Posted in: Feminism, Israel, Islam
Published on Sep 08, 2015 by Phyllis Chesler
How (not) to be a Politically Correct Feminist
It doesn't matter what you have done for women; what matters is whether you are or are not pro-Obama and anti-Israel.
Invariably, almost without exception, when I speak about any subject, not necessarily about Israel, or Islam, or about Iran--always, always, my reputation precedes me. Once left-liberals "hear" the word Israel, even if only uttered once, they will focus on that, and that alone. As if I have committed a thought crime of horrendous proportions.
My passion for the Jewish state or my analysis of Islamism. Jihad, or Islamic gender and religious apartheid, my non-support for President Obama's foreign policies which are, in my view, disastrous and dangerous, means that I am no longer who I am or have been, that I am a traitor and no matter what else I may be speaking about, it is always and only politically incorrect.
This has happened to me thousands of times.
This time, a very honorable group of women--all feminists, wanted to honor me. The owner of the local newspaper, The East Hampton Star, wrote it up in the strangest of ways. Here, is my letter which she published in her newspaper. Her name is fairly unknown, but she represents the ruling feminist, Democratic Party, and socialist point of view.
Women's Alliance Event
New York City
August 31, 2015
Right after the Aug. 22 East End Women's Alliance event at which Bill Baird, myself, and others were honored for "lifetime achievements," I spoke to Mrs. Helen Rattray for the first time at a private luncheon for all the honorees; Mrs. Rattray herself had been honored — a fact she failed to mention in her Aug. 27 column in The Star. She asked me what I thought of her paper's previous (Aug. 20) article about this event and I said that it seemed to have missed what Bill Baird and I had done over the course of a half-century.
She said, "Well, it was written by an intern." She then told me that she had no idIt doesn't matter what you have done for women; what matters is whether you are or are not pro-Obama and anti-Israel.It doesn't matter what you have done for women; what matters is whether you are or are not pro-Obama and anti-Israel.ea of who I really was, was not at all familiar with my work, had read none of my books, but that she was "now going to read everything, starting with 'An American Bride in Kabul.' " How Mrs. Rattray moved from this declaration of ignorance to the phrase she uses in her Aug. 27 column to describe me was, at first, a complete mystery. From my being a complete "unknown" (at least to her), she describes me this way: "Ms. Chesler, as is her modus operandi,expressed controversial opinions about Israel and Islam and having argued against 'multicultural relativists.' "
On Aug. 20 of this year, Mrs. Rattray — using her being Jewish as a credential — wrote an article in favor of President Obama's deal with Iran. She admits to being strongly opposed to Prime Minister Netanyahu and, in her review of a book, hoped that the book would help "sway American opinion in favor of the accord" (with Iran). In the Aug. 27 column mentioned above, Mrs. Rattray also praised Eleanor's Legacy, certainly a praiseworthy group, but one that recently honored Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who herself just signed onto Obama's — talk about controversial! — highly controversial deal.
I suggest that Mrs. Rattray's left, partisan, Democratic Party political conformity has colored, ever so slightly, her account of the EEWA event and of my speech. In fact, once she discovered or was informed about our difference of opinion on this single issue, she attacked my views on a subject that played a negligible part in my speech by choosing to diminish my considerable feminist accomplishments.
Turns out that I was not the only person at the event who was affronted by the way it was reported. A selection of letters to the editor shows that.
Major Feminist Work
New York City
August 31, 2015
To the Editor:
I am a former, long-time homeowner in East Hampton. Friends invited me to attend the East End Women's Alliance event on Aug. 22. The Star's coverage of that event left everything to be desired.
As a lawyer, I can assure you that the work done by both Dr. Phyllis Chesler and Bill Baird constitute unique and major feminist and legal achievements. In addition to her writing and teaching, the work done by Dr. Chesler, in terms of submitting affidavits to the court on behalf of immigrant women being threatened with honor killings, is pioneering and incomparable feminist work.
I heard her speak about it at the EEWA event but it was not mentioned, let alone praised, in The East Hampton Star. I can also testify that her work on mothers unjustly losing custody of children and on the mistreatment of female psychiatric patients has changed our world.
Anyone who was not there will not know that she also challenged and urged feminists to oppose ISIS's rape brothels and to rescue these sex slaves. Perhaps in the future your newspaper will send more reliable reporters to cover such events.
SUSAN L. BENDER
Women's Equality Day
August 31, 2015
To the Editor:
It was with disappointment that I read Ms. Rattray's Aug. 27 column describing the East End Women's Alliance's Women's Equality Day event...
The main presenters, Phyllis Chesler and Bill Baird, are both individuals I have worked with and put my life on the line with for decades. To describe Dr. Chesler as having "controversial opinions about Israel and Islam" as her "modus operandi" is to tip one's hand as to one's own political orientation. What is controversial to some is a description of reality to another.
And if speaking out boldly against honor killing, cliterodectomies, and the codified rape culture of ISIS is being a "multicultural relativist" — count me in!
As for Bill Baird, saying only that he hopes that a "biography written about him will find a publisher" diminishes this great warrior for women to a poor petitioner looking for a handout!
A dose of Santayana would be helpful here: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Second Wave Feminism
August 31, 2015
To the Editor,
I have been happily attending events sponsored by the East End Women's Alliance since the early '70s and did so again last Saturday at the East Hampton High School. I listened to speakers who were being honored that day, including Helen Rattray, and looked forward to reading a report about the occasion in the next edition of The Star. Not unexpectedly, there was an article or column under her byline. It coupled the EEWA event with a fund-raiser taking place that weekend (Eleanor's Legacy).
Since I did not attend the latter, I cannot speak to what was written about it. However, I was surprised and a little disquieted by several aspects of her report concerning the former. Because all the honorees are accomplished individuals, I had expected to read something about their work and contributions to Second Wave Feminism. Instead, Marilyn Fitterman and Judith Lerner, both passionate speakers and feminists, had the briefest of descriptions and were essentially identified or characterized by title and nothing more.
Bill Baird, a genuine hero in the struggle for reproductive rights, fared slightly better although he was barely covered. Then came the belittling concluding sentence about his hopes and hunt for a publisher of his biography. Phyllis Chesler received the worst of it, described as having a controversial modus operandi, especially with respect to her opinions about Israel and Islam and argued against multicultural relativists.
mits to being strongly opposed toPrime Minister Netanyahu...Did we hear the same speech? Ms. Chesler mentioned Israel only once — and in passing — and she spoke for 16 minutes about many other things. During her remarks she carried, with specificity, the Second Wave feminist vision into the present and future.
I agree that few people in the audience were under age 50. Not mentioned was that there were very few in the audience who were over age 50 either. The pioneers are aging out, and the next generations have not been sufficiently engaged or inspired by the work of their foremothers. That is why it is essential that we conscientiously document, archive, and report on the work done by those who formed the modern women's movement. And that is why I am writing this rejoinder to her report — to remind those who are privileged to hear first-person accounts of the work done by early feminists that they record and transmit that information to the public, with accuracy and respect and as fully as possible.
Future scholars and future generations will be relying on the legacy of those written words.
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