American Feminists Continue to Ignore Tormented Women of Islam (Updated)

Christina Hoff Sommers wrote an honest and shocking report on the very sad shape of American feminism today at the Weekly Standard.

Much thanks to Banafsheh Zand Bonazzi for passing this one on.

The Subjection of Islamic Women
And the fecklessness of American feminism.

The subjection of women in Muslim societies–especially in Arab nations and in Iran–is today very much in the public eye. Accounts of lashings, stonings, and honor killings are regularly in the news, and searing memoirs by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Azar Nafisi have become major best-sellers. One might expect that by now American feminist groups would be organizing protests against such glaring injustices, joining forces with the valiant Muslim women who are working to change their societies. This is not happening.

If you go to the websites of major women’s groups, such as the National Organization for Women, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and the National Council for Research on Women, or to women’s centers at our major colleges and universities, you’ll find them caught up with entirely other issues, seldom mentioning women in Islam. During the 1980s, there were massive demonstrations on American campuses against racial apartheid in South Africa. There is no remotely comparable movement on today’s campuses against the gender apartheid prevalent in large parts of the world.

It is not that American feminists are indifferent to the predicament of Muslim women. Nor do they completely ignore it. For a brief period before September 11, 2001, many women’s groups protested the brutalities of the Taliban. But they have never organized a full-scale mobilization against gender oppression in the Muslim world. The condition of Muslim women may be the most pressing women’s issue of our age, but for many contemporary American feminists it is not a high priority. Why not?

The reasons
are rooted in the worldview of the women who shape the concerns and activities of contemporary American feminism. That worldview is–by tendency and sometimes emphatically–antagonistic toward the United States, agnostic about marriage and family, hostile to traditional religion, and wary of femininity. The contrast with Islamic feminism could hardly be greater.

…One reason is that many feminists are tied up in knots by multiculturalism and find it very hard to pass judgment on non-Western cultures. They are far more comfortable finding fault with American society for minor inequities (the exclusion of women from the Augusta National Golf Club, the “underrepresentation” of women on faculties of engineering) than criticizing heinous practices beyond our shores. The occasional feminist scholar who takes the women’s movement to task for neglecting the plight of foreigners is ignored or ruled out of order…

…The inability to make simple distinctions shows up everywhere in contemporary feminist thinking. The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World, edited by geographer Joni Seager, is a staple in women’s studies classes in universities. It was named “Reference Book of the Year” by the American Library Association and has received other awards. Seager, formerly a professor of women’s studies and chair of geography at the University of Vermont, is now dean of environmental studies at York University in Toronto. Her atlas, a series of color-coded maps and charts, documents the status of women, highlighting the countries where women are most at risk for poverty, illiteracy, and oppression.

One map shows how women are kept “in their place” by restrictions on their mobility, dress, and behavior. Somehow the United States comes out looking as bad in this respect as Uganda: Both countries are shaded dark yellow, to signify extremely high levels of restriction. Seager explains that in parts of Uganda, a man can claim an unmarried woman for his wife by raping her. The United States gets the same rating because, Seager says, “state legislators enacted 301 anti-abortion measures between 1995 and 2001.” Never mind that the Ugandan practice is barbaric, while the activism surrounding abortion in the United States is a sign of a contentious and free democracy working out its disagreements.

…Hard-line feminists such as Seager, Pollitt, Ensler, the university gender theorists, and the NOW activists represent the views of only a tiny fraction of American women. Even among women who identify themselves as feminists (about 25 percent), they are at the radical extreme. But in the academy and in most of the major women’s organizations, the extreme is the mean. The hard-liners set the tone and shape the discussion. This is a sad state of affairs. Muslim women could use moral, intellectual, and material support from the West to improve their situation. But only a rational, reality-based women’s movement would be capable of actually helping. Women who think that looking like a pear is an essential human right are not valuable allies.

This whole essay is very important.
I hope you all take the time to read it.
For Mother’s Day- Think and Pray for the tortured Islamic woman.

UPDATE: Iraqi-American Haider Ajina sends this important update for Mother’s Day:

Greetings,
Women & Mothers & Islam,

When the profit Mohamed (PBH) was asked “Who is the most important person in life?” He replied “The Mother.”, has was then asked “Who next?” He replied “The Mother” when asked “Who then?” he replied “The Mother” when asked who then he replied “The Father”.

It is reported that the profit Mohamed (PBH) also said that Women are half our society and mothers of the other half. While this is obvious, bringing it to the forefront puts strong emphasis of the importance of Women and Mothers in society.

Islam also teaches us that Paradise lies at the feet of Mothers.

Very little of this side of Islam is spoken about or reported. All the oppression women experience in Islamic surroundings is cultural not religious.

Islam came to free human being from physical slavery, slavery of ignorance, and the slavery of inequality and oppression.

Sadly this major part of Islam is not implemented in many Islamic nations, if any. In fact many Muslim leaders call for exactly the opposite. They do not allow for education, self advancement and freedom. The profit Mohamed (PBH) charged Muslims to seek (or pursue) knowledge even as far as China. He did not mean only men he meant all Muslims.

To all Mothers a happy & peaceful Mothers Day. Thank you for all you do for your Families.

Regards,
Haider Ajina

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