Northeastern U. professor: It’s okay for women to hate all men

June 11, 2018 • 11:00 am

No! Not the Washington Post, too! Well, judging by this op-ed by Suzanna Danuta Walters, identified as “a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University [and] editor of the gender studies journal Signs,” it’s okay to hate all men, and, further, to ask them to stop running for office and let women take over.

Of course the Washington Post should publish diverse opinions in its editorial section, but this one is pure bigotry—bigotry disguised as feminism. Imagine if the headline were something like “Why can’t we hate white people?” or “Why can’t we hate Jews?”, which, of course, are implicit views of some extremist black movements like the Nation of Islam or anti-Semitic groups like Students for Justice in Palestine. But nobody would publish articles with such titles! When it’s women, though, it’s okay to call for a general hatred of men. Why isn’t that bigotry?

Click on the screenshot to read Walters’s hate-filled piece.

Now of course there is considerable justification to hate the sin rather than the sinner, and the sin is sexism against women. There’s no doubt that women have been hard done by, oppressed (more so overseas than in the U.S.), neglected, kept from having the opportunities or recognition that they deserve, and in general not allowed to “hold up half the sky.” And there’s no doubt that that oppression comes almost entirely from men.

The attitude that women are inferior was pervasive not so long ago, but it’s changing, and it’s changing because women are demanding their rights. Yet people like me, who generally see themselves as pro-feminism—I’ve defined feminism for me as the view that women should be treated as moral and legal equals, and should from the outset be afforded exactly the same opportunities as men—aren’t necessarily on board with those who see sexism everywhere, who conflate unequal outcomes with sexism, or deliberately look for sexism where it might not exist. After all, if by virtue of your Y chromosome you’re automatically placed in a class with monsters like Harvey Weinstein (whose photo illustrates the article), you’re going to be a bit resistant to the message!

I call myself a feminist in the sense above, but I cannot share Dr. Walters’s hatred of men as a class. For one thing, I think sexism and “the patriarchy” are indeed rooted in biology, whether in the greater strength of men that allows them power over women, or in the fact that women are the childbearers, and therefore are often seen as assuming that role naturally and are unsuited for other roles.  Those biological differences have been transformed into sexism as a worldview, but how else can you explain, save through evolutionary differences, the fact that men originally relegated women to roles as breeders and homemakers, and kept them from power? Walters, though, seems to see sexism as having other roots: in some inherent evil in men that is completely independent of biology. She starts like this:

It’s not that Eric Schneiderman (the now-former New York attorney general accused of abuse by multiple women) pushed me over the edge. My edge has been crossed for a long time, before President Trump, before Harvey Weinstein, before “mansplaining” and “incels.” Before live-streaming sexual assaults and red pill men’s groups and rape camps as a tool of war and the deadening banality of male prerogative.

Seen in this indisputably true context, it seems logical to hate men. I can’t lie, I’ve always had a soft spot for the radical feminist smackdown, for naming the problem in no uncertain terms. I’ve rankled at the “but we don’t hate men” protestations of generations of would-be feminists and found the “men are not the problem, this system is” obfuscation too precious by half.

Well, you could make the same argument, as many have for years, about whites and Jews. Whites are responsible for most (but not all) slavery, and they are responsible for oppressing blacks right up to the present day. Is it then not “logical” for blacks to hate all whites? And indeed, some of them do; just browse the Internet. As for Jews, there are many who entertain the idea that Jews hold the levers of power everywhere, controlling banking, the media, and even Hollywood. And we’re not even talking about the “apartheid state” of Israel. Is it not then logical for everyone to hate Jews, too?

I doubt it. Because there are some good people among whites and Jews, as there are among men, and a blanket condemnation of those groups is just another form of bigotry—just like condemning all Muslims because we don’t agree with the beliefs of some of them.

Here’s where Walters argues that sexism has no roots in biology (my emphasis):

But, of course, the criticisms of this blanket condemnation of men — from transnational feminists who decry such glib universalism to U.S. women of color who demand an intersectional perspective — are mostly on the mark. These critics rightly insist on an analysis of male power as institutional, not narrowly personal or individual or biologically based in male bodies. Growing movements to challenge a masculinity built on domination and violence and to engage boys and men in feminism are both gratifying and necessary. Please continue.

Male power may be rife in institutions, but it’s not, at least in the U.S., “institutionalized” in the sense that the government or the law makes women unequal. It doesn’t. Sexism may be pervasive, but it’s not institutionalized. More important, I think sexism is, at the root, based on biology. If it is not, is it just an accident that men oppress women rather than the other way around? (Of course, I am not justifying sexism because of evolved biological differences. My own view, which I’ve expressed frequently, is that those differences are irrelevant to the moral and legal equality of women, and their right to be treated like everyone else.)

Walters goes on to recount the many injustices women experience—”underrepresentation” in high-paying jobs (she takes this as prima facie evidence for sexism, though preference may play a role), sexual assaults and harassment, unequal responsibility for children, and so on. These are undeniable, but, as Steve Pinker has shown, they’re disappearing, and they’re not just disappearing because of women. Many men have realized the nature of these injustices, and are also helping efface them. But to Walters, it’s easier to just hate all men and fight for women’s equality rather than to bother with those apparently rare men who are sympathetic to women’s equality. Not only that, but Walters calls for men to give up political power, apparently asking for a government and economy run solely by women. “Don’t run for office,” she says.  “Don’t be in charge of anything.” Is that for now, or forever? She doesn’t say. But her whole tone is sexist against men, and it this tone that is unproductive. Read this:

So, in this moment, here in the land of legislatively legitimated toxic masculinity, is it really so illogical to hate men? For all the power of #MeToo and #TimesUp and the women’s marches, only a relatively few men have been called to task, and I’ve yet to see a mass wave of prosecutions or even serious recognition of wrongdoing. On the contrary, cries of “witch hunt” and the plotted resurrection of celebrity offenders came quick on the heels of the outcry over endemic sexual harassment and violence. But we’re not supposed to hate them because . . . #NotAllMen. I love Michelle Obama as much as the next woman, but when they have gone low for all of human history, maybe it’s time for us to go all Thelma and Louise and Foxy Brown on their collective butts.

The world has little place for feminist anger. Women are supposed to support, not condemn, offer succor not dismissal. We’re supposed to feel more empathy for your fear of being called a harasser than we are for the women harassed. [JAC: who ever said that?] We are told he’s with us and #NotHim. But, truly, if he were with us, wouldn’t this all have ended a long time ago? If he really were with us, wouldn’t he reckon that one good way to change structural violence and inequity would be to refuse the power that comes with it?

So men, if you really are #WithUs and would like us to not hate you for all the millennia of woe you have produced and benefited from, start with this: Lean out so we can actually just stand up without being beaten down. Pledge to vote for feminist women only. Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything. Step away from the power. We got this. And please know that your crocodile tears won’t be wiped away by us anymore. We have every right to hate you. You have done us wrong. #BecausePatriarchy. It is long past time to play hard for Team Feminism. And win.

Well, I’m not going to respond petulantly by saying, “Okay, I’m no longer a feminist since it includes unhinged loons like Walters.” That’s equally unproductive.  What we need to do is recognize that views like hers are just as sexist, bigoted, hateful, and extremist as the views she decries. Most important, Walters’s path is the wrong way to have the two sexes live on a basis of equality and comity. South Africa was healed not by stirring up post-apartheid blacks to hate all whites, but by a Truth and Reconciliation movement. That was based on hating the sin but forgiving the sinner. Walters might take a lesson from that. After all, how many men will voluntarily admit that they deserve to be hated, pushed aside, and demonized like Harvey Weinstein?



Masih Alinejad talks about “My Stealthy Freedom”, “White Wednesdays”, and other travails of women in Iran

May 31, 2018 • 11:00 am

Reader J. J. sent me a link to a National Public Radio interview which, if you have a spare half-hour, will both make you angry (at the oppression of women in Iran and what happens to those who protest), but also happy (at the cheerful and optimistic personality of the subject). But let me just copy J. J.’s email, adding a few comments and links:

Perhaps other followers of WEIT have already sent you the link to today’s “Fresh Air”, but in case not, it’s here.

Terry Gross interviews the exiled Iranian journalist, Masih Alinejad, who started “My Stealthy Freedom” campaign on twitter, against compulsory hijab [JAC: She also started the White Wednesdays campaign in which Iranian women wear white one day a week to protest oppression], and who has just published her memoir, The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran. Given the nature of her campaign, the import of the title is obvious.  I’m listening right now and must get back to it because I don’t want to miss a second, but I can listen again online. You absolutely must listen from the very beginning to the end (it’s just over 30 min).  She is is amazing.  What a rebuke to Sarsour and all those odious pseudo-feminists with their through-the-looking-glass morals and ethics and sense of freedom (not to mention fashion). She starts off with her experiences wearing the hijab, and goes on from there.

Yes, this is definitely worth a listen. Alinejad, though she’s suffered exile, the inability to see her beloved mother, and the disapprobation of her strict Islamic father (she now lives in the U.S.), not to mention arrest and death threats that continue, is relentlessly upbeat throughout. She’s also a wonderful singer, and gives us two examples of songs. (I didn’t realize that women aren’t allowed to sing in Iran.)

No doubt she’ll be written off as a “native informant” by over-the-top defenders of Islam like Khaled A. Beydoun (if you want to see an unhinged hit job on people like Maajid Nawaz, Asra Nomani, and other reformist Muslims, see Beydoun’s new Guardian article), but to me she’s a hero. As I said yesterday, some people just carp about oppression to flaunt their moral bona fides, but Alinejad has sacrificed her country, her family, and her safety by standing up for women’s rights.  Why aren’t people like Linda Sarsour using her as a role model instead of bigots like Louis Farrakhan? Well, you know the answer to that one.

Here’s Alinejad singing in her car.

More on #MeToo #TimesUp, and schisms within feminism

January 18, 2018 • 12:00 pm

I suppose the fracturing of feminism that’s the byproduct of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements—both creating a tsunami of pushback against the misuse of power—was inevitable. For what is considered “consent” varies widely among people, and feelings are running high. I strongly support the calling-out of anyone who uses their power to prey sexually on others, and the reporting, firing, or jailing of those who violate employer’s norms or the law.  But given the present political climate, I think one could have predicted that a bit of the baby got thrown out with the bathwater. Here are a few pieces about current disputes about these issues. (I’m not writing about the justified accusations against people like Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey, as discussions of those are amply available on the Internet.)

If there’s a writer who should be a feminist icon, it’s Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, many of whose works deal with women oppressed by patriarchy. She wrote, for instance, The Handmaid’s Tale, something of a feminist must-read (it was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize). Yet she’s now been damned by many feminists because she signed an open letter to the University of British Columbia (UBC), which decried UBC for its climate of secrecy around the case of Steven Galloway, former Chair of the Creative Writing Program. Accused of sexual assault, Galloway was cleared after a judge’s inquiry, but was fired anyway. The letter simply calls for fairness and openness toward Galloway, and for an independent investigation of how UBC handled Galloway’s case.

That was enough to damn Atwood in the eyes of many women, and she voices her distress in a new article in the Globe and Mail, “Am I a bad feminist?” Her answer is “yes, to many ‘good’ feminists.  An excerpt:

The #MeToo moment is a symptom of a broken legal system. All too frequently, women and other sexual-abuse complainants couldn’t get a fair hearing through institutions – including corporate structures – so they used a new tool: the internet. Stars fell from the skies. This has been very effective, and has been seen as a massive wake-up call. But what next? The legal system can be fixed, or our society could dispose of it. Institutions, corporations and workplaces can houseclean, or they can expect more stars to fall, and also a lot of asteroids.

If the legal system is bypassed because it is seen as ineffectual, what will take its place? Who will be the new power brokers? It won’t be the Bad Feminists like me. We are acceptable neither to Right nor to Left. In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated. Fiction writers are particularly suspect because they write about human beings, and people are morally ambiguous. The aim of ideology is to eliminate ambiguity.

Yesterday I wrote about the Aziz Ansari affair, which began with a piece published on Babe by Katie Way, recounting the sexual liaison that a woman called “Grace” had with actor and comedian Aziz Ansari. Columnist Bari Weiss in the New York Times wrote a column defending Ansari against charges of sexual predation, claiming that while he was guilty of being boorish, he could not be expected to pick up “nonverbal cues.” An excerpt from Weiss’s piece:

There is a useful term for what this woman [“Grace”] experienced on her night with Mr. Ansari. It’s called “bad sex.” It sucks.

The feminist answer is to push for a culture in which boys and young men are taught that sex does not have to be pursued as if they’re in a pornographic film, and one in which girls and young women are empowered to be bolder, braver and louder about what they want. The insidious attempt by some women to criminalize awkward, gross and entitled sex takes women back to the days of smelling salts and fainting couches. That’s somewhere I, for one, don’t want to go.

A related piece, by Elizabeth Breunig in the Washington Post, is not as powerful but does add—and I agree—that we need to have a public conversation about sex, which differs from other forms of human interaction that have well defined and widely understood rules of etiquette. Breunig implicitly criticizes both Ansari, for lacking the empathy to see his date was uncomfortable, and Grace, for not having the temerity to just leave the apartment and the situation:

Instead, we ought to appreciate that sex is a domain so intimate and personal that more harm can be done than in most social situations, and that given that heightened capacity for harm, we should expect people to operate with greater conscientiousness, concern and care in that domain than in others. If you are still hanging around your tired host’s home long after the party is over, excuse yourself and leave — don’t wait for them to order you out or call the police. If you are kissing someone and they’re barely responsive — if they say, as Ansari’s partner did, “I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you” — then get their coat for them and call it a night. Ansari didn’t commit a crime. But cruelty isn’t restricted to criminal acts. In all domains of life, but especially where it comes to sex, we must insist that people consider one another’s interior lives, feelings, personhood, dignity.

I also posted a video by HLN and former CNN Anchor Ashleigh Banfield (here), strongly criticizing both Grace and Katie Way for the Babe piece. I’ve never seen a news anchor so publicly exercised, even mentioning the term “blue balls”, but Banfield was plenty angry. Some of her words from that video:

“But what you [Grace] have done in my opinion is appalling. You went to the press with the story of a bad date and potentially destroyed this man’s career. . . And now here is where I am going to claim victim. You have chiseled away at a movement that I, along with all of my sisters in the workplace, have been dreaming of for decades: a movement that has finally changed an oversexed professional environment that I too have struggled with over the last thirty years in broadcasting.”

After hearing this, Katie Way invited to appear on television, refused and wrote a nasty email about Banfield. A piece in MEDIAite by Lawrence Bonk (?): “Ashleigh Banfield fires back after getting insulting email from writer of Aziz Ansari piece.“, gives Way’s gratuitiously nasty email response. Here it is in full (originally from Business Insider):

It’s an unequivocal no from me. The way your colleague Ashleigh (?), someone I’m certain no one under the age of 45 has ever heard of, by the way, ripped into my source directly was one of the lowest, most despicable things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Shame on her. Shame on HLN. Ashleigh could have “talked” to me. She could have “talked” to my editor or my publication. But instead, she targeted a 23-year-old woman in one of the most vulnerable moments of her life, someone she’s never f—— met before, for a little attention. I hope the ratings were worth it! I hope the ~500 RTs on the single news write-up made that burgundy lipstick bad highlights second-wave feminist has-been feel really relevant for a little while. She DISGUSTS me, and I hope when she has more distance from the moment she has enough of a conscience left to feel remotely ashamed — doubt it, but still. Must be nice to piggyback off of the fact that another woman was brave enough to speak up and add another dimension to the societal conversation about sexual assault. Grace wouldn’t know how that feels, because she struck out into this alone, because she’s the bravest person I’ve ever met. I would NEVER go on your network. I would never even watch your network. No woman my age would ever watch your network. I will remember this for the rest of my career — I’m 22 and so far, not too shabby! And I will laugh the day you fold. If you could let Ashleigh know I said this, and that she is no-holds-barred the reason, it’d be a real treat for me.


Banfield responds here (her response begins 50 seconds in):

Banfield, who applauded the #MeToo movement in her video yesterday, is certainly a feminist, but, like Atwood, wants both compassion in sexual encounters as well as legal and professional punishment of those who violate the law in those encounters.

Finally, and I’ll just drop this in passing, there’s yet another controversy involving Catherine Deneuve, who, along with others, signed an open letter (which could have been clearer) decrying the infantilization of women they discern in regarding every come-on as sexual harassment. It’s too long to go over this one, so, if you want to see the ire it’s aroused, read the Quillette essay by Ulysse Pasquier, “Catherine Deneuve, #MeToo, and the fracturing within feminism.

Jeff Tayler profiles Inna Shevchenko

January 2, 2018 • 10:30 am

Several times I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Inna Shevchenko, Ukrainian head of the feminist organization FEMEN. Morally and philosophically, she’s years ahead of her age (only 27)—as well as of Authoritarian Leftists and feminists twice her age. She’s also been jailed, physically assaulted, and had her life threatened at gunpoint for protesting against patriarchal religion and sexism in Ukraine and Belarus.

Inna is ignored or criticized by some Leftists because she strongly attacks the anti-woman bigotry of Islam, and so she’s simply written off as an “Islamophobe.” But her protests (usually involving nudity) aren’t just against Islam, but against all religions and states that turn women into second-class citizens. The nudity thing I have mixed feelings about, for while it brings attention to FEMEN’s causes, it does so by attracting attention to women’s bare breasts.  On the other hand, I can understand this tactic, and of course Inna and the women who do this regularly get beaten up and jailed for it.

Inna now lives as a refugee in Paris (pursuing a master’s degree in political science), and is always in fear of her life, for that’s the upshot when you repeatedly criticize Islam and once helped edit an issue of Charlie Hebdo. Having met Inna and heard her speak, I’m a big admirer.

So is Jeff Tayler, Atlantic correspondent and author who’s put a new article up on Quillette, “Femen’s Inna Shevchenko: Fear of causing offense has cost too many innocent lives.” It’s a profile of Inna as well as an interview, and here you hear a young woman speaking with a wisdom that has yet to trickle down to the Authoritarian Left or those feminists who refuse to discuss or even mention the crippling sexism of Islam (see here and here).

Here are a few excerpts from Tayler’s piece. Jeff also links to two videos about Inna (one a full-length movie in French), and be aware that there are topless women, so don’t watch the clips at work.

When it comes to Islam’s relation to terrorism and women’s rights, the betrayal by many so-called liberals has really stung [Shevchenko]. “So many on the left – in English they’re called regressive leftists, but here we call them Islamogauchistes — have ceded to manipulations by Islamists. For these leftists, “communautairisme” – ethnic identity politics, roughly, a negation of the French ideal of égalité – “has become like a new faith.” She takes a deep breath. “When you see so many who should be supporting you give in to manipulation by your enemy, you just despair. There’s this argument out there that to criticize Islam is considered racist. This is toxic for public debate. I don’t have any problem with being called an Islamophobe. I am indeed a religio-phobe. It’s not a crime to be afraid of religion. To be afraid of religion as a woman is normal.”

She categorizes the regressive left’s stance on Islam as “insulting toward the Muslim community. It suggests that all believers are a homogenous group of people. Because of the regressive left’s outcry and hysteria, moderate Muslims like Maajid Nawaz and ex-Muslims like Sarah Haider and Ayaan Hirsi Ali have to struggle to be heard.”

How does she feel when regressive leftists tell her that her stance on Islam is “offensive?”

“It’s a sign that someone is trying to deprive me of my right to free speech and impose censorship on me. It’s a sign that they’ve given up their own right to freedom of expression because of a wish for comfort and a fear of being called racist. They’ve given up the common fight and gone over to the side of the Islamists. But the right to free speech is the most precious right, the foundation for all other freedoms.”

. . . She reserves intense scorn for those liberals who urge against criticizing Islam because this would, in their view, amount to helping the “narrative” about Muslims advanced by Trump, France’s Marine Le Pen, and other right-wing leaders. Such “liberals,” she says, are really proposing “to give up on the defense of women’s rights, to give up on the security and well-being of little girls, to give up our fundamental right of freedom of speech, to give up even our right to our own lifestyles and to dress the way we want and to laugh loud in the street, and all this just so as not to be associated with opinions of the far right! For me, this is no solution – this is cowardice and really dangerous. It will leave xenophobes as the only critics of Islam and give the stage to the far right. But this isn’t a question for the far right. It’s a question for society as a whole. When I hear liberals talking this way, I understand that they and the Islamists want the same thing: the silencing of progressive voices. If you try to silence these voices, you become an ally of Islamism.”

. . . I ask Shevchenko how she evaluates the struggle with Islamist terrorism in Europe and the United States. Her response is scathing:

“It took [the authorities] two years to even name the enemy, to even use the term ‘Islamic terrorism.’ They were afraid to associate terrorism with Islam, and oh God, that they might offend anyone! They needed so many deaths of innocent people in bars or café terraces here in Paris, before they would even name the enemy. This was a huge failure, an unjustifiable failure that cost so many lives. And it took so many horrible terrorist attacks in Europe for countries to even begin sharing intelligence. But we have to fight not particular people with guns, but the ideas that lead them to take up their guns; we have to go to the root of the problem and challenge these ideas better. We can’t be afraid of naming these ideas or laughing at them. Charlie Hebdo does this, and look at what happened to them. They’re still being threatened. We see how Europe and the United States are failing in fighting fundamentalist ideas, in challenging Islam as a set of dogmas. After all, again, it’s not a question of guys with guns, but of guys with dogmas in their heads, dogmas that lead them to pick up their guns.”

A related piece by Jeff on Islamophobia appeared in Quillette about a year ago, and bears reading again: “Free speech and terrorism—Whatever you do, don’t mention Islam!”

Here’s a TEDx video of Inna:

In which Heather Hastie defends me against the charge that I’m not a feminist “ally”

January 1, 2018 • 12:30 pm

Oy! You can’t win these days. I recently put up a post about Anna Muzychuk, a woman Ukrainian grandmaster in “blitz chess” and “speed chess” (two forms of chess in which you must make rapid moves). Last year Muzychuk was the world champion in both evens, but declined to participate in this year’s official championships (run by the spineless international chess organization FIDE, which should be called FIDO as it’s the running dog of Islamism) because the tournament’s being held in Saudi Arabia. Muzychuk explained on her Facebook page that she wouldn’t participate in the Saudi scheme because it required modest dress and for women and for female players to obey the other demeaning rules imposed on that sex in Saudi Arabia. Muzychuk’s words:

In a few days I am going to lose two World Champion titles – one by one. Just because I decided not to go to Saudi Arabia. Not to play by someone’s rules, not to wear abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside, and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature. Exactly one year ago I won these two titles and was about the happiest person in the chess world but this time I feel really bad. I am ready to stand for my principles and skip the event, where in five days I was expected to earn more than I do in a dozen of events combined. All that is annoying, but the most upsetting thing is that almost nobody really cares. That is a really bitter feeling, still not the one to change my opinion and my principles. The same goes for my sister Mariya – and I am really happy that we share this point of view. And yes, for those few who care – we’ll be back!

I called my post “A real feminist”—clearly not to denigrate other women who weren’t “real” feminists, but to extol a woman who sacrificed income and career on altar of her principles. When you lose world championships in defense of women’s rights, well, that’s real feminism! (We can see this happening in Iran right now, with some women ripping off their hijabs as part of the protest against that country’s theocracy, a momentous event that’s barely been covered by left-wing websites.)

Sadly, my approbation of Muzychuk’s action wasn’t good enough. Though I never read responses to my tweets (which go automatically from this site to Twitter), reader Paul Coddington in New Zealand did, and sent me some responses by a woman I don’t know:

This is one reason I almost never read responses to my Twitter posts: people like this Pecksniff start snuffling around for the scent of ideological impurity. Apparently, my title “a real feminist” is such an impurity.

I didn’t respond to her bait, but Paul did in an email to me, and asked me to send it to Heather Hastie, as he knew she’d have her own take on feminism and my lack of “allyship”. Sure enough, Heather wrote a brief response on Vansteenwinckle’s attempt to enforce her brand of feminism on me, and you can read it at Heather’s site in a post called “Homily: an ill-informed feminist attacks Jerry Coyne (plus tweets).

I’m not going to reprise Heather’s take on this kerfuffle, which you should read for yourself, but I will reproduce Paul’s comment that he emailed me (with permission):

It strikes me that this comment is both patronising and sexist. It smacks of the idea that truly supporting the rights of women is a privileged club which one needs permission from an insider to join. Also, it is also unclear what is meant by “he still has a long way to go”. Is this a reference to “ideological feminism” (as opposed to that form of feminism which is essentially humanism, basic respect and common decency with a topical focus on women’s issues)? It appears to me you support the latter and not the former and that perhaps it is being implied that this is simply not good enough.

Also, “Jerry missed some levels, but pretends he didn’t” is an accusation that I can’t see as justifiably having arisen from anything that you have written in that particular article or any other, but perhaps there is some private correspondence that accounts for it.

No, there’s no private correspondence I know of that explains which “levels” I’ve missed. I don’t know who “Vansteenwinckel” is, nor, as I recall, have I ever had any interaction with her.

Heather has more to say, using some rather pungent language.

My view: I won’t have other feminists label me “not an ally” because I don’t adhere to one particular view of feminism. My own view, which I have—to borrow a phrase from Nixon—made perfectly clear, is this: “Women should never be discriminated against on the grounds of sex or gender, and should have equal opportunity from the very onset of life to achieve everything they can.”

It goes without saying that this means that women should be free from harassment and sexual malfeasance or assault, because of course those are forms of discrimination as well as tactics that constrain women’s freedom and opportunity.

That’s my piece, now read Heather’s (and enjoy her collection of tweets).


A real feminist

December 28, 2017 • 12:00 pm

This is a post from the public Facebook page of Anna Muzychuk, a Ukrainian chess grandmaster who holds the women’s world titles in Rapid Chess and Blitz Chess. In November she announced she would give up her titles by refusing to attend this year’s championships in Saudi Arabia on grounds of women’s secondary status and the dress and “guardian” codes that still remain in a land that may be reforming:

As the Guardian reports:

A two-time world chess champion has said she will not defend her titles at a tournament held in Saudi Arabia because of the way the kingdom treats women as “secondary creatures”.

Anna Muzychuk, of Ukraine, turned down the chance to travel to the event despite modest signs of reform in the kingdom under the young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

“Exactly one year ago I won these two titles and was about the happiest person in the chess world but this time I feel really bad,” said Muzychuk. “I am ready to stand for my principles and skip the event, where in five days I was expected to earn more than I do in a dozen of events combined.”

The Saudis are believed to have paid $1.5m (£750,000) to host the championship for the first time. The sport’s governing body, Fide, had claimed a measure of success in persuading Saudi authorities to allow female competitors to compete in high-necked white blouses and blue or black trousers instead of full-body abayas.

FIDE claimed victory by not making women wear full body coverings? What kind of victory is that? Women playing rapid chess should be able to wear what is comfortable, and I don’t think a “high necked blouse is that comfortable”. But it’s execrable that there would be any such dress code for a chess championship. FIDE is reprehensible, and has been (see below).

However, for Muzychuk, it was not enough. “I am going to lose two world champion titles, one by one,” she wrote on Facebook. “Just because I decided not to go to Saudi Arabia. Not to play by someone’s rules, not to wear abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature.”

Oh, and one more issue about this Saudi tournament. Seven Israeli players who had requested visas to be allowed to participate in the speed chess championships had their visas denied. And that’s just fine with FIDE:

Seven Israeli players had requested visas for the tournament, taking place from 26-30 December. It would have been the first time Saudi Arabia had publicly hosted Israelis, as the Gulf state does not recognise Israel and there are no formal ties between them.

The Fide vice-president, Israel Gelfer, speaking in Athens where the body’s secretariat is based, said visas for the Israeli players “have not been issued and will not be issued”.

He said the tournament would go ahead as planned. It was not immediately clear whether other delegations had been excluded but players from Qatar had suggested they may have been rejected.

Well, screw FIDE, who didn’t defend the Israelis’ right to play with the world’s other chess champions. They should have ensured from the outset that no player would be barred because of their dress or their nationality. And if the Saudis didn’t comply, no tournament there. This isn’t rocket science, it’s simple civility and respect for other humans.

h/t: Ant

Phyllis Chesler on the madness of pro-Islam feminism and the sadness of anti-Semitic Leftism

October 9, 2017 • 9:30 am

Phyllis Chesler has impeccable credentials as a feminist, including a lifelong history of activism and over a thousand articles and sixteen books on feminism, including the famous Women and Madness. You’ll probably think, as did I, that she makes too much of these credentials in her new piece in Tablet, “Against faux-feminists who deny the rights of muslim women and Jews.” Six paragraphs of her introduction lay out her accomplishments, which sound a bit too much like bragging, but I suspect that when writing an article like this—which takes Western feminists to task for ignoring the patriarchy of Islam, and also defending Israel—she has to establish her bona fides lest she be dismissed as a “sister punisher.”

I’ve banged on for several years about the double standards of both the Western Left and its feminist moiety: while viciously finding fault with every aspect of The Patriarchy in America—including things like a space scientist wearing a shirt made by a woman friend that was festooned with semi-clad women—they dutifully ignore far worse oppression of women under Islam. This is because, in the Victimization Hierarchy, being a person of color ranks above being a women, so that the oppressions of Islam (a religion supposedly held by people of color) are excused because they’re promulgated by brown people. It sounds crass to say it that way, but it’s true. And it’s hypocritical.

Chesler is mad as hell, and calls this double standard “faux feminism,” which she characterizes (accurately) like this:

. . . a new and what I describe as a “faux feminism” has arisen in the last 30 years, a postmodern and postcolonial feminism that passionately condemns Christianity and Judaism as the greatest danger to women’s rights but dares not critique religiously supremacist Islam for this same reason; an intersectional “faux feminism” that condemns only Western imperialism and refuses to acknowledge the long history of Islamic imperialism, colonialism, slavery, anti-black racism, and religious and gender apartheid; a “faux feminism” that is far more concerned with the alleged occupation of Palestine than it is with the occupation of women’s bodies, faces, minds, and genitalia world-wide–including those women who are being forcibly face-veiled, death-threatened, and honor killed in the disputed territories.

Women’s studies associations, national feminist organizations—many feminist Jews—are not merely “politically correct”; they have become “Islamically correct.” They are currently more concerned with the religious sanctity of head and face veiling than they are with FGM, forced face-veiling, honor-based violence, polygamy, child marriage, and honor killing in the West. Not only have faux feminists betrayed the Jews—in the name of anti-racism, they have also abandoned tribal and immigrant women of color—Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus—to barbaric misogyny. Above all, they have abandoned the most heroic ex-Muslim, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu feminist dissidents, both in the developing world and in the West.

And that’s the tragedy—that so many Western feminists have become such conformists. They are no longer independent thinkers. Faux feminists have also been persuaded that Islam is a “race,” not an ideology or a religion; that America’s historic enslavement of black Africans, and South Africa’s apartheid regime, is exactly the same as alleged Israeli discrimination against Arab Palestinians, including Jew-hating bomb makers and terrorists with blood on their hands.

Fundamentalists are trying to destroy what feminists have accomplished.

Feminists in America exposed, condemned, and analyzed rape. We began rape-crisis counseling and changed the laws about rape. Today, Western professional feminists—our women’s studies professors, politicians, journalists, human-rights activists—are not rescuing rape victims in Islamic communities, either in the Middle East or in the West. Feminists are too nervous about being called “Islamophobes,” “racists,” or “colonialists.”

Dare I, as a man, even intrude into discussions of where feminism has gone wrong? Yes, I do, and I will.

“Well,” you might say, “It’s simply easier to combat sexism at home than in the Middle East or elsewhere in Asia.” But that’s not true either, for, as Chesler notes, there are many organizations you can donate to that help oppressed women throughout the world. Further, it’s our responsibility as progressive Leftists to call out faux-feminism and criticize those behaviors of Muslims, and those tenets of Islam, that victimize women. It’s time for real progressives to push back against the faux feminists who are metastasizing in our ranks. There is only one reason why feminists are so eager to call out the oppressions of Christianity and Orthodox Judaism yet so loath to do that with Islam—and we know what that reason is.

Here are a few organizations that combat violence against and oppression of women around the world, and use their money judiciously (they’re rated highly by Charity Navigator):

Global Fund for Women
Futures Without Violence
Center for Health and Gender Equity
American Jewish World Service (helps everyone, not directed only at Jewish women)
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

The second part of Chesler’s piece is about the Left’s anti-Semitism, and of course it will be more controversial because Israel is the Demon State, universally criticized by the Left. Chesler herself has been deplatformed for defending Israel. A few quotes from her piece:

One of the things that’s new about the “new” anti-Semitism is that it is coming to us both from the Islamic world and from the Western intelligentsia—and this time it’s global, and 24/7, via videos, the internet, cable vision, doctored footage, etc..

Like many people, I had assumed that the world’s hatred of Jews had ended, that Jewish history would never again repeat itself. I was wrong. Those who still believe that Jewish history can never again repeat itself must dispense with that illusion. Jewish history has always repeated itself and may continue to do so until the coming of the Messiah. [JAC: Well, Chesler’s going to wait a long time. . . ]



After publishing The New Anti-Semitism, I went on to write six more books, two not yet published, and nearly a thousand articles. I also conducted and published four studies about honor killing. This pioneering feminist research about femicide enabled me to submit affidavits on behalf of Muslim and ex-Muslim girls and women in flight from being honor killed in immigrant communities in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia, India, and Africa. This research has also been used in honor killing prosecutions in the United States and Canada.

The fact that I am also a passionate Zionist has been used to marginalize my feminist work. Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I have been disinvited as a keynote speaker at conferences. I have “made” some death lists. I have seen American classrooms being invaded by American totalitarians, fascists who, in the name of “free speech” and “academic freedom,” are verbally and physically violent. They mean to censor all objective truth, but especially the truth about Israel and Islam, and to redact history.

Today, my closest allies are not faux-feminists for Palestine. I work with genuine dissidents. Therefore, none of us are politically correct. We are anti-Islamists or anti-Sharia-ists: As the feminists of yore, we share one universal standard of human rights. We support post-Enlightenment Western values such as individual, human, and women’s rights, free speech, the right to dissent, freedom from and freedom of religion, the separation of religion and state. These dissidents comprise the major resistance movement of our time. Many write under pseudonyms and live with 24/7 police protection.

I can no longer work with Jew-haters. It is too painful. Therefore, my allies and I all support Israel’s right to exist and flourish.

I’ve made the point several times that anti-Zionism (that is, the opposition to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state) is hardly distinguishable from  anti-Semitism, and I’ll reiterate that here. Look at it this way: many of the Left who are “anti-Zionist” are nevertheless in favor of a Palestinian State, and for reasons similar to those leading to the establishement of Israel: as a refuge for “oppressed and persecuted Palestinians”, just as Israel was a refuge for Jews who had been persecuted in many places.

In other words, the Palestinian state will be a nationalist state in the same way that Israel is a nationalist state. (But they will of course differ: if you consider Israel, which has a sizable population of Arab citizens with rights equal to those of Jewish citizens, as an “apartheid state”, you haven’t seen anything until you see what a Palestinian state will do!).  Yet if you oppose Israel’s right to exist (anti-Zionist), you will argue that you’re not an anti-Semite. But if you oppose a Palestinian state’s right to exist (and I don’t), you’re called an Islamophobe and a racist. This asymmetry in attitudes leads me to believe that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, for why else are affirmations of Israel’s right to exist demonized while calls for a Palestinian state valorized?


h/t: David

Al-Jazeera: “Feminist pioneer” judge enforces sharia law

September 11, 2017 • 9:00 am

What does it mean to be a feminist in a Muslim country? I would think it means fighting for equality of treatment and opportunity for women, which means, in part, opposing those tenets of Islam that stifle such equality.

We already know that many Muslim and Western women who call themselves “feminists” don’t hold such a view, and in fact see Muslim feminists as upholding Islamic law, proudly sporting the hijab as a symbol of empowerment. Indeed, as the links above testify, many consider Islam to be a deeply feminist faith. After all, wasn’t Aisha (Mohammed’s wife, whom he married when she was six and raped when she was nine) a very powerful woman? And haven’t there been women heads of state in Islamic countries, like Benazir Bhutto (part of a political family dynasty who was assassinated—probably by the Taliban—for being too secular and “Western”)?

But this argument, from an August 16 article in Al-Jazeera, takes the cake (click on screenshot to see the piece). This “empowered” woman is actually empowered, as a judge, to enforce sharia law in a Malaysian court that dispenses Islamic “justice” to Muslims. (So much for claims that Malaysia is a “liberal” Muslim state for women):

Meet Judge Nenney Shushaidah Binti Shamsuddin, 42, of the Malaysian Sharia High Court. This faux feminist spends her days enforcing sharia law, including those bits that are anti-feminist. As the article notes,

One day she could be sentencing an offender to be caned for breaking Islamic law, the next could see her giving a man permission to take a second wife.

Islamic law enforcers are not often credited with being feminist pioneers, but Judge Nenney fits both those descriptions.

She made history in Malaysia last year when she was appointed one of the first two female Syariah High Court judges in this Muslim-majority nation. “Syariah” is the Malay spelling for the Arabic word “sharia”, meaning Islamic law.

And the 42-year-old mother of three doesn’t shy away from imposing the harshest punishments prescribed by Islamic law.

“When I’m on the bench, I’m not a woman, I’m not a man. I’m a judge,” she says. “I need to deal with the case fair and firm, to follow the law, no bias.”

Here’s how judge Nenney plays her role as a feminist pioneer:

There are no restrictions on the cases Judge Nenney hears in the state of Selangor. Her weekly caseload can range from child custody to prostitution and polygamy.

In Malaysia, Muslim men are allowed to marry up to four wives, but they must first obtain permission from the Islamic law court.

When hearing such a case, Judge Nenney says she verifies the husband’s income to see if he can afford to take another wife and finds out whether the existing wife agrees.

“If the wife agrees and if the husband can afford it, I give permission,” she tells Al Jazeera.

Judge Nenney also hears “khalwat” cases, an Islamic offence where unmarried men and women are found together in “close proximity”.

She says in the most serious cases, she sentences offenders to six strokes of the cane, a 5,000 ringgit fine ($1,166) and a one-month jail term.

Some critics have suggested that female judges may favour women, but Judge Nenney denies being more sympathetic towards women.

“We can put our emotions aside,” she says. “I have my empathy to them, I can put myself in their shoes, but not sympathy. I need to play my role as a judge, then make a decision on how they present their case.”

. . . Judge Nenney is hopeful that the rising number of female judges will help change the perception that Syariah courts do no treat women fairly.

“The public perception said male judges must be biased to women. I hope after this, to the women who come before me, they must know there’s no difference between a male judge or a female judge. The judge just does their job.”

Well, the judge may be impartial and blind to sex, but she’s impartial in enforcing a profoundly anti-women code of law. How does that make her a “feminist pioneer”? She is no more a feminist pioneer than the French collaborators with the Nazis were “pro-Jewish” pioneers.

If you were under the misconception that Al-Jazeera is neutral on matters of Islam, this is one example of how it’s not. Usually it avoids blatant Islamism in its English reporting, but certainly not in its Arabic reporting (see here, for instance).

There are real Muslim feminists, but they are apostates, hounded, threatened, and killed. Very often they leave Islam because of its poor treatment of women, and thus become apostates, for whom the hunting season is year-round. Want to see genuine Muslim feminists? Just go to the Facebook page My Stealthy Freedom to see many from Iran.

Here are several:

h/t: Malgorzata