Written By: - Date published: 12:22 pm, April 3rd, 2014 - 22 comments
Categories: activism, capitalism, class war, community democracy, election 2014, feminism, Left, same old national, sustainability, workers' rights - Tags:
A diverse but supportive wide ranging network left-wingers can provide the energy and activism needed for the upcoming election campaign. Time to end the “neoliberal” tyranny!
Income inequalities and social inequalities are interconnected. “Neoliberal” discourse attempts to sever this connection, making the focus on the economy all that matters. Sometimes left-wing analysis and campaigns also repeat this fracturing. The left will become stronger if the inter-relationship between social and economic inequalities is acknowledged. One of the more important aspects of such an acknowledgement is the strengthening of left wing networks: networks that include people and organisations involved in campaigning for social, cultural and economic justice.
The latest rounds in the struggles against both rape culture, and the economics of rape crisis funding, show how “neoliberalism” has weakened and fractured the broader left since the 1980s.
What to make of the latest crime stats? NZ’s recorded crime is going down. Nevertheless, crimes likely to be committed by people under severe financial stress, remained the same or even increased slightly: crimes such as theft, property damage and burglary.
Rape crisis centres are struggling under the weight of increased demand for services and a dwindling pool of funding.
Survivors of sexual violence and agencies supporting victims and offenders spoke at a parliamentary inquiry into funding of specialist sexual violence services yesterday.
Wellington Rape Crisis manager Eleanor Butterworth estimated that about 20 per cent of their staff hours were spent on completing funding applications and reports, but despite their efforts the agency is running on a deficit of up to $100,000 every year.
Rape Crisis Centres are one of the practical outcomes of second wave feminist campaigns. The subsequent history of their struggles, as seen in New Zealand flies in the face of some of the atatcks made from the left on feminism. It is sometimes claimed that “identity politics” (meaning especially feminism and the politics of gender and sexuality) is a middle class women’s thing that has served to weaken the left. It has been claimed that politics like that of those campaigning against rape culture is a tool of the neoliberal right, and one that gained ascendency with the rise of Rogernonmiccs.
Sometimes also, it has been claimed that a focus on “culture” and social processes is a diversion from the “real” economic struggle – against poverty etc. However, feminism generally also came under attack during the impact of the “1980s “neoliberal revolution”. This can be seen in the specific ways that anti- rape campaigns and rape crisis centres came under attack.
In January this year, Kirsty Johnston wrote on Stuff about initiatives to dispel rape myths. In the course of the article she wrote about the struggles of groups doing rape prevention and crisis work:
The money issues began at the end of the 1980s, when funding was redirected from prevention into frontline services, and then began to dry up altogether. In 1991, the national Rape Crisis office closed.
So the 1980s was when the attacks on funding severely weakend the initiatives to prevent and respond to rape came under severe attack. In doing this the inter-twined economic/financial aspects of rape and the cultural and social elements were fractured.
The cultural aspects are summed up with this explanation of rape culture by Pamela R Fletcher (2010):
… we define a rape culture as “a complex of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women [and girls], a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent, and a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women [and girls] and presents it as the norm” (Buchwald, Fletcher, and Roth 2005, XI). The physical and emotional terror that stems from sexual violence, while often deemed as terrible, is usually dismissed as individual misfortune rather than understood as a cultural phenomenon.
“Economics” and “political economy” have never been free of patriarchal assumptions and gender biases. Recent policies of austerity have been particularly damaging to large numbers of women:
Women disproportionately paid for the trigger of the recession, for the recession’s job losses and other social impacts, and the austerity measures that followed.
Social and income justice and fairness, supported by a sustainable, eco-friendly economy, are positive aims for the left to unite around: for diverse groups and campaigns to be working towards, while ending the damaging era of “Rogernomics”.
Vote left in this year’s election – tell it to all those you know in your networks.