We’re not heroes, we’re bitches: sexism at the left-wing

We have a radical left-wing scene, where we reject inequality in all its forms.

Nobody says out loud that they’re sexist. It’s the fewest who wants to be sexists. More often than not it’s something we can’t help – ideas concerning gender and bodies are something we have been raised with and something the mainstream constantly strengthens. 

But a discreet sexism seeps through out scene. We are still seen in the light of our bodies and gender identities. It is hypocritical because it goes against all of our political intentions.

In this article we will go through different ways in which feminized persons, women and queers face resistance at the radical left-wing in Copenhagen.

You can read this and think that it’s not your problem. But in that case, you’re probably not as revolutionary as you think.

Exclusion

Feminized persons, such as women and queers, have to work long and persistently to gain recognition of their political work, while a lot of men come in and are immediately expected to have knowledge and activist experience, and he is granted trust, usually by other men. Femininity is perceived to be passive, and masculinity active.

Men are put up on a pedestal, and a boy’s club is created, where the ties between men are strong. Men take the “important” roles when it comes to activism, like they do it everywhere else in society – and in this way they gain control of others. Privileges go hand in hand with respect and trust. Men quickly become idols at the left-wing and immune to critique. They can fuck up a lot, before it has consequences. Men interrupt and cut other off, talk over them and look away, when women and queers have something to say. Men are socialized to take the floor, while many women and queers from a young age have been taught to be careful about what they do and how they do it. 

Men often decide who can participate and when. When women and queers are not allowed to join in, their participation is being limited. 

Sometimes women and queers the “active” role at the left-wing, and they are deemed worthy of joining the “important” boy’s club – but it is usually those who can act as men (also depending on how long they have been there, who they have been organized with, and who they date), and they are put on pedestals as well. When individual women and queers are picked out to join the inner circle, they are perceived to be better than the rest of the women and queers, who are in turn seen as lacking the skills. It appears as if there is not equality, but these women and queers become part of an elite, which controls other’s access to the inner circle. Feminized persons can start seeing each other as competition and force each other down in order to keep their status in the boy’s club.

The function of women and queers at the left-wing

For some it seems coincidental that women and queers take part in the left-wing – they come and they go, and they are usually someone’s partner or friend, but in reality it seems a bit incidental that they ended up here, and it was probably not an active choice on their part. Are they dedicated enough?

When women and queers are in the front, it is noticed, because it is perceived as unusual by a lot of people. Lately, we have become a lot better at having women and queers take part in decision-making and planning, and we even let them walk with the front banner at demonstrations. 

But a nagging thought hits: Are they just tokens*? Are they a part of it because it looks good on paper?

Feminized persons have two functions at the left-wing:

  1. They are dateable
  2. You can say there are “women” at the left-wing

Liberated sexism

A lot of us are promised that at the left-wing it is different – here we say fuck beauty standards, and nobody’s discriminated against because of what they look like.

Feminine persons are still expected to live up to certain beauty ideals. They have to be “conventionally” beautiful and slim like in the mainstream media. On the other hand, there might be other ideals when it comes to body hair and makeup. They have to be “naturally” beautiful. It is often expected that they date inside the left-wing.

Some women are not sexualized, but that is usually because they do not live up to the mainstream ideals of beauty, or because they can escape sexualization by having been dating the same (respected) man for a long time. In this way he gets a certain ownership of the women, and it is perceived as a violation of the man if you sexualize his partner.

Both men and women have a tendency to protect feminized persons – if they have experienced sexual assault, women gather and discuss it, while men often talk about beating up the offender.

When sexual violence is revealed at the left-wing it is often expressed in reactionary and sexist protective ways, where male comrades want to exercise violence against the perpetrator for having violated the collective property (the feminized survivor), and where the survivors actual needs are often ignored.

Maybe it is not because women and queers are not dedicated to the politics, that they disappear from the left-wing, bt because our left-wing is a modified imitation of the mainstream, when it comes to sexism, rape culture and objectification.

Why we don’t talk about it

Feminists are perceived to be part of the problem, also by our own comrades. It is easier to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Usually the individual is blamed for discrimination. It is blind to privilege, and it is a way of doing the patriarchy a favor by playing on its structures.

It may feel uncomfortable to talk loudly of sexism when you’re a women, feminine and/or queer, because you yourself suddenly become the problem. It may feel embarrassing to talk about the resistance you face, when nobody believes your experiences. You may be ignored or treated differently. It may feel as if you’re doing yourself a disservice by not just shutting up and be “one of the boys.”

The arguments against victims of discrimination can include spoiling the fun, but you can also be blamed for undermining the whole movement. 

What is basically being said is that you don’t feel committed towards us as comrades. It is not us who introduced the alienation; you did. 

*Tokenization = a conscious attempt to avoid being blamed for discrimination and being caught having an exclusionary policy or practice.

This text is not written with individuals or organizations in mind, but is an expression of a general tendency. If you recognize what is described, we urge you to reconsider your surroundings, your politics and your relations, and discuss it with your comrades. 

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