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A Universal Doctrine of Women’s Rights By: Phyllis Chesler and Marcia Pappas
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, March 27, 2009

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It is time for feminists, both women and men, of all faiths, and of no faith, to stand together for a woman’s right not to be murdered in the name of family honor. Indeed, we welcome men and women of all faiths, including Islam, to stand with us against female genital mutilation/castration, forced veiling, child marriage, arranged marriage, polygamy, and “honorcide,” and in favor of a woman’s right to live as a westerner in the West without being threatened and beaten for refusing to wear hijab, wanting to have non-Muslim friends, wear makeup, attend college, drive her own car, or end an abusive marriage. Muslim and Sikh women have been honor murdered in North America for all these alleged crimes against their religion and their culture.

Here are some specific examples of how American feminist leaders have addressed the problems of Third World women, including Muslim women, both here and abroad. While there are exceptions, most feminists seem to feel more comfortable criticizing their own government. They hesitate to criticize foreign, Third World governments, lest they be demonized as “crusaders” or “politically incorrect racists.”

In the 1980s, feminists respected Alice Walker’s brave stand against female genital cutting/mutilation. Walker, a feminist-”womanist,” focused on perpetrators who were usually women of color, in the Middle East and Africa, who were savagely mutilating their own daughters and granddaughters to render them “marriageable” for men. As an African-American legend, perhaps Walker was viewed as morally “entitled” to criticize foreign, including African, sexism. (Walker finally published her book about this, Warrior Marks, in 1993). In the 1990s, NOW national and state Presidents also spoke out against female genital cutting/mutilation.

Today, sadly something has changed. The unspoken politics of racism among the feminist intelligentsia, and among feminist philanthropists is as follows: If the victims are women of color, especially if they are Arabs, definitely if they are Palestinians, or Muslims, their suffering and their deaths matter—but only if their abusers and murderers are white, European, American, or Israeli. If dark-skinned Africans or Muslims of color gang-rape, kidnap, sexually enslave, bury alive, immolate or stone women of color, including Arabs, Palestinians, and Muslims, (in the West Bank and Gaza, in Afghanistan, Iran, Algeria, Sudan, Somalia), or if one Muslim denomination (Sunni) blows up the other, (Shiaa) in Pakistan and Iraq, it is simply not politically correct to say so. Muslim-on-Muslim crimes do not count in the same way that white European or American-on-Muslim crimes seem to matter.

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Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a well known author, an Emerita Professor of Psychology, and the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology, and the National Women’s Health Network. She may be reached through her website: www.phyllis-chesler.com. Marcia Pappas is a feminist/activist, holds a Bachelor of Science in Cultural Studies, and is currently the President of the National Organization for Women-New York State.

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