[Editor’s note: The following is reprinted from FoxNews.com. The article is adapted from a speech delivered on March 8 by the author in observance of Women’s History Month for the New York County Supreme Court’s Gender Fairness Committee.]
When my Second Wave generation of feminists started out, Gender Fairness committees did not exist nor did as many women lawyers and judges or the number of feminist lawyers, both male and female, whom I see here today. As many of you know, my or should I say, our generation had the privilege of changing all that.
We also named and exposed the hidden epidemic of physical and sexual violence towards women and children.
Second Wave feminists challenged sexism in advertising, (we still do), the pornography industry, (which has grown), and prostitution which now includes human sexual trafficking.
We also challenged corporations for economically discriminating against women; that work continues. We took on drug companies whose medications caused women to die from cancer. We championed women’s reproductive and sexual rights but we also challenged birth control. We waged a war to save women’s lives. The work continues.
Courtesy of Second Wave feminist activism, more women entered previously all-male professions, and some men became feminists.
Before the Second Wave began making waves, mothers received little child support and less alimony—that has improved although custody battles have, in some ways, gotten harder, more terrible. The 25th anniversary edition of “Mothers on Trial” will be published this summer with eight new chapters.
Our generation had a universalist vision of human rights—one standard for all. I still do. While I believe in cultural diversity, I am not a multi-cultural relativist. Therefore, I have taken a strong stand against the persecution of Muslim women and dissidents. Thus, I now submit expert courtroom affidavits on behalf of Muslim girls and women who have fled being honor murdered and are seeking asylum here.
Those of us who expose the plight of such women, and this includes Somali-born feminist hero Ayaan Hirsi Ali, as well as myself, have been demonized as “Islamophobes” and racists because we do not, in the same breath, blame America, the West, or Israel for their suffering.
In my view, western academic feminists, including gay liberationists, are so afraid of being condemned as “colonialists” or “racists” that this fear trumps their concern for women’s rights in the Arab and Muslim world.
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