The Chesler vs. Wolf Feminist Death-Match…

by Little Miss Attila on September 3, 2009

This time, it’s personal.

I mean, political.

That is to say . . . aw, nuts.

Naomi has been hip for a while to how sexually deadening a hyper-sexualized culture can be, and she’s certainly provoked some interesting discussions on the place modesty might have in a grown-up, domestic sex life. (Along with the old stuff about pornography being a turn-off. Which a lot of it is; certainly the first person I heard articulate that point well was Kate Millett, who famously remarked that the fundamental problem with pornography is that is was so “unsexy.” That is very often the case, although the passages in Sexual Politics I found myself reading over and over again were, um . . . the quotes from Henry Miller. I didn’t care for the woman-hatred, but I thought that if that were removed all the sexy little games might be. You know: sexy.)

So, Ms. Wolf has taken the logic a bit further, and published an article that soft-peddles the extreme dress that women are required to wear in Islamist regimes. You know: the full-body-coverup, sense-deprivation getup that Oriana Fallaci had to put on to score her interview with the Ayatollah Khomeini. Her first question to him was, “how do you swim in this thing?” She also removed it in the middle of the interview, which was sensible.

But here is Ms. Wolf, whose view of modesty is binary—on, or off. She gives us an interesting history of religion, too:

The Western Christian tradition portrays all sexuality, even married sexuality, as sinful. Islam and Judaism never had that same kind of mind-body split. So, in both cultures, sexuality channeled into marriage and family life is seen as a source of great blessing, sanctioned by God.

I’d be interested in how “married sexuality” got to be sinful in the Christian tradition without making it into scripture. Or how Judaism is pro-sex, and led to Christianity, which is anti-sex, which led to Islam, which is also pro-sex. Does celebration of human sexuality skip a tradition within the world’s religions? Just askin’. And why do I get the feeling that Wolf has never read Song of Solomon—or listened to Frank Zappa’s “Catholic Girls”?

Phyllis Chesler responded to Ms. Wolf over at Pajamas Media, pointing out the obvious links between the women’s slavery in part of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia . . . and the dress code that symbolizes and enforces that slavery.

And now Ms. Wolf is angry about Chesler’s article, rather than the fact that in matters of dress, women in extremist Islamic cultures do not have freedom of choice. Choice. Remember that? When I was just a wee young feminist, that was considered an important word. Ah, good times.

But wait! Wolf pays lip service to the concept of choice, at the end of her essay:

I do not mean to dismiss the many women leaders in the Muslim world who regard veiling as a means of controlling women. Choice is everything. But Westerners should recognise that when a woman in France or Britain chooses a veil, it is not necessarily a sign of her repression. And, more importantly, when you choose your own miniskirt and halter top – in a Western culture in which women are not so free to age, to be respected as mothers, workers or spiritual beings, and to disregard Madison Avenue – it’s worth thinking in a more nuanced way about what female freedom really means.

France’s law against headscarves is, in fact, insane. But it’s equally insane to conflate headscarves and modest apparel with garb that cuts one off from the world—not allowing communication, creating sensory deprivation, and putting one in danger of heatstroke in 115-degree temperatures.

And I can dress as I choose, and pay as much—or as little—attention to advertising as I please. Courtesy of the Western liberal tradition.

Not free to age? Bitch, please: I do it every day. In fact, I’m counting the minutes until my uterus retires—but it still insists on going through the motions every 2-5 weeks. In the extremist Islamic cultures, I might not be free to age at all if I talked to a man. Or rode a bicycle. Or drove a car. Or got raped. That whole aging concern would be taken right off my plate. One less thing to worry about! Fiddle-dee-dee.

Cynthia Yockey has pictures that demonstrate the difference between the type of veiled outfit Naomi Wolf experimented with, and the monstrous things that are mandated in extremist Muslim societies. I believe I attempted, at the time, to point out the distinction between liberating modesty and gender slavery. They are different things. No, really, Naomi.

So, after getting taken to the woodshed, Naomi Wolf has demanded an apology from Phyllis Chesler, who has quite rightly refused to proffer such a thing.

And Cynthia and I have her back on this.

UPDATE: More here. Just scroll.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Clearing out the tab » The Anchoress | A First Things Blog
September 4, 2009 at 10:03 am
And this is the new “feminism“? « Tea and Politics
September 5, 2009 at 7:11 am

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

I R A Darth Aggie September 3, 2009 at 10:34 am

Wolf pays lip service to the concept of choice

Well, of course. Feminists in general are all about choice, so long as it is the right (one they agree with) choice.


Desert Cat September 3, 2009 at 11:42 am

The command has gone forth to normalize Sharia in the west. Naomi Wolf apparently has risen to the call.


Darleen Click September 3, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I’m going to have to go read the background articles but that line

The Western Christian tradition portrays all sexuality, even married sexuality, as sinful.

is total bs.


TR September 3, 2009 at 9:16 pm

I apologize in advance to all Jewish, Christian and Muslim people who may read my following post. [And if that sentence doesn’t take the wind out of the sails of anything I write now, I don’t know what does]. ha.

So, this theory says: Jewish tradition came first and they loved sex had a blast with sex.

Then Christian traditions came second-and the Christians were monk-like + totally didn’t like sex + didn’t have much sex.

And then…..some Muslim traditions…..took inspiration from the don’t-like-sex and don’t-have-much-sex Christians……and they:

loved sex and had a blast with sex.

Um…….the (no, no, no to sex) people inspired the (yes, yes, yes to sex) people?

That argument doesn’t hold up well, in my view. Good Evening.


John September 4, 2009 at 10:22 am

So….If Catholicism hates sex why have they stood so steadfast for marriage and modesty – which protects women and children far more than “patriarchy” – as we see in the Muslim and indeed every other ‘swinging culture’ that gives men free reign to use sex but destroys women and children?

If Catholicism is so dualistic about the body, why all the gorgeous artwork portraying beautiful women, fat, chubby babies, and handsome men on their most elegant cathedrals and indeed on the walls of the Vatican itself?

Fact is, Catholicism loves sex so much it doesn’t want it ruined by barbarism and overexposure. Show me another religion that’s as balanced and nuanced, has as long and extensive a track record actually helping women, children, and the poor and I’ll be impressed.

It for sure wasn’t feminism that created the concept of universities, hospitals or orphanages. Feminism is anti-intellectual and seems to reduce “health care” to contraception, abortion, cosmetic surgery, and euthanasia… and reduce the care of children from the idea of a loving family to something that ought to be anti-septic and run by some faceless institution.


Anna September 5, 2009 at 4:00 am

John – Amen, brother! Absolutely! As a life long Catholic, I am frustrated when people (especially fellow “Catholics”) misrepresent what my faith teaches regarding human sexuality.

Attila – I love this line: “In fact, I’m counting the minutes until my uterus retires—but it still insists on going through the motions every 2-5 weeks.” Indeed, I am planning a menapause party in approximately 6-8 years when the flood gates will close for good.

I gave up on the modern incarnation of feminism long ago. It uses women to advance a particular political agenda. Also, too many “feminist” leaders are willing to sacrifice their sisters for an accrual of power, fame and wealth.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: