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Our Western moment of feminist leadership is over

From Monday's Globe and Mail

The Afghan version of feminism should be profound for all women. ...Read the full article

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  1. Marta Munoz from Edmonton, Canada writes: How well said! Women equal in all respects to men, in order to carry out their roles in society, family, and most importantly, their inner selves. We are mothers, wives, community leaders. Amazing responsibility. Let's learn from other women's view of their roles in their own cultures. We in in the west have our own set of values. Let's not impose them. Let's learn and support other cultural values.

    Congratulations on a great angle of vision and analysis.
  2. Craig Cooper from Toronto, writes: Sounds like the women in other countries have a lot more sense than some of the fem-bigots in this neck of the woods. Woof woof!
  3. Moe Unting from Yorba Linda, CA, United States writes: Rampant divorce and abortion reveal that autonomy always comes at someone else's expense. Bravo to women who identify with something bigger than individuality.
  4. Stewart Mawdsley from Canada writes: My god Bob I've never laughed so hard at anything so stupid. Your absurdly delightful troll posts always make my day.

    What on earth is wrong with you? Your points about women being in service to their husbands and family and vice versa are exactly what Ms. Wolf was saying and yet you ridicule her. Jeepers.
  5. M E from Canada writes: People (not just women) have been oppressed in any number of ways for centuries because it was felt that this benefits some larger group or good. The crimes against Afghan women that Wolf lists--forced child marriages, honour killings, female circumcision--have always been justified by claims that these action somehow safeguard the sanctity of the family or tribe. (Similar arguments against extending rights for women were also used in the West--i.e. giving women the right to vote would make them so preoccupied with politics they'd forget to focus on their home duties.)
  6. Keile Keile from Toronto, Canada writes: This isn't our business. We need to stop putting our noses into the affairs of other countries - especially Middle Eastern countries. You can't tell people how to run their society just because you think the way you run yours is 'better'. We don't need any enemies, we should shut up like we usually do and allow the US to make any big decisions.
  7. Warren Reinhart from London, Canada writes: Frankly, the world would perhaps benefit from an increased amount of female selfishness. A major contributor to just about all of our troubles, except the economy, is overpopulation. Even here, women are brainwashed into believing their lives are incomplete without a family, and children expect coddling from their moms until they're 30. Live your lives ladies, same goes for those abroad.
  8. home in Toronto from Toronto, Canada writes: Congratulations to Ms. Klein on this thoughtful argument. When I was a teenager, I thought of feminism much in the individualistic way that Ms. Klein describes. However, as I have gotten older I've come to realize that women can demand equality, but one that is rooted in our other roles in society. We have the CHOICE to embrace or reject any of the many roles and options that are available to us.
  9. Seasoned Warrior from Been down so long it looks like up to me, Canada writes: What drivel from Naomi Wolf: 'In the West, the counterpoint to the notion of woman as property has been a highly individualistic demand for personal autonomy - decision-making based primarily on a woman's own wishes, rather than as wife, mother, community member or worshipper.'

    Personal autonomy is not incompatible with being a wife, mother, community member of worshipper. Furthermore, there is no obligation for a woman to be a 'wife', a 'mother' or a 'worshipper'. We are all members of a community - the larger community of women, the community of our country, as well as the community in which we live and the community of our interests. Feminism does not dictate that you cannot be a believer in whatever religion you choose nor does it determine that you must be an atheist.
    The 300 protesting women in Afghanistan would not, by themselves, have had enough power to have this law changed. It is only the voices of women all over the world that brought Karzai to his senses. We all have our own interpretation of feminism - there is no 'western' of 'eastern' feminism - Ultimately, our needs as women, to be free from abuse and violence are the samel. This is nothing more than a patronizing attempt to categorize the 'ideal' woman as obedient, subservient and godly - ridiculous!
  10. Tim THorton from Toronto, Canada writes:

    Naomi Wolf brings with her, not the feminism of Baby Boomers, but the feminism of Generation X. Hers is the traditional feminism as described in this book.

    This will continue to be the role of feminism for many years to come.
  11. rablais rabble from Canada writes: At some point, people may realize that the 1950s myth of suburbia and the nuclear family trapped us all.

    Big business and big government abandoned fiscal conservatism and gave us the promise of prosperity through consumerism. Spend your brains out, abandon the villages and neighborhoods in the inner city, buy three cars, construct monster highways and you will be free and happy.

    Feminism and women too was simply a casualty of all that American dream B$LL$HIT.

    Perhaps now we will return to a more fiscally, socially responsible ethos that includes family, neighborhoods and even, dare I say it, spirituality of some sort for support in this all too uncertain time.

    BTW, Bob Imam seems to get none of this. He should go work for Sara Palin.
  12. D. L. from Toronto, Canada writes: it is only through negotiation between autonomous individuals of equal status do you get stable communities. failing to assert individual rights and failing to deliver on the obligations that come with those rights will decouple those people from power and from the ability to choose and define their own roles in society. in other words they will remain cattle.
  13. The Work Farce from Canada writes: Right on, sister. Community. Community. Community. Feminism in the West has been a conservative spent force for 25 years. Self-centered personal gratification doesn't cut it as a progressive civilizing force. Once women had been fully integated into the work force and were willing to do almost anything for money and career, feminism had become counter-productive. The economy had taken control of people, rather than the right way around. With mass conformity masquerading as 'progressive individuality', greed and corruption began to run rampant. Angry generation X and Y people who blame the baby boomer generation for all their economic ills need to realize how submissive women as a demographic force have become in acquiescing to growing inequalities. Time for women to step up to the plate and hit one out of the park, or at least sacrifice to advance progress from second base to third.
  14. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    Wolf is wrong absolutely since she is in the mind trap of old tired concepts of 'equity' and 'empowerment'. If a women is so obsessed with the singular role of women, then the flaw in her perspective is self evident. Women are not insular creatures 'autonomously' operating is our society. Women are codependant on/with men. That co-dependence does not imply equity as an economic metric or a social metric. There is not balance in the scale. The notion of service is lost in women. Women want to get, hold, control, force, make, rather than serve, give, help, heal, love, commit, surrender.

    Men have long understood their role as totally selfless givers. Women, having been long seduced by a limited few sick women with psyche issues like Sanger, Greer, Steinham, Anthony now Wolf, who are obsessed with power and measures are only now remembering what service means.

    Imagine a woman who 'gives' herself to the role of a mother, a long and difficult vocation. The entire mental framework which supports that state is so convolved with sacrifice so as to, by it very nature, oppose the notion of power and self.

    Feminism failed because of the obsession with the woman self and power and equality.

    Women knew this and they have abandoned it.

  15. rablais rabble from Canada writes: Bob. Imam. Feminism didn't fail. It was a success but became swept up in the post Sartrian/Beauvoirian despair as we all did and then we sank into consumerism.
    And like all N. Americans, in the post financial meltdown, we will have to confront real issues of soul and meaning.
    Get off your soap box, Bob. Look around. The little woman is no more, thank goodness. But the big breadwinner in us all is in need of revision.

    We will never get anywhere if all good ideas like Wolf's today are simply refuted by old neo con or old left ideologues.
  16. Vote for your country from Canada writes: BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    'Men have long understood their role as totally selfless givers. '

    Totally selfless givers eh? Allow me to say

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
  17. J J from Kelowna, Canada writes: I think that Ms. Wolf has done a great job here. I have found the divide between women on the 'right' role to be the biggest problem with modern 'feminism.' The 'radical' feminists have seen women who rally against them and argue for the primacy of home and family as still brainwashed by the patriarchy, rather than representing a true dimension of what many women in our society value. It is time we - men and women - recognized that true equality is not same-ness, but the right to be treated fairly, with respect and dignity, no matter what choices are made.
  18. Jim Q from Halifax, Canada writes: Bob Imami,

    Are you a real person, or a computer sprite accidentally escaped from the Dial a Joke website?

    So women should not care for themselves? They should not seek 'equality'?

    What sort of equality ought they to avoid? Legal equality? Ought we to deny women, again, the protection of the law which has only ever existed between equals?

    Feminism is nothing more, or less, than the logical conclusion of that great struggle of the Commons against the aristocracy, for the fundamental rights of the human being.

    This is the truth that drove the Glorious Revolution, the abolitionists against slavery, the responsible government campaigns of our nation, the enfranchisement of working men and finally, of women.

    You're right, Bob, that we as people need to refocus on our society. But force shall never achieve this. It can only be accomplished by an act of free will, and that demands utlimate equality of dignity and rights.
  19. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//


    you say 'then we sank into consumerism'

    I agree that we sank into consumerism. I ,however, assert that this was the inevitable result of selfish-ism, communism, feminism materialism... whatever you want to call it... all the isms that erupted in the very early 20th century.

    Feminism was just the one of the power obsessed isms that produced the social wreckage we have today. Our society is in tatters thanks, in large part, to absent mothers, and women obsessed with hating men and getting things.

    Jim Q is correct. As I said above. Feminism IS a form of materialism or socialism. I completely agree. He/she believes that that is the objective, I believe it is the injury to be avoided.

    Women and children first.

    Consider the sinking of the Titanic.

    20% of men survived
    52% of children survived
    74% of women survived.

    Doesn't that say it all? Most men stayed behind, as they should have, as they always have, while most women got in the lifeboats first..... even ahead of some children.

    Men know about self sacrifice. It is in their very natures.

  20. Jim Q from Halifax, Canada writes: Bob Imami,

    There is a danger is the nobility of chivalry.

    Chivalry is the condescension of the master for the slave. It requires that women be controlled by men, who then stoop to deign to help them.

    But can men, or anyone, really be trusted with that power? Chivalry was remarkable because it was always the exception.

    As we see in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, rape, murder, brutality, slavery, humiliation.... these are the hallmarks of the pre-feminist and non-feminist world.

    The great victories of feminism are these: The rights of women equal before the law, the right of women to vote to protect these rights, the right of women to see to their own survival.

    It seems to me that your real beef is not with feminism, but with the ideology of eternal gender warfare; the existential battles of de beauvoir, the feminist seperatists, and so on.

    But feminism creates women who are partners, and equals, not slaves, but sisters, friends or wives with all the complications that involves.
  21. Jim Q from Halifax, Canada writes: Bob Imami,

    Men know no more of self sacrifice than do women. What a woman will do for her family.... I am deeply, deeply sorry that you're family doesn't have women like this.

    But I know you've seen the sort scum that men can be. Some can be self sacrificing, as the Bible commands.

    Others have nothing but contemptuous lust and violence. And the only guard angainst them is the equality and dignity of women.
  22. Ron MacGillivray from Flatbush, ab, Canada writes: Ms. Wolf and a lot of the comments here make a good deal of sense

    Personally, I am confused at the way the feminist crowd has jumped on the anti-Taliban bandwagon in A'stan. Sure, the Taliban's treatment of women leaves a lot to be desired, but they are definitely the lesser of two evils here. In fact, warlords in the Northern Alliance which control the Afghan gov't make the Taliban look like the local organizers for the White Ribbon Campaign.
  23. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    Jim Q,

    hmmm... maybe so.

    'the existential battles of de beauvoir, the feminist seperatists, and so on.'

    I would say that my beef with the feminism, since I am often enrolled as one of them and more often then not, misrepresented, is the association with those who hate men. There are many. I am not one of them. I like men and see their innate virtues.

    I like to say that women have it worse now than ever. I do not believe that we are free or better off. Our society is in self annihilation. Population is in decline. Were it not for immigration from foreign societies that no not hold the western feminist view we would be down to 1/4 the population in 60 years.

    Western white women do not reproduce at a self sustaining rate. Even worse, western white feminist women half their population every generation. (1.3/2) to be precise).

    Non feminist white women reproduce at the rate of 2.7/2 per generation, twice the rate of feminists. So feminism is a victim of its philosophy, abortion, birth control, career first, no kids, materialism before family etc.

    Yes, free to HAVE to work now, free to have no children since we must work, free to fade into oblivion. Feminism, legitimized by the rhetoric of the suffragettes, rapidly devolved into a culture of death.

    Hopefully, the corpse of feminism will remain visible forever as a purulent reminder of one of humanities worst contrivances.... like the holocaust museum.

    At the end you know them by what they do. What feminism has done, (look at the NOW and NARAL web sites) killed 40 million children, destroyed the family, destroyed the concept of service, created a culture of death and sowed the seeds of our self-destruction.

  24. Vote for your country from Canada writes: They say that if you let a nutbar rant long enough, their colours come through. Bib, Bob now accuses feminists of murder.

    My god you're one sick human being.
  25. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    Vote for your,

    Exactly, which is whi I and most women like me don't want to called a feminist.

    Margaret Sanger, feminist, a eugenicist, a racist, and the person who started planned parenthood has a long and well document history of supporting the extermination of black children.

    It isn't my history... it is her's.

    She is the sick one.

    There is plenty of video of this 'hero' of feminism at KKK rallies and eugenics speeches.

  26. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    Margaret Sanger...

  27. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    Margaret Sanger's 1922 Book:

    The Pivot of Civilization

    refer to the chaper:

    'The cruelty of Charity'

    This is the actual intent and legacy of feminism. It is so outrageous, nobody could make it up.

  28. Jim Q from Halifax, Canada writes: Bob Imami,

    To be perfectly honest, I think that you've really got to look more clearly at your history.

    Yes, our civilization is facing challenges to our very survival. True, population decline is a problem. Population decline in the face of a civic economy designed for perpetual growth is more so.

    But then, on the flip side, massive overpopulaiton is a far more dangerous phenomenon which we are now facing.

    As for the fact that women are delaying family because the MUST work, this is not the fault of feminism so much as our hyper-capitalist society. France has seen political movements dedicated to making sure men AND women spend more time at home.... a far more healthy alternative to locking women away with the kids.

    As for this being the 'worst time for women,' a brief survey of living and legal conditions for women 200 years ago will quickly disillusion you of that.

    Perhaps we need to cool down our work ethic. But women deserve the same rights as men. We're in this as equals.
  29. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    Jim Q,

    I don't see our sentiments as ultimately divergent.

    'As for the fact that women are delaying family because the MUST work, this is not the fault of feminism so much as our hyper-capitalist society.'

    I normally would dig into the tediousness of this some other day but I think in doing so it may interrupt the good will here so I will yield.

    As a general comment, I would say I agree with the evil of materialism but not capitalism. For in a capitalist system an individual owns something of the value he creates. Does capital breed materialism yes of course.

    By the same token, feminism breeds introversion of the female to be self centered.

  30. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    oh and I don't know what equal means. equal how?

    no one person is equal to any other person.... only in theory before the law, like in the American Constitution and only upon creation before the law.

    Outside the law man is never equal to any other man..... not even before God.

  31. Not the Green Taliban from Vancouver, Canada writes: Canada's first feminists, women like Nellie McClung and Agnes McPhail etc. fought for electoral and community equality. It is in the ability to vote and participate in the political order that women can contribute to society as well as being mothers, daughters, sisters, etc.
    Ms. Wolf fails to go back far enough in our history to find this. As for current feminism, in the media and society we see too many young women thinking the end of feminism it to be as sexually promiscuous as possible. Consumerism (which takes every ideology and debases it through taking it to its logical conclusion) has molded contemporary feminism into making women into objects again.
    Bob Imami- you sound like your husband is writing on your behalf. Men are neither good nor bad just like women. But the world is now paying for their non-sacrificial choices - from the environment to genocide in Darfur to Afghan girls murdered on their way to school.
    Middle Eastern / Muslim women will never make it as equals as long as they teach their children to worship a god that hates women.
  32. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    Not the Green,

    'has molded contemporary feminism into making women into objects again.'

    Yes that is my point. Women are viewed as sexual object more now then ever.

    'Men are neither good nor bad just like women.'

    Men and women have little in common. They are completely different. But the differences are great.

    It is ultimately a feminist socialist materialist tenant to hate religion except 'mother earth'.

    and finally... I have my own mind thank-you. No Stalinist feminist need categorize me because she finds that I disagree with her. My husband is a fine man. We happen to agree on much of the horror that feminism has inflicted on humanity.

  33. The Work Farce from Canada writes: Sisterhood is powerful. All power to the sisterhood. No sex for men until they end the Afghanistan War; no homecooked meals until the minimum wage is $12/hr; no housecleaning until the torturers are punished; no laundry done until there's equal pay for equal work.
  34. Not the Green Taliban from Vancouver, Canada writes: BoB ImamI: It is you who label as Stalinist anyone who disagrees with you.
    I know many feminists who believe in God/Goddess. They are not materialists but neither do they negate the legacy of the many women who suffered and fought for equal rights in Europe and North America. An neither do they worship men or believe men to be better than they are. All human beings have the capacity for good or evil. Having more freedom to choose and more options does not make one gender any better or worse than another.
    I myself do not agree with abortion but it is important that poor women have the freedom to have safe abortions. Wealthier women will always have the money to pay for that option and keep it quiet so society will think it isn't happening.
  35. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    Not the Green,

    You said'you sound like your husband is writing on your behalf'

    That is a classic Stalinist feminist retort when a woman says something the NOW hasn't approved. You said it. So much for your open mind.

    you said' it is important that poor women have the freedom to have
    ... abortions. '

    The most poor in The USA and Canada are the black communities. that is exactly where planned parenthood ALWAYS puts their feminist abortion facilities.

    That is what Margaret Sanger suggested. In a letter in 1922 she advised that the eugenicists hire charismatic black preachers to convince black women to have abortions. they did. and they have never stopped.

    In fact the reality of genocide of blacks via abortion is such an entrenched concept among feminists, you just quoted it. You just uttered Margaret Sanger's very words.

    Sound to me you swallowed the Stalinist feminist kool-aid.

  36. Jim Q from Halifax, Canada writes: BoB Imami,

    While I think that calling abortion a genocide against blacks is going way too far, I think you`d find the pop-``economics`` book Freakonomics eye opening.

    Since the introduction of abortion rights, crime has dropped precipitously, which the authors put down to more single, poor and, especially, black mothers having abortions, removing thousands of would be marginal and possibly criminal black men from our society.

    Just a little creepy.
  37. Not the Green Taliban from Vancouver, Canada writes: Bob Imami - no one is forcing women to have abortions. The alternative to a safe abortion is an unsafe one where the woman might die or be unable to have any more children.
    This is not a race issue. It is costly to raise children in a healthy way. That is why many more affluent families have one or two children who can attend university rather than six or seven who might not be able to afford it.
    There is no conspiracy against any race here. And to say you sound like your husband wrote your comments is based on the rhetoric you are spouting off against feminism as if it did you some harm.
    I attended the 1995 UN Conference on Women in Beijing where women from all over the planet came to speak. The Muslim women, all dressed in black burkas, came with their husbands who spoke on their behalf. And they said the same things you are saying.
  38. Robert Slaven from Camarillo CA USA (in employment exile), Canada writes: Brava to Ms. Wolf!

    In pre-1960's North America, women were too often seen as 'just' mothers and homemakers and wives. The problem was twofold: first, women were 'ghettoized' into the 'barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen' stereotype; second, their very real worth as mothers, homemakers, and wives was not acknowledged.

    The rise of western feminism worked very, very hard to address the first problem. Ironically, they made the second problem worse. Western feminism took the low esteem in which motherhood etc. was held, and pushed it even lower.

    I agree with those feminists that Ms. Wolf noted in Asia and elsewhere; what we need is to properly honour ALL contributions of women, including (and even especially) their contributions as mothers, wives, and the centres of our communities.

    That shouldn't prevent women from contributing in every other possible way to our societies. But it's long past due to take that second problem -- the one that western feminism exacerbated in its blind push for a twisted notion of 'equality' -- and do a proper job of fixing it.
  39. W K from Canada writes: Naomi, now thirty years after the damage has been done you and your pals in the feminist industry figure "Gee, maybe we missed something". For decades we had to listen to "women think this" or "women think that" from unelected and unwanted "spokeswomen." So many of us were frustrated that our opinions, as women expressing the same values to which Naomi seems to have been converted, were ignored and patronized. And now, now?! the front-line feminists figure out that maybe the needs of families and communities are an important consideration?
  40. Man of La Mancha from Canada writes: Good article. As some posters note, it's about time that people figure this out. Unfortunately, it's already to late for many, but perhaps the younger generation will look at things in a more balanced perspective and explore the notion of win/win, rather than the Feminist Doctrine that women's gains can only be at the expense of men.
  41. Lisa Annelouise Rentz from Beaufort, United States writes: There are plenty of traditional/religious feminists in the US, as in Afghanistan. In the US, they just don't call themselves feminists, because of their family-centrism, religious fundamentalism, and strenuous (blue-collar or soccer yoga-mom) daily lives-- and nobody else dare either, because of a misperception that "groups" and "sides" are meaningfully different from one another and worthy of any time spent being indignant.

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