Saturday, October 20, 2007

David Horowitz, Women’s Studies, and Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week

Of all the opportunities to be intellectually flabbergasted offered by David Horowitz and FrontPageMag’s ludicrously named “Islamo-fascism Awareness Week” the one that takes my cake involves Horowitz’ claim that feminists and Women’s Studies advocates have not taken seriously the status of women in Islam. Clearly Horowitz simply does not read (and has no doubt never read) Vandana Shiva, Uma Narayan, or Alison Jaggar—just to name a few. Obviously, he’s not familiar with the well-known work of environmentally oriented feminists like Karen Warren, Christine Cuomo, or even my own modest contributions to analyzing the status of women—nationally and internationally—in light of the economic, social, political, and environmental complexities that characterize it. No, what Horowitz really means is that because few feminists are willing to throw in their lot with his crusade to crucify Islam, we’re not his kind of feminists. Because we’re willing to give equal time to the analysis of the patriarchal and heterosexist practices of, say Ann Coulter’s Christianity for bigots—we aren’t even his kind of women.

The truth is that this is just Horowitz’ latest attempt to hijack the language of the so-called Left, or in this case feminism, in the service of his crusade to vilify the work of those who’d dare question the authority of, say, the military-corporate-industrial circle-jerk of the Bush administration, or the “missionary position” women are expected to fulfill as unpaid labor of every kind in the “traditional family,” or the continuing subordination of women in many denominations of the Christian Church. By turning the heat lamp on what few with any sense deny are abuses in Islam, Horowitz effectively erases the history of the Inquisition, ignores the staggering facts of corporate-sponsored labor abuses of women and children in the so-called developing world, skips over the fact that—regardless religion—women perform the vast majority of the world’s subsistence farming—often under environmental conditions so polluted and degraded by companies like Union Carbide and McDonald’s that the children they’re compelled to bear for lack of access to contraceptives starve. Nope, Horowitz doesn’t get to hijack the feminist high road—not on my watch, and not by parading willful ignorance as if it were his own special moment of enlightenment.

Wendy Lynne Lee