Phyllis Chesler, who famously broke with American feminism over its failure (by and large) to stand up for women in Islamic cultures, has a new book out: Islamic Gender Apartheid: Exposing a Veiled War against Women.
Daphne Patai calls it "an unblinking look at gender repression in the Muslim world" in a review in City Journal. Chesler got her first look at gender oppression in the Muslim world when, at the age of 20, the then-Bard College student married a student from Afghanistan and joined him in his country.
Chesler spent five memorable months in a in a genuinely patriarchal and polygamous Muslim household in Afghanistan. It gave her perspective. Returning to the U.S., Chesler became a feminist writer and activist.
Somewhere along the way, she had an epiphany that did not endear her to her movement colleagues: the West had made vast strides with regard to the rights of women, whereas Islamic cultures had not, she realized. The real war on women, she proposed, is being waged in Muslim cultures.
As Asra Nomani, cofounder of the Muslim Reform Movement, reminded IWF readers in a Modern Feminist interview earlier this year, that is a truth unpalatable to many elites in the West.
Daphne Patai's excellent review contains a lot of insights:
Islamic Gender Apartheid: Exposing a Veiled War against Women, Chesler’s new book, comprises a series of essays published between 2003 and 2016. She is particularly incensed that the same people who describe Israel, falsely, as an “apartheid state” routinely disregard the indisputable gender apartheid existing in much of the Arab and Muslim world.
The result is that the seclusion of women, face and full-body veiling (Chesler describes the burqa as a “sensory deprivation chamber”), female genital mutilation, so-called honor killings, polygamy, rape, and other forms of violence against women (as well as against gays, apostates, dissenters, and religious minorities) are all excused—or simply denied—by Western liberal apologists for Islamism.
. . .
Chesler’s unswerving allegiance to exposing the world’s real war on women has cost her friends in high places, but her experience and knowledge of the life of women under Islam make her an invaluable resource for anyone eager to look past the distortions and misrepresentations we routinely hear about the Muslim world.
For her fidelity to exposing the real war on women, Phyllis Chesler deserves to be called a real feminist.