Like many feminist Labour Party supporters, particularly those further to the left than centre, I am in despair about the idea of Jeremy Corbyn as leader. Not only is Corbyn unelectable in my view, he and his male cronies represents a macho, old-style hard-leftism that supposedly expired in the 1980s.
The trade unionists who support Corbyn have always been a male cabal. The bullyboy tactics employed by campaign group Momentum (nicknamed Bromentum) have been exposed by a number of women involved in the party.
But it would appear that support for Corbyn's leadership still includes the type of men who stalk, harass and threaten women who are deemed to be traitors to the Trotskyist cause. Take the shameful example of ex-Labour candidate Kate Godfrey, who received pornographic images and phone calls from Corbynistas who believed she was "too moderate".
Corbyn has also supported the idea of returning to the Victorian era of women-only carriages when he said, during the launch of his policy against street harassment, "Some women have raised with me that a solution to the rise in assault and harassment on public transport could be to introduce women-only carriages." How stupid. Does Corbyn not realise that the correct way forward is to stop men from harassing women on public transport, rather than shut us away, apartheid style, and give the impression that men can't control themselves when in close proximity to female flesh. This attitude is straight out of the dark ages.
The train carriage idea is not the first or only time Corbyn has supported sex segregation. In 2015 he spoke at the Finsbury Park mosque to an audience of men and women sitting on separate sides of the hall. Despite presenting himself as a pro-feminist politician, Corbyn supports some of the most harmful policies towards women and girls. He called Islamic terrorist organisations Hamas and Hezbollah "friends". Fundamentalism is bad for women and girls, but this comes second for Corbyn, behind his desire to appease macho Islamists who demand that women cover their bodies and remain subservient to men.
Some of Hamas' policies past and present include a ban on male hair stylists cutting women's hair, and a ruling that female lawyers should cover their hair in civil court. Hezbollah has always been open about its desire to convert Lebanon into a Shia Islamic state, which would result in more oppression of women and girls.
Despite Corbyn claiming to support equal pay, there is evidence he pays the women in his senior team less than the men.
Harriet Harman, the former Labour deputy leader, is similarly concerned about this return to the bad old days of the male-led left, and has said that, "I just think we can't have a men-only leadership when we are a party for women and equality. Women in this country expect to see men and women working together on equal terms, that's what the Labour Party believes in and we can't have an all-male leadership again". Harman is far from perfect herself, having supported benefit cuts, but does at least have an honourable history of standing up for the rights of women, both inside and outside Westminster.
Harman is far from the only female Labour politician to criticise Corbyn and his male cabal for sexism. I have known Thangam Debbonaire, Labour MP for Bristol West, for decades as a feminist colleague. Debbonaire was appointed by Corbyn as a shadow culture minister without her knowledge or consent whilst she was in the middle of cancer treatment. Shortly afterwards she was sacked – except Corbyn neglected to tell her. So much for a 'kinder, gentler politics'.
Perhaps the most pernicious of Corbyn sidekick John McDonnell's views relating to women is on the sex trade. Both men support the idea of blanket decriminalisation of pimping, sex buying, brothel owning, and all other aspects of prostitution. As any good feminist should, I support the removal of all criminal penalties pertaining to the selling of sex. But if Corbyn had his way, as he explained when asked what laws he thought best to deal with prostitution, it seems pimps and brothel owners would be magically rebranded as managers, and punters mere 'clients'.
Whilst Corbyn, rightly so, suspended Ken Livingstone over his comments about Hitler and general anti-Semitism, he chose not to do the same with Keith Vaz following the allegations that he had paid for sex with young, vulnerable Romanian migrants. During his encounter with the 'supplier' of these prostituted men, Vaz reportedly said that one of the men needed 'breaking in' before Vaz could 'fuck him'.
I have met men abused in the Romanian sex trade, and there is no way any of them would choose to be paid a pittance by ageing men unless desperate, pimped, or both. Corbyn commented that, as far as he knew, Vaz had not broken any laws. That's OK then, is it? A rich, influential man wielding his financial power over those who have nothing left to sell except access to the inside of their bodies?
It does not surprise me that one of Corbyn's hobbies is photographing manhole covers, but perhaps he could swap it for listening to feminists about how Labour can best address the horrendous inequalities between women and men, and how to rid Labour of its institutionalised sexism. If the current Labour leadership sticks to the mantra that the ends always justify the means in politics, the end could be the party itself.
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