Remember the Greenham Common Women? Those were the scruffy lefty ladies of the 1980s who decided to protest the Ronald Reagan-Margaret Thatcher hard line against the Soviet Union by invading a nuclear missile site in Britain and setting up a bedraggled tent city, where they sank folk songs, knitted little mittens to dramatize the fact that children would die in a nuclear war, and generally made themselves the laughingstocks of Private Eye and other media catering to saner Brits. The “Wimmin” of Greenham Common took themselves and their cause Very Seriously, but few others did.
I always suspected that the real animus behind the Greenham circus wasn’t world peace and love; it was hatred of America. And it seems I’m proved right–for Sarah Baxter, a Greenham sympathizer back then, points out in the U.K. Times that those very same women who camped out at Greenham, effectively allying themselves with the Soviet Union (because it was America’s enemy then), are marching with Hezbollah today (because it’s America’s enemy now). These are women who claim to be feminists, Baxter points out, so doesn’t radical Islam, which deems any woman who goes outdoors without a headscarf worthy of death, turn them off just a little bit? The answer seems to be: Nooooo.
The peace movement lost a foe in Reagan but has gone on to find new friends in today’s Stop the War movement. Women pushing their children in buggies bearing the familiar symbol of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament marched last weekend alongside banners proclaiming ‘We are all Hezbollah now’ and Muslim extremists chanting ‘Oh Jew, the army of Muhammad will return.’…
As a supporter of the peace movement in the 1980s, I could never have imagined that many of the same crowd I hung out with then would today be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with militantly anti-feminist Islamic fundamentalist groups, whose views on women make western patriarchy look like a Greenham peace picnic. Nor would I have predicted that today’s feminists would be so indulgent towards Iran, a theocratic nation where it is an act of resistance to show an inch or two of female hair beneath the veil and whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is not joking about his murderous intentions towards Israel and the Jews.
On the defining issue of our times, the rise of Islamic extremism, what is left of the sisterhood has almost nothing to say. Instead of ‘I am woman, hear me roar’, there is a loud silence, punctuated only by remonstrations against Tony Blair and George Bush — the world’s number one terrorist — as the marchers would have it.
There are a few principled left-feminists who are having none of this, Baxter points out: Phyllis Chesler, Julie Burchill, Oriana Fallaci, and others. But those women, Baxter says, are simply dismissed by the movement as “paranoid, mad, bonkers.”