Posted in: Islamic Gender & Religious Apartheid, Feminism
Published on Oct 13, 2005 by Phyllis Chesler
The Death of Feminism
What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom
"To read Phyllis Chesler is to encounter one of the most challenging and original minds in the world today. Every Chesler book takes on the conventional wisdoms and political correctness with verve and insight. The Death of Feminism is a tour de force, combining personal experience, brilliant analysis and heart-felt advocacy. Chesler demonstrates how anti-Israel bigotry, which has already damaged the credibility of many human rights organizations, is now endangering feminism. A must read."
--Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case For Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved
In The Death of Feminism Phyllis Chesler explores a system of "Islamic gender apartheid" both East and West and throughout the world now. At first it seems simple, then it grows more complex and involuntary and eventually becomes diabolic in its curtailment of every woman's human rights. She knows whereof she speaks: in a chapter entitled "My Afghan Captivity," Phyllis describes how she herself was held hostage to reactionary custom as a young bride. Had her pregnancy been known she would never have escaped. But she survived and in telling her story she is sounding a warning to the West which, in the fullness of multi-cultural relativism, it ignores to its peril.
--Kate Millett, author of Sexual Politics and Going to Iran
"Phyllis Chesler here supplies what has been conspicuously lacking since 9/11: a comprehensive call to women to defend their equality of dignity as human beings against a foe that short-sighted multiculturalists and advocates of political correctness have up to now given a pass -- despite its obvious threat to them. Chesler here speaks out fearlessly, passionately, and profoundly against the dehumanization of women that is institutionalized in Islamic Sharia law and manifested in innumerable ways in Islamic societies -- as well as among Muslim immigrants to Western countries. This book should not be missed by any feminist, but not only feminists: Chesler sounds a call that every woman in the Western world, and every man, should heed before it's too late."
--Robert Spencer, author of Islam Unveiled and Onward Muslim Soldiers
"Ms. Chesler's book is a welcome critique of the Feminist Left's willful and shameful neglect of their sisters' plight in the Islamic World. Rejecting cultural relativism or political correctness, Ms. Chesler paints a depressing but truthful picture of the world that women under Islam have to live in. One hopes Ms. Chesler's book will bring about not only a change in attitudes but some sort of political and social action on behalf of women suffering because of the totalitarian and misogynistic tenets of Islam."
--Ibn Warraq, editor of Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out
"With great talent and in a vivid style, Phyllis Chesler observes every aspect of today's American culture, politics, and society with humor and through a feminist lens. This enlightening picture unveils the most dramatic domestic and international problems of our times, including that of Islamic gender apartheid, analyzed by a daring and politically incorrect lover of truth."
--Bat Ye'or, author of Eurabia and Islam and Dhimmitude
"Feminisim is dead, long live new feminism! This is the message of Phyllis Chesler's fascinating study of Islamic gender apartheid that, transcending the traditional frontiers of Islam, is spreading to the West including the United States. Anyone interested in understanding Islamism, this latest enemy of open societies, should read this book."
--Amir Taheri, author of The Cauldron: The Middle East Behind the Headlines
"Phyllis Chesler brings an eloquent and righteous anger to bear against Western feminists for their dual habit of overlooking the plight of Muslim women and blaming Israel, by far the Middle East's most feminist country, for the woes of that region. Chesler's focus on this topic, it turns out, is informed by an intensely personal experience; in The Death of Feminism she reveals her nightmare as a young wife in Afghanistan in 1961. That event, it turns out, was a crucible vital both to her general intellectual development and to the making of this powerful book."
--Daniel Pipes, author of Militant Islam Reaches America and In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power
"With passionate eloquence, one of the founders of modern feminism indicts Western feminists for their indifference to the plight of women oppressed under reactionary Islam. The Death of Feminism is a fearless act of truth-telling."
--David Frum, co-author of An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror
"Phyllis Chesler has written a brave and passionate book. Let the hypocrites she denounces on the feminist Left and their politically correct allies quail."
--Hillel Halkin, author of Letters To An American Jewish Friend, Across The Sabbath River, and A Strange Death
"Phyllis Chesler has lived a fascinating, engaged and passionate life. In this book she has written about two worlds she knows intimately: feminism and Islam. Her text is about the latter's war against women and the former's war against itself. If you read this book, it will change the way you think about both."
--David Horowitz, author of Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left
Mentalities, New Zealand
by Professor Norman Simms
Oriana Fallaci, The Rage and the Pride. New York: Rizzoli, 2001; originally La Rabbia e l'Orgoglio. 187 pp.
Phyllis Chesler, The Death of Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, ix + 241 pp.
Unlike Oriana Fallaci's The Rage and the Pride which has a similar theme, that not only most feminists have relinquished their right to stand for the protection and betterment of women in America and Europe because they have submitted to the overwhelming pressures of Islamicist propaganda to conceive of the United States and Israel (the Crusader and the Zionist) as the greatest enemies in the world today, but so have virtually the whole of the western intellectual and academic establishments disgraced themselves by their stupid inability to distinguish between the realities of the war against modernity declared by the forces of superstition and oppression and the mythical conspiracies supposedly hatched by George Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard and Ariel Sharon (or whoever is currently Prime Minister of Israel), Phyllis Chesler in The Death of Feminism speaks not in a rage but in controlled, measured, but profoundly deliberate words, and with careful documentation of the evidence she adduces to make her case. Moreover, where Fallaci the journalist speaks out as an Italian in pride and shame for what her nation has become in its weak-kneed inability to deal with the barbarians who have breached the gates and now taken up hostile residence inside the citadel and are polluting the monuments of ancient, medieval and Renaissance civilization, desecrating its churches, and mocking its people and their democratic institutions, Chesler writes as an American, a Zionist, a religious Jew and a courageous feminist, as well as a trained psychologist and long-time activist for human rights. Still for both of these writers, the message is the same: Beware!
Fallacio began writing her harangue as the attacks of 11 September 2001 were taking place in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, and she could feel her anger rising, but the book began to explode from her typewriter when she saw Palestinians dancing and celebrating in the streets of Gaza and gained further momentum as she listened to left-wing intellectuals in Europe gloat over the bruising given to the Big American Bully; but it took shape when a newspaper editor from Florence invited her to submit a letter describing her reactions to the traumatic events of that day. Her book therefore was first conceived of as a direct address to an Italian audience, and she consequently reminds them of their historical ties to America going back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and then carrying through, focusing more on her family and her own personal experiences fighting against Mussolini's Fascists and the Nazi German invaders, with due emphasis on the role played by the United States in liberating Italy and helping it back to democracy and prosperity. Owning up to her own credentials as an investigative journalist with no time for fools or knaves, American foreign and domestic policies where and when necessary, as well as a cultured, educated European who sees the limitations of New World civilization. But she sees clearly and sharply that when push comes to shove and daggers are drawn she will come down on the side of the USA against the enemies of modernity and liberty and has no time for the cicadas, as she calls the chattering classes, who parade a vacuous but toxic anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism while bowing to the oppressors and abusers of women in the Islamic world—and the unassimilable immigrants who seek to destroy European civilization from within.
Though there are obviously contradictions in Fallaci's argument and she too often slips into intemperate language, nevertheless the main points she is making are well taken—and necessary to reassure ourselves that there are real values in western civilization and in the big narrative of a history that traces the development of Europe and America as places in which democratic ideals do indeed flourish. About half way through the book, as she recounts her own dabbling with leftwing causes and her opposition to post-colonialist and late-capitalistic, she reminds herself of the real differences between the West and the world of Islamic fundamentalism. "I forgot," she says, that freedom separated from justice is half a freedom, that defending only our own freedom is an insult to justice" (p. 112). The USA, the UK, and Israel, all of them are far from perfect states and there is much to criticize in their conduct, but their failures and weaknesses—and sometimes their hypocrisy—pale into near insignificance in comparison to the outright hate-filled atrocities of the other side. Fallaci's book therefore is more than a harangue, and more than a history of America and Italy, both fallible nations, who fought for freedom, struggled through their own eras of religious and political oppression, and created, albeit in different ways, cultures to be proud of—to be worthy of protecting and, when necessary, dying for. The Rage and the Pride is also a personal confession by a highly cultured woman whose life has been immersed in the issues of the day, who has shown enormous courage—sometimes on the streets, in battle, face to face with world leaders whom she has come to know beyond the façade woven by the spin-masters—and whose justifiable anger should remind us that we are indeed engaged in a world struggle, a kulturkampf that must colour our every scholarly thought because, indeed, it does matter.
Phyllis Chesler is more scholarly, more deeply reflective, and yet no less urgent in her book. There are several points of entry into The Death of Feminism. First, she writes, "I have felt the need to write a book to show that something has gone terribly wrong with our thinking classes." As an intellectual, as a feminist, and as a psychologist, she needs to address this terrible lapse. Second, after most of her lifetime spent in activist movements, as well as in scholarly research, she realizes that the successes of feminism were good but not enough, that though they were not complete they did begin to transform the world in which young women and men started to grow up freed from many of the age-old prejudices and institutionalized biases of the dominant patriarchal society, but yet these very positive achievements were not enough: the ideals have not been passed on properly to the next generation, so that they have forgotten the grounds upon which the success can be maintained and developed, and do not have the understanding or the skills to unmask the subtle lies of those enemies who seek to destroy those freedoms and impose harsh repression on women and men. In the academy and in the media, this failure to understand and to value what has been achieved results in a betrayal by the clerks. Instead of creating conditions in which education and accelerated access to information would lead to enhanced developments of rational inquiry and creative questioning of received ideas, the advance into the middle and upper ranks of universities, newspapers and television by women, blacks and other groups considered minorities has led to something perverse: "it has led to conformity, totalitarian thinking and political passivity….the disease of politically correct passivity" (p. 3). Why?
Here is the third source of Chesler's inspiration. It is easy enough to say, "Women's studies has been infected by postmodernism—which is antithetical to feminism," as Dorchen Leidholdt is cited as writing. But what is it about post-modernism in all its deconstructionist, post-structuralist and other forms that is so antithetical to primary values of reason, debate, and questioning? Or, in other words, what makes feminists and western intellectuals foam at the mouth with hatred and scorn for George W. Bush but find endless rationalizations for Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists? What makes them campaign against the invasive, unhealthy and abusive act of Jewish circumcision but excuse as culturally acceptable female circumcision and infibulation by Muslims? Partly, Chesler argues that with the fall of the Soviet Empire and so the collapse of ideological Marxism, with its notions of class struggle, capitalist imperialism, and dialectical materialism, what was left to fight over was American-led globalism, Israeli colonialism and apartheid, and rightwing Christian opposition to abortion. Each of these bugbears, however, are clouded over with contradictions, denials, and misunderstandings. History has to be distorted grossly, with facts deleted totally, in order to construct the arguments that permit otherwise intelligent men and women to think that America is the source of all evil in the world, that Israel's founding is the key to disaster to all the Middle East's problems, and that Christian fundamentalism is a worse phenomenon than any other belief system.
To give an example taken from a talk given by a psychologist recently in New Orleans to supposedly help victims of the hurricane and floods to find the strength to return home and rebuild their lives and businesses, a Native American legend (or pseudo-mythic New Age homily) was recounted. A Cherokee elder (i.e., a quasi-guru) tells his grandson about two wolves who inhabit every person and carry on a seemingly endless struggle. One wolf is evil, we are told, and is unpacked to consist of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, and on and on, listing all the supposed ills of contemporary American consumer society. The other wolf, however, is the very opposite in this fairy tale lesson: it is good and consists of joy, peace, love, hope and all the other ideal virtues of bourgeois dreams filtred through a make-believe goody-goody version of pre-modern life and the Noble Savage. The thoughtful little boly turns to his wise grandfather—surely, our idealized sexless and classless Superego—and asks which wolf wins this great battle. "The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.'" Ahh, it is now clear; we are to infer that being good is better than being evil. However, after reminding her listeners in the storm-ravaged city whose reconstruction has taken such an unconscionable time to be completed, who have lost so many and so much, the psychologist asks everyone to "please remember these words", that is, the true lesson of this parable: "The past is over./ The future hasn't happened yet./ The only time is now." From this it is clear that what is being instilled or inculcated in the vulnerable audience is a post-modernist lesson. There is no lasting value or influence in the past and we are under no obligation to keep remembering what happened or to feel responsible to those who are no longer with us or those achievements which they bestowed upon us. The future is empty, a blank, and we do not need to consider any continuities with the past, take responsibility for the consequences of our actions, or consider the well-being of our children and grandchildren. All there is the present, the feelings you have at the moment, and, because they are disconnected from past or future, have no meaning or value other than your own private, personal self.
Thus, Post-modernism, by emphasizing the sensations of the moment and the consequent equality of all statements of truth no matter how contradictory that emerge from this existentialist experience denies the depth and complexity of history that can only be negotiated by careful rules of interpretation, confuses attitudes and ideologies with philosophical and theological systems of thought, and backs into feelings of guilt and self-loathing rather than confront the shortcomings in the exotic other. Such "moral equivalence" that, on the one hand, considers Israeli self-defence as just the same as Palestinian perfidy and mass murder, and on the other equates the targeted assassination of "militants" and "insurgents" with the genocide of millions of innocent men, women and children, has completely lost its way. It is either pure evil or profound stupidity.
Chesler assembles a vast amount of documentary evidence to prove her case, sometimes from speeches, interviews, and private conversations, sometimes from published books and articles, but also as in Chapter 4 of The Death of Feminism, "My Afghan Captivity" from her own personal experience as a young woman married to a Muslim husband. The argument turns on exposure of how females are mistreated by Arab and Muslim families both in the countries of origin and in the lands of their migration. This example of how hatred of women is central to the whole of Islamicist opposition to western modernity gains power from Chesler's own life history as a captive bride in Afghanistan and as a feminist involved in the world-changing activities of the past fifty years. But there are two other perspectives also involved in her argument. As we said, one is her experience as an academic speaker and teacher who has watched and felt the changing attitudes towards learning, ideas, and civilized values, and thus of the imposition of uncivil and often fanatical methodologies in institutions of higher study and for a for public debate of crucial issues; the other, not fully addressed in this book, but resting on her more scholarly writings, is the psychological analysis of what abuse of women and distortion of family dynamics means in the Middle East and in the transported groups now resident in Europe and North America—and, perhaps most subtle of all, the abuse of western women's minds by the insidious technologies of post-modernism, cultural-relativism, and anti-Semitism now coded as anti-Zionism.
The Washington Times
Failing women of the Third World
By Suzanne Fields
March 13, 2006
March is Women's History Month, and Laura and George W. Bush celebrated International Women's Day with a White House reception for women of Third World countries.
"Our history was altered because strong women stood up and led," the president told his gathering. "These women broke down barriers to equality."
He's right. The suffragettes and the second wave of feminists pushed hard for the vote, for breaking down doors to enable women to exploit opportunities that had long been denied to them.
But the feminist movement, if not authentic feminism, has become soft, selfish, insular, marginalized and irrelevant. Phyllis Chesler, who fought in the hard battles of the decades just past, is one of the few feminists with the courage to challenge her soft sisters for having "failed their own ideals and their mandate to think both clearly and morally."
The plight of Islamic women abused in the name of Allah in the Middle East and in Europe requires aggressive rebuke from women in the free world, but feminists in the West, and particularly in the United States, are struck dumb in an academic ghetto, stuck with a parochial approach to women's studies and obsessed with their personal "body rights" and their sexuality.
"The multicultural feminist canon has not led to independent, tolerant, diverse, or objective ways of thinking," she writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education. "On the contrary, it has led to conformity, totalitarian thinking, and political passivity. Although feminists indulge in considerable nostalgia for the activist 60s and 70s, in some ways they are no different from the rest of the left-leaningacademy, which also suffers from the disease of politically correct passivity."
American women are the most pampered women in the world. It's no surprise that the phrase, "You've come a long way, baby," was easily co-opted to sell them cigarettes. Enlightened self-interest is neither misdemeanor nor felony, but it has blinded the feminists to the larger picture.
Islam, whether isolated in enclaves in European cities or dominant in the Islamic nations of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, is exploited to oppress women. But feminists with the big microphones keep the silence of church mice. "Because feminist academics and journalists are now so heavily influenced by left ways of thinking," writes Phyllis Chester, "many now believe that speaking out against head scarves, face veils, the chador, arranged marriages, polygamy, forced pregnancies or female genital mutilation is either 'imperialist' or 'crusade-ist."
Confronting brutal reality requires courage. Muslim women enjoying an innocent secular life in Berlin were murdered by Muslim men "defending" Islamist patriarchy. Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker, was killed by an Islamist terrorist in Amsterdam for exposing the abuse of Islamic women in a documentary about how women are beaten, raped and forced into marriage in the name of Allah. The taboo against women driving automobiles in Saudi Arabia is mild by comparison, but the taboo stems from the same Islamic patriarchal root.
Speaking up and speaking out is dangerous. But there are brave women who do. Wafa Sultan is one of them. She is a secular Arab-American psychologist in Los Angeles. She shuns the phrase "a clash of civilizations," preferring "a clash of opposites." But whatever it's called, she sees it as a horror. "It's a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century," she said in a debate on al Jazeera TV (transcript available at www.memri.org). "It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings."
These sentiments are echoed by Italian feminist Oriana Fallaci, who asks in her book "The Rage and the Pride" why so many women in Islam "cannot go to school, cannot go to the doctor, have no rights whatsoever, who count less than a camel."
It's ironic that the American feminists who bash President Bush for liberating Afghanistan and Iraq, and who jeered and waved banners outside the White House on International Women's Day, can't see how women in Afghanistan and Iraq are being liberated from the patriarchal structures feminists say they despise.
"As women become a part of the democratic process," the president told his guests at the White House reception, "they help spread freedom and justice and most importantly of all, hope for the future." He promised to continue working with other countries to end human trafficking of women and young girls and to seek women's rights and democracy in North Korea, Iran and Burma.
These are not, strictly speaking, feminist issues so much as human ones. But isn't that what feminism is supposed to be about?
The Weekly Standard
The Death of Feminism by Phyllis Chesler (Palgrave Macmillan, 256 pp., $24.95). Maureen Dowd's recent piece in the New York Times heralds feminism's retreat in the face of modern sexual politics. Dowd bemoans the return of quaint pre-feminist rituals such as letting men pay for dinner, women taking their husband's last name, and playing hard-to-get while romping around the dating scene. This, according to a defeated Dowd, is the death of feminism.
Those feeling sorry for Dowd and her perishing feminist philosophy should grab a copy of Phyllis Chesler's new book. Chesler doesn't read feminism its last rites because successful women can't seem to find a date, nor does she waste time lamenting the latest trend in Cosmo covers. Rather, it is precisely Dowd's kind of insipid commentary on modern feminism that causes a legitimate feminist like Phyllis Chesler to sound the movement's death knell. To her, Dowd's commentary on contemporary feminism is akin to Nero fiddling while Rome burns.
In The Death of Feminism, Chesler, a long-time feminist with impeccable credentials, indicts the feminist establishment for swapping its soul for a cushy spot in the far left wing of the Democratic party. This backroom political alliance comes at the expense of abandoning women the world over--especially those currently subjected to the horrors of Islamofacism and Islamic gender apartheid.
Chesler takes great personal and professional risk to expose how blind partisanship has corrupted the feminist movement to the point of ignoring the plight of women in the Middle East. Under the guise of tolerance for cultural custom, gruesome accounts of woman being hanged, raped, enslaved, stoned to death, and otherwise degraded in the name of Islam are receiving nothing more than a collective "not my problem" from rank-and-file feminists. Chesler answers this obdurate disregard with a rallying cry:
Western feminists cannot turn their backs on the plight of [Islamic] women. Our vision of freedom for women must become part of American foreign policy. We must work with our government and with our international allies on this, because it is one of the most important feminist priorities of the twenty-first century. Chesler's views were not cultivated within a Western vacuum. In the most compelling section of the book, she describes her time in Afghanistan as a young bride to an Afghan-born Muslim educated in the United States. Her newlywed adventure to Afghanistan quickly degenerates into captivity as her husband, spurred by his traditional Afghan family, regresses into fits of misogyny and dominance so malignant that his young wife is forced to flee the country, gravely ill and concealing a pregnancy that would prevent her leaving, thereby signing her death warrant.
The Death of Feminism is a clarion call to those feminists who believe George W. Bush is a greater threat to women than Islamic fundamentalism. It also shames (or would, had they any sense of shame) women like Maureen Dowd, who think feminism's successes and failures hinge on whether American women prefer to be addressed as Mrs. or Ms. Such nonsense should no longer occupy the minds of serious feminists. It is the brave but ravaged women of the Islamic world to whom they should now turn their attention, their energies, and their anger.
(c) Copyright 2005, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
Phyllis Chesler moves on from the feminist Left
The National Review
Phyllis Chesler is a gutsy woman. I have known her a very long time, since we both worked for a magazine for teenagers called Ingenue way back when baby boomers were teenagers. I always say Ingenue taught me my first lesson in publishing. Never name a magazine something its readers can't pronounce.
Phyllis was a very young freelance writer at the time, and I was a very young editor. But what I didn't know then and just found out from reading Phyllis's interesting new book, The Death of Feminism, was that she had already had some amazing experiences in her life that have influenced her thinking ever since.
In the summer of 1961 she married her college sweetheart. She was a nice Orthodox Jewish girl from Brooklyn. He was a nice Muslim boy from Afghanistan who had been away from home for 14 years, attending private schools in Europe and America. She says she didn't want to get married but he looked like Omar Sharif. Remember Omar Sharif? And so they married and she went home with him to his upper-class family in Kabul.
Afghanistan then was more modern than it would become years later under Taliban rule, and American women in the 1960's were far less assertive than American women have become today. But even then, the rigidly constrained and isolated life women forced to live in Muslim Afghanistan shocked and frightened Phyllis.
She writes, "The Afghanistan I knew was a prison, a police state, a feudal monarchy, a theocracy, rank with fear and paranoia... [It] was a bastion of illiteracy, poverty, preventable and treatable diseases; yet that was not the worst of it [for women].... The overwhelming domestic and psychological misery was worse and it consisted of arranged marriages, polygamy, forced pregnancies, the chadari, domestic slavery, and, of course, purdah."
After about a year, sick with hepatitis, Phyllis managed to escape and return to America and to college. She divorced her husband and by the mid-Sixties had become a leading feminist writer and thinker. A professor of psychology and women's studies, one of her books, Women and Madness became a worldwide bestseller.
But in the last few years, Phyllis, though she says she is still a feminist, has broken with many of her former friends and has become one of their most outspoken critics. She believes that many feminists, especially those who run women's-studies departments as well as those who are part of peace and environmental organizations, have become far-left-wing extremists bonded more by an anti-Western, anti-Semitic point of view than by their support of women.
She chides them for, in their zeal for multiculturalism, ignoring the sad plight of many Muslim women. On this subject, Phyllis's position, partly from her early experience, is very clear. She and another feminist co-author Donna Hughes (who has appeared on this site) wrote in a 2004 Washington Post op-ed: "Islamic fundamentalism threatens women all over the world. Wherever they have gained power, Islamists have denied women their essential humanity and dignity."
But many feminists, she notes, are more critical of Israel and America than they are of reactionary Islamic regimes. Phyllis argues, "On the subject of terrorism, many feminists have been missing in action. Or they view America as the greatest terrorist power on earth."
In her book, Phyllis describes many horrifying cases of "Islamic gender apartheid," especially against Muslim women living in the West. She mixes this with constant rapid-fire condemnation of her former 'sisters.' For example, she writes, "I have not found one American feminist rant against the French over their sordid oil-for-food deal in Iraq ... Nor did I hear one feminist rail against jihad that the non-assimilated Muslim immigrants in France have declared against France's highly assimilated Jews.... Nor did I hear one feminist complain bitterly about the French having sent a military jet to transport the dying Arafat the terrorist to the best hospital in Paris. And even when Arafat's financial greed could not be denied, I did not hear a single feminist condemn Arafat or his high-spending wife for stealing billions of dollars meant to feed the starving Palestinian people...."
Needless to say, Phyllis is fiercely pro-Israel, and wears a large Star of David when she speaks before feminist groups. She has begun to study the Talmud. She is outspokenly pro-American. And a year ago she did the unthinkable: She voted for George Bush.
But, hey, as I said, she's a gutsy woman — and who else could have positive blurbs on the back of a book jacket from such an eclectic group as Kate Millet, Alan Dershowitz, Daniel Pipes, and David Frum.
Except for complaining about the fact her books no longer get reviewed by the New York Times, she seems happy to be speaking out. "I believe you should stand up for the truth," she told me. "But," she said, referring to her former gal pals, "Can you believe, if you stand up for America, you get booed down? Really, they ought to be ashamed!"
Chesler (The New Anti-Semitism, 2003, etc.) aims a loud wake-up call at her fellow feminists, charging that while feminism is not exactly dead, it is failing, suffering from the disease of politically correct passivity.
She argues that Western feminists are not focusing on the really important problem: jihadic Islamic terrorism. Western feminists, she claims, are largely leftists infected by a multicultural relativism that is actually a disguised form of racism and sexism, and they do
not understand the dangers to our lives and our values represented by reactionary Islamism; further, she says, they have become rigid and intolerant of diverse opinions, silencing and harassing anyone, such as herself, who disagrees with them. Chesler's personal experience with Muslim male psychology and the Islamic way of life is the subject of a chapter titled "My Afghan Captivity," in which she tells of her mistreatment and virtual imprisonment in Kabul as the bride of a Western-educated Afghan and of her eventual escape back to the United States. She uses the expression "gender apartheid" to describe the position of women in fundamentalist Islamic societies, which seems a curiously bland term for cultural acceptance of genital mutilation, forced marriages of young girls, stoning of women and "honor" crimes. The author provides a host of examples of the brutal crimes committed
against women by fundamentalist Muslim men, not just in non-Western countries but also in Europe, where millions of Muslims have emigrated in past decades and are largely unassimilated and hostile to Western culture. American feminists, she urges, must make the plight of Muslim women one of their top priorities. In her final chapter, Chesler calls on American feminists to rethink their priorities and work to make U.S. foreign policy reflect their concern for women's rights everywhere.
A fierce polemic, filled with vigorous arguments and distressing human stories.
Chesler (The New Anti-Semitism), concern[ed] that Islamism is . . . a great threat to women's rights, if not all freedom, [and] calling American feminists to reexamine their priorities, provides an explanation for the vehemence of her opposition to [the] exploitation of women in Muslim societies, [through] a poignant chapter describing her 1960s captivity by her own in-laws as a young bride in Afghanistan. In her view, feminism has become a victim of a natural female desire for affiliation at the expense of disagreement. (Feminists) have now withdrawn into "rigid intolerance of difference" represented by leftism and anti-Americanism. Recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries that collect contemporary opinions."
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