Fascism, Fundamentalism and Patriarchy

[This article was written by Anuradha Gandhy in 2001 on the verge of the reactionary Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi becoming the chief minister of Gujarat, where in the Gujarat riots of 2002 fascist Hindu nationalists murdered thousands of Muslims in what became billed as “The Final Solution.”  Modi, now the newly-elected Prime Minister of India, is moving to consolidate even more repressive power on a national level, forge even stronger collaborative relations with imperialism and with Zionism, expand the military and arms-export industries, enforce an exclusive Hindu-language public usage in a country where 60% of the people speak non-Hindu languages, and further intensify patriarchal and caste-driven relations and attacks on adivasi peoples.  The following article, pathbreaking when it was written, provides significant analysis and background on relations which have only become more oppressive. — Frontlines ed.]

Anuradha Gandhy– [from Wikipedia: “Anuradha Ghandy (1954 – April 12, 2008) was an Indian communist, writer, and revolutionary leader. She was a member of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist. She was mostly involved in propaganda, and in CPI(Maoist)’s insurgency into urban areas. Among the policy papers drafted by the Marxist movement, Anuradha had contributed significantly to the ones on castes and ‘Feminism and Marxism’. She made the guerillas realise the potential of worker cooperatives in areas like agricultural production, in Dhandakaranya. She was also critical on shifting patriarchal ideas that were then dominant in the party.”  —  Frontlines ed.]

 

Exactly one year after the carnage in Gujarat began; the country is still reeling from the horror of the events. Narendra Modi’s expected victory in the assembly elections has further strengthened the position of the Hindutva fascist forces not only in Gujarat but also in the country as a whole. Reviewing the strategy of Hindutva forces and the lessons from Gujarat become even more relevant now. Here we are concerned with the impact of the Hindutva fascist forces on women and on the women’s movement.

The agenda of the Hindu fascist forces is political. Their strategy is the maximum political mobilisation of the Hindu masses and their aim is the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra. It will be noticed that the present phase of Hindu fascist growth can trace its growth with the neo-liberal economic policies of the early 1980s. And the aggressive policies of economic reforms and globalisation of the 1990s is accompanied with the aggressive policies of Hindutva. The reasons for this is not far to seek: the policies of economic reform have led to the extreme impoverisation of, not only a large section of the masses, but even of sizable sections of the middle classes; so there was urgent need to divert peoples’ attention from their mass destitution through the whipping up a frenzy against Muslims and other minorities. Besides, mass anger against the blatant capitulation to the imperialists, particularly the US, is sought to be diverted through fake nationalism, like slogans of cultural nationalism and Hindu Rashtra.

The extreme and continued polarisation of Hindu society in Gujarat along religious lines, the sense of brazen confidence with which the attacking, looting and killing was carried out and the active participation of a section of the women from the upper castes, shows that the Hindu fascist forces have been successful in Gujarat in taking their agenda forward. They have penetrated and succeeded in converting a section of the Hindu masses to their ideology and imbue them with the goal of Hindu Rashtra. What horror this portends for the oppressed sections — the lower castes, women, especially women of minority communities and the poor —does not need mention.

Growing Fundamentalism Worldwide — What it means for Women

The rise of Hindu fascist forces is part of the world-wide rise of fundamentalism and fascism.. Imperialism faced with its worst ever crisis since the inter-war years is encouraging and promoting fundamentalist forces and fascist organisations and propaganda. “Imperialism strives for reaction everywhere” Lenin. As Hawley has argued, “fundamentalist perspectives on gender cast a uniquely revealing light on the nature of fundamentalism as a whole.” As it is, all religions have been patriarchal in the moral code they sanction and the social arrangements they uphold. And one of the central points of fundamentalist propaganda is a conservative ideology of gender — all fundamentalist forces, be they of the Christian denominations in the US, or Hindu, or the New Religions in Japan or Islamic forces — they proclaim the specific agenda of restoring the centrality of the family and home in the life of women and patriarchal control over her sexuality. Hence ideologues of the New Right even in the US are claiming that there is a moral crisis in American society and this is because of the fact that women are working outside the home. Though they have mobilised actively around opposition to abortion rights for women, they begin by arguing that welfare state expenditures have raised taxes and added to inflation, pulling the married woman into the labour force and thereby destroying the fabric of the patriarchal family and hence the moral order of society. According to Jerry Falwell of the Moral majority, “ children (in the US) should have the right to the love of the mother and a father who understand their different roles and fulfil their different responsibilities…to live in an economic system that makes it possible for husbands to support their wives as full time mothers in the home and enable the families to survive on one income instead of two.” Continue reading

Kenya: In response to the culture of male violence, a village of women

A Women-Only Village Fenced Off From Kenya's Culture Of Male Violence

A Women-Only Village Fenced Off From Kenya’s Culture Of Male Violence

By Simone Kosog, SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG/Worldcrunch

UMOJA – In a wooden hut in Archer’s Post, a small settlement in Kenya, three men of the Samburu tribe are drinking tea. The eldest is wrapped in a red-and-white checked cloth; the other two wear shirts and jeans. Nothing much going on, so they are happy to talk.

Question: Why should only men have rights? “Because it’s our tradition. Women are like children; they need to be trained. When they’re untrained, you have to beat them to discipline them.”

There are women who rule entire countries. Are they also children? “These women all have husbands who tell them what to do.” What if a woman beats a man? “Then you have to kill her. If I don’t have my stick, I’ll use my knife.“

Less than two kilometers from here is Umoja, a village of only women. If you want an idea of what it cost the women to build their own separate world, and why they are so happy with the hard lives they live there, you only have to sit down and listen to the kinds of things Wilson, Barasi and Douglas, in the year 2012, say as they drink tea at Archer’s Post. Continue reading

Students in India fighting sexual harassment and patriarchal oppression of women

20 April 2012

Fight to strengthen GSCASH by making it a PUNITIVE BODY!

Every issue is a woman’s issue and no issue is a woman’s issue alone!

Fight to strengthen GSCASH by making it a PUNITIVE BODY!

Hold high the red banner of revolutionary women’s movement

 against feudalism, patriarchy & state repression!

Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) was instituted in JNU in accordance with the Supreme Court guidelines in the Vishakha Judgment for the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace. It was the students’ movement of this campus which demanded that GSCASH be put in place, as a result of which in 1998 it became the first such body to be established in the entire country. The progressive student’s movement also ensured elected students’ representation in GSCASH along with representation from all other sections of the campus. GSACSH was mandated to spearhead and strengthen the movement for a gender-just campus by fighting sexual harassment and patriarchy in all forms. Unfortunately, the institution seems to have replaced (or displaced) the movement rather than complementing it. And so, it has been easy for the administration to attack and weaken the GSCASH over the last few years. Today GSCASH stands severely weakened and constrained due to deliberate administrative assaults as well as in absence of a vibrant students’ struggle or women’s movement around it.

Even some of the so-called progressive organisations like AISA and SFI, while being in responsible positions of JNUSU, are complicit in undermining GSCASH by repeatedly defending sexual harassers even after they were found guilty by this body. Recently, none of these organisations raised any opposition when GSCASH elections too were brought under the purview of reactionary Lyngdoh recommendations. AISA and SFI had already surrendered JNUSU and its constitution to Lyngdoh, and therefore had no issues with GSCASH too being controlled through Lyngdoh. It was only because of the timely intervention of the student community along with DSU that GSCASH elections were separated from Lyngdoh-regulated JNUSU elections, and we now have GSCASH elections which are free from the discriminatory and meritocratic clauses of Lyngdoh. However, we must not forget that while we have successfully defended GSCASH from the clutches of Lyngdoh, unless we continue the struggle against Lyngdoh and intensify the students’ movement, any possibility of progressive change in the campus – including the strengthening of GSCASH – will be seriously jeopardised.

 GSCASH in the past few years has been reduced to a body simply for ‘sensitization’ of gender issues on campus. ‘Sensitisation’ or changing the consciousness towards gender and gender-based discrimination has its own importance. It undoubtedly encourages criticality about the given gender norms and roles. The problem comes when we merely stop at that. The structures of oppression that surround us need to be questioned, fought and ultimately smashed. Sensitization, debates, discussions and consensus-building can meaningfully address people who are willing to listen. However, we must think in terms of concrete programmatic action to challenge the very structures of patriarchy. Patriarchy, strengthened by semi- feudal semi-colonial social relations will not be defeated only by talking politely on its face. Ensuring punishment to sexual harassers is a primary precondition of ensuring justice, enhancing women’s space and building a gender-sensitive campus. GSCASH till now is not a punitive body in JNU. All it can do is to recommend punishment to the administration. The VC holds the discretionary power to implement or set aside the recommendations. Continue reading

South African women: ‘Give patriarchy a red card!’

CRIME BUSTERS: South African women have the highest murder rate in the world (see second article)

 

Give Patriarchy a Red Card: No to Violence Against Women and Children

Tahir Sema, South African Municipal Workers’ Union of COSATU

26th November 2010

At the launch of yet another 16 Days of Action Campaign, it is worth asking ourselves if the campaign is having any impact, because just about everywhere you look there are indications that some things are getting worse.

School children are being charged with statutory rape, film clips are made and distributed widely showing young women being abused, people in positions of responsibility are abusing those they are supposed to be taking care of, same sex couples, particularly young lesbians continue to be subjected to the horror of so-called ‘corrective’ rape. The list is endless. Apart from the headline grabbing stories sensationalised by the media, the ‘everyday’ abuse of children and women remains unabated, even if behind closed doors.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we have the degenerate spectacle of a wealthy business leader flamboyantly celebrating his birthday by eating sushi off the scantily dressed body of a woman half his age, brazenly boasting the treatment of a human being as a sex object.

These events do not occur by accident. They are not divorced from what is happening in our society. The economic and social condition that many people are trapped in provides a feeding ground for much dangerous and damaging behaviour. Ask any young women who is on a short term contract if she thinks that sexual harassment is a thing of the past. And listen carefully to her answer. Young women in particular who are caught in the short term contract trap in both the public and private sectors are increasingly subject to inappropriate advances by their employers, or their agents. The deal is to provide sexual favours, or re-join the mass army of the unemployed.

Look on the streets of our cities and towns. Yet younger girls and boys are making themselves available for prostitution in order to escape a deepening impoverishment. In the context of HIV/AIDS this is catastrophic for future generations.

We believe that at root of these developments has been a reassertion of patriarchal values and practices, and the idea that men, and especially those with power and influence, are beyond reproach. How can it be possible that a national youth leader is able to openly flaunt the ruling of part of our State equality machinery without being called to order by his seniors, or the Womens League? Could it be that these ‘personal’ and patriarchal matters are now considered beyond criticism, and therefore out of bounds? Continue reading