I am interviewed by Dana Vitalosova in 4W.
Dana Vitalosova: If we define “cancel culture” as shunning and silencing a person for his or her challenging an ideological orthodoxy of a group, according to your 2003 book "The New Anti-Semitism," it seems to me you were “canceled” way before it became an established term, in the 1980s. Could you explain what had happened?
Phyllis Chesler: “Cancelling” is only potent when it involves being excluded from your own group. From 1967-1980 I was attacked (savaged in reviews of my work, challenges to my professorship, etc.) but mainly by anti-feminist colleagues. Feminists did disagree on issues (pornography, prostitution, lesbianism, child custody, surrogacy, class struggle vs “cultural” feminism) and some engaged in trashing but mainly due to envy and to our own internalized sexism.
I was never ostracized by some—and only some—other feminists until 1980-81 when I stood up for the truth and therefore for Israel and the Jews. I tell a very complex story in my 2018 Memoir “A Politically Incorrect Feminist.” At the time, at issue, was a few feminist leaders fighting for international feminist “territory,” and about how a leftist white feminist believed an allegation of rape should be handled when the victim was a white woman and the rapist was her black African employer at the United Nations. My ordeal took place very long before the #MeToo movement arose. Thus, I learned that feminist principles were applied or not applied depending on who the victim and who the perpetrator was. And whether there was an opportunity in silencing the feminist victim and collaborating with the rapist. Some doors were shut, some backs turned, rumors ran their course.
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