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Misogynist ad campaign exposes hypocrisy within the left

By Anonymous

I was sexually assaulted by a left-wing activist last summer.

The perpetrator was – and still is – a guy with all the right credentials: post-colonialist, post-Zionist, anti-capitalist, and so on. Most significantly, he considers himself a feminist. Until he assaulted me, we were friends. I had met him through my involvement in radical leftist organizations.

After the assault, it took me three full days to fully comprehend what had happened and give it a name. I couldn’t make sense of what had happened to me, particularly because I couldn’t fathom how someone who could speak to me in the language of anti-oppression could breach the barriers of my consent.

When Solidarity unrolled its new campaign about the settlement Migron, showing violent images likening the Migron settlement to rape, I was deeply angered [UPDATE: See this clarification]. In the name of opposing the government’s settler policies, the images showed a woman being brutally choked, and a container of vaseline inviting the viewer to infer anal rape – alongside text that read: “Shut up, get on your knees and swallow. You know you want it.” The ad conjured the most disturbing tropes of sexual violence.  I was livid, but unfortunately I cannot say I was surprised. Because, when it comes down to it, the political left is not nearly as gender equal as it believes itself to be.

On the left we like to think of ourselves as enlightened. To a certain extent, we are. We are a community aiming to fulfill the vision of universal human rights, striving to build a world where race, class, gender, and other divisions between haves and have-nots cease to matter. We incorporate this mental world into the very core of our identity. But just because we believe things can and should be different, it doesn’t mean that we are immune to replicating the degrading power structures and norms of the society around us. And, sadly, the society around us is a deeply gendered one, where the militaristic, ultra-macho Muscle Jew mentality doesn’t just stop at the edge of the recruitment base, but informs every aspect of our lives.

True feminism is not just about a title, or a lingo, or translating protest slogans to female tenses. Feminism is about fundamentally changing and correcting operative assumptions and practices. But in reality, these are assumptions that, even among the left, remain unchallenged.

I’m talking about much more than the indefatigable question of whether it’s acceptable for us to wear tank tops in Palestinian villages. There are the examples that make the news, like the director of a prominent left-wing organization being sued for sexual harassment, or the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) trying to cover up the sexual assault of one of their activists. But there are also the everyday examples that don’t make the news, but that we all feel and experience.

These include the activist our community reveres, turning a blind eye as he treats women like objects. Or the progressive NGOs where we log thousands of hours of overtime, finding it impossible to balance work and home life and fearing the “mommy-track” just as much as if we worked in hi-tech. There are our fellow activists and colleagues who receive the credit and visibility for our ideas and drown out our voices, and who make sexist jokes but think it is ok because we know they are the “good guys,” that it’s “just a joke,” and that they mean it ironically. It is that deep, uncomfortable knowledge that when we are assaulted or harassed – and, inevitably, we are – we will be no less slut-shamed or victim-blamed among our so-called leftist comrades than we will be by the mainstream society we so enthusiastically love to hate.

The right to sovereignty over our bodies, to live lives and occupy public spaces without the threat of violence constantly looming over our heads, to be considered equal partners in the decision-making processes that govern our lives, and to enjoy the fruits of political, economic and social equality – these are all essential human rights that, for women, are threatened daily. But somehow, when we are talking about ourselves, women, as an oppressed group, our struggle takes second place to other “more important” battles.

Solidarity should not have published those images not because they are degrading and disgusting and legitimize a culture of violence against women – which they are, and they do. (They understood this on their own after a swift Facebook backlash, and removed the images, albeit with an outrageously impotent and defensive apology). Solidarity should not have published those images because, as an organization promoting human and civil rights, no one should have to tell them that women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.

Ultimately, we women face a unique bind – how are we supposed to speak out about sexism, harassment and even assault within a community that considers itself to be gender equal already? How can we stand up for ourselves as women when we are made to believe that prioritizing our own rights will detract from the struggle at hand, or even worse, that our criticism will be seized upon by the rightist extremists eager to delegitimize us?

Solidarity failed us as women. So did the guy who assaulted me. They weren’t the first. And, unfortunately, until the left-wing community realizes the values it claims to hold dear, they won’t be the last.

The author is a political activist. This article was also published in Hebrew, on Ha’okets.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. XYZ

      Thanks to 972 for posting this. It’s about time that justice transcend politics. There was a fairly recent story about a professor/peace activist who raped one of his students. She was paid hush money by the university! It is precisely for reasons like that that the rank-and-file people of this country have lost faith in the Leftist Establishment of the country. Quick to throw a former President of the country into jail on charges like these that are not even very solid (why, oh why did they offer a plea bargain in the first place in which the rape charge was dropped?) but quick to cover up when the perpetrator is one of our own.

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    2. “It is that deep, uncomfortable knowledge that when we are assaulted or harassed – and, inevitably, we are – we will be no less slut-shamed or victim-blamed among our so-called leftist comrades than we will be by the mainstream society we so enthusiastically love to hate.”

      That’s an exagerration about mainstream society, and a totally false accusation against the Left.

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    3. Lisa

      @Larry: Be careful – you do not know what Anonymous, or any other woman’s experience has been with this. Taking it personally & having a knee-jerk defensive response is not a progressive way of addressing this issue. She clearly is talking about the Israeli Left, but it could have been about the Left in the U.S., Palestine, or anywhere else. The Left is not immune to the overall ills of the society it is a part of. And it is not immune to the human tendency toward hypocrisy. Saying it’s not true makes you an accomplice to silencing the voices of the unempowered – that is very UNprogressive at best, and aiding the oppressor at worst.
      @Anonymous – Thank you for writing this. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for you to write it, and it was very brave & unselfish of you to share your experience & your thoughts. The fact that you didn’t feel safe enough to use your name is testimony to this issue. I hope that you are getting help & support to deal with this horrible trauma. I hope that one day, women everywhere will no longer need to be “anonymous” out if fear of being blamed for being victims of a violent crime. “Sexual assault” is a legal term invented by men & it minimizes what it actually is. “Assault” is defined as fear of an impending battery. “Battery” is an unwanted touching. A more accurate legal term would be “sexual battery.”. I hope that one day it will be called what it is: RAPE. The man who attacked you is a rapist. He is a dangerous, violent criminal, regardless of his politics. He should be put behind bars to prevent him from hurting anyone else.

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    4. Rachel

      @Larry I don’t see how you can say that when you’re not female. Harassment is very common and assault a lot more common than most people think. The fact that society to a significant extent does blame the victim or stigmatises having been a victim means that many, many women who have been victimised in this way will not talk about it openly.

      The writer is a part of the Left, she isn’t making accusations. Why is it too much to ask that left wing activists uphold their political beliefs about equality, justice and respect in their private lives in the same way as they do in the political arena?

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    5. Jazzy

      Post-modern ideological blowhards are totally full of shit? Old news.

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    6. In the old days, the statistic was one in every three women in the US was raped.

      This cuts accross politics, religion and everything else. Let’s face it. Men who don’t care, just don’t care no matter where they are. And certainly, recently, the real hatred of women has surfaced in America from the right, and also from the left. The treatment of women at OWS also had its issues. So let’s not wear blinders and understand this: Men generally hate strong women, especially if they are reminded of their mothers. The Madonna/Whore complex is real, and power issues, control issues, all feed into the problem. Remember that rape is not about sex, it’s about power, and using those images for anything is revolting.

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    7. Lisa, Rachel, I’m sorry, but to say that society in general and the Left in particular blame women victims for being sexually assaulted and see them as sluts – that is such an exaggeration. Obviously there are many in very repressive, usually religious communities that are guilty of this, and in the more macho precincts of mainstream society it’s probably pretty common uncommon – on the Left, I know it happens, but I have no doubt that it’s the rare exception, not the rule. And if I think of all the people I’ve known well in my life, I cannot think of ONE – not left-wing, right-wing or centrist, not religious or secular, not family or friend, who thinks that way about victims of sexual assault.

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    8. Larry – it is not rare on the left. You are mistaken.

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    9. Bill Pearlman

      If your a rape victim your way more likely to get justice in Texas or Alabama then you are in NY or California. Without question.

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    10. Lisa, sexual assault? Have you heard of a number of women who’ve been sexually assaulted by leftists? (That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?) If you say so, I can’t argue with you.

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    11. Larry, I’m really sorry to see you undermining the credibility of this woman by basically calling her a liar. She was brave to come forward. It seems pretty clear to me that she is speaking from experience; obviously, you cannot have any idea of what her experience was.

      It’s fine to ask questions, but your tone is pretty aggressive.

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    12. Rachel

      @Larry – No one is saying the Left is guilty “in particular” of doing these things, the point is that men on the left are often quite prone to applying one standard in their personal life and another on the level of macro politics. A lot of us on the left seem to take the view that these things happen in other strata of society but “people like us” are somehow immune from these problems – that’s not true and we need to address this honestly.

      You can’t judge how much of a problem something is by what you think your friends views are based on what you’ve heard them say about the issue generally. Try being female and dating, see how often the men you encounter understand the concept of consent 100% correctly and respectfully and then come and tell us that these issues are “very rare”.

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    13. Jazzy

      Some help me out here. I was a kid when the Second Intifada happened. Did it just totally gut the Israeli left of intelligent, morally serious people? I’m starting to gain a deeper appreciation for the Finkelstein ‘cult’ argument. I think maybe ‘clique’ is also an appropriate term. A bunch of shallow morons sitting around trying to be deep and smart to get girls, and then resorting to misogyny and violence when their awkwardness (the reason for joining the clique in the first place) prevents them from actually attracting anymore.

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    14. Piotr Berman

      I am not sure if anonymous has “correct complaint”.

      Mysogynism is hostility or belittling of women. The ad uses rape imaginary to condemn another act as equally repulsive. So it does not trivialize rape.

      I would object with imaginary that is so vivid that approaches pornography, or indeed crosses the line.

      An example of mysogynism can be a quip “winter wind is like rape, if you cannot do anything about it, you can try to enjoy it”. I do not remember details, but that was a gist of a quip that pretty much finished a candidacy for governor of Texas.

      I guess sometime it has to be explained why some image is deeply offensive and people can learn. For example, some time ago a fashion designer in Australia had a series of female bathing suits with depiction of Indian goddess Lakshmi, and there were pictures of models with those suits with the goddess on some parts of anatomy (or near them). Devout Indians were not amused at all, and demonstrated in Delhi, carrying the offensive picture, so a puzzled Westerner could wonder why people carry posters of models in bikini and look so grim? The designer was mortified, she cancelled the line at once, issued apology etc.

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    15. Lisa

      @Larry – your responses above reveal a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of this issue, which I am giving you enough credit to assume that this is beneath you. If you truly care about this issue, you should talk with women (involving more of them talking and you listening), and you need to read about it:
      “Reflecting on the radical organizations and social movements of the 1960s and 1970s provides an important historical context for this discussion. Memoirs by women who were actively involved in these struggles reveal the pervasiveness of tolerance (and in some cases advocacy) of gender violence. Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, and Elaine Brown, each at different points in their experiences organizing with the Black Panther Party (BPP), cited sexism and the exploitation of women (and their organizing labor) in the BPP as one of their primary reasons for either leaving the group (in the cases of Brown and Shakur) or refusing to ever formally join (in Davis’s case). Although women were often expected to make significant personal sacrifices to support the movement, when women found themselves victimized by male comrades there was no support for them or channels to seek redress. Whether it was BPP organizers ignoring the fact that Eldridge Cleaver beat his wife, noted activist Kathleen Cleaver, men coercing women into sex, or just men treating women organizers as subordinated sexual playthings, the BPP and similar organizations tended not to take seriously the corrosive effects of gender violence on liberation struggle. In many ways, Elaine Brown’s autobiography, A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story, has gone the furthest in laying bare the ugly realities of misogyny in the movement and the various ways in which both men and women reproduced and reinforced male privilege and gender violence in these organizations. Her experience as the only woman to ever lead the BPP did not exempt her from the brutal misogyny of the organization. She recounts being assaulted by various male comrades (including Huey Newton) as well as being beaten and terrorized by Eldridge Cleaver, who threatened to “bury her in Algeria” during a delegation to China. Her biography demonstrates more explicitly than either Davis’s or Shakur’s how the masculinist posturing of the BPP (and by extension many radical organizations at the time) created a culture of violence and misogyny that ultimately proved to be the organization’s undoing.
      These narratives demystify the legacy of gender violence of the very organizations that many of us look up to. They demonstrate how misogyny was normalized in these spaces, dismissed as “personal” or not as important as the more serious struggles against racism or class inequality. Gender violence has historically been deeply entrenched in the political practices of the Left and constituted one of the greatest (if largely unacknowledged) threats to the survival of these organizations. However, if we pay attention to the work of Davis, Shakur, Brown, and others, we can avoid the mistakes of the past and create different kinds of political community.”

      http://inciteblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/why-misogynists-make-great-informants-how-gender-violence-on-the-left-enables-state-violence-in-radical-movements/

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    16. shongalolla

      “And, sadly, the society around us is a deeply gendered one, where the militaristic, ultra-macho Muscle Jew mentality doesn’t just stop at the edge of the recruitment base, but informs every aspect of our lives.”
      That shocked me. Please speak in plain English and REALLY say what you want to say

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    17. The Black Panthers had a lot of violent criminals in their ranks, the violence against women in American black ghettos was and is well known – what does that have to do with today’s Israeli left?

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    18. But you’re right, Lisa, that I should find out more about this, and that I may be brushing off what’s a real problem because it seems so impossible to me.

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    19. “Ultimately, we women face a unique bind – how are we supposed to speak out about sexism, harassment and even assault within a community that considers itself to be gender equal already?”
      .
      Anonymous, with this sentence I think you’ve hit on the heart of the problem: people who participate in peace and justice activism are likely to believe that their community is already gender equal, when there is no conceivable way that it can be. We’ve all been raised in a sexist society, to the point where a lot of sexism just flies under the radar. How could it not, when gender conditioning is something that begins when you’re in your crib as a baby? Even if everybody is doing their best to be considerate of one another and to think critically about how gender affects the solidarity movement, there is always the possibility that they will be blindsided by their own privilege or trip up over an attitude that they hadn’t even identified as problematic before. The real problem comes when they get defensive over it and deny it happens. Sometimes you have white people who say that they’re ‘colour blind’, believing this to be an expression of their commitment to racial equality. In reality it’s just an expression of their privilege, and it’s the same when guys assume that because they identify as feminist, they can’t possibly behave in a sexist way (even unconsciously).
      .
      As for rape, no political group has a monopoly on sexual violence against women. No political group has a monopoly on victim-blaming. And no political group is free of it. Refusing to accept this just makes it harder for victims of assault to get justice, signalling tacitly that sexual violence is acceptable. Bear in mind that assailants often don’t see themselves as having done anything wrong; they believe their own justifications. “She was asking for it.” “She’s my girlfriend, so…” We have men saying this to themselves in a community that tells them, “We are all feminists here, you are all feminists here, there’s no misogyny to be seen.” This is part of the problem. I think this sentence quoted by Lisa sums it up pretty well:
      .
      “[M]isogyny was normalized in these spaces, dismissed as ‘personal’ or not as important as the more serious struggles against racism or class inequality.”

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    20. sh

      I saw the poster in question, a woman with head pulled back, mouth agape, done in the black, white and red colors favored by anarchist poster designers. I immediately assumed that the idea took the 3-consonant root, garon, which means throat, from the word Migron, and that the graphic alluded to a pornographic 1970s film called Deep Throat, the plot of which those too young to remember the scandal it provoked can google. (The name Deep Throat was subsequently used to refer to one of the Watergate informants.)
      .
      My initial reaction was that the poster was in truly appalling taste. Later I saw outraged comments interpreting it as misogynous and referring back to a previous acrimonious discussion of a couple of years back about whether it accords with feminism to advise female demonstrators about how they should dress when protesting in east Jerusalem. I thought that was a no-brainer: dressing in function of where you’re going is not so much a feminist issue as a human one. And regarding that poster, rape is not a uniquely feminist issue either.
      .
      Now a question: if the face in that graphic had been male instead of female, would it have been more acceptable?

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    21. Tzila

      I don’t think that left or right is a factor who will determine the probability of such a thing to happen .

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    22. mirit

      Larry Derfner, as someone who has never had to fear not only the culture of shaming and silence that faces all survivors of sexual assault, but also the fear that your coming forward may bring down right-wing scandal or police violence upon your community, kindly shut up and listen to the stories of people who have.

      Also please take your disgusting racist comments about sexual violence in “black ghettos” and choke on them.

      Responses like yours are why it is so hard for women like the brave person who wrote this article to speak out.

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    23. Are you seriously bringing up the Black Panthers as a historical example of pressure and repression on women to divulge instances of sexual assault? In the United States, one in every four women is raped before the age of 25. Think of all of the women that you know. And how many of them have come out and told you that they have been assaulted? If it doesn’t add up, it isn’t that the statistics are off. Its the fact that the people in your life may very well feel ashamed of the fact that they were sexually assaulted. It was an extremely brave act to write this article, and to confront sexual assault in the left. Let us not deny them. Listen.

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    24. berenjena

      @Larru Derfner: Check your privilege. Learn to listen. Learn to respect others by considering their experiences.

      By doubting women and their testimonies systematically, you are contributing to the socially-acceptable practice of apologising for rapists and assaulters. This speaks heaps for you: for instance, if you consider yourself to be part of the Left… you are part of the sexist Left Anonymous was precisely talking about.

      I hope one day you will learn better and respect other people’s oppression, and begin to actually fight alongside them.

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    25. Jazzy

      Larry: SHUT THE F@CK UP AND LISTEN MTHFCKA!!!!! THIS IS THE REAL SH$T COMING AT STRAIGHT FROM THE INTERNETS. DO YOU HAVE ANY, ANY IDEA…ANY IDEA HOW HARD IT IS THE WRTE SOME ANONYMOUS SHT UP IN HERE???

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    26. Ruth

      Ridiculous article. Sorry this is not about Israli politics or feminism. In this case, it is about being smart in your relationships with people. Streetproofing yourself really. No means no,true. But I also hate it when women use the sex card, get into compromising positions and then cry after. You just don’t get into social situations like that if you had a few brain cells. I am not talking about random attacks which are truly traumatic but when you know the person well, there is more than meets the eye. It makes me a neanderthal, I know, but women are no saints either.

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    27. Jazzy,
      If you are ever raped, you may understand why the poster chose to write anonymously.
      .
      I hope that you never will be. You’re privileged to be without that knowledge. But that doesn’t excuse you for ridiculing the people who do have to bear it, and to live in an environment where well-meaning but extraordinarily naive men try to silence them by writing, “Well, no one I know would behave like that, therefore you must be exaggerating.”
      .
      As though that settles it. As though people who help to maintain this status quo (often without realising they’re doing it) walk around with MISOGYNIST handily tattooed on their foreheads for everyone to see. When you have been raped, the thing that hurts the most in the aftermath is often the reaction you get from your friends, your family, people you would otherwise love and trust, people who are otherwise very reasonable and very thoughtful. That’s why it hurts. And yes, it makes some women extremely angry. As Matt points out, shame (especially fear of being judged or found disgusting) is enough to keep a lot of victims silent altogether. (Definitely easier to stay silent than to face comments like,”You just don’t get into social situations like that if you had a few brain cells” – the internal shame and self-disgust is usually more than enough to cope with.) And it’s more than shame. It’s a sense of being rotten from the inside out, as though your body isn’t even your own any more, and there is nothing, nothing you can do to reclaim it. The sense of violation is horrific. Telling your story might be one way of reclaiming space, but it’s not something you feel able to do, in case people use it as a weapon against you.
      .
      The author of this article has tried to reclaim some space for politically active left-wing women to talk about a particular problem they have within this movement. That space was immediately filled by a man saying, “What an exaggeration!” The men he knows were then invoked to populate that space. And, lo and behold, a woman got angry with him for that. You decide to poke fun at that anger, because after all, how hard can it be to write this ‘anonymous shit’? With that one disparaging phrase, you make it sound like the author is lying. At the very least, you trivialise her ordeal. And you still wonder why she’s anonymous, with people waiting to greet her and her story with this level of respect and consideration? You think other victims of assault are likely to feel comfortable sharing their own experiences here when they see the writer being dismissed by Larry and sneered at by you?
      .
      You’re right about one thing: writing ‘anonymous shit’ is hard. This comment has taken me way too long to write, and it’s not even directed at the most important people in all of this. We will know we have a truly gender-equal solidarity movement when victims of assault can speak out about their experiences without first having to defend the fact that they’re speaking.

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    28. Jazzy

      Vicky: lighten up. Also, nobody reads comments that long. Also, have you moved to a refugee camp yet? Still waiting for that.

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    29. Jazzy – Do not engage in personal attacks. See +972 Magazine’s commenting policy for further details (in the ‘about’ section). First and only warning.

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    30. I may be wrong about how mainstream society and the Left deal w/sexual harassment/assault on women, but all the claims that I was putting down Anonymous and silencing victims and enabling sexual assaults to continue are horssshit. And to call me a racist for pointing up the problem of misogyny and violence against women in U.S. black ghettos? That’s like a caricature of political correctness. Listen to some rap music and tell me I’m racist.

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    31. Jazzy

      Lisa: I haven’t personally attacked anyone. Either you’ve misunderstood the relevant comment or you don’t realize that I’m referring to something I wrote on another thread…Also, I don’t see why you bother warning people about these things. You have carte blanche to ban anyone for anything, and its not like anyone can appeal the decision. Censor whatever you want to censor, but don’t pretend like there’s any sort of real standard for ‘libel’, or ‘personal attacks’ or whatever. There’s gobs of antisemitism on this site that nobody even seems to notice…racialist comments about Jewish features and whatnot. This is a dictatorship, not a court. Let’s not kid ourselves.

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    32. Jazzy

      “Listen to some rap music and tell me I’m racist.”
      BAHAHAHAHAHA…soooo racist. Larry…I’m worried. Rap Music isn’t reality…rap music isn’t reality…not everything that’s in rap music reflects reality…actually there’s a lot of blaxploitation…

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    33. Elaine

      Larry — The reputation you earned when you got fired from the jerusalem post — ie that you make crude, obnoxious generalizations that are offensive to lots of people without really backing up your ideas with proper journalistic research — seems to be validated in your comments here. Obnoxious, arrogant, completely unaware of the issues at hand. You should really try to study and understand the issue before spewing out your ridiculous comments

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    34. sh

      Jazzy, rape is not a subject to be lightened up about. The rape you hear about – i.e. within religious or educational institutions – is a fraction of the number that actually takes place. Most rapes still go unreported.
      .
      About reaction here to Larry’s reaction, instead of thumping him for not being sufficiently PC or for racism, why not discuss why this kind of denial takes place and how our assumption that we (whatever we we consider ourselves part of) are above that sort of thing is the very factor that makes sexual (and any other) abuse so easy to carry out? It’s also relevant, as the unfortunate choice of graphic that kicked this discussion off illustrates, to the gulf between Israel’s moral convictions and the acts that result from them.

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    35. @Larry – I have to say it sounds like there’s a whole world going on there that you’re sheltered from. it’s the world lived by half the population. What Anonymous published was perhaps an intellectual exercise for the men, but heartbreaking for many of the women to read because she spoke for so many of us. Ask your female friends, colleagues and even those you see and work with every day about unwanted attention, harassment, assault, battery, rape of any kind. You’ll be stunned by what you find and you’ll be even more stunned by how many never told anyone but her closest friends, let alone a male family member and g-d forbid, the boss. Police? forget it. Every day I hear a new story of a friend in torment because someone with power over her has degraded her, humiliated her, trivialized her sexuality and her very self-worth and all that without even touching her… it is as common in the privileged, educated, highest halls of power as in the ghetto although probably takes more manipulative forms in the former. Take it from a first-hand source – me. I wasn’t even as brave as Anonymous to tell anyone my (multiple) stories publicly. Political leanings apparently have little to do with anything, but that’s harder to admit when we hold ourselves to progressive values, which is the author’s point and it’s a perfectly valid one – doesn’t mean it’s more or less common among the left. After reading this whole thread, I can only agree with your comment from somewhere in the middle that you really do have a great deal to learn.

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    36. Dan Kimche

      I have to say Dahlia seems to be the most sane voice here.

      The only thing that annoys me about this article (and I am a man so I know this is a subject I shouldn’t comment on period, still) is that it seems kind of naive and, I’m sorry, but self-serving for the left.

      I understand the idea that people who are more liberal or pacifist would be potentially less violent, but isn’t that a bit naive?

      Do people really think that sexual violence, compulsion, violent aggression, sexual perversion, (and so on and so forth) are really somehow tied to someone’s politics???

      I thought that feminists and all of us who are against violence towards women saw it how it is: a reflection of someone’s violent compulsive degradation and abuse of women, with no connection to their politics, left or right.

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    37. Danya

      Thank you for writing this very brave and important post.

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    38. siren

      This is the boldest post I have ever read on +972.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and starting what is clearly a very important and necessary conversation.

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    39. @ Dan Kimche – thanks. One thing – I don’t agree that you shouldn’t comment. I want to hear everything men think – for good and for bad – just as i want to hear what women think. I wholeheartedly believe in the capacity of men NOT to behave like that, or express degrading ideas towards women and moreover, I believe in their ability to be excellent, supportive, compassionate and humane towards women and everyone. I wish more men knew and cultivated this capacity as I believe they shame themselves when they behave otherwise.

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    40. I used to be in the theatre. In my early 20s, it was almost commonplace to have to service those agents, producers, directors and other men offering work, in some way or another — it could have been sexual and it was usually sexist. No surprise Marilyn Monroe spoke of having spent the first half of her career on her knees.

      We have come a long way since the 70s, and even though the casting couch still exists, feminism has had some major triumphs. But Israel is lagging way way behind, and that lag is part of our overall malaise. It’s a similar lag that fails most Israelis to see our society as the outside world sees it. And whilst it’s a major victory that someone as high as a president can indeed go down on rape charges and I doubt they could talk today so easily of the best men to the airforce and the best women to the pilots, general attitudes nevertheless haven’t changed. And where, to me, it’s really offensive, is in the human and civil rights “movement” – especially NGOs on the Left. Because it indicates the weakness of those values.

      So that’s exactly why I’m going to court challenging my recent dismissal, on the basis of unfair dismissal. And yes, I hear “they” were very shocked I dared challenge it, or even go to a lawyer. Meaningfully, for me, the first hearing (and the court has chosen NOT to go to arbitration, which is interesting…) will be on my birthday.

      Human rights groups should respect the human rights of their employees and deal in the same spirit of dialogue and dialectic that they say they pursue politically… otherwise it calls into question and cheapens their commitment to those same values. Or even exposes their lack of any real commitment. And it won’t stop until we stand up against it. There are simply too many cases one hears of, when the bully should have been called out. The time before, when something similar happened, I didn’t challenge it, on the basis that this is a small pond and it’s better to have good future working relationships. Factor in the relief of having got out of a bad working environment with that new, incoming, insecure, senior person. I figured I was well out of a hellhole. In hindsight, that was unrealistic and weak! We have to stand against injustice. Especially if that’s what we say is our raison d’etre. And we have to grow those weak “liberal” places in ourselves just that much stronger by doing the right thing. Standing up and telling the men, with wisdom, sensitivity and a vision of feminist education and maternal uplift (and not just cheap revenge that destroys lives) that THEY are not living up to their own standards.

      Reply to Comment
    41. Sara

      Thank you for writing this piece. It resonates with my own experiences of leftist communities in the UK and on mainland Europe.

      Reply to Comment
    42. Heloisa Pait

      Since when vomiting a bunch of stupid slongs it to be understood as a sign of character? Sorry, but you should look for people with principles and stop following dumb ideologues.

      Reply to Comment
    43. To Dahlia and everybody else: The point I made is that neither mainstream society on the whole, nor, especially, the Left, consider rape and sexual assault victims to be sluts, nor do they blame them for being raped. You’re attacking me for things I never wrote and don’t believe.

      Reply to Comment
    44. You want to know another problem on the Left? Blind intolerance of the slightest demurral by anyone from the relatively privileged races/natinalities/genders to any accusation made by anyone from the relatively disadvantaged demographics. A woman can say anything she wants about male oppression and a man can’t say shit; same between blacks and whites, Arabs and Jews, Easterners and Westerners. It’s absolute bullshit, and it’s why I think of myself not as a leftist, but a liberal. I disagreed with one point Anonymous was making and I became the new Moshe Katsav. I lived through this reign of censorship 40 years ago in Berkeley – it’s really old, and ridiculous.

      Reply to Comment
    45. Larry, of course the vast majority of people are not walking around saying, “Rape victims are slutty women and they’re to blame for what happened to them.” What happens is that people tend to have a very narrow definition of rape. The ‘perfect victim’ is the woman who doesn’t drink, who never wears short skirts, who doesn’t go out alone (especially at night), who lives a chaste monogamous lifestyle, and who is attacked by a violent depraved stranger. When women don’t fit the picture of angelic innocence violated, you get comments such as, “Well, she has to take some personal responsibility. Look at what she was wearing. If I leave my wallet in my car and leave the car unlocked…” or, “He is her boyfriend and he’s a decent guy, there’s got to be more than meets the eye here.” This is mainstream. If it weren’t, more victims would be willing to come forward and the rape conviction rape wouldn’t be so frighteningly low. In a climate where people victims do not feel safe in coming forward to talk about rape, presenting yourself as a man who is being unfairly censored is not going to help matters in the slightest.
      .
      “Vicky: lighten up. Also, nobody reads comments that long. Also, have you moved to a refugee camp yet? Still waiting for that.”
      .
      I’m glad that you’re so eager to learn more about my project in the refugee camp that the seven days since I mentioned I was moving there feel like a long wait, but I can’t update you on my work in the camps here – this topic is dedicated to sexual assault and misogyny in left-wing Israeli activism (and further afield – what ‘Anonymous’ has written could be just as relevant in your own life). I’d honestly be happy to talk to you elsewhere about the project in the refugee camps, but only when you feel able to manage text of more than 531 words and you start to recognise that, “GROW THE F*CK UP, GET OVER YOUR YOURSELF, AND STOP PRETENDING TO BELIEVE RUBBISH so you can indulge yourself,” does in fact qualify as personal attack. That comment thread was not your finest hour. It’s no skin off my nose, but it doesn’t put you in the best light, and I wouldn’t refer back to it if I were you.

      Reply to Comment
    46. The author of that article takes four pages to reach her point, which is distilled in this paragraph:
      .
      “Dines ignores the fact that men behave differently than women. It wasn’t just Ward Cleaver–type stuffiness that prompted generations of dads to warn their daughters not to get into cars with boys. Dads are grown men, and they know that when it comes to sex, most men will take every inch a woman yields.”
      .
      This is just the old ‘boys will be boys’ argument. It’s not the elephant in the room, it’s a mainstream belief, and feminists aren’t going to insult men by changing their expectations on this one. A woman who agrees to drive in the same car as you is not ‘yielding’ anything, she is agreeing to drive in the same car. And that is all.

      Reply to Comment
    47. George

      I fail to see how this article has any salient arguments. She expresses more concern about the wording & design of a campaign poster than the patriarchal injustice the same poster seeks to advocate against. This is illusory post-modernism at its very lowest. It was also written in this self-absorbed, declarative, “I have access to the truth and anyone who disagrees is wrong AND misogynistic” tone as if she’s the only legitimate voice that occupies the left. And what exactly does “ultra-macho Muscle Jew mentality” even mean, other than thinly veiled anti-semitism?

      I would have to say an emphatic & tongue in cheek “Calm down dear.”

      Reply to Comment
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