their laws. The setting of such a precedent should deeply concern everyone, admirers of WikiLeaks or not.

    We urge the people of Britain and Sweden to demand that their governments answer some basic questions: Why do the Swedish authorities refuse to question Mr. Assange in London? And why can neither government promise that Mr. Assange will not be extradited to the United States? The citizens of Britain and Sweden have a rare opportunity to make a stand for free speech on behalf of the entire globe.

    Michael Moore and Oliver Stone are Academy Award-winning filmmakers.

  8. Ben says:

    1) Julian Assange is not charged with anything in Sweden or any other country.
    [Source: @wikileaks]

    2) Julian Assange did not flee Sweden to avoid questioning. He was given permission to leave the country on the 15th September 2010, after remaining 5 weeks in Sweden for the purpose of answering the allegations made against him.
    [Source: Undue delay for Julian Assange’s interrogation]

    3) The case against Julian Assange was initially dropped, and deemed so weak it could not warrant investigation. After the intervention of a Swedish politician close to American diplomats, it was revived by a different prosecutor. [Source: Why is Julian Assange in jail?]

    4) In all instances, the 2 plaintiffs consented to sexual intercourse, which they did not take the initiative to stop: they never expressed non-consent and afterwards declared to not have felt threatened by Julian Assange. [Sources: Swedish Police Report and The offences described in the EAW are not extradition offences]

    5) A condom submitted as evidence by complainant AA, who claimed it had been deliberately torn by Julian Assange during sexual intercourse, contains no chromosomal DNA from either the complainant or Julian. [Source: Overlooked evidence in the Assange trial]

    6) Text messages exchanged between complainants and their friends contradict the factual allegations in the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued for Julian Assange and cast doubt on the allegations.
    [Source: Brief to Canberra Meeting of MPs]

    7) After the date of the alleged sexual misconduct: a) Complainant AA created then deleted evidence (tweets) indicating she was enjoying Julian Assange’s company; b) AA went as far as suggesting one of her friends (Witness C) should be intimate with Julian as well.
    [Sources: AA: The Twitter Trail, Göran Rudling Witness Statement and Police Statement of Witness C]

    8) The law firm hired in the Assange investigation is ran by Claes Borgström (politician and legal representative for both plaintiffs) and by former minister Thomas Bodström. Both are members of the Social Democrat Party in Sweden. Bodström is a friend of police interrogator Irmeli Krans, who interrogated complainant SW. [Source: Irmeli Krans: The Facebook Trail]

    9) Police interrogator Irmeli Krans is, in turn, friends with the other plaintiff, complainant AA, with whom she has political ties (Social Democrat Party). Krans also breached protocol by commenting negatively about Julian Assange on social media. [Source: Irmeli Krans: The Facebook Trail]

    10) Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, refused to provide Julian Assange or his lawyers with information on the allegations against him in writing. This violates the Swedish Code of Procedure (RB 23:18) and the European Convention of Human Rights (article 5), and the EU Fundamental Charter on Human Rights.
    Prosecution also refused all voluntary offers for cooperation that fit under Mutual Legal Assistance protocol, such as making use of alternative methods to interview Julian Assange.
    [Sources: Fair Trial for Julian Assange? and Abuse of Process: Disproportionate use of EAW and INTERPOL Red Notice]

    11) Both the EAW and the Interpol red notice were issued for Julian by Sweden just before WikiLeaks began to publish Cablegate. [Source: Brief to Canberra Meeting of MPs]

    12) The allegations against Julian Assange do not constitute an offense in Australia or in the UK. [Source: The offences described in the EAW are not extradition offences]

    13) If extradited to Sweden: still without charge, Julian Assange would be held incommunicado and placed under solitary confinement. Pre-trial detention would last for an indefinite period. Trial in Sweden would be held in secret. [Source: Fair Trial for Julian Assange?]

    14) The Swedish legal system features lay judges who are appointed because of their political affiliations. They have no formal legal training. [Source: Lay Judges]

    15) Sweden has the highest per capita rate of cases brought to the European Court of Human Rights relating to article 6.1 (right to a fair trial). [Source: Fair Trial for Julian Assange?]

  9. Ann Lynch says:

    I was horrified to read Galloways comments on what he constitutes as rape. It dosen’t surprise me though. He is an ego-maniac and has defended abusive men in the past. So whats new eh. His kind of socialist society is not one i would want to be part of. I wonder how may more men agree with him. I shudder to think.

    • Anon says:

      ‘I wonder how may more men agree with him. I shudder to think.’

      You could argue that this statement is sexist.

  10. Jack says:

    Do you agree with George Galloway’s definition of consensual sex Ben?

  11. Jack says:

    I’m reluctant to divert the comments thread into arguing with Assange supporters, because the article wasn’t actually about that.

    All I would say is that it has been incredibly disheartening to see the left fall over itself again to belittle and dismiss women who say they have been abused by someone who is powerful and influential on the left. Galloway is the extreme end of a spectrum which has seen the full panoply of rape myths and misogyny deployed. The left in my experience still has a long way to go in understanding gendered oppression, and therefore reality.

    If we keep building a left on idolising male figures who use that position to spread misogyny (see Assange’s comments on “the Saudi Arabia of feminism. . .a nest of revolutionary feminists”) then we shouldn’t be surprised that it remains a minority male dominated activity, and our movements fail to change the world.

    As for Galloway, he just never stops, when you think he’s hit rock bottom you’re always wrong, there’s always somewhere lower to go. The man is a misogynist in the mould of Swiss Tony from the Fast Show, even a brief perusal of the content of his Daily Record coloumns lets you know where he’s coming from, these are real quotes of how he speaks about women:

    “Air-headed blow-dried telly-dollies”

    “fragrant rose”

    “all folded arms, chins and bosoms”

    “wives of the elite” wouldn’t “get a spot in Sex and the City”

    Here’s an old article I did that tries to compile some of his classic moments of making an arse of himself. The man is a donut with no place in our movement.

  12. Jack says:

    The actual article I mentioned:

    http://ssy.org.uk/2010/11/george-show-us-some-respect/

    I agree with everyone who says this article is excellent and says it all though.

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