Meredith Tax is a brave feminist writer who has been fighting against gender-based censorship for decades. She believes, ‘free speech is a feminist issue’. I agree with her.
“The subordination of women is basic to all social systems based on dominance; for this reason, conservatives hate and fear the voices of women. That is why so many religions have made rules against women preaching or even speaking in the house of worship. That is why governments keep telling women to keep quiet: ‘You’re in the Constitution,’ they will say, ‘you have the vote, so you have no right to complain.’ But having a voice is as important, perhaps more important, than having a vote. When censors attack women writers, they do so in order to intimidate all women and keep them from using their right to free expression. Gender-based censorship is therefore a problem not only for women writers, but for everyone concerned with the emancipation of women.
“Women writers are a threat to systems built on gender hierarchy because they open doors for other women. By expressing the painful contradictions between men and women in their society, by exposing the discrepancy between what society requires of women and what they need to be fulfilled, woman writers challenge the status quo…[and] make a breach in the wall of silence. They say things no one has ever said before and say them in print, where anyone can read and repeat them.”
”Women writers symbolize, in their work and life, the free speech of women. That is why they become targets and that is why the global women’s movement and all democrats must defend them even when what they say or the way they live is controversial. Women have a right to be controversial: you don’t have to agree with someone to defend her right to speak. They have a right to be celibate or childless, to get divorced, to be lesbians, or to have many lovers. You don’t have to live the way they do to defend their rights. A democracy is defined by its ability to tolerate differences. The problem here is not the strength of conservatives but the lack of commitment of liberals when it comes to defending the free speech of women. When their own rights are threatened, it’s a different story.”
It is so true! I have experienced almost everything Meredith talks about. My books got banned, I was physically attacked, Fatwas were issued against me, hundreds of thousands of fanatics marched to execute me by hanging, I was thrown out of the countries. Other atheist writers were there, but I became the target. I became the target because I am not only an atheist, I am a feminist. Liberals shut their mouths when feminists are attacked. The same liberals protest loudly when male writers or artists are harassed even though the harassment they suffer is much less than the harassment I suffer. Women are still considered inferior beings who should stay at home, do chores, rear children and must not be outspoken. The misogynistic patriarchal media and men call me, ‘controversial writer’, but they call male writers having much less literary quality than mine, ‘superb writers.’ And when I express my ideas that are different than conventional ideas, they would call me, ‘attention whore’, and they would definitely call male writers who later express their ideas that are exactly like my ideas,’very bold and very courageous writers’!