Socialist Worker

Letters

Issue No. 2253

Women not to blame for rape and assault

Thanks for the information on the origins of the SlutWalk protests The 'SlutWalk' phenomenon: Women refuse to take the blame for rape . I understand how degrading and insulting it is to be raped or threatened with rape, and then for it not to be considered wrong.

It is fantastic that women are refusing to accept these lies and that the protests are spreading. I support them.

But there is a problem with the name “SlutWalks”, as Socialist Worker pointed out. It is not possible to appropriate an insult or term of abuse while it remains a term of abuse.

The best way to fight against oppressive and abusive language is not to use it but to find other ways to challenge it.

I understand how the term “slut” came to be used in this instance—it was in reaction to women being blamed for rape. But I think it would be more appropriate to make a rallying call for respect for women, rather than adding confusion by organising women and men to march under an oppressive banner.

A positive slogan like, “Respect women. No to rape and abuse” would attract more people who may be uncertain or unhappy with the use of the world “slut”.

Sophie Jongman

Kent


You don’t have to scratch a Tory very hard to find the rotten bits. Ken Clarke had his true colours on display last week when he tried to tell us that not all rapes are as serious as others.

He seems to have a hierarchy of rape. It goes from “date rape” (not too bad in his opinion), through “classic rape” to “serious rape”, where the attacker is a stranger hiding in the bushes and the victim a virgin and, in his words, “unwilling”.

So, for “less serious rapes”, he argues, sentences can be cut. For a justice secretary to make such comments is disgusting.

We know that women are reluctant to report rape and that the police very often don’t take them seriously. We know Britain has some of the lowest conviction rates for rape in Europe. And, unlike Clarke, we know that the majority of women know their attacker.

While the message from the top of the Ministry of Justice is that the most common forms of rape are not worth taking seriously, women will continue to be failed when they are at their most vulnerable.

Clarke needs to learn that no really does mean no, whaterever the circumstances. Until he does, he should be removed as justice secretary.

Andrea Butcher

North London


Royal Irish visit a sign of disease

The Queen’s visit to Ireland has been hailed by the media as a great success.

They said it’s a time to put the past behind us.

The royals arrived on the day of the 37th anniversary of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings—that was insult enough.

On 17 May 1974 the British army colluded with Loyalists to carry out the bombings, resulting in the single biggest loss of life during the Troubles.

The families are still looking for justice.

During the queen’s visit, Dublin became a city under siege. All political posters were banned and thousands of cops brought in.

All oppositional voices were decried by both the right wing and liberal media.

Any mention of Britain’s role in Iraq or Afghanistan was said to be irrelevant.

It seems that mentioning the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians is a sign of “immaturity”, while kowtowing to a feudal relic is the height of modernity.

The elite gathered at Dublin Castle to wine and dine with the royals.

They listened enraptured as the queen spoke, her speech designed to show a caring face to the British establishment’s role in Ireland.

No apology was asked for and none was given.

Probably the most sickening spectacle was Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern, both former Taoiseach, bowing to the royal sponger at the Garden of Remembrance—a venue commemorating men who fought for Irish freedom.

Here was Lizzie greeting the men who gave it away to the International Monetary Fund loan sharks.

In the words of the great socialist James Connolly, “All these parading royalties... all these grovelling, dirt-eating capitalist traitors, all these are but signs of disease in any social state—diseases which a royal visit brings to a head and spews in all its nastiness.”

Shay Ryan

Dublin


Israeli unions are no model for Egyptian struggle

Kamal Abbas, a leading figure from the Egyptian Centre for Trade Union Studies and Workers’ Services, was in Britain last week to speak about the rise of the new trade unions in Egypt since the revolution.

The meeting was organised by Egypt Workers Solidarity. Having recently been to Cairo as part of the London Region RMT’s solidarity delegation, I went to hear him speak.

Kamal explained how the new unions were paving the way for progressive change.

Unfortunately, the meeting was distorted by a number of other speakers. They argued that the key was for Egyptian and Tunisian independent trade unions to form a new regional workers’ federation including Israel’s self-styled “trade union organisation”, the Histadrut.

The Histadrut, like the old union federations of the Arab dictatorships, provides a trade union front for the state. It reinforces racist oppression and excludes Arab workers.

It is disturbing that this kind of pro-Zionist rhetoric is being linked to the revolutions.

The overwhelming majority of working class people in the Middle East and beyond want to link the struggle for democracy and social change to that for Palestinian liberation.

Kieran Crowe

London


'Science' should not be an excuse for racism

A hundred years ago it was common for racist ideas to be promoted and endorsed by the scientific establishment. Unfortunately it seems those attitudes persist at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Last week Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist working in LSE’s department of management, published a blatantly racist article in Psychology Today.

He claimed that black women were “objectively” less attractive than other women.

The article was taken down after complaints, but Kanazawa is unrepentant. He has form for this sort of thing. In 2006 he claimed that the low levels of life expectancy in much of Africa were down to the “low IQ” of Africans.

In February last year he claimed that “half of Muslims worldwide” were “active supporters of terrorism”.

Surely it’s time LSE took action against this charlatan? It defies belief that someone with views like that could work with or effectively teach black or Muslim students.

What Kanazawa is doing isn’t science—he is dressing up racist bigotry in scientific language. This is not acceptable. LSE should sack him immediately.

Anindya Bhattacharyya

East London


Tories target disabled people

A survey commissioned by the charity Scope shows that many disabled people are facing greater hostility and abuse from the public.

The increase has come since the Tory-led coalition launched its benefit “reforms”.

What kind of society is it that targets the weak and vulnerable and labels them all “scroungers”?

I find that this is horribly reminiscent of the scapegoating that happened in Nazi Germany.

Dave Taylor

Hampshire


Plymouth confronts Atos

A group of protesters picketed the Plymouth benefits medical centre on 11 May.

The protest included disabled people, trade unionists, carers and Plymouth Claimants Union activists.

We wanted to highlight benefit cuts and the re-testing of people on disability benefits by private company Atos.

We have to expose the so-called “medical professionals” working for Atos.

Their testing system is causing thousands of sick and disabled people to lose their rightful benefits.

This was just the beginning of our fight. We are holding another picket on 7 June.

Sam Bennett

Plymouth


Don’t become complacent

It is very good news that the British National Party (BNP) suffered so badly in the recent elections, and in 2010 End of the road for the BNP? .

But we have to be cautious.

Because of the disaffection with their leadership, many BNP members have decamped to UKIP and groups like the British People’s Party and the English Democrats.

In some places there is also a resurgence of support for the National Front (NF).

Some NF supporters from the 1970s have joined UKIP. The message is that we mustn’t be complacent.

Mitch Mitchell

Cambridge


Don’t let the Tories bite

A group went to see Attack the Block after reading about it in Socialist Worker Attack the Block: Close encounters of the south London kind.

It is a film about an alien invasion of south London that shows how through struggle people can unite and fight.

Neighbours, workers and youth who are normally alienated from each other find that they have something in common.

The aliens are like the Tories and the rich—invisible until they bite.

These are the people currently invading and raiding every public service and community.

I wish they could be drawn out by the dead, desiccated body of Margaret Thatcher, strung up and paraded through the streets so we could finish them off, like the aliens in the film.

We have to resist—united we can win.

Geoff Dexter

Birmingham


Resist like the shipbuilders

West Dunbartonshire is now the worst jobless blackspot in Britain.

And what are our politicians doing?

The local council is cutting the welfare rights advice budget and the government is set to close the Departemnt for Work and Pensions call centre in Clydebank.

These are services people desperately need as jobs are cut.

There is no need for cuts in public services, pay, pensions and benefits.

But there are a few cuts we could support: the billions spent on new nuclear weapons and on wars.

We could combine these with tackling tax evasion by the super rich, a windfall tax on the profits of the banks, supermarkets, energy and drug companies?

On the 40th anniversary of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in, we should follow their lead and refuse to accept these attacks.

Tom Morrison

Clydebank TUC


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Article information

Letters
Tue 24 May 2011, 17:59 BST
Issue No. 2253
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