Oppression

Ending the silence on workplace sexism

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The autumn has been dominated by the sexual harassment claims against prominent figures. Sally Campbell looks for collective solutions to a problem often experienced individually.

Since October headlines have been dominated by revelations of sexual harassment and assault, first against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and then spreading to other producers, directors and stars.

The scandal then engulfed the UK parliament, where Tory minister Michael Fallon was forced to resign over sexual misconduct — and claimed his behaviour was “acceptable ten or 15 years ago”. Some 28 other Tory MPs and several Labour figures are being investigated over similar issues.

The Caseroom

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Saltire Society first Book of the Year for 2017 has nominated this book for it’s prize. The Caseroom opens in 1891 with 13 year-old Iza Ross starting work at Ballantyne’s Pauls print works in Edinburgh, quickly moving on to 1894 at which point Iza is fully trained as a typesetter or compositor. We learn quickly women doing this work have a different experience to men. “It’s women’s work too” Iza explains, adding, “But lads serve a seven-year apprenticeship; we spend just three years learning.”

Moonstone

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This short, beautiful novel tells the story of Máni Steinn Karlsson, a movie-obsessed teenager living with his one ancient relative in an attic in the centre of Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1918. Máni Steinn, translated as Moonstone, roams the small town looking for the odd jobs available to a boy who struggles to read and planning which film he will see next in either of the two cinemas.

Capitalism, alienation and the family

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In the second part of her two-part series on the family, Canadian socialist Susan Rosenthal explains how families can trap men, women and children in violent and abusive relations.

Stripping the romantic veneer from the typical family reveals two people who are socialised to be opposites, crammed in a box, subjected to falling living standards, rising debt and social insecurity. They are expected to raise children, who have lots of needs, and to do this with no outside support. Add bouts of unemployment, injury, or illness. Add some dependent relatives. Then make it difficult for these people to leave. Insist that they solve their own problems, and if they cannot, then it must be their fault or their partner’s fault.

Debating the sex industry

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An influential book by Melissa Gira Grant, Playing the Whore, has opened a debate about the nature of sex work, criminalisation and moralism.

The debate about sex work has received much attention recently, and Melissa Gira Grant’s book, Playing the Whore, has been acclaimed for offering new insights into the discussions about the sex industry. Although there are some aspects of Grant’s arguments that socialists would welcome, there is much to disagree with in this book.

New spin on same old story

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Ken Olende demolishes the new arguments put forward by liberal commentators about the "dangers" of immigration, and the intellectual cover they give to right wing ideas over race.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson's programme, The Truth About Immigration, was the latest step in a concerted attempt to redefine the "liberal" agenda on immigration.

Two recent books, Britain's Dream by David Goodhart and Exodus by Paul Collier, try to stake the same ground with more intellectual clout. Both are dreadful and shallow.

Goodhart is director of the Demos think-tank and former editor of Prospect magazine. Collier is an Oxford professor and former advisor to the World Bank. All three deploy similar arguments in favour of controlled immigration.

Time to celebrate LGBT history

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Schools OUT was founded 40 years ago to campaign on lesbian, gay and bisexual issues in education. Sue Caldwell spoke to Tony Fenwick, a co-founder, about the fight against homophobia and transphobia.


Can you tell us about the circumstances in which Schools OUT was launched in 1974 and the challenges you faced?

Schools OUT started as the Gay Teachers' Group after John Warburton was sacked from his school and banned from working for the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) for telling the truth.

Some students in his class had seen him coming out of a gay bar and they asked him if he was gay. He said that he was. That was it. It was enough to finish his teaching career in London.

Life out of the shadows

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Bayard Rustin was a key strategist in the US civil rights movement and the main organiser of the March on Washington. He was also gay and a communist. Josh Hollands celebrates his life and achievements.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for jobs and civil rights. Until recently it seemed as though one of its most important organisers would remain largely forgotten.

Bayard Rustin was a key strategist of the civil rights movement, as well as an adviser and mentor to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Historians have noted that it was Rustin who guided King to mass non-violent action to challenge the racist Jim Crow system.

Limits of Intersectionality

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A whole series of new and renewed groups, protests and movements have appeared in response to the "new sexism" - personified by raunch culture popular on campus - that are increasingly defining themselves as feminist. Some of those involved with these movements are drawn to the ideas of "intersectionality", which attempt to explain how race, gender and class oppressions "intersect" and influence each other.

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