Op-Ed: How Many Western Feminists Would March Under a Hail of Taliban Bullets?
Afghan women marched for “Bread, Work, Freedom, Political Participation” Under Dangerous Conditions.
By: Phyllis Chesler
You’d think that I had no other feminist interests but that of rescuing feminists from the grip of demons in human disguise aka the Afghan Taliban.
Even though most (but not all) women in the West are far safer and luckier than those in other parts of the world—I know that we still have uphill struggles of our own right here for justice, equality, and freedom. I can provide a very long list of our outstanding battles.
For example, just as 4W has been covering the gender identity waterfront, I, too, am particularly incensed that the three leading actors in J.K. Rowling’s brilliant work have turned on their creator for her common sense view that biology, genetics, and anatomy are real, do exist, and cannot be tele-transported away or shape-shifted as her Harry Potter characters can easily accomplish.
Shame on you: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint—and know that I love your performances, your personae, your evolution on the stage.
There’s another burning feminist issue that claims my attention. I welcome the news about each Famous Man who has been brought down for being a pederast, a serial rapist, or a sadistic sex trafficker. However, I am uneasy that mere allegations as opposed to due process in a court of law have the power to bring this about—and I’m even more uneasy about the fact that only Big Shots, well-known celebrity characters, are being fired, sued, or jailed. What about all the unknown factory foremen, agricultural overseers, those who manage offices and run small businesses? Restaurant owners? I’ve not heard so much about their downfall, have you?
And yet—nothing compares to what the feminists of Afghanistan are enduring at this moment. One woman, let me call her Zahra (that is not her name), has organized demonstrations against the Taliban in the last few months. The women have marched for “Bread, Work, Freedom, Political Participation” under a hail of bullets, accompanied by armed and menacing Taliban “watchers.”
Their signs also read “Save Afghanistan From Disaster” and “Why is the world watching us so cruelly?” (I think they mean how can the world stand by and do nothing while they are being treated with such cruelty.)
The demonstrators have also been beaten. But the Taliban did not kill any demonstrator—at least, not yet. But they seem to know where the demonstrators are hiding. Some turn up and their mere presence terrorizes the women who are cold, hungry, isolated, and in hiding.
One such demonstrator is only asking to be moved to another safe house, perhaps in another city. She is also asking for food.
I do not know of many American feminists who would march under such conditions. It reminds me of Camp Sister Spirit in the American South, in Ovett, Mississippi. They founded a lesbian feminist camp in the midst of Church country and were faced with gunshots, murdered puppies, death threats. (They helped battered women and rape victims, ran a food pantry, stood for anti-racism and anti-Semitism, hosted a music festival, etc.) Apparently, this was seen as a huge threat to the patriarchal powers that be.
I went there to stand with them in solidarity over a long holiday weekend. Less than thirty American feminists came. Brenda and Wanda Henson were saddened. I was impressed. At the time, I told them that I’d been waiting for thirty years to see American feminists willing to risk death for a feminist principle. The camp is no more—but they represent a shining moment in our collective story.
At this point, we cannot evacuate any more Afghan feminists and their families and get them into the West—or, for that matter, get them anywhere. Every country on earth is now closed to them. And this was true before countries had to lockdown due to the Wuhan Virus and its variants. Too many Afghan immigrants are still languishing in crowded refugee camps in the Middle East and all across America. The American government has processed very few applications of any kind; their resistance and inefficiency is monumental.
An Afghan woman prosecutor begged us to get her out. Before we could try to do so, she disappeared and was later found murdered. A lawyer is now imploring us to rescue her. She tells me: “If the Taliban find me they will rape me and then kill me.”
The Taliban have gang-raped targeted women to death. They have also poured boiling water on their victims afterwards. Our teams have actually managed to get these traumatized girls out of the country.
Very recently, Canada, and perhaps America, have agreed to open their doors to Afghans but only if they or their rescuers can find both sponsors and funders. The governments are, in effect, outsourcing these tasks to civilians. It has been civilians: NGOs, former military, church and Jewish groups, and our feminist “digital Dunkirk” group, that have done the jobs best carried out by governments or world bodies.
For now, Afghan doctors and midwives continue to risk their lives in order to treat such women. Food, medicine, wood, and blankets are still being delivered. Some are getting a handful of high priority women out—but not into the West. Such work is still being organized by the Afghan Rescue Project and by Team Themis.
I stand with 4W for their principled stand against gender identity rights as opposed to sex-based rights, and am profoundly grateful to them for allowing me to share the breaking news about Afghan feminist heroines and their heroic Western rescuers.
Read more at: https://4w.pub/
Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology, the author of 20 books, including Women and Madness (1972), An American Bride in Kabul, and Requiem For a Female Serial Killer (2020).