Libertarian Sexism – Just Fascist Misogyny Mixed Up with Rothbard and Rand

About a week ago I put up a post commenting on a video from Reichwing Watch, a YouTuber who creates videos and documentaries about the rise of the extreme Right. That particularly video remarked on the way contemporary Libertarian was becoming a front for Fascism. The two ideologies share the same hatred of democracy, Socialism, minority rights, and organized labour, and exalt instead authoritarianism, private property and industry. The video included clips of comments from Rand and Ron Paul, Hoppe, Ayn Rand and other Libertarian ideologues laying out their highly elitist views, along with similar comments from Adolf Hitler. Libertarians have often described themselves as Anarcho-Individualists or Anarcho-Capitalists. Now, however, a number of them, of whom the most prominent appears to be the internet blogger, That Guy T, have begun to describe themselves and their ideology as Anarcho-Fascism.

And one of the attitudes they share with traditional Fascism is sexism and a deep distrust of women. Both the Nazis and the Italian Fascists believed that women were inferior to men, and that, rather than seeking equality and careers, they should properly confine their activity to the home. In Nazi Germany girls were explicitly educated to be home-makers under the official Nazi slogan ‘Kinder, Kuche, Kirche’ – ‘Children, Kitchen, Church’. This education culminated in a useless qualification derided as the ‘pudding matric’. The Italian Fascists held the same opinions, and also equated masculinity with aggressive militarism. One of Mussolini’s slogans was ‘Fighting is to man, what motherhood is to woman.’ Incidentally, it’s quite ironic that a female screenwriter, interviewed in the Radio Times this week about her forthcoming detective series about the organized abuse of women in international prostitution, is quoted as saying, ‘motherhood is the equivalent of when men go to war.’ I’ve no doubt many mothers, and fathers, for that matter, see it differently. Though it might appear to be so after they’ve been up all night with a crying baby.

Some of the clearest statements of Fascist misogyny came from the Futurists, the modern art movement launched in 1909 by the Italian poet, Marinetti. This glorified youth, speed, the new machine age, violence, dynamism and virility. Mussolini in his manifesto baldly stated ‘We advocate scorn for woman.’ In his manifesto Contro L’Amore ed il Parlamentarismo – ‘Against Love and the Parliamentary Process’, Marinetti declared ‘the war between the sexes has been unquestioningly prepared by the great agglomerations of the capital cities, by nocturnal habits, and by the regular salaries given to female workers.’ The Futurists were impressed by the militant dynamism of the suffragettes and early feminist movements, but later became violently opposed to any kind of demands for equality or female liberation. Marinetti declared that “Women hasten to give, with lightning speed, a great proof of the total animalization of politics… the victory of feminism, and especially the influence of women on politics will in the end succeed in destroying the principle of the family”.
(‘Love and Sexuality’ in Pontus Hulton, ed. Futurismo: Futurism and Futurisms (Thames and Hudson 1986) 503.

The same attitudes have returned with the rise of the anti-feminist Conservatives following the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Much of this is a reaction to the gradual decline of the nuclear family and massive increase in divorce following the emergence of more liberal attitudes to sexuality in the ‘permissive society’. Thus, Conservatives like the American Anne Coulter, Libertarians like Vox Day, and their British counterparts, many of whom seem to be in UKIP, stated very openly that they were in favour of removing women’s right to vote. This was partly because they feel that women favour the Left, and so reject economic individualism and property rights for collectivism and a welfare state. The denizens of the Men’s Rights Movements, who are regularly critiqued and pilloried by the male internet feminist, Kevin Logan, are also vehemently opposed to female sexual liberation. Far and Alt Right vloggers like Avis Aurini sneer at modern women as promiscuous, whose selfish hedonism is a threat to marriage and the family. One of the individuals even hysterically declared that women were responsible for the fall of all civilisations. This would no doubt surprise historians, who have actually studied the reasons for their fall. The forces responsible can include climate change and desertification, foreign invasion, social and political stagnation and economic decline. Rome fell, for example, because from the third century AD onwards it was suffering massive inflation, a growing tax burden that the aristocratic rich evaded, and put instead on the shoulders of the poor, a growing gulf between rich and poor that saw the free Roman plebs decline in legal rights and status to the same level as the slaves, along with the massive expansion of aristocratic estates worked by slaves, urban decline as the population fled to the countryside, a decline in genuine democratic institutions and the rise of feudalism, and, of course, the barbarian invasions. Women don’t feature as a cause, except in the writings of some of the Roman historians commenting on sexual depravity of various emperors, and the general moral decline of Roman society. O tempora! O mores!

Whatever intellectual guise the contemporary Conservative and Libertarian right might want to give such ideas, such misogyny really is just Fascism, or an element of Fascism. It’s just been given another name, and mixed up with the economic individualism of Ayn Rand, von Hayek and von Mises, rather than Hitler, Mussolini and Marinetti. It is, however, rapidly approaching and assimilating them as well. If female freedom and, more widely, a genuinely democratic society are to be preserved, the Fascist nature of such misogyny needs to be recognized, and very firmly rejected.

Book Review: A Woman’s Work by Harriet Harman

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 17/07/2017 - 10:40pm in

In A Woman’s Work, Britain’s longest-serving female MP Harriet Harman offers a new memoir reflecting on her experience of high-level politics and the recent history of the Labour Party from the late 1970s to the present. Despite a small number of notable omissions, this is a valuable addition to the genre of political autobiography that puts women’s lived experience and the continuing fight for gender equality at its centre, writes Emma Lundin

If you are interested in this book review, you may also like to listen to a recording of Harriet Harman participating in a LSE Literary Festival 2017 panel on ‘Women in Work: An Unfinished Revolution?’, speaking alongside Katrine Marçal, Lieutenant Commander Alexandra Pollard and Dr Nicola Rollock on 23 February 2017. 

A Woman’s Work. Harriet Harman. Allen Lane. 2017.

Find this book: amazon-logo

In what we can hope is a lasting trend, there has been a lot of interest in books that restore female politicians’ lives and experiences to the historical record over the past year. Alongside historian Laura Beers’s Red Ellen: The Life of Ellen Wilkinson, Socialist, Feminist, Internationalist, journalist Sophy Ridge’s The Women Who Shaped Politics and Labour MP Rachel Reeves’s Alice in Westminster: The Political Life of Alice Bacon sits Harriet Harman’s A Woman’s Work – a rare autobiography written by a woman still involved in high-level politics, and an engaging account of a tumultuous time in the Labour Party’s history.

Harman charts Labour’s continuous spiral of rise and fall from the late 1970s until 2016, and questions its commitment to women – whether those in the party or the electorate – throughout. Harman is brave enough to lay her emotions bare: afforded strength and privilege to oppose the status quo through her affluent upbringing, she was all the more frustrated to realise the extent to which sexism, misogyny and violence made her and other women vulnerable. It is striking that someone who has had the power to influence and execute policy at a national level has nonetheless felt powerless on so many occasions.

One of fewer than twenty women in parliament when she was elected in 1982, Harman has had to put up with abusive and belittling remarks from political opponents, supposed allies, the press and the public ever since. She became involved in the Labour Party because it was, she argues, the only party that could possibly address the lagging social and legal rights for women in the UK, and feminism has impacted everything from how she has staffed her office to the way she works. As a result, the book is an excellent source for those of us who study the role of women within large, male-dominated parties: it clearly shows how women working as a collective within a larger mixed-gender organisation are cast as divisive, troublesome and potential traitors. This is the double-bind of women’s activism: women have to organise as a lobby to have an impact on policy, but in doing so, they risk exclusion and stagnating career trajectories.

Image Credit: Harriet Harman MP at Salford International Media Festival 2014 (University of Salford Press Office CC BY 2.0)

Women can also fade from view: the book is, Harman writes in her postscript acknowledgements, an attempt to show the importance of women in Labour Party history. She specifically addresses the autobiographies by her male contemporaries, who have written Harman and other women out of their stories. Instead of mimicking them, Harman outlines the importance of the collective to feminist ideology, and shares some of her spotlight with lesser known office and support workers – including Scarlett MccGwire and Deborah Mattinson – effectively bringing them into the history of the party with her.

One of the strengths of the book is that Harman does not shy away from intra-party conflicts: her grievances with unfulfilled promise and the passive resistance from male colleagues who pay lip service to feminism as well as her disappointment with the slow pace of reform within the Labour Party are all laid bare here. She was an eyewitness to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s friendship from beginning to end, and is scathing about Peter Mandelson’s role in its breakdown (164-65). She is critical of David Miliband’s attitude when losing the leadership race to his younger brother, arguing that the former should have looked to Alan Johnson’s gracious defeat to Harman when running for deputy leader for a lesson in how to bring warring party factions together (272, 332). She argues that if her Equality Act had been implemented in 2007 rather than in dribs and drabs between then and 2010, it would have gone a long way to address the white working-class concerns that allegedly caused the Brexit result. It could even, she says, have silenced the ‘ultra left’ in the party (297).

Still, there are areas and eras where Harman could be more explicit. Like so many autobiographies, the book benefits from hindsight in the earlier chapters where the author is more reflective than in the information-packed second half. This is a result of Harman’s refusal to keep a diary – she ‘thoroughly disapproved of colleagues who sat in meetings writing theirs’ (385) – and her reliance on monthly reports written for her Constituency Labour Party. While readers’ appetite for gossip is mostly satisfied, we don’t find out why Harman faced such animosity from John Prescott (perhaps we can imagine – but is it too simplistic to ascribe it to a given conflict between the posh southern woman and the working-class northern man?). And her decision not to put her name forward for party leader in 2010 and 2015 is far from clear: why leave it to Diane Abbott to stand as the token woman in 2010, particularly after Harman’s successful deputy leader election in 2007?

Frustratingly, Iraq is also skirted over: Harman points out that her vote in favour of war was based on information that was later proven incorrect, and her understanding – built on testimonies from Iraqi exiles – that Saddam Hussein was a ruthless, vindictive and untrustworthy dictator. But she does not touch upon the ripple effect of violence, the cost of war and consecutive humanitarian disasters in the wake of the invasion (253-54).

Elsewhere, Harman credits the women’s movement with giving her the most important push towards a political career, but she speaks of the movement in a disembodied way. Readers might ask how Harman kept herself up-to-date with agendas and strategies throughout her busy career: who made up the movement, and what was Harman’s role within it? While she correctly argues that the movement for women’s rights is international, she fails to connect her story to these venues – apart from in a short section on twinning with Tanzanian MP Monica Mbega. It is also peculiar that political journalist Gaby Hinsliff suffers from a misspelled surname (‘Hinchliffe’) in a paragraph about the importance of women in the Westminster press corps (84). Perhaps, in light of the recent election, A Woman’s Work was published too soon: Harman is critical of Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of surviving as Labour leader in the book, but was quick to acknowledge that she had underestimated him on 9 June 2017.

Despite these shortcomings, A Woman’s Work is an invaluable addition to political auto/biography and, as a welcome interjection, it deserves to be widely read. Harman shows the importance of lived experiences to political life and how parliament must reflect the nation it seeks to represent. She outlines the role of cold, hard facts in forcing through unpopular equality reforms, and argues that there is much left to do to close the gender gap. The fight is far from over: in her epilogue, Harman puts forward the criteria to assess whether Theresa May helps women during her term as prime minister (377), before closing with a ten-point feminist manifesto that, among other things, tells us that we ‘should be gratified that we have made so much progress, but we should never be grateful’ (379). It is a good reminder that we have come far, but never far enough.

Emma Lundin is a historian with a particular interest in 20th-century liberation movements and philosophies from Scandinavia to southern Africa. She completed her PhD in 2015 and has taught at Birkbeck, UCL, King’s College London, Goldsmiths and Queen Mary, University of London. She is currently working on a research project on the cross-border spaces created and inhabited by female politicians in the late 20th century and tweets @emmaelinor. Read more by Emma Lundin.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/07/2017 - 8:32pm in


Italy, Feminism

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Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/07/2017 - 6:08pm in


USA, Feminism

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Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/07/2017 - 3:40am in



“Here I was, enjoying a continuity of being.” The big sphere of my baby’s head was very much like a circle, and when he felt like he was falling, his little arms and legs jerked upwards, like their propulsion could push him back to his starting point. Because I was not a not-good-enough mother, this didn’t happen very often, but I winced every time it did, nevertheless. The difficulty of maternal gathering is that it is always going to fail. To grow—to become a person—the baby must get past his earliest, balloon-like self. He must separate himself into a head and a body, then a head, a body, and arms. The project is not solely separating the baby from his mother; it is separating the baby from himself. Building a version of self that can acknowledge its hands and feet. Its mind, within, and its skin, without.

Apollo Astronaut Michael Collins on Sexism, the Fragile Earth and Banning Guns in Space Colonies

Last week I put up a post about a clip of Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, pulling faces at a rambling, incoherent speech made by Donald Trump. Trump was signing into law an act affirming America’s commitment to the space programme. His speech about it was less than inspiring however, and Aldrin, who not only went to the Moon himself, but has also been a staunch supporter of opening the High Frontier up to ordinary women and men, was very definitely less than impressed.

One of the books I’ve been reading recently was Flying to the Moon: An Astronaut’s Story, written by the third member of the Apollo 11 crew, Michael Collins. Collins was the pilot, who flew the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon, and then waited in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin made their historic landing, before flying back with them on the return journey to Earth. The book is Collin’s account of how he came to be astronaut. Determined to be a pilot after being allowed to hold the joystick of a passenger aircraft on which he and his family were travelling as a child, he joined the USAF and became a test pilot. He then moved on to join NASA’s space programme. He describes the rigorous training required, and his first flight into space with John Young in Gemini 10 in July 1966. He also explains how he came, reluctantly, to leave the astronaut programme for a variety of reasons, not least was the way it was stopping him from spending time with his family. And in his final chapter he, like Aldrin, looks forward to the future spread of humanity throughout the Solar system and beyond, with humans going to Mars and then Titan, a moon of Saturn, which may hold the key to the origin of life.

This isn’t an explicitly political book. Nevertheless, Collins does comment on specific issues as they affect the racial and gender composition of the astronaut programme, his perspective on the importance of the environment and why he believes guns would be banned by the inhabitants of a space colony. These are all issues which Trump, his supporters and donors in the gun manufacturers and lobbyists would strongly oppose.

In the passage where he discusses how he and the other astronauts became part of a panel, whose job was to select a fresh batch of astronauts, makes a point of explaining why only white men were selected. He then goes on to comment that although this was what was done at the time, he believes and hope that this will change, and that Blacks and women are just as capable of flying air- and spacecraft equally well. He points out that the highly technological nature of modern aircraft means that there is absolutely no biological obstacle to women piloting such high performance machines. He writes

Note that I have said “he”, because there were no women in the group, nor where there any blacks. In thinking about that, it seems to me that there were plenty of women and blacks who could get the highest marks in categories 1 and 4 [their intelligence and how badly they wanted to be astronauts], but in 1966 categories 2 and 3 [education and experience] tended to rule them out. There simply did not seem to be aeronautical engineers and experienced test pilots, who were black or women. I think, and hope, that will change in the future. Flying a modern jet aircraft does not require a great deal of strength, for one thing. Hydraulic flight controls, like power steering in a car, prefer a light touch, and women should do as good a job as men. Obviously, an airplane has now way of telling the skin colour of the person flying it. (pp. 72-3. My comments in brackets).

He describes how looking at the Earth from space made him aware how fragile it was, and of the importance of preserving the environment.

I will never forget how beautiful the earth appears from a great distance, floating silently and serenely like a blue and white marble against the pure black of space. For some reason, the tiny earth also appears very fragile, as if a giant hand could suddenly reach out and crush it. Of course, there is no one giant hand, but there are billions of smaller hands on earth, working furiously to change their home. Some of the changes being made are good, and others bad. For example, we are learning more efficient ways of catching fish, and that is good because it means more people can be fed from the oceans. If, on the other hand, these new methods result in the disappearance of species, such as whales, then that is bad. The automobile gives us great mobility, but pollutes our atmosphere. We cook cleanly and efficiently with natural gas, but we are running short of it. Newspapers and books spread knowledge, but require that trees be chopped down. It seems that nearly every advance in our civilisation has some undesirable side effects, Today’s young people are going to have to acquire the wisdom to see that future changes help our planet, not hurt it, so that it truly becomes the beautiful, clean, blue and white pea it seems to be when viewed from the moon. The earth truly is fragile, in the sense that its surface can easily shift from blue and white to black and brown. Is the riverbank a delightful spot to watch diving ducks, or is it lifeless greasy muck littered with bottles and tires? More people should be privileged to fly in space and get the chance to see the fragile earth as it appears from afar.
(p. 146).

Further on in the book, he states that future orbiting settlements would get their power from solar energy, as this would not only be abundant and free, but also clean, unlike coal. (pp. 150-1).

He also remarks on the way the Apollo missions differed from previous historic expeditions in that the explorers were unarmed, and suggests that the future inhabitants of a space colony at one of the libration points where the gravity of the Earth and Moon cancel each other out, and so named ‘Libra’, would similarly see no need for carrying weapons.

Apollo set a precedent for the future in another interesting way. It was probably the only major human expedition in which no weapons were carried. In similar fashion, no weapons would be permitted on Libra and Librans simply would not be able to understand why earth people continued to shoot one another. On Libra, if people felt hostile, they would be urged to put their energies into athletic contests or other competitive events, or simply to let off steam by going flying.

He then describes how the lower or zero gravity in the colony would allow people to fly aircraft power by their own muscles. (pp. 154-5).

Most of this is, or at least should be, non-controversial. Scientists have been warning us about the immense danger to our ecosystem, and the horrific decline in its natural wildlife as more and more habitats are destroyed, and an increasing number of species threatened with extinction, since the early ’70s. Among those warning of the ecological perils to the planet was the inspirational astronomer and NASA scientist, Carl Sagan. And indeed, one of the most powerful images that stimulated ecological awareness and the burgeoning Green movement was that picture of the Earth as a fragile, blue orb hanging in the blackness of space taken from the Moon by the Apollo astronauts. Way back in the mid-1990s the Beeb’s popular science programme, Horizon, devoted an edition, ‘Icon Earth’, to how this photo had influenced politics and culture.

The picture hasn’t just made more people aware of the urgent need to protect the environment. Some of the astronauts have spoken about how it brought home to them how artificial racial and national divisions are. They point out that there are now boundaries visible from space. Helen Sharman, the British astronaut who flew with the Russians to Mir in the 1980s, states in her book about her voyage that space helps to foster international understanding and cooperation. She observes that astronauts are the least nationalistic people.

As for guns, it doesn’t take much imagination to realise that shooting in the enclosed environment of space habitat could have truly disastrous consequences through the damage it could do to the machinery and fabric of the colony itself, and their ability to preserve human life in the harsh environment of space. A bullet through the outer skin of a spacecraft could lead the escape of its air, causing those within to die of suffocation and decompression.

Trump, however, is supported by the racist and misogynist Alt Right, who would like to roll back Black Civil Rights and women’s social and political gains since the 1960s, while the Republican party as a whole is generously funded by the NRA and the gun lobby, and the Koch brothers and other industrial magnates. The Koch brothers own much of the American petrochemical industry, and so, like many of the other multimillionaire businessmen, are very strongly opposed to any kind of environmental protection. The Kochs in particular are responsible for closing down awkward parts of the American meteorology and environmental science laboratories when they dare to issue warnings about the damage industry is causing to the country’s natural beauty and wildlife. They are then replaced with other institutions, also funded by the Kochs and those like them, which then conveniently deny the reality of climate change. The Republicans and their supporters in industry have also set up fake ‘astroturf’ Green movements, like Wise Use, which seek to undermine the genuine environmental movement.

Given the way the experience of looking back at our beautiful planet from space has transformed political, social and cultural perspectives all across the world, you can understand why some astronauts just might feel they have excellent reasons for pulling faces at their president.

What is ‘femonationalism’?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/07/2017 - 9:08pm in

Academic Sara Farris talks about the 'instrumentalisation' of migrant women in Europe by right-wing nationalists – and neoliberals.

Marine Le Pen. Marine Le Pen in 2017. Photo: Sylvaoin Lefevre/PA Images. All rights reserved. Sara Farris recently published a provocative book entitled In the name of women’s rights: the rise of femonationalism. In it, she examines how right-wing nationalists, neoliberals, and some feminists and women’s equality agencies, all invoke women’s rights to stigmatise Muslim men and advance their own political objectives. She argues that there is an important political-economic dimension to this seemingly paradoxical intersection.

It’s a timely – but complex – book including case studies from France, Italy and the Netherlands. I called Farris, who is currently senior lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, to dig further into some of the questions that her book raises. This is an edited transcript of our conversation.

NSS: In your book, you talk about feminists and ‘femocrats’ (female bureaucrats) “betraying their emancipatory politics” and “invoking women’s rights to stigmatise Muslim men" to advance their political objectives. Is this a knowing betrayal, or is the work of these women being exploited?

SF: On one hand we have right-wing nationalists exploiting and mobilising issues of gender equality, particularly in campaigns against Muslims. These are right-wing leaders like France’s Front National leader Marine Le Pen – she doesn't really care about women's rights, it's obviously just a way to stigmatise Muslims. This is one of the faces of ‘femonationalism’: nationalists instrumentalising feminism. On the other hand, it also describes how some feminists – and I really want to stress some feminists, a minority – are increasingly attacking Islam as a religion, claiming that it is a religion that oppresses women. 

NSS: Let’s take the example of the ‘burkini ban’ in France, which your book considers. Who were the feminists that supported that ban, and do you see them as ‘femonationalist’ figures?

Duke University Press, 2017. Duke University Press, 2017.SF: Several feminists supported the veil bans, and the burkini ban – I'm thinking of very well-known feminist intellectuals like Elizabeth Badinter, as well as the ex-minister for women’s affairs, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. She was a representative of the centre-left, a socialist, and she even suggested that the ban go further than public schools, that they might have to look at the workplace too. Many prominent feminists and ‘femocrats’ have supported these laws, and this has strengthened anti-Islam positions in the name of women's rights. 

NSS: You ask whether there is a “new unholy alliance" between right-wing nationalists, feminists, ‘femocrats,’ and neoliberals. But the story of white women ‘saving’ brown women from brown men is not new. How do you see the history of these trends?

SF: I should clarify: I question in the book whether this is really an "unholy alliance" and I choose instead to use the term "convergence" as it better describes the fluidity, the fact that people and political figures from very different political projects are converging in this space, and there are a lot of contradictions in this space. 

NSS: "Alliance" would suggest that this is a conscious re-grouping?

SF: Exactly, and I don't think it is. 

There is also nothing particularly 'new' about what's going on. We have plenty of examples of imperialists and colonialists claiming that they were bringing ‘civilisation’ to ‘uncivilised countries’, including women's rights. In Algeria in the 1950s the French military developed this obsession with unveiling Muslim women. Some feminists also supported these colonial enterprises in the name of women's rights. What has been remarkable since 9/11, is the increased popularity of the idea that women's rights are at stake when it comes to Muslim communities in particular. 

NSS: But, without generalising, women in many Muslim countries face limits and threats to their rights. Not to mention, in today’s context, the rise of ISIS. Couldn't this explain the increasing focus on these areas?

SF: I'm not convinced. One of the justifications for invading Afghanistan was precisely to liberate women, and that was before ISIS and the events unfolding after 9/11. 

NSS: Is there a relationship between your book and Terrorist assemblages: homonationalism in queer times by academic Jaspir Puar? It argued a decade ago that dynamics of sexuality, race, gender, nation, class, and ethnicity are realigning in relation to contemporary forces of securitisation, counterterrorism, and nationalism.

SF: Puar's book was a source of inspiration. She was very
acute in portraying this phenomenon of some representatives of the LGBT
community in the US supporting American nationalism, especially after
9/11, and supporting anti-Islam campaigns, under the idea that Muslims
are against gay rights. I'm not looking at gay rights, I'm focused on
women's rights, but Puar opened up a very important conversation. I'm
also putting emphasis on the political-economic foundations of

NSS: Indeed, your book looks at increasing
demand in the west for feminised labour – childcare, elderly care,
cleaning, domestic labour – and how this relates to the treatment of Muslim women migrants in particular.

This is one of the main contributions I tried to make, to shed light on
the economic aspects of this femonationalist ideology, and of
Islamophobia. The idea of migrants being job-stealers is very male. I
have in mind the poster by UKIP, for example – the British white man
who is begging in the street. My question was: where are the women migrants?
They're not really represented in the media as job-stealers, but as
obedient passive victims of their own supposedly backward cultures. 

A UKIP poster shows a British white man begging in the street. A UKIP poster shows a British white man begging in the street. Where are the women? In Italy, the former leader of the very racist party Northern League, Roberto Maroni, said: “There cannot be regularisation for those [migrants] who entered illegally, for those who rape women or rob a villa, but certainly we will take into account for regularisation all those situations that have a strong social impact, as in the case of migrant caregivers”. These caregivers, of course, are mostly women. This is the sexualisation of racism. Women are presented as victims for whom, if properly assimilated, space can be made – whereas men are the unredeemable others. Anti-Islam feminists talk about Muslim women's emancipation, but what does this emancipation look like? They are doing jobs that lots of feminists don't want to do. The struggles of the 1970s were precisely about liberating women from household chores and domestic labour.

This is the sexualisation of racism. Women are presented as victims for whom, if properly assimilated, space can be made – whereas men are the unredeemable others.NSS: Your book seems to suggest that all programmes to get women migrants into work are problematic as they “tacitly encourage” the adoption of “western feminists’ notion of emancipation through productive labour”. But many migrant women would have worked in their countries of origin too.

SF: Some people say 'at least they have a job'. Yes, of course. And caring, cleaning and other social reproductive jobs are work and should be recognised as such. But they are often low-pay, low-status and exploitative jobs, often without contracts. As feminists, we need to put social reproduction very high on the agenda again. In the last ten, 20 years, liberal feminism has become more mainstream. We need to go back to very important issues like free universal childcare. It's important to join the battle of women's domestic labour organisations. For example there's an ongoing struggle by cleaners at the London School of Economics, many of whom are female migrant workers, fighting for recognition, against zero hours contracts.

NSS: Your research also looks at the emphasis on motherhood in civic integration programmes, and how this relates to essentialist ideas around the woman as the bearer of culture.

A still from a Dutch government integration video. A still from a Dutch government 'integration' video in which the ‘typical’ mother says: “If kids come from a good family in which they’ve been positively stimulated...they’ll be fine whatever happens.”
SF: This is one of the biggest contradictions of these civic integration programmes: there’s so much emphasis on teaching Muslim migrant communities women's rights, and feminist ideas, but then these programmes contain rather traditional ideas around women as fundamentally mothers. In the Netherlands, they even ask women to demonstrate that they are engaging in the process of proper motherhood – they need to take an exam, in which they answer questions about Dutch models of motherhood and parenthood. They need to bring in evidence of their efforts, for example that they went to meet their children's teacher, that they maybe did some volunteering work. There is a huge emphasis on women as the mothers of the future generation. They need to be culturally assimilated to western values in order to transmit them.  

NSS: What if, for fear of demonising Muslim men, or contributing to anti-Islam agendas, things swing in the opposite direction and efforts to support and empower Muslim migrant women are rolled back? Is that a risk?

SF: This is a classical dilemma, when anti-sexism is played out against anti-racism. It’s something Black feminists in the US wrote a lot about in the 1960s and 1970s and continue to debate: how can we denounce sexism in our communities, when we know that could then be used to attack Black men? There is no easy answer. We need to support in every way the possibility for women of any community to denounce sexism wherever it presents itself. The question we should ask is: are we really enabling this? How can we support the struggle of these women, in this context of incredibly harsh and rising Islamophobia? The struggle against racism and sexism must go hand in hand.

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The Real Victims of Trump-Putin Illiberalism: Women

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/07/2017 - 4:13pm in

By Gail Ukockis | (Informed Comment) | – –

When I first read about the Russian government decriminalizing domestic violence recently, my first thought was: it can’t happen here. Then I realized that the past year has been such a series of unbelievable political events that maybe such unconcealed misogyny could happen in the U.S. After all, both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are thugs in power.

Women’s Issues for a New Generation: A Social Work Perspective [Click]

I mean by the word “thug” simply a violent criminal. Hopefully, Trump’s flirtation with Putin-like methods (e.g., refusing to compromise with his political opponents) is only an ephemeral phase that will fade away. Perhaps the traditional democratic values will reappear in our political system. If the trend toward authoritarianism continues in the U.S., though, it is wise to review Putin’s record of misogyny.

The word “thug” resonates in several descriptions of Putin, including his own account of his childhood. When first appointed president in 2000, he bragged about all the fistfights he had fought as a child, much like Trump bragging about being an “assertive, aggressive child.” Trump even gave his music teacher a black eye when he was in second grade.

Both Putin and Trump, of course, grew up to wield power in more sophisticated ways than using their fists. However, their thuggish behavior still involves violence. “More of Kremlin’s opponents are ending up dead” states the New York Times headline from 2016 with the picture of yet another funeral. Fortunately, such politically motivated murders have not occurred in the States. Trump’s incitements to violence at his campaign rallies, though, are troubling. Few can forget his order to “Get ‘em out of here!” When he lurked behind Hillary Clinton and threatened to “lock her up” during one debate, he was using the intimidation tactics of a thug.

Ideology is of less concern to thugs than power and money. Putin may have started as an idealistic KGB agent in his youth, but the fall of the Soviet Union caused him to reinvent himself as a pragmatic politician and then as a ruthless leader. Critics have called Putin a kleptocrat because of his stunning record of corruption. Trump, who has openly admired Putin, is also notorious for his political opportunism and financial self-enrichment. Instead of ideologues, then, they are simply men determined to get their own way no matter what.

In this setting, thuggery and misogyny are natural allies because women are rarely respected as equals in an authoritarian system. Both men have made crude statements about women, whether Trump’s boasts about sexual assault or Putin’s joke about a politician’s alleged rapes: “What a mighty man he turns out to be! He raped ten women – I would never have expected this from him. He surprised us all – we all envy him!”

Because such statements are consistent with their attempts to appear “manly,” it is unlikely that they are mere anomalies. Hypermasculinity emerged in Russia after the 1990s, a decade that made the former empire feel emasculated as it endured economic crises and other humiliating ordeals. One article title, “The Remasculinization of Russia,” captures the mood of a nation lurching toward a dictatorship. Putin emerged in 2000 as a young, physically fit man who was unafraid to take his shirt off for photo shoots. With this potent image, he could lead the nation into greatness again–whether he was repressing the media or invading Crimea, he was a man’s man.

Like Putin, Trump has presented himself as a manly man who is strong enough to make his country great again. The day after the historic Women’s March, for instance, he signed an executive order reinstating the “global gag rule” on family planning clinics that save the lives of countless women. The stark picture of all the men standing behind Trump at his desk sent a clear message: the patriarchy was back in charge.

Like Trump’s odd alliance with conservative Christians, Putin’s relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church has strengthened his misogynist stances. Traditionalists have cheered on Putin’s campaign of gender oppression. The Pussy Riot trial, of course, epitomizes Putin’s attitudes toward women and protesters. Putin has continued to support the Russian Orthodox Church’s condemnation of feminism. His pro-natal policies, including the ban on abortion advertisements and the cash gifts for having a second child, also indicate a patriarchal view of women. The horrific attacks on the LGBT citizens have reinforced the link between Putin’s hypermasculinity and his government’s authoritarian tendencies.

Does Putin provide a role model for our new president? Trump may or may not be able to turn back the progress made for LGBT rights. He may or may not be able to deprive women of essential health care or equality in the workplace. The story of Putin, though, might foreshadow for Americans the misogynistic future ahead.


Gail Ukockis, PhD, MSW, MA, is an educator and social worker with an eclectic background that includes graduate studies in history. For eleven years, Dr. Ukockis taught a women’s issues course at Ohio Dominican University, which served as the foundation for this textbook. Her research interests also include HIV/AIDS, cultural competence, and human trafficking. She is author of Women’s Issues for a New Generation: A Social Work Perspective (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).


Related video added by Juan Cole:

CBS Evening News: ” Trump’s history of controversial comments about women”

Economics as religion?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/07/2017 - 10:00pm in


Mainstream economists have been taking quite a beating in recent years. They failed, in the first instance, with respect to the spectacular crash of 2007-08. Not only did they not predict the crash, they didn’t even include the possibility of such an event in their models. Nor, of course, did they have much to offer in terms of explanations of why it occurred or appropriate policies once it did happen.

More recently, the advice of mainstream economists has been questioned and subsequently ignored—for example, in the Brexit vote and the support for Donald Trump’s attacks on free trade during the U.S. presidential campaign. And, of course, mainstream economists’ commitment to free markets has been held responsible for delaying effective solutions to a wide variety of other economic and social problems, from climate change and healthcare to minimum wages and inequality.

All of those criticisms—and more—are richly deserved.

So, I am generally sympathetic to John Rapley’s attack on the “economic priesthood.”

Although Britain has an established church, few of us today pay it much mind. We follow an even more powerful religion, around which we have oriented our lives: economics. Think about it. Economics offers a comprehensive doctrine with a moral code promising adherents salvation in this world; an ideology so compelling that the faithful remake whole societies to conform to its demands. It has its gnostics, mystics and magicians who conjure money out of thin air, using spells such as “derivative” or “structured investment vehicle”. And, like the old religions it has displaced, it has its prophets, reformists, moralists and above all, its high priests who uphold orthodoxy in the face of heresy.

Over time, successive economists slid into the role we had removed from the churchmen: giving us guidance on how to reach a promised land of material abundance and endless contentment.

However, in my view, there are three problems in Rapley’s discussion of contemporary economics.

First, Rapley refers to economics as if there were only one approach. Much of what he writes does in fact pertain to mainstream economics. But there are many other approaches and theories within economics that cannot be accused of the same problems and mistakes.

Rapley’s not alone in this. Many commentators, both inside and outside the discipline of economics, refer to economics in the singular—as if it comprised only one set of approaches and theories. What they overlook or forget it about are all the ways of doing and thinking about economics—Marxian, radical, feminist, post Keynesian, ecological, institutionalist, and so on—that represent significant criticisms of and departures from mainstream economics.

In Rapley’s language, mainstream neoclassical and Keynesian economists have long served as the high priests of economists but there are many others—heretics of one sort or another—who have degrees in economics and work as economists but whose views, methods, and policies diverge substantially from the teachings of mainstream economics.

Second, Rapley counterposes the religion of mainstream economics from what he considers to be “real” science—of the sort practiced in physics, chemistry, biology, and so on. But here we encounter a second problem: a fantasy of how those other sciences work.

The progress of science is generally linear. As new research confirms or replaces existing theories, one generation builds upon the next.

That’s certainly the positivist view of science, perhaps best represented in Paul Samuelson’s declaration that “Funeral by funeral, economics does make progress.” But in recent decades, the history and philosophy of science have moved on—both challenging the linear view of science and providing alternative narratives. I’m thinking, for example, of Thomas Kuhn’s “scientific revolutions,” Paul Feyerabend’s critique of falsificationism, Michel Foucault’s “epistemes,” and Richard Rorty’s antifoundationalism. All of them, in different ways, disrupt the idea that the natural sciences develop in a smooth, linear manner.

So, it’s not that science is science and economics falls short. It’s that science itself does not fit the mold that traditionally had been cast for it.

My third and final point is that Rapley, with a powerful metaphor of a priesthood, doesn’t do enough with it. Yes, he correctly understands that mainstream economists often behave like priests, by “deducing laws from premises deemed eternal and beyond question” and so on. But historically priests served another role—by celebrating and sanctifying the existing social order.

Religious priests occupied exactly that role under feudalism: they developed and disseminated a discourse according to which the natural order consisted of lords at the top and serfs at the bottom, each of whom received their just deserts. Much the same was true under slavery, which was deemed acceptable within church teachings and perhaps even an opportunity to liberate slaves from their savage-like ways. (And, in both cases, if those at the bottom were dissatisfied with their lot in life, they would have to exercise patience and await the afterlife.)

Economic priests operate in which the same way today, celebrating an economic system based on private property and free markets as the natural order, in which everyone benefits when the masses of people are forced to have the freedom to sell their ability to work to a small group of employers at the top. And there simply is no alternative, at least in this world.

So, on that score, contemporary mainstream economists do operate like a priesthood, producing and disseminating a narrative—in the classroom, research journals, and the public sphere—according to which the existing economic system is the only effective way of solving the problem of scarcity. The continued existence of that economic system then serves to justify the priesthood and its teachings.

However, just as with other priesthoods and economic systems, today there are plenty of economic heretics, who hold beliefs that run counter to established dogma. Their goal is not to take over the existing religion, or even set up an alternative religion, but to create the economic and social conditions within which their own preferred theories no longer have any relevance.

Today’s economic heretics are thus the ultimate grave-diggers.

Tagged: Brexit, capitalism, climate change, crises, economics, economists, feminism, feudalism, healthcare, heretics, history, inequality, institutionalism, Keynes, Marx, Michel Foucault, minimum wage, neoclassical, Paul Feyerabend, philosophy, positivism, radical, religion, Richard Rorty, science, slavery, Thomas Kuhn, Trump

Converts to Abortion Rights

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/07/2017 - 3:02am in


Feminism, Religion

The word “conversion” fits the abortion-rights cause awkwardly. There is no progressive equivalent to Priests for Life, a website cataloging the stories of sidewalk protesters-turned-Planned Parenthood donors. Abortion rights were, in the beginning, a public health issue. Opponents started framing the cause in moral terms—something that defenders were at pains to avoid. The president of the Association for the Study of Abortion, Jimmye Kimmey, is credited for coming up with the phrase “pro-choice” in 1972. She preferred, she wrote in a memo, because “what we are concerned with is, to repeat, the woman's right to choose—not with her right (or anyone else’s right) to make a judgment about whether that choice is morally licit.”