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It is deplorable but unsurprising that the past 20 years have seen a cooling of a belief in the need for universal emancipation. Most women at the top of society are dependent on cheap and usually foreign labour. So, too, are their partners, who enjoy the benefits of a dual income. In these circumstances, going along with the belief that culture condemns certain women to servitude is a domestic convenience, the more so when speaking out against it is dangerous.

For at the root of the weird twists in liberal opinion I have been arguing against lies physical fear: the fear of provoking accusation of racial or religious prejudice; the fear of provoking trouble; the fear of provoking violent retribution. Generally, people do not own up to cowardice. They prefer to dress up it up in fine clothes and call it "respect for difference" or "a celebration of diversity". 

Julie Bindel, a veteran of radical feminist campaigns, remembers when such circumlocutions were unthinkable. She told me about a vigorous movement to force the police to investigate child abuse allegations in an Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in London.  Her sisters said that it would be racist for the police to leave it to the community to administer its own justice, as they had done in the past. They had to show that the same rules applied to everyone. 

"Now they say it is racist to intervene. They're so frightened of being called an Islamophobe, they will defend the right of men to force women to be shackled. They smugly declare that ‘we haven't got the right to impose our values on another culture' and think themselves liberal when they do it."

I accept that this may seem an odd thing to wish for, but what the world needs now is an uncompromisingly militant feminist movement.

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Eve
September 18th, 2009
8:09 PM
Good article. Pity the book's actually written badly. And I hope Hitchens isn't your hero, Cohen. You write far better than he does already.

M Sacks
September 18th, 2009
7:09 AM
In Judaism we make women shave their heads and wear wigs. They have no rights over property and we can have affairs with goyim because they are classed as non-human.

Anonymous
September 16th, 2009
4:09 PM
"I accept that this may seem an odd thing to wish for, but what the world needs now is an uncompromisingly militant feminist movement." Aye! Liberals and "progressives" are starting to act suspiciously as they did in the 20's

msmarmitelover
September 9th, 2009
9:09 PM
Just as the middle classes ferment revolutions, it takes a man to write about feminism. Or perhaps this article wouldn't be taken seriously if it were written by a woman? Well done anyway...good piece...

Amanda
September 9th, 2009
11:09 AM
Well said Nick Cohen! The fear of being thought racist for attacking customs and attitudes which are by any other standard profoundly inhumane is one the deserves the most vigorous opposition.

Andy D
September 8th, 2009
11:09 PM
Nick, when are you going to give evidence for your very serious accusations against Nick Davies? if you can't, when will you withdraw them?

winter
September 8th, 2009
10:09 AM
Just a thought, but might Stangroom and Benson's book not have been so widely criticised because it isn't actually a very good piece of work and was lucky to even get reviewed where it did, being as it is yet another anti-religion book written by unqualified bloggers - no reviews AT ALL in the right-wing press including Standpoint, after all. Having flicked through it in a shop, it seems that the accusations of clunkiness and poverty of argument are pretty much spot-on, as are those of Benson being a fundamentalist - it's pretty hard to deny, and I note that Nick Cohen doesn't actually do so, but instead claims that such accusations are lazy. And Buruma and Garton Ash are justified in their claims about hirsi Ali. She *is* an enlightenment fundamentalist, self-confessedly, and she *is* an absolutist. notwithstanding how badly she was treated in her earlier life, her views on Islam are pretty hardcore to say the least - calling it an intrinsically violent religion and claiming that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant because of the influence of Mohammad, for instance, views that i understand a lot of standpoint's readers share but which are intensely debatable at best and I sincerely doubt that Cohen would agree with them - at least in print.

gsw
September 7th, 2009
11:09 AM
Stating that the English police, in an English country, cannot interfere to prevent illegal domestic violence because ‘we haven't got the right to impose our values on another culture' is just one more example of NewSpeak. While claiming that Birmingham or Luton is 'another culture' is downright stupid and inexcusable.

Susie
September 7th, 2009
9:09 AM
There's something patronising about the implication that nothing is being done by women within the areas and countries concerned, so it is up to their Western sisters to show the way. No mention of for example Jordanian journalist Rana Husseini's recent book "Murder in the Name of Honour", which received much coverage in the British print media and on eg BBc Radio 4's Woman's Hour. In Iraq, there are many courageous Iraq feminists working in conditions of tremendous danger to fight the injustices suffered by women: one side-effect of the war in Iraq has been a sharp deterioration in the status and conditions of women. The issues around Iraqi women are examined in detail in the work of the Iraqi SOAS academic Nadje Sadig al-Ali including the books "Iraqi Women" and "What Kind of Liberation?" (the last written with Nicola Pratt). The Iraqi woman filmmaker Maysoun Pachachi has also been working hard to empower Iraqi women through training them in filmmaking to record their lives. Egyptian feminist and medical doctor Nawal Sadawi has for years campaigned against female genital mutilation. There are feisty women working in every country to fight the oppression of women. Issues of child brides being forced into marriage, and of the punitive attitude towards rape victims, are regularly covered in the media and condemned in countries including Yemen and Saudi Arabia. There is a massive tussle going on within all these socities, and women, and a good many men, are far from passive acceptors when it comes to violations of women's rights. the 2005 UNDP Arab Human Development Report, researched and written by a large team of Arabs, male and female, was on women's empowerment, and like the other AHDRs was highly critical of the status quo.

Rucker
September 5th, 2009
6:09 PM
Sue - your comment unfortunately ignores the actual ugly truth. It is not the regimes that enforce the subjugation of women. It's islam, the teachings of islam and the hadith.

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