A row has been going on for the past couple of weeks concerning Amnesty International after an employee, Gita Sahgal, accused the human rights group of getting too close to Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee with questionable beliefs, particularly with regard to the treatment of women. Sahgal has a point, and a host of media columnists have lined up to offer their support for the suspended Sahgal, describing her as a ‘principled feminist’, which I am sure she is.
However, having seen at first hand the way one such supporter behaves around women, I’ve been biting my lip both in horror and in hysterics. This is not a man who I would ever describe as a feminist, or even a friend of feminists. Or at least not a friend who I would want to leave alone with my girlfriend.
It was a book launch and said commentator arrived drunk, boisterous bordering on the boorish; hawk-like eyes followed certain women round the room. So far, so sleazy, so what? But things escalated. At least two women had to fight off – literally – unwelcome but persistent advances.
The crowning glory came later on, after I had left, when the party repaired to a nearby wine bar and were assembled at a table. ‘Tell me,’ he slurred to his neighbour, while waving airily in the direction of two of his victims, ‘which one of these dumb bints is the easiest?’
What was it Stokely Carmichael once said when asked what position women should take in the Black Panther movement? ‘Any, as long as it’s horizontal.’
Principled feminists beware!