Phyllis Chesler has made a career of calling out U.S. feminists in their failure to stand up for women in the Middle East and other places where oppression of women is real and serious and all too often fatal. Chesler deserves a great deal of credit for this lonely crusade.
But I confess I was about to skip her latest: “As ISIS Brutalizes Women, a Pathetic Feminist Silence.” ISIS is brutalizing men, women, children and vestiges of ancient civilizations. It seemed almost beside the point almost to single out women when there is no category left un-brutalized, and so hideously brutalized at that. Then I read Chesler’s oped, and I urge you to read it, too.
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.
Feminism of the NOW sort has become something of a leisure gig for women who want to kvetch about perceived slights in a land of opportunities and yet are able to close their eyes to the suffering of women in the Middle East and Africa, where the real war on women is being waged with relentless brutality.