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.