An Oxfam staff training document compiled by the charity’s LGBT network has claimed mainstream feminism supports “the root causes of sexual violence”.
The ‘Learning About Trans Rights and Inclusion’ document alleges that “privileged white women” support the causes of male sexual violence by wanting “bad men” fired or imprisoned, legitimising criminal punishment which the authors imply leads to sexual violence.
The Telegraph reports the four-week ‘learning journey’ as stating: “Mainstream feminism centres (on) privileged white women and demands that ”bad men” be fired or imprisoned.”
The training document, which Oxfam says does not constitute official policy, also contains a cartoon of a crying white woman, claiming her attitude “legitimises criminal punishment, harming black and other marginalised people”.
Naomi Cunningham, a discrimination and employment law barrister, told the Daily Mail that the “message seems to be that a woman who reports a rape or sexual assault to the police and presses charges is a contemptible ”white feminist’.”
“I think any woman could make an arguable case that this has created or contributed to ‘an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’, which is how the Equality Act defines harassment.”
The training document also recommends staff read and follow the work of Alison Phipps, a professor of gender studies, whose book, ‘Me Not You: The Trouble with Mainstream Feminism’ is summarised on her Twitter account as being about “white feminist tears” that “deploy white woundedness, and the sympathy it generates, to hide the harms we perpetuate through white supremacy.”
“Mainstream feminism is supporting, not undoing, the root causes of sexual violence,” Phipps claims.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Phipps said she could not comment on the Oxfam training document, but insisted her book is “grounded in a long tradition of feminist thought and politics that sees criminal punishment as part of the problem and not the solution.”
“I would never tell a survivor of sexual violence what to do, but I would like us to have better choices than criminal punishment, media exposure, or silence.”
Sociologist Frank Furedi suggested Phipps’ book portrays certain skin colours as a type of “original sin”.
Oxfam’s LGBT network had complained to superiors that even a debate about rights was part of a far-right “patriarchal and white supremacist narrative.”
The charity responded to public criticism of the staff training document by saying it was committed to tackling “discrimination and inequality whether that is on the basis of race, sex, gender identity or sexuality. Our commitment to gender equality includes trans people.”
“We believe everyone has the right to freedom of gender identity and expression and will do everything we can to ensure those rights are respected and upheld within our organisation and through our work,” Oxfam said.
“Oxfam treats all allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse extremely seriously and actively encourage people to report wherever they have a concern. How to report is covered thoroughly in our staff training provision.”
20 former and current staff at Oxfam recently wrote a letter alleging misconduct in the Democratic Republic of Congo among senior managers accused of intimidation, fraud and death threats.
The letter also referenced sex abuse scandals in Haiti, after several Oxfam workers were found to have engaged with prostitutes following the 2010 earthquake in the country.