As the right strives to reclaim feminism from the faux feminists on the left, we would do well to learn from their manifold mistakes. As Lori Ziganto reminds us, women “already are equal to men.” Feminists on the right understand that our rights, and our equality, do not come from man or from the government. Leftist feminists or, to use Lori’s apt term, femisogynists have long held and hard hammered the belief that women are somehow less than men, that we need to stress our similarities while hiding our differences, preferably under shapeless tops, baggy trousers, butch haircuts, and strident rhetoric. They’ve formulated their concept of “equality” and subsequently tried to force it on society, most significantly on women, cramming all women, especially those who do not fit their idea of what makes a powerful woman, into a one-size-fits-all pigeonhole.
We see this constantly in the continual barrage of nastiness aimed at prominent conservative women from Sarah Palin, to Michele Bachmann, and now to their new target Sharron Angle. These women, because they are conservative and successful, don’t fit the femisogynists’ narrow stereotype of what a woman should be, so they are subjected to unrelenting ridicule and often-bizarre scrutiny. They are decried as women whose very existence threatens to throw us back into the dark ages before women’s suffrage. Obviously, to conservative women this is patently absurd, but the leftist “feminists” are invested in difference, in ensuring that women embrace their “perpetual victim-hood.” When we reject that meme in favor of one in which women are already equal, we threaten the very foundation of leftist feminist “thought.”
The leftist tendency to infringe on the rights and freedoms of American women in favor of embracing and adopting the restrictive practices of other cultures is an ominous one (as in the case of female genital mutilation being permissible in “revised” form as “nicking”). We have won the right to our own bodies and to reject these barbaric, misogynist practices, and that is not a right that I intend to cede. When you see everything through the prism of gender and multiculturalism, you will naturally get a skewed picture, even an incorrect one (we see this also in the leftist insistence on seeing everything through the prism of race).
The danger occurs for us when we slip into tactics and logical fallacies that have long plagued leftist feminists. We do this somewhat unconsciously because, however much we dislike it, we are all products of, if not proponents of or participants in, leftist feminist discourse. In a recent NewsReal Blog post, Christine Williams writes eloquently and passionately about the Canadian case in which a Muslim woman is being asked to remove her niqab in court, to face the men she is accusing of sexual assault. Like Williams, I see this as a legal, not a “religious freedom,” question and reject the left’s use of this as a political “opportunity” to entrench the wearing of Muslim garb by women who have emigrated to the West.
I worry, however, that conflating issues of immigration, law, and assimilation with feminism makes murky something that is not, and really should not be, a matter of women’s rights. Faux feminists have long done this and to their detriment. For example, as a woman, I think women should wear whatever they please; however, as an American, I think that immigrants should be encouraged to assimilate into our culture and society, adapting to their new home and adopting its socio-cultural customs.
Just as we in the Western world defend our right as women to be stay-at-home moms (embracing that bane of faux feminists: the image of a woman in the home) or to embrace our beauty and sexuality by not “masculinizing” our appearance (as is all but demanded by femisogynists), shouldn’t we also defend Muslim women’s right to be who they are . . . even if that includes wearing garb that we deem insulting to women, misogynistic, and oppressive? Shouldn’t we avoid dictating women’s choices, avoid cramming women into a pigeonhole, albeit a different one than the faux feminists favor? Encouragement to assimilate will do what no law or court order can: enable women to see and embrace the fact that they already are equal to men.
Update: Cross-posted at NewsReal Blog (yay!)