Oppression

Socialism and women's liberation

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It is 100 years since the first International Women's Day was held in March 1911, yet despite many victories gender inequality still exists today. Sally Campbell argues that only socialism can bring genuine liberation

We live in a time of contradiction. There are more women in positions of power than ever before, yet attitudes to women seem to be going backwards. Angela Merkel is the chancellor of Germany, a country debating imposing a quota for women in the boardrooms. Yet the head of Deutsche Bank, when asked if he supported the proposal, said yes, of course - women would make boardrooms "more colourful and prettier".

Not just toleration, liberation

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LGBT history month was launched after the scrapping of the Tories' Section 28 legislation. But, six years on, Tory cuts will hit LGBT people hard.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month was launched in 2005 in Britain to coincide with the abolition of the Tories' infamous Section 28 legislation.

No one was ever prosecuted under this very nasty piece of opportunistic homophobic legislation. However, the fact that Section 28 of the Tories' Local Government Act of 1988 made it illegal for local authorities to "promote" homosexuality (ie to treat it as acceptable) was sufficient to intimidate local authorities and force teachers to shy away from openly discussing LGBT issues with students or each other.

The Red in the Rainbow

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Hannah Dee, Bookmarks, £7.99

The Red in the Rainbow is no normal addition to an LGBT activist's bookshelf. It is a must-read for the whole movement. This is a critical weapon for LGBT activists, providing the perspective needed in an emerging movement. But it also relates this struggle directly to the wider challenges we face today for human liberation - from the Con-Dem cuts, the economic crisis and the threat of the British National Party and English Defence League, to building an effective coalition of resistance.

Queer politics: the debate

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Queer politics are influential in LGBT liberation movements. Should this be embraced or is it an obstacle to taking the fight forward? We present the cases for and against.

Queer is radical
by Alan Bailey, NUS LGBT officer (personal capacity)

The gay and lesbian rights movement has never been made up of simply gays and lesbians - it's always been an alliance of activists with a whole host of sexualities and gender identities. The Stonewall riots are often referred to as riots of gays and lesbians, but actually many of the rioters were trans.

Interview with Gary Younge: the contradictions of identity

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Identity politics have increasingly come to shape political dialogue. Gary Younge, Guardian columnist and author of a new book on the subject, spoke to Esme Choonara about immigration, racism and class.

Why did you write a book about identity?

It's an issue people talk about a lot and that has become increasingly central to our politics. But we don't often talk about it in the most informed ways.

The rise of Islamophobia

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Anti-Muslim racism is on the increase. Dave Weltman looks at how Muslims have been scapegoated in Britain and across Europe.

The trend towards making anti-Muslim racism "respectable" continues to grow relentlessly throughout Europe. There is the success, for example, of those who look likely in the next few months to win a ban on Muslim women wearing garments to cover the face - whether citing "security" concerns in Belgium or "defence of national values" in France. In Switzerland the recent outlawing of minarets through a referendum is being looked upon by reactionaries across the continent as a step towards normalising the arguments that portray mosques as "alien" and threatening cultural impositions.

Interview: Sheila Rowbotham - Women who dreamed of emancipation

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A new generation is taking up the struggle against women's oppression. Sheila Rowbotham spoke to Judith Orr about her latest book celebrating women who were fighting for liberation 100 years ago

Your new book, Dreamers of a New Day, explores the period around the turn of the 20th century. What motivated you to write about this period?

The book has a very long history. When I was writing Century of Women I worked through the period and summarised different aspects of politics and work. But I had material that I wanted to explore in more detail that didn't really fit into that very terse format.

The corporate seduction of feminism

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Socialist feminist and US academic Hester Eisenstein spoke to Sally Campbell and Judith Orr about her book, Feminism Seduced, and the challenges facing the women's movement in the US and worldwide.


What do you think about the first year of Barack Obama's presidency?

I didn't share the excitement and the enthusiasm that a lot of my colleagues on the left had about Obama. I distinguish his actions from the symbolism of his being elected.

Homophobic attacks: A rise in hate?

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Thousands of people gathered at a vigil in Trafalgar Square last month where just weeks earlier Ian Baynham, a gay man, had been battered to death by teenagers.

The attack hadn't taken place in some dark back street but in front of surveillance cameras in the centre of a city that many young people have regarded as the safest place in which to come out.

New Labour equality flagship on the rocks

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New Labour has had 13 years to tackle inequality but the underfunded and toothless equalities watchdog falls far short of what's needed.

Working people in Britain now largely take it for granted that it is wrong to be bullied or discriminated against for being a woman, black, disabled or gay and that there are legal powers and workplace policies which exist to challenge such discrimination. In the last quarter of the 20th century a smorgasbord of equality legislation was adopted in response to campaigning by the women's movement, anti-racists, and LGBT rights and disability rights activists.

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