Sometimes it’s hard to be a Woman _ Tammy Wynette

On a lighter note. From  the repressed, depressed, and obsessed;

very creative way to shorten their commute…

Four Saudi women teaching in a remote village school
have married their driver so they can live closer to work. Full


And on a more serious note 

To the Oppressed;

Afghanistan–Overview. The U.S. commitment to accelerated success in rebuilding   
Afghanistan includes major women's components in the areas of
political participation, economic opportunity, health,
education, and overall reconstruction. Since the fall
of the Taliban, the United States has mplemented over
200 projects directly in support of Afghan women. Of the over 4.8
million children in school, more than 40% are girls   by far the highest number in Afghan history. Women comprised over 40% of total voter
turnout for the October 2004 presidential election and from 34% –
75% of registered women  voters exercised their rights for the
September 18, 2005 Parliamentary and Provincial Council
elections. Over 27% of seats in the Lower House of  Parliament and almost 17% of seats in the Upper House are reserved for women.n fact, returns indicated that out of 68 reserved seats for women
in the  House (or Wolesi Jirga), 19 women won seats without
the quota benefit. Fact Sheet:                                        

The U.S.-Afghan Women's Council (USAWC). This innovative
public-private partnership initiative links U.S. and Afghan
governments, private sectors, andNGOs to practical projects
benefiting women. Example: The Council provided $1 million seed
funding for literacy and job training programs in new Women's Resource Centers in over half of Afghanistan's provinces. The Council also supports microfinance programs to help women establish small
businesses. Fact sheet:                                     

Iraq. The United States
is supporting several major initiatives to ensure the integration
of women's rights and opportunities into Iraq's reconstruction and transition to democracy. Example: Drawing from the $27 million that Congress set aside for special programs targeted for Iraqi women, Secretary
Powell established in March 2004 a $10 million Iraqi Women's
Democracy Initiative,along with a new public-private
partnership, the U.S.-Iraq Women's Network.                      

Middle East Partnership
(MEPI). This forward-looking program aimed at building
partnerships and improving the lives of people throughout the  Mideast, with a total of $293 million budgeted to date. MEPI includes a specific Women's Empowerment Pillar dedicated to reducing cultural,
legal,regulatory, economic and political barriers to women's
full participation in society.   

Poverty Reduction. The
Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), a major new US development assistance program, will increase current levels of core assistance by 50 percent over the next 3 years, providing an annual increase of
$5 billion by fiscal year 2006. he treatment of women is a factor in determining each
country's eligibility for funding. Girls' primary school completion rates are included in selection criteria for fiscal year 2005.  and Press Release:         
Trafficking in Persons. President Bush is committed to
eradicating the modern day slavery of human trafficking, which
disproportionately threatens women, and  poses a threat to
international security, human rights and public health.At the 2005 United
Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the U.S.presented a resolution, "Eliminating Demand for Trafficked Women and Girls for All Forms of Exploitation," which attracted more than 50
co-sponsoring nationsand was adopted on March 11. The resolution
highlights the parallel goals elimination of supply and
demand.  Website.                                                            

HIV/AIDS. The United States is committing $15 billion
over 5 years to combat. HIV/AIDS, which increasingly poses a
greater threat to women, particularly in the poorer nations of
the world. One
key element in the U.S.efforts to reduce women's vulnerability
to HIV/AIDS is to promote property rights for women. When
women have control over their economic assets, they are better
able to avoid risky sexual and abusive relationships. State Website:                           

Women in Post-Conflict Situations. The U.S.
Government has been a strong supporter of UN Security
Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, which
highlights the important role of women in helping their societies recover and rebuild after devastating civil conflict. Related link                                             

Refugees. The majority of refugees and displaced persons today are
women and  children, and the U.S. Government provides major
funding and technical support for their humanitarian,
resettlement, and rehabilitation requirements. In FY 2004, the
United States contributed $2.3 million to gender-based violence prevention programs targeting refugee women.

Guess we covered all our bases……….


Death_of_feminsm_chesler_1BUY THIS BOOK! The Death of Feminism : What's Next in the Struggle for Women's
I love Chesler, she is my ideal feminist, reviled by feminists.   How thrilled was I to have chatted on her at the FALLACI dinner (photo below right).
Chesler, an active member of the women's movement for four decades, makes a
serious charge against the feminist movement: they have abandoned their
commitment to freedom and feminist values, and "become cowardly herd animals and
grim totalitarian thinkers.
" Chesler takes liberal
feminists to task for not speaking out against what she sees as the most
important threat to Western freedom: Islamic terrorism
.Her sense of urgencypaints a frightening portrait of current U.S. academic and political
culture: the campuses, she says, have "bred a new and diabolical McCarthyism"
spearheaded by leftists.
How Afghan Captivity
Shaped My Feminism

On December 21, 1961, when I returned from Afghanistan, I kissed the ground at
New York City's Idlewild Airport. I weighed 90 pounds and had hepatitis.
Although I would soon become active in the American civil rights, anti-Vietnam
war, and feminist movements, what I had learned in Kabul rendered me immune to
the Third World romanticism that infected so many American radicals. As a young
bride in Afghanistan, I was an eyewitness to just how badly women are treated in
the Muslim world. I was mistreated, too, but I survived. My "Western" feminism
was forged in that most beautiful and treacherous of countries.

Click above and read Chesler's harrowing account of how this Orthodox Jewish girl's marriage toChesler_atlas_2_2 a Muslim led to her slavery in Afghanistan. "Tthe "peace and love" crowd in the West has refused to understand how
Islamism endangers Western values and lives, beginning with our commitment to
women's rights and human rights. The Islamists who are beheading civilians,
stoning Muslim women to death, jailing Muslim dissidents, and bombing civilians
on every continent are now moving among us both in the East and in the West."

The Afghanistan I knew was a prison, a feudal monarchy, and rank with fear, paranoia, and slavery. Individual Afghans were charming, funny, humane, tender, enchantingly courteous, and sometimes breathtakingly honest. Yet, their country was a bastion of illiteracy, poverty, and preventable disease. Women were subjected to domestic and psychological misery in the form of arranged marriages, polygamy, forced pregnancies, the chadari, domestic slavery and, of course, purdah (seclusion of women). Women led indoor lives and socialized only with other women. If they needed to see a doctor, their husband consulted one for them in their place. Most women were barely educated.

UPDATE: and speaking of GREAT women and not  great women

Janeane Garofalo, left-wing actress-turned-Air America radio host, is a
miserable woman. Last week before the holidays, she turned up on cable TV. No, not
to count her blessings but to rant against conservative journalist Bob Novak,
author Ann Coulter, and the Fox News Channel. She didn't have anything better to
do for Thanksgiving?

Accessorized by a permanent scowl (hard to believe she was once considered a
comedienne), Ms. Garofalo accused conservatives of having "an anger management
problem. Without a trace of irony, the frowning Garofalo griped about
"right-wing partisan hacks who are always on the verge of punching somebody or
always behave as if they've just been cut off in traffic." yup go over to Malkin and  Read the rest here.

uh you know you shouldn’t be taken seriously when ..

You think Janeane Garofalo is a credible source for commentary on Robet Novak

UPDATE: Speaking of Goddesses……I will be guestblogging and cross posting over at La Shawn's place La Shawn Barber………love that woman!

How Afghan Captivity Shaped My Feminism

by Phyllis Chesler

On December 21, 1961, when I returned from Afghanistan, I kissed the ground
at New York City's Idlewild Airport. I weighed 90 pounds and had hepatitis.
Although I would soon become active in the American civil rights, anti-Vietnam
war, and feminist movements, what I had learned in Kabul rendered me immune to
the Third World romanticism that infected so many American radicals. As a young
bride in Afghanistan, I was an eyewitness to just how badly women are treated in
the Muslim world. I was mistreated, too, but I survived. My "Western" feminism
was forged in that most beautiful and treacherous of countries.

In 1962, when I returned to Bard College, I tried to tell my classmates how
important it was that America had so many free libraries, so many movie
theatres, bookstores, universities, unveiled women, freedom of movement on the
streets, freedom to leave our families of origin if we so chose, freedom from
arranged marriages—and from polygamy, too. This meant that as imperfect as
America may be, it was still the land of opportunity and of "life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness."

My friends, future journalists, artists, physicians, lawyers, and
intellectuals, wanted only to hear fancy Hollywood fairy tales, not reality.
They wanted to know how many servants I had and whether I ever met the king. I
had no way of communicating the horror, and the truth. My American friends could
not or did not want to understand. As with my young college friends so long ago,
today's leftists and progressives want to remain ignorant.

From New York to Kabul

My Afghan awakening began in New York in 1961 when I married my college
sweetheart, Ali. I was an Orthodox Jewish-American girl; he was a Muslim boy
from Afghanistan who had been away from home for fourteen years while studying
at private schools in Europe and America.

My plan was to meet Ali's family in Kabul, stay there a month or two, study
"History of Ideas" at the Sorbonne for a semester, then return to Bard College
to complete my final semester.

When we landed in Kabul at least thirty members of his family were there to
greet us. The airport officials smoothly confiscated my American passport. "It's
just a formality, nothing to worry about," Ali assured me. "You'll get it back
later." I never saw that passport again.

Upon our arrival in Kabul, my Western husband simply became another person.
For two years, in the United States, Ali and I had been inseparable. He had
walked me to my classes. We did our homework together in the library. We talked
constantly. In Afghanistan, everything changed. We were no longer a couple
during the day. He no longer held my hand or kissed me in public. He barely
spoke to me. He only sought me out at night. He treated me the way his father
and elder brother treated their wives: with annoyed embarrassment, coldness,

My father-in-law, Amir, whom we knew as "Agha Jan" or "Dear Master," was a
leading businessman and an exceedingly dapper man. In Afghanistan, he was a
progressive. In his youth, he had supported Amanullah Khan (1919-29) who had
boldly unveiled Afghan women, instituted the country's first educational and
health care systems, and introduced European-style trolleys in the capital city.
Nevertheless, he did not want an American or Jewish daughter-in-law. I was Ali's
desperate rebellion. I was flesh-and-blood proof that, for fourteen years, he
had actually been living in the twentieth century.

Ali had not told me that his father was polygamous until just before we had
arrived in Kabul. Then he told me that, "actually," his father had two wives.
He'd been "tricked" into marrying the second wife, with whom he had only two
children, Ali explained, "which says everything. She's more like a family
servant." Ali's mother treated the second wife Fauzia so badly that Agha Jan
finally moved her into her own house. I would visit and have tea with Fauzia.
She was grateful for the gesture of respect and for the company.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Agha Jan actually had three wives.
This reality was one that Ali would not or could not discuss. He and his
brothers blamed their mother for this third marriage to Sultana, which had
jeopardized their inheritance considerably; this was a risky, tabooed subject.
This third marriage didn't count because it counted all too much.

Agha Jan was in his sixties and stood six feet tall. His black hair was thick
and only flecked with gray at the temples. He had a broad, frank mustache, and
velvet black eyes that matched his black Italian handmade shoes. Although he
wore the jauntiest and most expensive of Afghan-style karakul hats, Agha Jan
also wore European-made suits and coats. As a devout Muslim, he neither drank
nor smoked. Agha Jan's grown and married children, both men and women, executed
a cringing half-bow whenever they greeted him.

Agha Jan's current home, with his third wife, Sultana, had one great
European-style room in which he received visitors and dined. He usually ate
alone, in a sitting room hushed by thick maroon carpets and thick,
European-style velvet drapes. Rozia, his fourteen-year-old daughter by his third
wife, served him each dish, bowing in and out of the room, like a servant.

"How can you justify polygamy?" I'd ask Ali. "It's humiliating, cruel, unfair
to the wives, it dooms them to sexual celibacy and emotional solitude at a very
young age and for the rest of their lives. It also sets up fearful rivalries
among the half-brothers of different mothers who have lifelong quarrels over
their inheritances."

When he was being Eastern, Ali would say: "Don't be a silly American. You say
you're a thinker, God knows, you're always reading, and I therefore expect more
understanding and broadmindedness from you. Polygamy tries to give men what they
need so that they will treat their wives and children in a civilized way. In the
West, men are serial polygamists. They leave their first wives and set of
children without looking back. Here, we do not like the earlier wives to be
abandoned, impoverished, and ripped from their social identities. If she is a
good Muslim wife, accepts and obeys her husband's wishes, he will support her
forever, she will always have her children near her which is all that matters to
a woman, her world will remain whole."

When he was being Western, Ali would say, "Our country is not ready for
personal freedoms. That's why I'm needed here, to help bring my poor countrymen
into the twentieth century. It's my destined role and I need you to help me.
Don't leave."

As to the veil, my Western husband would say: "You are too impatient about
this damn chadari.[1] Afghan
women are not stupid. Give them some time. They will, in time, probably all
adopt the more Western, freeing clothing."

But Eastern Ali tried to justify the veil in other ways. He said: "The
country is dusty and sometimes dangerous and a woman is better protected in many
ways by the chadari. Anyway, country women do not wear chadaris
when they farm. This is largely a phenomenon of the city and anyway it's dying
out." This was not exactly true. Afghan countrywomen almost immediately turned
their faces to the nearest available wall whenever a man to whom they were not
related walked by. They tended to cover their heads and faces with their

We lived with Ali's oldest brother Abdullah, his wife Rabiah, and their two
children, who all shared a home with my mother-in-law Aishah, or "Beebee Jan"
(Dear Lady). Agha Jan had not lived with Beebee Jan for a very long time.

My life was akin to that of an upper class Afghan woman. My experience was
similar to—but hardly as constrained as—that which an increasing number of Arab
and Muslim women face today. In this first decade of the twenty-first century,
women living in Islamic societies are being forced back into time, re-veiled,
more closely monitored, and more savagely punished than they were in the 1960s.
That said, I had never expected my freedom and privacy to be so curtailed.

In Afghanistan, a few hundred wealthy families lived by European standards.
Everyone else lived in a premodern style. And that's the way the king, his
government, and the mullahs wanted it to remain. Western diplomats did not peg
their foreign policies to how Afghanistan treated its women. Even before
multicultural relativism kicked in, Western diplomats did not believe in

The Afghanistan I knew was a prison, a feudal monarchy, and rank with fear,
paranoia, and slavery. Individual Afghans were charming, funny, humane, tender,
enchantingly courteous, and sometimes breathtakingly honest. Yet, their country
was a bastion of illiteracy, poverty, and preventable disease. Women were
subjected to domestic and psychological misery in the form of arranged
marriages, polygamy, forced pregnancies, the chadari, domestic slavery
and, of course, purdah (seclusion of women). Women led indoor lives and
socialized only with other women. If they needed to see a doctor, their husband
consulted one for them in their place. Most women were barely educated.

In Kabul, I met other foreign wives who loved having servants but whose own
freedom had been constrained. Some European wives, who had come in the late
1940s and early 1950s had converted to Islam and wore The Thing, as we called
the cloaking chadari. Each had been warned, as had I, that whatever they
did would become known, that there were eyes everywhere, and that their actions
could endanger their families and themselves.

Afghans mistrusted foreign wives. Once, I saw an Afghan husband fly into a
rage when his foreign wife not only wore a Western swimsuit to a swimming
party—but actually plunged into the pool. The men expected to be the only ones
who would swim; their wives were meant to chat and sip drinks.

The concept of privacy is a Western one. When I would leave the common
sitting room in order to read quietly in my own bedroom, all the women and
children would follow me. They'd ask: "Are you unhappy?" No one spent any time
alone. To do so was an insult to the family. The idea that a woman might be an
avid reader of books and a thinker was too foreign to comprehend.

Like everyone else, Ali was under permanent surveillance. His career and
livelihood depended upon being an obedient Afghan son and subject. How he
treated me was crucial. He had to prove that his relationship to women was every
bit as Afghan as any other man's; perhaps more so, since he had arranged his own
marriage to a foreigner.

Out and About in Kabul

After two weeks of marathon tea-drinking and pistachio-eating, my polite
smile was stuck to my face. I could not understand what people were saying, I
was bored, I wanted to get out on my own and see Kabul, visit the markets and
the museum, and see the mountains closer-up. I was under a very polite form of
house arrest. "It's not done," "People will talk," "Tell me what you need and
I'll get it for you," were some of Ali's responses. And so, I began to "escape"
from the house every day.

I never put on the headscarves and long coats and gloves pointedly left for
me atop the bedroom bureau. I would take a deep breath, go out, and stride at a
brisk, American pace. Always, a female relative or servant would run after me,
bearing the scarves. I would smile, shake my head "no," and keep on going. Of
course, I was also followed by a slow-moving family Mercedes. The driver would
call out: "Madame, please get inside. We are worried that you will hurt

Sometimes, I'd walk faster, or I'd take a bus or a gaudi, a
horse-drawn painted cart. The buses were quite colorful except inside, fully
sheeted women sat apart from the men. The first time I saw this, I laughed out
loud in disbelief and nervousness. In any event, as women moved onto the bus,
men would jostle them, and make sneering remarks I could not understand.

My family was right. They knew their country. Barefaced and alone, I looked
like an "uppity" Afghan woman and was thus fair game for catcalls, propositions,
interminable questions, rough advances. Men would push themselves against me,
knock me around, laugh, joke. But, I could easily have been kidnapped and held
for ransom, taken to a cave, kept there for days, raped, then returned. Ali
finally exploded at me and told me that this exact scenario had happened to the
wife of an Afghan minister who had killed himself afterwards.

I had to be brought to heel. Ali's manhood and future depended upon this. A
male servant would prevent me from going out. The family would call Ali and he
would call me to yell, threaten, plead, or shame. I presented myself at the
American embassy, which was located right next door. The embassy rented the
property from my father-in-law.

"I want to go home. I'm an American citizen," I said.

"Where is your passport?" The marine guard would ask.

"They took it away from me when our plane landed. But, they told me that I'd
get it back."

Each time, the Marines would escort me back home. They told me that as the
"wife of an Afghan national," I was no longer an American citizen entitled to
American protection.

I did, on occasion, get to speak with diplomats. Not a single foreign voice
was heard protesting the condition of women. The Western media didn't care about
what Afghans did to one another, or what men did to "their" women. Gin-soaked
diplomats told me that it would be "immoral" to preach to Afghans about their
tribal violence or their oppression of women; these were sovereign, sacred,
local customs. One American diplomat put it this way: "We can't impose our moral
or cultural values on these people. We can't ask them about their system of
government or justice, their treatment of women, their servants, their jails.
These are very sensitive, very touchy, very proud men who happen to own a piece
of land that's important to us. If we aren't careful, their kids would be
learning Russian—or Chinese—instead of English and German. You've got to
remember, we're guests here, not conquerors."

I was under house arrest in the tenth century. I had no freedom of movement,
nothing with which to occupy myself. I was supposed to accept this.

Ali knew he was losing me. We fought bitterly every single night. Was he
trying to make me pregnant so that I'd have to stay? I was afraid to go to bed.
His eldest sister, Soraya, offered to sleep with me in our bedroom—an act of
courage and kindness that I have never forgotten. She must have known what was
going on.

Yes, my husband "loved" me and wanted to protect me, but I was, after all, a
woman, which meant that he believed he owned me, and that his honor consisted of
his ability to control me. Ali was also locked into a power struggle with his
father and with his culture. I was the symbol of his freedom and independence, a
reminder of his life lived apart. He did not want to lose such a valuable
symbol. If I became pregnant, I would have to stay. His father would be forced
to stop making things so hard for us.

My Escape

I devoted all my waking time to planning an escape. I gave up on the American
embassy. I stopped confiding in Ali. I began to contact foreign wives, most of
whom would not or could not help me. I could only meet people through Ali or
through a relative. I was not allowed to talk privately to anyone. All the
public tea-houses were for men-only. I could not drift in and strike up a
conversation with a man.

I finally found a foreign wife who agreed to help me. She was the German-born
second wife of the ex-mayor of Kabul. She obtained a false passport for me. I
had secretly written to my parents. I had also called them. They had agreed to
send me a money order in care of this woman. Now, I only had to choose a flight
and book a seat.

And then, I fainted. I had come down with hepatitis. I learned later that
Beebee Jan had ordered the servants to stop boiling my water. Some Afghans
seemed to enjoy the spectacle of Westerners succumbing to such illnesses; they
took it as proof of foreign "weakness." I was finally taken to the new hospital
and accompanied by at least ten family members. The doctor said:

"Honey, you are very sick and you have to get out of here. Will they let you
go? If you are strong enough to sit up and walk a bit, get on a plane, go

He gave me a pair of dark glasses to hide my jaundiced eyes from the flight
attendants. And, he prescribed intravenous infusions of vitamins and nutrients.
He sent a nurse to the house.

And then, Beebee Jan tried to pull out the IV and all hell broke loose. I
called Agha Jan and begged him to come over. He was the Master of the Universe
as far as his family was concerned.

He came. First, he prayed "for my recovery." Then, he asked everyone else to
leave, after which he spoon-fed me milk custard. He was tender towards me; only
afterwards did I understand that he could afford to be. My illness and probable
departure meant that he had won the battle with Ali. Perhaps he did not want a
dead American daughter-in-law on his hands either. And, he'd be glad to see me
gone. I only spelled trouble for his family, any foreign wife would, especially
one who had tried to escape so many times.

"I know about your little plan with the German woman," he quietly said. "I
think it will be best if you leave with our approval on an Afghan passport which
I have obtained for you. You have been granted a six-month visa for "reasons of

And he gave it to me on the spot. The Kingdom of Afghanistan passport has
retained its bright orange color. He also handed me a plane ticket. "We will see
you off. It is better this way."

Ali raged and swore—and begged me to stay but I remained adamant.

Thirty relatives dutifully came to see me off. Kabul was hidden in snow. I
was booked on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow. The minute that plane took off a
fierce joy seized me by the throat and would not let go. I was both jaundiced
and pregnant. Had Ali discovered this while I was still in Afghanistan, I would
never have been allowed to leave. Given my medical condition, it would have been
my death sentence.

It was not the last time I would see Ali, though. In 1979, after the Soviet
invasion, Ali escaped by crossing the Khyber Pass into Pakistan, disguised as a
nomad. Since 1980, he, his new wife Jamila and their two children, Iskandar and
Leyla, have been living near me in America. Oddly, but happily, we relate as
members of an extended family.

My Feminist Awakening

I had experienced gender apartheid long before the Taliban made it headline
news. I came to understand that once an American woman marries a Muslim, and
lives in a Muslim country, she is a citizen of no country. Never again could I
romanticize foreign places or peoples in the Third World—or marriage.

Once a Western woman marries a Muslim and lives with him in his native land,
she is no longer entitled to the rights she once enjoyed. Only military
mercenaries can rescue her. I have since heard many stories about Western women
who have married Muslim men in Europe and America but whose children were then
kidnapped by their fathers and kept forever after in countries such as Saudi
Arabia,[2] Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan
and Iran. The mothers were usually permitted no contact.

Today, women in the Islamic world are increasingly pressured into arranged
marriages, forced to veil themselves, not allowed to vote, drive, or travel
without a male escort, to work at all, or to work in mixed gender settings.
Worse, many are genitally mutilated in childhood, and routinely beaten as
daughters, sisters, and wives; some are murdered by their male relatives in
honor killings, and stoned to death for alleged sexual improprieties or for
asserting the slightest independence. Such violations of women's human rights
are increasingly taking place among the Muslim community in Europe and in North

Westerners do not always understand that Eastern men can blend into the West
with ease while still remaining Eastern at their core. They can "pass" for one
of us but, upon returning home, assume their original ways of being. Some may
call this schizophrenic; others might see this as duplicitous. From a Muslim
man's point of view, it is neither. It is merely personal Realpolitik. The
transparency and seeming lack of guile that characterizes many ordinary
Westerners make us seem childlike and stupid to those with multiple cultural

A woman dares not forget such lessons—not if she manages to survive and
escape. What happened to me in Afghanistan must also be taken as a cautionary
tale of what can happen when one romanticizes the "primitive" East.

Did Ali really think that I would be able to adjust to a medieval, Islamic
way of life? Or that his family would ever have accepted a Jewish-American

There are only two answers possible. Either he was not thinking or he viewed
me as a woman, which meant that I did not exist in my own right, that I was
destined to please and obey him and that nothing else was really important. He
certainly helped shape the feminist that I was to become.

When I returned to the United States, there were few feminist stirrings.
However, within five years, I became a leader of America's new feminist
movement. In 1967, I became active in the National Organization for Women, as
well as in various feminist consciousness-raising groups and campaigns. In 1969,
I pioneered women's studies classes for credit, cofounded the Association for
Women in Psychology, and began delivering feminist lectures. I also began work
on my first book, Women and Madness,[3] which became an oft-cited feminist text.

Firsthand experience of life under Islam as a woman held captive in Kabul has
shaped the kind of feminist I became and have remained—one who is not
multiculturally "correct." By seeing how women interacted with men and then with
each other, I learned how incredibly servile oppressed peoples could be and how
deadly the oppressed could be toward each other. Beebee Jan was cruel to her
female servants. She beat her elderly personal servant and verbally humiliated
our young and pregnant housemaid. It was an observation that stayed with me.

While multiculturalism has become increasingly popular, I never could accept
cultural relativism. Instead, what I experienced in Afghanistan as a woman
taught me the necessity of applying a single standard of human rights, not one
tailored to each culture. In 1971—less than a decade after my Kabul captivity—I
spoke about rescuing women of Bangladesh raped en masse during that country's
war for independence from Pakistan. The suffering of women in the developing
world should be considered no less important than the issues feminists address
in the West. Accordingly, I called for an invasion of Bosnia long before
Washington did anything, and I called for similar military action in Rwanda,
Afghanistan, and Sudan.

In recent years, I fear that the "peace and love" crowd in the West has
refused to understand how Islamism endangers Western values and lives, beginning
with our commitment to women's rights and human rights. The Islamists who are
beheading civilians, stoning Muslim women to death, jailing Muslim dissidents,
and bombing civilians on every continent are now moving among us both in the
East and in the West. While some feminist leaders and groups have come to
publicize the atrocities against women in the Islamic world, they have not tied
it to any feminist foreign policy. Women's studies programs should have been the
first to sound the alarm. They do not. More than four decades after I was a
virtual prisoner in Afghanistan, I realize how far the Western feminist movement
has to go.

Based upon the Death of Feminism by Phyllis Chesler, copyright
2005 by the author, and printed with permission of St. Martin's Press,

[1] The chadari is also
known as the burqa', a covering worn by Afghan women.
[2] See, for example, "U.S. Department of State,
Marriage to Saudis," Middle
East Quarterly
, Winter 2003, pp. 74-81.
[3] New York: Doubleday, 1972.

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