Why We Must Confront Sexism On The Left
It seems that, when it comes to sexism, some on the left feel that we should be inoculated from criticism because we are not those on the right. Rosie Rodgers has addressed this in “Ten Ways To Survive As A Woman On The Left”, but I think it needs to be reinforced with context of the 2016 Democratic nomination for President and the accusations of sexism made against Bernie Sanders by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Sexism On The Left
Rosie describes the problem exactly. Many on the left are aghast when accused of racism or sexism.
Don’t get me wrong: there are still great individuals, groups, movements and even institutions that continually give me hope and inspire me, but I rarely experience men – and women – on the left practice what we preach in terms of gender equality.
Everyday sexism both conscious and unconscious is against everything that we stand for, but it is still much too common. It crushes our freedom, self-fulfilment and undermines people and our potential. But still I find myself on a daily basis reminding people who think of themselves as progressive – or “on the left” – of some basic aspect of gender equality.”
Rosie says women shouldn’t take it personally. This is a coping mechanism, but I understand it unfortunately.
“I remind myself of two main things. Firstly, that it’s not me that’s done something wrong, it’s them. Secondly, that what just happened was probably unintentional and a result of the society we live in.”
As a man, I am frustrated with men’s inability to see the patriarchy we all buy into. As men, it seems that we don’t see how words, views, and actions reinforce different and almost always a more stringent standard for women.
“I remind myself it’s definitely not because women aren’t as good as men. It’s because of the institution of the left and that many people may believe in democracy and equality but often don’t know or accept that they are pushing the opposite agenda. The left is full of good men and women, but that doesn’t mean that sexism and patriarchy don’t exist.”
Rosie discovered three years ago what I discovered three days ago. I wish I knew for it would’ve saved me a ton of frustration and bewilderment.
If you stand up to sexism on the left, some people won’t like you for it because you are challenging their fundamental beliefs that they are the “good guys” (and girls) because they are on the left and therefore could not possibly be enabling gender inequality or sexism. So be prepared for a bit of back lash, for being labelled things, for being an outsider on this issue from both men and women.
If we don’t confront sexism on the left, why on earth would we think it would get any better? Do we think this an issue the right should take the lead on? If not, why act similarly when this issue presents itself?
It won’t take a lot either. I have been called out in the past and will be called out in the future as I am certainly apart of the patriarchy, but most women, including Hillary Clinton, would say Kelis’ words below speak for them.
You don’t have to love me. You don’t even have to like me. But you will respect me.