As ISIS brutalizes women, a pathetic feminist silence
By Phyllis CheslerJune 7, 2015 | 7:41pm
A Pashtun woman at the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Oh, how the feminist movement has lost its way. And the deafening silence over ISIS’s latest brutal crimes makes that all too clear.
Fifty years ago, American women launched a liberation campaign for freedom and equality. We achieved a revolution in the Western world and created a vision for girls and women everywhere.
Second Wave feminism was an ideologically diverse movement that pioneered society’s understanding of how women were disadvantaged economically, reproductively, politically, physically, psychologically and sexually.
Feminists had one standard of universal human rights — we were not cultural relativists — and we called misogyny by its rightful name no matter where we found it.
As late as 1997, the Feminist Majority at least took a stand against the Afghan Taliban and the burqa. In 2001, 18,000 people, led by feminist celebrities, cheered ecstatically when Oprah Winfrey removed a woman’s burqa at a feminist event — but she did so safely in Madison Square Garden, not in Kabul or Kandahar.
Six weeks ago, Human Rights Watch documented a “system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by ISIS forces.” Their victims were mainly Yazidi women and girls as young as 12, whom they bought, sold, gang-raped, beat, tortured and murdered when they tried to escape.
In May, Kurdish media reported, Yazidi girls who escaped or were released said they were kept half-naked together with other girls as young as 9, one of whom was pregnant when she was released. The girls were “smelled,” chosen and examined to make sure they were virgins. ISIS fighters whipped or burned the girls’ thighs if they refused to perform “extreme” pornography-influenced sex acts. In one instance, they cut off the legs of a girl who tried to escape.
These atrocities are war crimes and crimes against humanity — and yet American feminists did not demand President Obama rescue the remaining female hostages nor did they demand military intervention or support on behalf of the millions of terrified Iraqi and Syrian civilian refugees.
An astounding public silence has prevailed.
The upcoming annual conference of the National Organization for Women does not list ISIS or Boko Haram on its agenda. While the most recent Women’s Studies annual conference did focus on foreign policy, they were only interested in Palestine, a country which has never existed, and support for which is often synonymous with an anti-Israel position. Privately, feminists favor non-intervention, non-violence and the need for multilateral action, and they blame America for practically everything wrong in the world.
What is going on?
Feminists are, typically, leftists who view “Amerika” and white Christian men as their most dangerous enemies, while remaining silent about Islamist barbarians such as ISIS.
Feminists strongly criticize Christianity and Judaism, but they’re strangely reluctant to oppose Islam — as if doing so would be “racist.” They fail to understand that a religion is a belief or an ideology, not a skin color.
The new pseudo-feminists are more concerned with racism than with sexism, and disproportionately focused on Western imperialism, colonialism and capitalism than on Islam’s long and ongoing history of imperialism, colonialism, anti-black racism, slavery, forced conversion and gender and religious apartheid.
And why? They are terrified of being seen as “politically incorrect” and then demonized and shunned for it.
The Middle East and Western Africa are burning; Iran is raping female civilians and torturing political prisoners; the Pakistani Taliban is shooting young girls in the head for trying to get an education and disfiguring them with acid if their veils are askew — and yet, NOW passed no resolution opposing this.
Twenty-first century feminists need to oppose misogynistic, totalitarian movements. They need to reassess the global threats to liberty, and rekindle our original passion for universal justice and freedom.
Phyllis Chesler (Phyllis-chesler.com) is emerita professor of psychology and the author of 16 books including “Living History: On the Front Line for Israel and the Jews, 2003-2015.”