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Show #74 – Sex and hierarchy

© Simon Green

© Simon Green

From the SWP to the police, the Catholic Church to the Lib Dems, hierarchical organisations are in crisis over how they’ve dealt with – or failed to deal with – allegations of sexual impropriety: rape or sexual assault. Donnacha DeLong talks to Zoe Stavri (@stavvers) and Laurie Penny (@pennyred) about the current crises, the unofficial hierarchies within even autonomous and anarchist groups and whether equality is possible in hierarchical organisations.

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About Donnacha DeLong

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Donnacha DeLong is an NUJ activist, journalist and online communications consultant with more than 20 years' professional experience.

One response »

  1. This was an interesting show. It didn’t do much to increase my understanding of how hierarchy makes it hard to deal with accusations of sexual violence, its stated purpose — it merely referred to two left wing groups characterized as hierarchal that recently have had members who have been accused of rape and that haven’t, to the satisfaction of the participants, dealt with them — but it did provide a platform for a particular strain within radical feminism that seeks to establish that an accusation of rape equals a conviction for rape.

    This isn’t to say that rape isn’t a serious crime, and anyone who says I’m saying that will misrepresent me.

    Feminism, as with other kinds of movements, if you look at its tactics, has sought to bring about the equality of women in two basic ways. One has to do with equality directly, the other has to do with increasing womens’ power, which, under patriarchy, is less than that of men. It seeks to increase womens’ power with the expectation that equal power will equal equality. If you do a Google search using just the term “empowerment” you’ll get a sense of how much this tactic is talked about by people interested in the women’s movement.

    With regard to this second tactic, what feminism has not addressed, to my knowledge, nor has any other movement that seeks to increase its power, is the reality that more power never equals equality. No individual or group that gets hold of power ever willingly relinquishes it. The “will to power” is the same in any individual or group. I’ve never heard anyone in the feminist movement say ‘we only want so much power’ or tell how, once they figure out how to get power they will put a throttle on that power. Women, if they are able, will simply replace patriarchy with matriarchy, unless something happens to cause human nature to suddenly change, or if, perhaps, some way of ordering our lives is adopted and adhered to that would alter human nature. Those of you familiar with Marxism will have ideas about what this might be.

    Again, this is not to say that there should not be equality, and anyone who says it is misrepresents me. Also, anyone who points out that the privileges I, as a white male, enjoy are under attack not just from feminism but from the decline of white ethnicity, and that this might be the reason I’ve thought about this, would be right on target, and I would hope they have as much insight into their motivations, their unconsciously motivated motivations, as I do when they seek to increase their own power.

    But the issue of giving more credence to accusations of rape, and of why this particular manifestation of women’s lack of power is focused on so much, has to be looked at in this context, also. Keeping in mind what we know about human nature, it’s a problem when any group uses increasing its power as a tactic. Equality is what we should be focused on, and ways by which we can disperse power, and ways by which we can create a world or a system where it isn’t necessary to have power to get what you need but in which having what you need is a accepted right, and in which everyone sees it as their duty to see that everyone else has what they need first.

    In this world, under this system, no one would think about visiting violence on another human being, which is what the exercise of power is, after all.

    Frank Conway
    Albuquerque, NM


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