Anne Applebaum gripes about how "feminism" cares not about issues that matter to real women. She writes:
By contrast, the women of contemporary Saudi Arabia need a much more fundamental revolution than the one that took place among American women in the 1960s, and it's one we have trouble understanding. Unlike American blacks, American women have not had to grapple with issues as basic as the right to study or vote for a long time. Instead, we have (fortunately) fought for less fundamental rights in recent decades, and our women's groups have of late (unfortunately) had the luxury of focusing on the marginal. The National Council of Women's Organizations' most famous recent campaign was against the Augusta National Golf Club. The Web site of the National Organization for Women (I hate to pick on that group, but it's so easy) has space for issues of "non-sexist car insurance" and "network neutrality," but not the Saudi rape victim or the girl murdered last week in Canada for refusing to wear a hijab.
The reigning feminist ideology doesn't help: The philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers has written, among other things, that some American feminists, self-focused and reluctant to criticize non-Western cultures, have convinced themselves that "sexual terror" in America (a phrase from a real women's studies textbook) is more dangerous than actual terrorism. But the deeper problem is the gradual marginalization of "women's issues" in domestic politics, which has made them subordinate to security issues, or racial issues, in foreign policy as well.
American delegates to international and U.N. women's organizations are mostly identified with arguments about reproductive rights (for or against, depending on the administration), not arguments about the fundamental rights of women in Saudi Arabia or the Muslim world.
Until this changes, it will be hard to mount a campaign, in the manner of the anti-apartheid movement, to enforce sanctions or codes of conduct for people doing business there. What we need as a model, in other words, is not the 1960s feminism we all remember but a globalized version of the 19th-century feminism we've nearly forgotten. Candidates for the role of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, anyone?
In the first place, no one ought to be surprised that the National Organization for Women take issue with national issues, as they are are national organization. Pointing out the "small" or "quaint" injustices with which they occupy themselves does not mean their members are not concerned or involved as women of international organizations with the plight of women in Saudi Arabia, or better, Afghanistan. Those, however, are international issues.
At the heart of Applebaum's astoundingly silly analysis, is the view that somehow concern for gender issues in America precludes one from being concerned about them in Canada or elsewhere. Even dumber than that is the idea that one get a total picture of "reigning feminist ideology" from skimming the works of one "feminist" philosopher and clicking to the web pages of two different organizations. Before she makes those claims, she should try a little harder, perhaps use the search function.