Western Feminists Feeling the Sting of Criticism?
Like many others on the right, I have been a consistent critic of the Western feminist movement's veritable silence on the oppression of women in Muslim culture. Putting multiculturalism and leftist political preoccupations such as being anti-American and anti-Israel ahead of women's (and, indeed, human) rights, the movement is out to lunch on the great feminist calling of our time.
In a recent SFGate column on the rise of so-called honor killings in the West, I elaborated on the subject:
Fearful of giving offense or being branded with the ubiquitous "Islamophobia" label, law enforcement, journalists, social workers, government officials and, most of all, Western feminists are allowing a grave threat to women's rights go unaddressed. The misguided purveyors of multiculturalism — an ideology that holds that all cultures or religions are equivalent and none (save for the dominant, or Western, culture) worthy of condemnation — have rendered the West incapable of addressing evils where Third World cultures are to blame. But the truth is Western culture offers the greatest boon to women's rights and must therefore be vigorously defended, even if that means stepping into the realm of the politically incorrect.And in that earlier column (which highlighted the work of true feminists such as Phyllis Chesler, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Irshad Manji, Brigitte Gabriel, Nonie Darwish, the late Oriana Fallaci, and, in a sense, the U.S. military), I had this to say:
Feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women, which put out an occasional press release decrying honor killings, need to make combating this practice as high a priority as defending "choice" and railing against "glass ceilings." Instead, it is a precious few who are telling it like it is when it comes to the oppression of women in Muslim culture. Ironically, many of them are on the right side of the political spectrum or, like author, blogger and activist Phyllis Chesler, have been cast out of the leftist-dominated feminist movement for speaking the uncomfortable truth.
As I have noted previously, the challenges posed by the Muslim world are the next frontier for women's rights and all those interested in advancing such goals will have to rise to the occasion. It is up to every one of us to speak out where, not only women's, but human rights are in question. Young women's lives are at stake.
Now it seems the Western feminist movement is starting to feel the heat. An open letter penned by Katha Pollitt of The Nation on behalf of "American Feminists" has been circulating throughout the Internet expressing the movement's rejection of said criticism and its alleged commitment to fighting for "women in the developing and/or Muslim world." Over 700 of the feminist movement's leading lights, including at least one Middle East studies professor (a sphere notorious for being more anti-Western than anti-sexism), have signed the letter so far.
...Today's true heroines are those who do battle with the gender apartheid, violence and oppression practiced against women in the Muslim world. There, women face not just phantom infringements to their civil rights and perceived slights to their sensitivities, but threats to their lives. With the call for reform in the Muslim world come the inevitable requirements of round-the-clock security.
...Restoring freedoms and providing medical care, humanitarian aid and protection, women in the military are the true feminists. So are the valiant men who work and fight alongside them.
Unfortunately, one will rarely catch a self-proclaimed feminist willing to admit as much. To do so would be to acknowledge that the United States can be a force for good, and this must be avoided at all costs, even at the expense of women's rights. What they don't seem to realize is that the war they oppose is a battle against the very forces of fascism they routinely decry.
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.
David Horowitz, the originator of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (which brought speakers to U.S. college campuses to address this very topic, among others) has responded to Pollitt's open letter at Frontpage Magazine. Along with Islam scholar Robert Spencer, Horowitz seems to feel that the letter can only be evidence that all the criticism is beginning to have an effect. And I suspect as much myself. Whether or not this produces results, and not simply declarations of indignation, remains to be seen.
One thing's for sure, the crimes against Muslim women and the threat to all women's rights from the encroachments of Sharia law, demand action, not just words.
Update: The Weekly Standard addresses the Pollitt letter here (subscription required).
Update II: Michelle Malkin links to my post, and has a few suggestions of her own on the subject.