Feminists Ignore the Real Root of Misogyny
(Ayaan Hirsi Ali, thanks to the Religion of Peace)
“Who can forget the idiocy of Australian women donning hijabs in solidarity with their Muslim sisters at a time when women in Iran were being blinded in acid attacks for breaking the strict hijab code?”
WRITER and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a formidable woman of substance, intellect and courage. Naturally that makes her a loathed figure in the modern feminist movement.
We can’t have a fiercely intelligent woman talking about worthy issues when there’s trivial nonsense to be bleating about; why worry about female genital mutilation when Tony Abbott is brazenly winking and looking at his watch?
Hirsi Ali’s principled and uncompromising approach to equality and human rights is at odds with the vacuous attention seeking ways of the shrill feminists who dominate the agenda in Australia, UK and the US, though it could be argued that our local frightbats have set a new standard in faux fury.
It’s not just Hirsi Ali’s preoccupation with justice that infuriates the sisterhood but it’s her determination to highlight what she sees as the root cause of much of the world’s entrenched misogyny â€” Islam.
Many on the left simply cannot abide by the only religion they don’t find abhorrent being scrutinised; time and again leftist feminist have sided with radical Islam instead of standing with the subjugated women from communities who adhere to backward cultural practices.
Who can forget the idiocy of Australian women donning hijabs in solidarity with their Muslim sisters at a time when women in Iran were being blinded in acid attacks for breaking the strict hijab code?
Then there’s Germaine Greer who has likened FGM or female circumcision, carried out on millions of women every year, to getting a boob job or piercing. It takes a truly twisted mind to compare a young girl being held down while her clitoris and labia are excised without anaesthesia to a woman choosing to change her appearance through cosmetic surgery, piercings or tattoos.
For educated, Western women to liken the agonising pain and lifelong devastating effects of FGM to plastic surgery is not only offensive, it is depraved. But this cultural relativism is popular among some feminists, who see condemnation of FGM as an attack on cultural identity.
But you won’t hear any such arguments from Somali-born Hirsi Ali who is among the estimated 140 million women around the world who have suffered FGM. She underwent the genital cutting, which is designed to rob a woman of sexual pleasure and make her socially acceptable for marriage, when she was just five years old. When she spoke recently at the Independent Women’s Forum Women of Valour dinner, Hirsi Ali called out the women who have turned the feminist movement from a vehicle to educate girls and empower women to one obsessing about “trivial bull—t.”
She implored the audience to “reclaim and retake feminism from our fellow idiotic women” and to fight the real war against women; that being waged by radical Islam.
The plea to reclaim feminism was also recently made by political activist and co-founder of Justice for Women, Julie Bindel, who wrote about her despair at the “current climate of McCarthyism within some segments of feminism and the left”.
Bindel cited gender apartheid being promoted by a UK University as an example of how far feminism has strayed from its original objectives; students at King’s College London supported gender segregation in line with the wishes of some Muslim students.
When even left wing feminist campaigners are calling their own movement “toxic” you understand why so many women refuse to identify themselves as feminists.
There’s good reason why accomplished women from all facets of life, from Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to actor Gwyneth Paltrow, do not want to be labelled with the F word.
Why identify yourself with a movement that’s more concerned with silencing debate than championing the interests of the most powerless women in society?
And when they begrudgingly take an interest in genuine cases worthy of protest, it is in the most superficial, self-serving manner possible such as the hashtag activism that followed Islamic terrorists Boko Haram kidnapping more than 200 girls from a Nigerian school.
Surprisingly the sadistic militants who burned to death 59 schoolboys in an earlier attack have not released the girls despite celebrities posting sad selfies demanding them to do so. The students kidnapped by Boko Haram are the girls that Hirsi Ali is fighting for. They, like her, are victims of the most brutal misogyny imaginable, the type that sees girls mutilated, sold or killed in the name of religion. The type that thinks a just god wants a woman to endure the slow torturous death of stoning for the “crime” of infidelity.
For daring to speak critically of Islam, Hirsi Ali has been attacked and received death threats. She was collaborating with Theo van Gogh on a short film when the director was shot and killed by an Islamist terrorist. And earlier this year an online petition led to Brandeis University reversing its decision to give her an honorary degree.
But Hirsi Ali is not one to wrap herself in the warm cloak of victimhood. She uses her insights and intellect to shine a light on the plight of millions of voiceless girls and women around the world.
That should make her a heroine within the sisterhood but alas the stupidity that characterises much of the feminist movement has cast her as an enemy.
RITA PANAHI IS A HERALD SUN COLUMNIST