Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Breaking: Morning Star Defends ‘Gender Critical’ Feminism.

with 26 comments

May be an image of 2 people

Mary Davis: Back in 2018.

The Morning Star, independent of the Communist Party of Britain and run by the co-op, today carries this article by a leading member of Communist Party of Britain, Mary Davis.

It is safe to say that this is not just an opinion up for debate but reflects the views of strong currents in the Daily’s team and the CPB.

The building of a broad-based women’s movement and a strengthened labour movement must go hand in hand, argues MARY DAVIS.

Extracts,

The unrelenting ideological onslaught on women’s sex-based rights has escalated to the point at which the very definition of “women” as a biological sex is now subject to sustained attack.

This has resulted in the collective rights of women threatened and undermined. The overused term “cancel culture” is wrong and inadequate to describe the current and unparalleled ideological onslaught on women as a biological sex. We are facing erasure in the face of gender identity policy capture.

Note: No direct reference to Stonewall.

This weekend’s FiLiA conference, I hope, along with other gender critical women’s organisations will play an important part in creating a regenerated women’s movement.

The building of a broad-based women’s movement and a strengthened labour movement, which rejects capitalist ideology and understands the vital importance of protecting and extending women’s sex-based rights, must go hand in hand.

However, without a robust renewal of Marxist-feminist theory, which challenges the dominant ideology of identity politics, such a project will remain a distant vision.

Note are all gender critical feminists Marxists or even socialists? Kathleen Stock defines herself in other ways, “am I, or am I not, a feminist? Yes in the broad sense that I’m broadly focused on promoting the rights and interests of women in a world in which they’re often neglected. But not in the sense that I sign up, no matter what, to any particular doctrinal element. I think everything should be up for reasonable discussion. If you think I’m not a real feminist, that’s fine by me. I’m honestly not that attached to the term. What I am attached to is trying to get the underlying actions and attitudes right” Julie Bindel concentrates on the demand to “defend women’s sex-based rights”.

……

The oppression of women is rooted in class exploitation. The super-exploitation of women as workers and their oppression as women is a fundamental prerequisite for the operation of capitalism — economically, politically and ideologically. Hence, the eradication of class exploitation is the essential precondition for the liberation of women.

Socialism provides the only means by which the most complete form of class exploitation (ie that represented by the capitalist system), can be ended.

Whether conscious of its mission or not, the labour movement exists for this purpose. But its socialist mission can only be fulfilled if it expunges capitalist ideology — and that includes any ideological practice which impedes the protection and extension of the rights of women.

..

Both these two movements — a strong and class-conscious feminist-inspired labour movement and a broad-based women’s movement — are essential together as the twin pillars of the challenge to women’s oppression and super-exploitation.

However, we still have a long way to go in ensuring that the labour movement truly represents the interests of 51 per cent of British population, let alone the majority of its members — women!

Recent events have shown that gender identity ideology has permeated the labour movement, with the result that defending women’s rights has taken a back seat.

Currently, a campaign against alleged transphobia has taken precedence over the threat to Professor Kathleen Stock’s employment at Sussex University. She has received no support from the University and College Union.

For socialists, the goal has to be the forging of working-class unity based on a recognition of its historic divisions; divisions founded principally on race and sex.

The first is the ideological battle which has to be shifted away from the “gender” issue per se and on to our terrain of the fight for women’s rights and the understanding of women’s oppression.

Second, the (at present non-existent) “respectful debate” can only be achieved when we women are a mighty assembled unignorable force so that our analysis and our policies lead the debate.

This requires a powerful women’s movement. Thirdly, even at the risk of vilification, our argument must be taken into the labour movement in order to challenge and expose an ideology which erases women and tramples our rights. We are many, they are few.

Comment: this looks like a call for some serious rows. There are points on which this Blog agrees, ‘gender fluidity’ being one. AS one of the ideas in some modern gender theory, promoted by Stonewall, it initially sounds reasonable, but then splinters off into a kaleidoscope of definitions, and even stripped down to a minimum is hard to pin down as a legal or campaigning category. There equally serious issues about women’s spaces which would take a lot more than Mary Davis’ article to draw lines on.

It is not clear that ‘materialist feminism’ is just abut biology and class, or capitalism, there are views about the structural reality of patriarchy for example that exist in many different societies. This open up further into the picture of ” “how women are produced as a category” which in some version (such as the 1970s-early 80s journal M/F), included linguistic ideas and the theories of Michel Foucault about ‘power’. Dos class ‘trump’ everything else? Religious ideologies, embodied in state apparatus like the Islamic state of Iran, have relative autonomy to the class rule of the Islamist bourgeoisie, and the laws restricting women in that country cannot just be explained by capitalist oppression.

There remains concern that words like “onslaught” are intended to provoke a ‘counter-attack’. Davis has, in the recent past, defended Blue Labour pro-family figures like Paul Embery, who has also entered this fray. Will she align with this anti-rootless cosmopolitan in a war against Woke?

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2021 at 12:02 pm

26 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. “Gender identity ideology has permeated the labour movement, with the result that defending women’s rights has taken a back seat.”

    Bit of an elision, defending the rights of trans people shouldn’t mean abandoning class politics or make you any less committed to socialist feminism.

    I remember similar arguments being deployed by Eddie Dempsey.

    There’s a place for nuanced criticism of identity politics, this ain’t it.

    mrtusks

    October 16, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    • Absolutely, and this is certainly a fairly carefully worded version of what is certainly a much stronger view on such topics.

      I have updated the post to include a few initial thoughts on the polemic by Davis.

      Andrew Coates

      October 16, 2021 at 1:31 pm

  2. The great majority of us raised in the orthodox Communist tradition, whether CPB or former Euros, are thoroughgoing materialists. It is therefore no surprise that the Star should take a gender-critical position against the idealist, reality-denialist gender identity ideology which seems to have metastasised throughout much of the rest of the left. The fact that many of us are now long in the tooth and were around when ‘second-wave’ feminism was in its heyday probably also helps inoculate us against the newfangled magic rainbow unicorn woo-woo which seems popular with the children…

    Francis

    October 16, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    • You sound like you need to chill out and listen to this episode, the bit on ‘100s of gender identities’ including Two-spirit” gender.

      Episode 3 – Self-ID and Gender Identity..

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p09yk5mm

      Today, ” A demonstration of trans solidarity is planned on campus for Saturday with organisers advising protesters to conceal their identity and “bring signs, make noise, look after each other.”

      Andrew Coates

      October 16, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    • ….complete with furry, anime avatars.

      Socialism or even radical it ain’t. The thing about ID politics is that while superfically radical it can all be coopted by the establishment

      “Free Trans rights stickers with special packs of Persil” !!

      IainF

      October 16, 2021 at 5:43 pm

  3. You have to love the ‘conceal your identity’ bit. If only…

    Francis

    October 16, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    • Listening to people talk about their gender identities, at length, if not more, and more, made me think of this old standby.

      Andrew Coates

      October 16, 2021 at 3:10 pm

  4. Rio Jacques, involved in campaign, defended anonymity of students involved
    Politics Live interviewed University of Sussex student union officer Amelia Jones
    The union’s elected transgender and non binary student union representative said Kathleen Stock had signed a ‘declaration to eliminate trans people in law’
    But Prof Stock contacted BBC, who broadcasted a correction on live television
    More public demonstrations against Prof Stock are planned for this weekend

    DAILY MAIL.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10098351/Anonymous-trans-mob-defend-cloak-dagger-crusade-against-feminist-professor.html

    Andrew Coates

    October 16, 2021 at 4:28 pm

  5. This will put Dr. Louise Raw is an odd position. She is very close to the SWP and speaks at their events and front groups (and constantly publicizes them on social media) while she still writes for the Morning Star. She is almost certainly not an SWP member as if she was they wouldn’t allow her to do that. Her positions on Brexit run counter to official SWP policy too. That said, the SWP are known to give their “Celebrity” members a fair bit of latitude to go against the Party Line. Hard democratic Centralism and Leninism is only for the rank and file grunts. Raw is a very public feminist and has addressed the Womans Place UK group. She is notorious for dodging difficult and contradictory questions. When I counter posed her public strident feminism (which frequently takes the form of disparaging men in general) with her support for the SWP in reference to the Comrade Delta scandal I was instantly blocked. Early this year she got in trouble with some ID politics Black Nationalist and conveniently got sick , closed her social media and let others take the heat.

    IainF

    October 16, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    • Women’s Place reproduced the Morning Star article on their FB page:
      https://www.facebook.com/womansplaceuk

      Here are the anti-Stock demonstrators today at Sussex University:

      Andrew Coates

      October 16, 2021 at 6:32 pm

      • Queer Liberation IS class struggle. It is every bit as materialist as Feminism- or not, depends on the militant. Privilege politics, woke politics, does not define the field of struggle- even though some find this a useful rhetorical strategy.

        American Dream

        October 16, 2021 at 6:50 pm

        • What is this – not endorsing Bindel but what the hell are these people’s politics?

          Andrew Coates

          October 16, 2021 at 7:35 pm

          • You can always find a straw person to justify half-assed politics, as Bindel and the transphobes do. Same for weird transgender fanatics. No one is thinking dialectically. Where is the synthesis?

            American Dream

            October 16, 2021 at 7:42 pm

          • The caption is priceless. But there is no ‘politics’ here. It’s just juvenile narcissism, LARPing as politics.

            Francis

            October 16, 2021 at 9:32 pm

      • Black hoodies/clothing is the standard American “Anarchist Communist” Antifa get up (itself inspired by the German Black Bloc tactics of the 1980s and 1990s)
        It has little to no connection with British political traditions and another sign of the unhealthy US toxic culture on British Left politics. Believe me, while superficially “hip” and attractive you don’t want to go there.

        IainF

        October 16, 2021 at 7:45 pm

        • Autonomists (we called them autonomes in France then) across Europe dressed roughly like that in the 1980s, Paris for example. Still do.

          Bunch of wankers:

          Yellow vests, Black Blocs, casseurs: what’s the difference? Euronews explains

          https://www.euronews.com/2019/05/02/yellow-vests-black-blocs-casseurs-what-s-the-difference-euronews-explains

          Andrew Coates

          October 16, 2021 at 7:52 pm

        • As if street fighting reactionaries was invented in North America!

          American Dream

          October 16, 2021 at 8:56 pm

          • The street fighters I refer to, and I have seen a lot, a real lot, of them, they were out during the Gilets Jaunes protests only a couple of years ago, are autonomists, and others, referred to as ‘casseurs’ (literally the smasher uppers) who are out for a bit of ultra-violence, looting and fights with the polis. They are eulogised by, I cite the best known, the journal Lundi Matin.

            This is, in broad terms, explained in the link I gave in the comments before.

            Here is Lundi Matin:

            https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lundi_matin_(revue)

            https://lundi.am/mouvement

            Andrew Coates

            October 16, 2021 at 9:40 pm

            • Yes, I am extremely ambivalent towards these insurrectionary tendencies. Some of them during the George Floyd uprisings convinced me that they were strategic but many just seem like complete wankers

              American Dream

              October 16, 2021 at 9:55 pm

              • As to Lundi Matin and that aspect of the Gilets Jaunes, I am not particularly impressed.

                American Dream

                October 16, 2021 at 10:01 pm

  6. Seems to me there is a fundamental confusion in some people’s understanding. The issue is whether the category of humans known as women have certain properties and whether those humans who do not posses those attributes are also women. Once it has been established who belongs to the class of ‘woman’ we can then go on to discuss how ‘women’ relate to social structures, which are inevitably inflected by historical epoch, productive systems etc. There is the issue of whether people should be allowed (a moral obligation) to live their life as they want ie non-binary or trans but that is distinct to the materialist question of their biological state of being. I’ m currently reading Helen Joyce’s book ‘Trans’ in which she traces the beginning of gender ideology to sexologists in Germany in the 20s and the claim that physical sex is a continuum and everyone is a mix of both.

    Sue r

    October 16, 2021 at 9:02 pm

    • I have the Joyce book on order from the library.

      Have seen this film, generally well regarded, relating to those 1920s development:

      The Danish Girl is a 2015 biographical romantic drama film directed by Tom Hooper, based on the 2000 novel of the same name by David Ebershoff, and loosely inspired by the lives of Danish painters Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener.[5] The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery, Alicia Vikander as Wegener, and Sebastian Koch as Kurt Warnekros, with Ben Whishaw, Amber Heard, and Matthias Schoenaerts in supporting roles.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Danish_Girl_(film)

      Andrew Coates

      October 16, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    • I live in a neighborhood that is very much of a queer/trans Mecca and this question of “womanhood” seems so far from our daily lives. Transmasculine, Transfeminine and non-binary people younger and older, white, black, latin and other, richer and poorer are simply woven into the fabric of every day life here. Some may get some kind of hormones or surgery, some may not. I don’t know and I don’t enquire. Very occasionally, I overhear members of my community speaking about such topics but there are no rifts about womanhood and no one seems to consider it the central axis of queer/trans life. Feminism though, is much more of a given. The other stuff- the clashes between “Radfems” and aggressive trans women seems like a Spectacle that is a million miles away- nothing to do with our happy afternoon together in the park today, where all pretty much co-exist.

      American Dream

      October 16, 2021 at 10:25 pm

      • For further education and secondary school students in 2021, the laws of love are both complex and simple. Whether they are straight, gay, bi, panromantic or asexual, for them sex and gender matter less than the loved one.

        Pour les collégiens et lycéens de 2021, les lois de l’amour sont à la fois complexes et simples. Qu’ils soient hétéros, homos, bi, panromantiques ou asexuels, pour eux le sexe et le genre comptent moins que la personne aimée.

        Le Monde, today.

        https://www.lemonde.fr/m-le-mag/article/2021/10/16/je-suis-tellement-hetero-que-je-n-arrive-meme-pas-a-embrasser-une-fille-et-ca-me-rend-triste-plongee-dans-les-nouvelles-amours-adolescentes_6098593_4500055.html

        Andrew Coates

        October 16, 2021 at 10:33 pm

        • To be clear, my urban neighborhood has a long history as a radical/countercultural neighborhood and queerness is simply one strand. Polyamory, kink, gay sex and gender bending live side by side with heterosexuality, monogamy, vanilla, cisgender people. A smallish portion are transgender but they are my friends from the arts and theatre world, radical politics, neighbors, people on the street and what have you. We defend each other as friends, neighbors, community members and comrades.

          American Dream

          October 16, 2021 at 10:42 pm

  7. Nobody wants to force people to live a lie, it’s a matter ofwhat you call people who want to redefine scientific categories,

    Sue r

    October 17, 2021 at 2:54 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: