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Posted in: Feminism

Published on Nov 30, 2010 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for NewsRealBlog

Is the Conservative Media Really Anti-Feminist?

A Pioneer Dissident Speaks Out


Recently, a good feminist—yes they do exist–someone who has fought in the trenches for years on behalf of battered and raped women—implored me to stop publishing at this site. She said that I was the only "real," pioneer feminist left standing who had continued to engage in the most important battles which humanity now faces. However, she was getting flack when she sent my pieces around precisely because my work is being published on conservative websites and by someone like David Horowitz.

Right there, that should have made her wonder why allegedly "feminist" or liberal websites were neither publishing nor even linking to my work and why allegedly "conservative" (and therefore presumably anti-feminist) venues have embraced that work.

She wrote (and I am paraphrasing):

I want your followers to grow. We need your voice. But how can this happen if you publish in a place that attacks feminists non-stop in sarcastic and scornful ways and whose politics are anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-gay marriage, anti-health care for the poor, and pro-war, etc.? How can you expect feminists to listen to you if you publish at a site that attacks Gloria Steinem so disrespectfully?

Ah—so the sexist scorn dumped on every single feminist conservative or feminist Republican—and on Secretary of State Clinton–by leftists, liberals, and socialist feminists does not matter; nor does Steinem's support for both Presidents Clinton and Obama.

Does the shoe pinch only when it is on your own foot?

I was once friendly with Steinem and I know where all the bodies are buried. She is, essentially, a "nice" woman who has been tireless in her efforts to … what can I say? Well, the main thing I have to say about Steinem-the-icon is that she failed the historical opportunity she had, that she did not have the same kind of stern and determined character that infused our First Wave suffragist grandmothers. She liked to party too much—and I am also talking about the kind of person who chooses to function as a Democratic Party operative as opposed to fomenting a bit more of a high-risk revolution.

And thus, I decided to tell this true-blue feminist and others like her–who may lack the courage to stand up to the totalitarian thought police—the story of how I began to publish at FrontPage Magazine. It is an important and instructive story.

The Second Wave feminist leadership, (those who were still left and who had not been driven away, dropped out, became old, sick, or died), and their younger acolytes began to get nervous—very nervous—when I researched and published a book about woman's internalized sexism.

It did not help matters that, in the past, I also opposed pornography, prostitution, and the selective feminist prosecution of only certain men for sexual harassment (white men, conservative men of any color) and rape, but not other men (men of color, men of color in positions of power, Democratic presidents). These tensions were ongoing among feminist leaders from the mid to late 1970s on, and they constituted a serious private controversy between Steinem and myself.

And then I committed an ultimate series of unforgivable Thought Crimes. I publicly stood up for America, for Israel, and for the West—and I began exposing Islamic gender and religious apartheid and Islamic jihad. This included exposing the Muslim hatred, not only of Israel, but of Jews and of other "infidels."

In 2003, I published a book about The New Anti-Semitism in which I documented the betrayal of the Jews, the West, and the truth by the western intelligentsia. I said that intellectuals and "good" people, including feminists, were embracing barbarism.

The New Anti-Semitism was either not reviewed in the mainstream media or it was slammed as "alarmist." No Jewish or Israeli organization came to my aid in any way. They still have not done so. Many feminists and feminist academics stopped talking to me. At the time, I had no idea that I had become persona non grata where once I had been a most trendy and trend-setting public intellectual.

And then I received a call for help from an Israeli feminist group that was working to criminalize pimping. They wanted to show a powerful anti-trafficking film, "Lilya 4-ever," at their first conference but the Swedish filmmaker, Lukas Moodysson, absolutely refused to allow his film, which he had shown on every continent where brothels and trafficking are known to flourish, to be shown in Israel due to the Jewish "occupation of Palestinian lands."

I instantly wrote a piece about toxic, racist prejudice among great artists and sent it off to the New York Times. They rejected it within the hour. I had similar responses from both the Washington Post and the LA Times—and so, in a moment of desperation, I sent it off to FrontPage Magazine where someone far more right-wing than myself had just attacked my book about anti-Semitism. Editor Jamie Glazov accepted the piece and published it the very next day. Within 24 hours Moodyson himself was writing me angry letters (he knew my work, it had been translated into Swedish). And then—after quite a back-and-forth—Moodysson relented and allowed the Israeli feminist group to show his film at their conference.

Hot damn! I was impressed. (I later found out that a Swedish-based journalist had also just attacked him in Swedish for his personal boycott of Israeli feminists but since he had also written to me my article could not have hurt).

And so I began to write for the conservative media—which media, by the way, embraced my book about anti-Semitism. No, contrary to many rumors, I was not invited to join a conservative think-tank as a funded scholar nor did any conservative or Republican foundation or organization start supporting me. And, no, I was not on President Bush's payroll.

When a feminist leader pointedly asked me this Bush-related question, I merely said that "If the check was in the mail I planned to cash it."

Yes, some individual conservatives, especially a wonderfully smart conservative feminist, have funded some of my expenses and in one instance, a conservative foundation has funded my work on honor killings. No feminist organization or foundation has ever done so. Just think about that for a moment.

I wrote another piece for FrontPage after I was heckled, menaced, and had to be hustled out of a conference for my safety. This took place at Barnard, at a free-standing conference. The time was still 2003. The melee happened after someone unexpectedly asked me a completely irrelevant question: "We demand to know how you stand on the question of the women of Palestine." The women who went wild after loving my every word were all mainly African-American feminists who, to their credit, had asked me to speak about the topic of my tenth book, Woman's Inhumanity To Woman.

And, a few months later, when I wrote about what I called "gender cleansing in the Sudan," a phrase I used to describe the repeated, public gang-rapes of girls and women, I did so for FP as well. Guess what? When I sent that piece around to feminist listserv groups I was castigated for publishing it … with David Horowitz. I was told then, and on numerous occasions thereafter, that I was being "used" by clever conservatives to … what? Advance a serious feminist agenda and foreign policy? To insist that we include Third World women in our vision of universal human rights? At the time, one leading feminist intellectual told me that she absolutely refused to read anything—even about the use of rape as a weapon, not a spoil of war, that I wrote in a "right wing rag."

This all took place six to seven years ago. Just today, I had lunch with three old feminist colleagues. They are real feminists, not icons, not opportunists, women of a certain age who are not wealthy, who did not use their time in history to line their own pockets. One woman railed about the media—all media—for being biased and sexist but then warned me that I was undermining my own purpose by insisting on publishing in conservative venues. "Fox is fomenting the gravest damage, etc." (It is one of the places where I also publish).

And then, out of nowhere, she launched an attack against Israel. She knew full well that I know a thing or two about this subject. She said, "How can you defend a country that sends its military to purposely blind young activists? Yes, to blind them."

I counted to 29 … then asked several times, was she referring to one incident, several incidents, many incidents and if so, when and where did they happen? "You know," she said, "it happens when young activists come to free Gaza."

"Gaza?" said I. "By the way, do you have any idea how many Palestinian political prisoners are being tortured by Palestinians in Palestinian jails right now? Why are you this disrespectful toward someone, (myself), whom you know has a knowledge base in this area…I could easily take you down if we really got into it."

"Take me down, did you hear what she said, take me down…"

And then I stopped. I understood that the poisoned propaganda had done its job all too well, that the damage was, perhaps, irreversible. No amount of discussion, nothing factual, nothing objective, would make the slightest bit of difference.

Afterward, I wrote to her and laid it out for her in feminist terms.

To me, what you said about Israel was equivalent to our sitting with a confirmed anti-feminist who honestly believes that feminists burned our bras, enjoy killing babies, hate men, are all ugly, lesbians, who control the university system, book publishing, and the media; and that it is wives who batter husbands, women who falsely accuse men of rape and incest, unjustly wrest custody away from good fathers, actually enjoy being prostitutes, and who are all evil and crazy anyway—yes, the conspiracy against the Jews and against Israel is just as big and you did not even pause to be slightly respectful towards someone (me) who has made sure to look into the matter at hand and whose feminism you have good reason to trust.

The very media which you so quickly denounced as "anti-feminist," as "corrupt," "hypocritical" and "pro-capitalist"—from FOX to MSNBC–you suddenly found totally believable when the subject was Israel.

And that is just one of the reasons I proudly publish on conservative websites. Anyway, the media that was once known as liberal, objective, and feminist has now become Stalinist, fascist, and Palestinianized; they now believe that "Islamophobia" is more important than "anti-Semitism" and that the United States and Israel are greater human rights offenders than Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Libya, Cuba, and Afghanistan.

No truth-teller can publish the truth in such diabolically Orwellian venues.


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