Communist Youth Organization

The Youth Branch of The Workers’ Communist Party of Iran

Chia Barsen: Why “no means no” is not enough

The current feminist and women’s rights organizers have used the “no means no” slogan, as well as “teach him not to rape” slogans to counter the growing number of sexual harassments and sexual assaults committed against women worldwide. It is important to see this struggle in the context of the larger class-struggle against capitalism and religion.

Capitalism has colonized the human right and freedom to control and mediate its own social relations with the opposite gender/sex and transformed this otherwise natural human social relation into a highly sexualized consumer market. The system has taken away some of human conscious ability to have wilful control over how s/he is socially reproduced and has replaced this “freedom” with consumerism: you can only identify who you are in relation to where you sell your labour power and your market consumption. Without any regard for basic human ethics, capitalism uses countless marketing strategies to sexually objectify a person’s self-identity via commercial media in order to sell commodities: this system has forced human beings to live in a world where the market has a large monopoly on the continuously changing definitions of sex and sexuality.  

“Teach him not to rape” is an incomplete response to a system that continuously perverts human self-identity and gender relations through a highly sexualized consumer market social reproduction. Not to disregard the importance of human choice, this choice must be viewed in a context where both the victim and the victimizers are both subjugated to a coercive and systemic social repression that is so total in scale that it seems imperceptible. To take away the system’s responsibility and to individualize all the blame is to ignore this colossal social reality which has a foundational part in reproducing sexual assaults.

To take this argument to a religious country, it becomes even further pronounced. Where misogynistic patriarchy, often embedded in the state itself, has a say on how human beings are socialised in society: it will always be the primary engine for generating sexual assault against women. Teaching boys not to rape will never be enough to put a stop to religious ideologies propagating hatred towards women on daily basis.

The fight against the sexual assault of women and girls in society must be side by side with an anti-capitalism and anti-religion struggle. The empowerment of women in society is not reduced to an educational movement through teaching boys to respect girls, but it is a revolutionary counter-current movement against the embedded patriarchy built into both capitalism, where human sexuality is bought and sold in consumer markets, and religion.
Chia Barsen
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