Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A working class woman writes...

The 'Morning Star' - paper of the old, Stalinist, 'Communist Party of Britain' , seems to be in the grip of a faction fight. As far as can be made out, it is between the middle-class cultural relativists who want to go in with the SWP and "Respect" (and, to a lesser extent, Ken Livingstone and his ex-Trot "Socialist Action" advisers), and old-style, working class-based (if Stalinist) socialists.

This simmering dispute arises time and again in the pages of the 'Morning Star', and today (November 15 2006), there is a letter from the class-politics/socialist side of the dispute, that I think is worth reproducing. I cannot trace the October 21st letter that this is a response to, but I think we can all guess roughly what it said (and that it came from patronising, middle-class scum)... anyway, here's the response, as published under the title "Defending my attack on veil" in today's 'Morning Star':

"The 10 women who signed a letter enlightening me (M Star October 21) have, like many more, lost the plot again.

"The point that I was making was that wearing Muslim dress is a symbol showing their unequal status. Linking me to Le Pen in their letter is disgusting. They do this not knowing what I have done throughout my life in the trade union movement, politically, and in the women's movement.

" I would be surprised if they had ever worked on the shop floor fighting for women's rights, both in job opportunity and pay and against male prejudice.

"It was my generation which marched and fought politically for a women's right to choose. We fought both the Establishment and the church, we did not accomodate them.

"It was also we who saw the need for refuges for battered women and who spent many hours raising money to buy property and buy homes, picking up women, sometimes children, at hospitals and on the streets at all hours and helping them with their needs, schools for the children, doctors, sympathetic solicitors and social services.

"I mention this because, knowing that Pakistan has admitted to 4,000 honour killings annually, I cannot be convinced, now that this practice has happened here, that all Muslim women wear their dress voluntarily rather than through family pressure and fear.

"It would be interesting to know if feminist women have provided any help, maybe refuges, for muslim women in such a situation.

"I would like to see Muslim women in work where their dress would not be a safety hazard and to have the pleasure of sports activities.

"Women have the right in this country to look men in the face without fear and as equals and this should be encouraged.

"If Muslim dress is not sexist, what is it for?



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