I just realized that, with one or two exceptions, none of my left-liberal feminist compatriots of nearly fifty years have said a word to me about Hamas’s kidnapping-murder of three Israeli teenagers. Not a word in the 18 days they were missing. Silence since their bodies were found.
No one has sent me an email, or made a whispered phone call, something–anything–something private, that would not get them in trouble with the Democratic Party or the mainstream media. I no longer expect them to take public stands that would put them at any reputational risk.
This silence was not a surprise after a career observing American feminists’ relationship to the Middle East. Very few American feminists, for example, have supported my work on honor based crimes, including honor killing, a form of human sacrifice and femicide, a phenomenon which I increasingly refer to as “horror” killings. Of course, Muslim and ex-Muslim feminists and dissidents, North American and European prosecutors, detectives, and conservative intellectuals rely upon this work. But not feminists. Not yet.
So what are some American feminists doing right now?
This past weekend, the National Organization for Women (NOW) held a Strategy Summit in New Mexico. Please understand: I am more than sympathetic to many items on the women’s rights agenda ranging from reproductive freedom to equal pay to the criminalization of violence against women. Actually, I go further. I am also opposed to surrogacy, pornography, and prostitution; these issues are hotly contested among feminists today. I am also in favor of all the motherhood and parenting issues that usually get short shrift in these precincts.
NOW considered a series of resolutions. They passed those in favor of a “Paycheck Fairness Act,” the “Expansion of Pregnant Women’s Rights,” the elimination of “Debtor’s Prisons,” “Pay Equity for Tipped Workers,” “Support for Arbitration Fairness Act,” “Reframing Abortion Rights Advocacy,” “Creating a National Monument To Honor Our Foremothers”–and then their resolutions descended into a dreadful mire of politically correct madness (i.e.– were concerned with issues that face only a handful of women and for that reason alone are exceedingly trendy).
Child care and parenting issues were nowhere to be found. A series of politically correct slogans were passed, with some demanding immediate compliance.
For example, NOW passed a resolution about “Dismantling White Privilege.” This one requires that each chapter report “must include verification of participation in racial justice actions.” In terms of “Women With Disabilities: “Be it resolved that NOW conference events and discussions will include presenters who are women with disabilities.” Okay, fair enough.
Then this: In the name of American women (!) the NOW Board resolved to “Support U.S. Normalization of Relations with Cuba;” “Mandate Health Insurance Coverage for Gender Reassignment Surgery,” and “Eliminate Workplace Abuse of Women of Color in Academia.”
Ahem. On all this, I will reserve comment for another time.
Now, the two Resolutions that NOW did not pass are even more interesting than the ones that did.
The Board was going to pass a resolution that would essentially favor gay men (and wealthy couples who do not wish to risk pregnancy or wealthy women who cannot bring a child to term). This resolution would have supported the hiring of “surrogate wombs” because, as the resolution stated, “be it resolved that the government cannot define or control if, when, and how one has a family.” Thus, the evisceration of motherhood and the commodification of women via “third party reproduction” is actually being considered by a major feminist organization.
I fail to see how this empowers women or corrects a female-specific injury. It was tabled probably because those who supported it failed to get the necessary votes. I fear the vote may have been close.
And now for some possibly good news.
Believe it or not: Someone–bless whoever it was–actually tried to pass a Resolution against “Culturally Oppressive Laws Against Women and Girls.” All the resolution called for was a public education campaign. However, it specifically singled out Sharia law and listed the human and women’s rights violations performed in its name: forced veiling, forced child marriage, normalized beating, honor killing, purdah, stoning to death, hanging, and flogging for non-compliant women.
Please listen to the language of NOW’s resolution: “Whereas, one of NOW’s official priorities is to eliminate violence against women…we urge NOW members to educate law enforcement, educators, medical professionals, and community leaders to the danger of Sharia law.”
This resolution was defeated; actually, like the surrogacy resolution, it was tabled for further discussion.
Had anyone at NOW asked me, I would have broadened this idealistic Resolution to include any and all cultural, religious, tribal, and ethnic practices that violate American law. I would not have focused only on Sharia law. The French law which banned the burqa was ethnically and religiously “neutral.” Face masks are banned. One’s identity must be visible. This is true for anyone and everyone, not just for those of one religion.
Alas, no one at NOW has asked me anything for a very long time. It must be something I’ve said or written…..