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Report on the Let Women Speak Rally in Dublin

17 September 2023

Women at the Let Women Speak rally defy counter protest.

Not all Gays (NAG) at Let Women Speak rally.

A long awaited Let Women Speak Rally was finally held in Dublin on September 16th, coinciding by chance with the anniversary of the murder of Masha Amini by the Iranian Morality Police a year ago and more distantly with the murder by Pinochet of the Chilean folk singer Victor Jara.

The rally had to contend with a counter protest organised by Menís Rights advocates such as People Before Profit and assorted collection of former leftists from Sinn Féin, the Communist Party and the Socialist Party amongst others.  On the day there was no trouble, as the Gardaí did put up barriers to keep the Menís Rights contingent apart, though they let them near enough to be heard.  It wouldnít have taken much for them to break the cordon, but they had little gumption and stayed put.  The threat though was not taken lightly.  In the run up to the event the women organisers were concerned and went to great lengths to keep things secret, even going to the extraordinary lengths of telling no one in which pub they would meet up after the event fearing being attacked or a repeat of Belfast where the staff refused to serve the women.

The rally heard from a number of women speakers from a diverse political background, relating their experiences and opinions about the issue.  The rot has set in and the capture of many organisations is such that one woman explained why she had resigned from her union FORSA because it had erased the word woman from its literature, particularly in relation to menstrual products, substituting women for people, employees, members etc.  It is not a minor point; the British General Medical Council has also removed the word mothers from its literature.  There is a general attack on womenís rights which consists in erasing the word woman and the concept of women as a sex.  Whilst the rally was being held, another man identifying as a woman is held in the Dóchas Unit of Mountjoy Jail.  Seán Kavanagh, a.k.a Shauna Kavanagh stands accused of violently attacking a woman in a womenís refuge, a place he should never had had access to.  Now he is in the womenís prison and has to be kept at length from the women in a prison that has an open plan, free ranging design for the prisoners.  Though women are fighting back and one of the speakers explained how she has now decided to use her real name on Twitter, a brave decision which is not without consequences, but one she felt she had to make, as the Menís Rights crowd were all about silencing women, depriving them of a voice.

The Menís Rights advocates never let up during the day, shouting slogans.  At one point they cried out ďPosie Parker you canít hide. You have fascists on your side!Ē.  Yes, there were some people from right wing organisations there, mostly males, but the broad majority were not.  One of the speakers spoke about how she had always voted Labour in Ireland and also in Britain.  Nonetheless, it is a silly argument.  A few reprobates from the Irish Freedom Party turn up and that is used to smirch the movement, when the Menís Rights advocates have none other than Joe Biden on their side.  Furthermore, it is People Before Profit and others who use fascist tactics, of threats, intimidation, blacklisting of people in their workplace, even warning pubs not to serve people afterwards.

There are questions around freedom of speech, assembly and dissent and the PbP are leading a charge which sees the Irish government curtail all of those, introducing thought crime legislation which may again come before the Dáil later this year.

All in all, the rally was quite successful, galvanising many to continue the fight against the erasure of women and the curtailment of their rights as a sex.  It is the duty of socialists to stand up and fight for womenís rights and not for the rights of misogynists.  Socialists have historically been an important part of the struggle, women such as Rosa Luxemburg, Alexandra Kollantai amongst others.

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