Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Islamists' War on Women

One of the aspects of the recently thwarted terrorist attacks in London that most commentators have studiously avoided is that the perpetrators specifically targeted women. The intended bombing of the Tiger Tiger nightclub on "ladies night" was planned to kill as many "infidel" women as possible.

Islamists despise Western women for their sexual and personal freedom. The same goes for female co-religionists who dare to reject the restrictions imposed upon them by this backward and sexist ideology. In a culture marked by honor and shame, whereby female "honor" (i.e. chastity and fidelity) must be preserved by blood and men's "shame" must be avoided by any means necessary, women are to be controlled at all costs. Even if that entails slaughtering as many of them as possible in "honor killings" and terrorist attacks.

While the fake feminists of NOW (National Organization of Women) have yet to utter a peep about this latest incident, not to mention the oppression of women in Muslim culture in general, it's left up to the Real McCoys to address the heart of the matter. To that end, Phyllis Chesler and Nancy Kobrin (both of whom I referenced in a column last year on the perils of self-censorship in the West), have co-authored an article at Frontpage Magazine titled "Jihad's Target: Women." It opens thusly:

The Islamist "Doctor's Plot" in the UK was fiendish, but one particularly horrific aspect of it has received insufficient attention: it was specifically aimed at women.

Buried deep in the New York Times article on the subject was this fact: The Tiger Tiger nightclub in London was targeted in part because last Thursday was "ladies night." (Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate, is among the few so far who focused on this fact.)

Nor is it the first time that Islamists have directly targeted women. British security expert Sajjan M. Gohel remembers a 2004 conspiracy in which "British-born bombers said they wanted to attract women at a nightclub, whom they viewed as promiscuous, in conversations monitored by the police."

When will western progressives, especially feminists, "get" that Muslim terrorists hate women --especially infidel women who are intellectually or sexually independent and whose independence taunts, tempts, and enrages them?
This is a very good question and one whose answer will likely continue to be stubborn silence. Far too many self-proclaimed feminists in the West are more wedded to political-correctness and leftist politics than they are women's rights. As I once wrote:

The oppression of women in Muslim culture and the threat it poses to women's rights all over the world is clearly the next frontier for the feminist movement. Either feminists will rise to the occasion or be rendered meaningless by their hypocrisy.
More and more, it seems that the latter outcome is the sad reality of "feminism" today.

Update: Katha Pollitt has a rather, dare I say it, bitchy article in The Nation (h/t Jeremayakovka) on the work of Phyllis Chesler (namely, her book The Death of Feminism) and Christina Hoff Sommers, whose Weekly Standard article "The Subjection of Islamic Women and the Fecklessness of American Feminism" is a must-read. Apparently, there's also an exchange of letters between Chesler and Pollitt in an issue of The Nation that's currently unavailable online.

In her article, Pollitt let's NOW and other such organization off the hook because they "concentrate on domestic issues." But, the truth is, NOW doesn't address relevant issues in the United States either. For instance, they said nothing about the Saudi cultural event at Amherst Middle School last month in which little girls and their female teachers were forced to wear veils and sit separately from the boys. At the time, I tried to submit a message at the NOW website informing them about the matter, but for some mysterious reason, it wouldn't go through. Talk about symbolic...

Update (7/7): As mentioned above, Phyllis Chesler sent a letter to the editor to The Nation in response to Katha Pollitt's article. It was printed in an earlier issue, but is no longer available at the website. However, Ms. Chesler has given me permission to repost the letter below. Her words speak for themselves:

Contrary to Katha Pollitt's article, my recent books The New Anti-Semitism (2003) and The Death of Feminism (2005) have not "tanked." On the contrary, they have opened important doors for me to the worlds of heroic ex-Muslim and Muslim dissidents and anti-jihadist intellectuals, some of whom are conservatives and many of whom are feminists. Yes, Virginia, there is a wide world out there beyond the narrow confines of the Left. Just because a book is not reviewed in The Nation magazine or in similar media does not mean that the book does not exist, and has not attracted a serious and influential audience. How can a book "tank" and yet, in Pollitt's words, "its argument… take on a life of its own?"

Contrary to Pollitt's dismissal of any experience that occurred "nearly fifty years ago," contemporary Tunisian intellectual al-Atif al-Akhdar writes: "Why have the people of the world managed to mourn their pasts and move on, while we (Arabs and Muslims) have... our bereavement over a past that does not pass? Why do other people love life, while we love death and violence, slaughter and suicide, and call it heroism and martyrdom?" al-Akhdar describes Islamic cultural dynamics which do not seem to change. The dynamics which I encountered in Afghanistan long ago still remain and have actually worsened in many Muslim countries. I call it Islamic gender and religious Apartheid. Feminists should be--but are not--calling for boycotts of those countries where this is practiced.

Pollitt does not come in for 'unhinged abuse" in The Death of Feminism. Lawyers carefully vetted the pages which accurately document her bullying and intolerance on a feminist listserv group to which we both belonged. I was not her only target but she challenged me viciously and non-stop on issues ranging from my book Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (published by Nation Books!); my analysis of RAWA as a marginal group whose political influence would have no future other than as dancing dogs among the American Left. My views on anti-Semitism, Israel, and religion came in for particularly scathing attacks. Finally, when I began to publish in Frontpage Magazine and published a column in which I said I was merely thinking about voting Republican for the first time in my life, Pollitt led a totalitarian-like and successful purge of my presence on the listserv group.

Unlike Pollitt, I take very little credit for my work on behalf of freedom in the Islamic world. The task is so huge. Pollitt, however, claims immediate credit for small and symbolic feminist gestures. I suggest that it is too soon to congratulate ourselves for tasks we have yet to accomplish.

Phyllis Chesler

Update (7/8): I just received a copy of Katha Pollitt's response to Ms. Chesler's letter and in the interest of fairness, it too is reprinted below:

If Phyllis Chesler is happy that according to Bookscan The Death of Feminism sold around 1,000 copies in hardcover and 300 in paperback, who am I to dissuade her? Her book has had influence not because it is accurate or well thought out or well written—in fact it is execrable and full of spelling mistakes—but because a self-described feminist who attacks the women’s movement is a godsend to right-wingers like David Horowitz and the editors of The Weekly Standard, who have no interest in women’s rights except as an excuse to invade more countries.

Lawyers vetting her book is a joke—all that means is that I wouldn’t sue, not that she wrote the truth. But for the five people in the world who care, the most vehement discussion involving Chesler on the History in Action list was provoked by her heavy use of unverifiable personal anecdotes in Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. The journalists on the list had trouble with that, and she took umbrage (although if memory serves, Chesler herself had raised the issue). Chesler was never “purged” from the list, which included many of her longtime friends. When it became obvious that she was planning to use material from the list in The Death of Feminism, people, including me, understandably felt betrayed. Chesler left of her own accord.

As for Chesler’s imputations that I boast of small good deeds, I agree that the deeds are small. Still, it is hard to defend yourself against charges of selfish indifference to injustice and atrocity, except by presenting the evidence that the charges are false.

Katha Pollitt
New York City


Anonymous jeremayakovka said...

Ever considered renaming this blog "The Cutting Edge"? :-)

Friday, July 06, 2007 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Cinnamon one can only wonder as to the lack of condemnation (by NOW) of the ill treatment of Muslim women . Does NOW care at all?

Friday, July 06, 2007 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Lew Waters said...

As Paul says, the feminist/pro-women's groups lack of support in liberating muslim women simple baffles me.

In every aspect I know of, Mulism women are abused, mistreated and oppressed and when Bush works to free them, along with the men of course, he is condemned and the left, who claims to fully support women's rights, opposes him and desires a continuation of that suppression.

On second thought, their lack of concern isn't actually baffling, it is appalling!

Saturday, July 07, 2007 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger Lawrence H. said...

Perhaps when Muslim intellectuals take on the fascists in their midsts will Western leftists be shamed into re-evaluating their priorities.

However, even then it may be problematic because there are several Muslim writers and ex-terrorists who have bravely come out and addressed the reprehensible conduct of some aspects of Islamic culture, to little or no effect. All one can do is continue to speak truth to leftist delusions.

Kanaan Makiya, the ex-pat Iraqi intellectual, observes, "To exorcise what they (the terrorists) have done in our name is the civilisational challenge of the twenty-first century for every Arab and Muslim in the world today."


Monday, July 09, 2007 9:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray for Katha!

She very clearly proves her points and comes accross as the sane one of the two.

And Lawrence, you hit the nail on the head when you quoted Kanaan Makiya (though you'll probably disagree with my conclusion): It is the challenge of every Arab and Muslim to address the radical Islamists. And it will be up to Muslim women to find their way, too. Of course feminists worldwide support Islamic feminism. It is a false argument to say they don't just by pointing out NOW hasn't commented on the latest bombing. They are a national organization. (And, by the way, women are actually dying and suffering all over the world - why would they comment on one botched terror attack?)

We cannot force change through military occupation. We can't tell a society how to change. We can support their road to change, encourage change, use political and economic leverage, and occasionally use force to protect people who ask for help (hello, where's your outrage over Darfur?) but we can not force liberty on anyone. Women (and those men who will support them) will have to fight for their own freedom. We did it here.

Monday, July 09, 2007 4:43:00 PM  

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