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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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September 5th, 2009
12:09 AM
So liberals and feminists are now the cause of the suffering and oppression of women in Islamic countries. But hasnt it been the actions and strategies of Western governments, particularly the USA to keep all of these horrible regimes in place to protect their "security" interests. Why wasnt Saudi Arabia invaded after September 11--after all most of the terrorists were Saudi nationals. And lets not forget that most if not all of these regimes were originally created and installed by western governments, particularly the "freedom" loving British.

Bill Corr
September 3rd, 2009
3:09 PM
Islamic culture is wonderful:

September 2nd, 2009
2:09 PM
"For at the root of the weird twists in liberal opinion I have been arguing against lies physical fear:" Ah fear. The basis of religion, remarked Bertie Russell -- doubtless not alone. The other half of religion is sex. It is interesting/disgraceful to confront the misogyny here in Massachusetts, the source of the new feminist and the original abolitionist movements, among some "educated." 'Feudalistic' societies need time to evolve "from within": we must submit to time and remove revolt or revolution from our black hearts. And we atheists do have to submit in "educated" and polite society. We may not declare such things as the equality of misogyny and religion. If one percent of the men in 'Islamic' cultures were treated the way essentially 100% of the women are, we would not have trouble with calling it slavery.

Frank M
September 2nd, 2009
12:09 PM
So we'll all be soon able to review a book of merit by this resistor then? No - I didn't think so.

September 2nd, 2009
11:09 AM
Not only is educating women the one true path out of poverty, it is also the only really effective contraceptive, thereby leading to better health for mothers and babies and less population pressure - having too many babies is a very good way of keeping women quiet. So please will everyone in the West acknowledge that most Islamic sects, and many other 'traditional' societies, condone and approve the hideous contravention of human rights for half any given population. 'Culture' be damned. Jesus on the other hand had an anachronistically positive approach to women and never married anyone - although he did talk to and teach, and heal the taboo illnesses of, and make friends with, many.

daniel lionsden
September 2nd, 2009
8:09 AM
Another magnificent article Mr Cohen. I tip my hat to you.

Mariam Dessaive
September 1st, 2009
12:09 PM
One of the things I understand better now is the colonial position white women take in view of suppressed coloured ones. They tend to increasingly disregard them as equals. Probably, because most white women are still not truly equal themselves, and what with economic difficulties looming, may have to retreat to traditional roles once again. This is what it looks like in Germany, where Turkish or Polish women as a matter of course do the cleaning jobs. Though: introducing the Sharia in England on the prompting of a male Anglican (?) did shock us! Very good article, thank you! Herzliche Grüße aus Frankfurt!

September 1st, 2009
9:09 AM
Well, I suppose the grand conspiracy theory holds some water, save for one small yet significant point: New Statesman, a magazine whose existence I'm sure Nick is well aware, published a very positive review of this book by Johann Hari (ditto, mutatis mutandi) which concludes in part: "Anybody not addled by superstition will have to conclude that such bigotry deserves neither respect nor deference. [...] It deserves the opposite: contempt – and relentless, unyielding opposition." While the unedifying spectacle of Greer et al attempting to outdo the last outrage of relativism is indeed sickening, it is noteworthy that there are persons of conscience on every side of the political divide who can see these outrages for what they are.

August 31st, 2009
10:08 PM
'Does God Hate Women?' is a terrific book - and by the way, it didn't get universally bad reviews, See Joan Smith in The Independent for instance - she called it a wonderful book.

August 31st, 2009
9:08 AM
Isn't it bizarre that while Nick Cohen is raising a very serious issue about women (as the tiltle might suggest) some troll couldn't brings Iraq into the conversation. Why be shy 'resistor' and not mention Neo-con, Bushitler, Bliar et al? An no, Nick is not inventing a conspiracy. The smug liberal establishment's cowardice in the face of religious fascism is there for all to see, except for those who have a vested interest in playing nice with Islamist hand-choppers.

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