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The SWP – An Unsafe Environment for Women

There’s a remarkable story over at A Very Public Sociologist that students thinking of joining the Socialist Workers Party should read:

 When I was in ___ SWP aged 18 I foolishy embarked on an affair with a married comrade 10 years my senior. Don’t get me wrong the relationship itself wasn’t abusive, I still think there was genuine affection there. However, what happened in terms of the Party when his wife found out was just astonishing.

There was a group of so-called comrades in ___ who were very fond of holding SWP fundraising social events in their homes. This invariably involved the hosts and their immediate circle, all being in their late 30s early 40s. The sensible comrades never attended these events, only skint teenagers attracted by the 50p per bottle of beer and free food would go to these things. By the end of the night when all the kids were drunk the adults would then suggest party games, spin the bottle, truth or dare that sort of stuff. I made a complaint to the Party HQ after an event I didn’t attend but an old school mate of mine did. He was interested in politics and was considering joining, no chance after what he was subjected to. The comrades, most of them women i’m ashamed to say, got the twister board game out. The conventional rules were not applied, in this version if you fell over you weren’t out, you were instructed to remove an item of clothing and nominate another comrade to rub baby oil into that part of your body. I think those older female comrades believed themselves to be sexually liberated by behaving this way.

At a social event I was present at, I inadvertantly stumbled across a particularly revolting game involving the passing of chocolate cake by the mouth from one comrade to another. I didn’t know what was happening in the room and walked in oblivious. A 14 yr old boy then ran over to me pushed me up against a wall and spat chocolate cake in my mouth. I ran out to the bathroom and threw up.

To be fair Lindsey German and Chris Bambery took what I said about these ‘socials’ seriously and bollockings were issued.

However, when my affair came to light these same comrades rallied around the bloke I was knocking off to marginalise me within the district. He basically had me excluded from my local geographical branch, made out I was a stalker, and I did hear accusations levelled against me that I was a mentally disturbed heroin addict who had relentlessly pursued him. I was told by S I had to go to another branch. When I asked why me? It was the man who really was mostly at fault being as I had no broken any vows to anybody? I was told that he was a trade unionist in the civil service and I was just a student. S also indicated his belief that I was basically asking for it, though he didn’t use those exact words, he said I had brought it on myself.

Stupidly I still stayed in the party for another four years after this event. My rationale at the time was if I departed under circumstances where allegations about drug use and my mental health had been made, people might conclude I had something to hide if I was seen to run away.

The rationale S used means women in the party can never be treated fairly and young women are especially vulnerable. Society is structured with men in most key positions, if all decisions on conduct are subordinated to the power and influence of the persons comcerned, the so-called revolutionary party is as guilty as the bourgeois state for perpetuating sexism. The SWP is certainly not a safe environment for young women.

She continues:

Since I’ve been reading about W I’ve felt a sense of shame about my own decision to remain in the Party, even though I was vocal in exposing the goings on at the social events. It’s clear to me now the SWP is a cult rife with exploitation of young women AND young men. The older women comrades are just as culpable. For all their condemnation of feminism being the expression and vehicle for a particular class of women, SWP women cover up the misogyny of their male counterparts when doing so advances their position and standing within the party. I can imagine how W is being demonised by them. The 500 signature statement is a most serious, public attack on her dignity, I cannot understand how one person could think that is a reasonable thing to do let alone 500. I was gutted to see ___ had signed that statement, he really has been brainwashed.

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