Phyllis Chesler’s memoir: A personal look at Islamic misogyny


CHARLOTTE, January 18, 2014 – When Phyllis Chesler naively married a man from Afghanistan in 1961 she had no idea about the serious ramifications of her decision. Now in her  revealing memoir, Chesler speaks out about the plight of women living the Middle East.

One of the great mysteries of the 21st century is why so few Americans are informed about the world of Islam and its human rights violations, especially against women, in the Muslim world.

Chesler is an American author who was “imprisonment” by her own husband in Afghanistan following her marriage. Her book. “An American Bride in Kabul,” describes in detail the atrocities she endured upon moving to Afghanistan.

Chesler eventually returned to the U.S. with a temporary visa in the late 1960s due to a debilitating battle with hepatitis. In 1969 she earned her doctorate in psychology at the New School for Social Research and, for the past 40-plus years, has written 14 books while being an advocate for feminism and women’s right, a teacher, author and psychotherapist.

An American Bride in Kabul is Chesler’s memoir about her life in Afghanistan where she quickly went from being a naïve Jewish college girl in 1961 to becoming the wife of a wealthy American-educated Muslim from Kabul. As Chesler points out, it did not take long for reality to set in when she was forced to give up her passport upon arriving in Afghanistan. Thus, she became a woman without a country which was only the beginning of her nightmare.

Chesler is not the first to write about the indignities women suffer throughout the Muslim world. Brigitte Gabriel, most noted for her book Because they Hate. is a prolific lecturer and frequent analyst on several television networks. Oriana Fallaci, The Rage and the Pride, was equally outspoken on the subject until her death. Carmen bin Laden, a step-sister of Osama bin Laden also wrote about her ordeals in Inside the Kingdom, which detailed the struggles of women in Saudi Arabia.

Irshad Manji is yet another vocal women’s rights advocate and outspoken critic of Islamic extremism. Her book The Trouble with Islam is a revealing insight into a world that cannot be comprehended by the political correctness of those who have not lived it.

In 1991 actress Sally Field played the role of Betty Mahmoody in a controversial movie titled Not Without My Daughter. Field’s character tells a similar story to that of Phyliss Chesler in a plot that centers around the desperate effort by an American mother to escape with her young child from the grip of her abusive husband in Iran. As usual, the controversy arose from the outcries of those who denied the truth of the subject matter.

As Chesler writes, her husband, Abdul-Kareem, claimed she was “too impatient” and “unreasonable.” Though he had been educated in the U.S., Abdul-Kareem could not refute his Afghan citizenship or upbringing. For him, his wife was “too American.”

Chesler agrees. She is American and she was impatient. She could not grasp or understand her new culture, and had little or no opportunity to do so, other than by personal observation. Neither, however, was Abdul-Kareem able to understand the West.

Thus, in a brief excerpt from her memoir, Phyllis Chesler graphically describes one of the key reasons why the West and the Arab world are, and will be, constantly in a state of conflict.

Chesler further demonstrates her own early ignorance, as well as that of many other Westerners, when she describes her failure to research her new environment, and its culture, before leaving the United States. Call it the innocence of youthful love or a careless misconception of the idea that Muslim perspectives are worlds different than our own, Chesler painfully learned her lessons through true life events.

In an interview with the Jewish Press in 2007, Chesler stated, “It’s easy to say, yes, the Muslims are against everyone who is not a Muslim. And it’s true. That’s part of what jihad is about, that’s part of the history of Islam. Here’s the thing. The West, and that means Jews and Israelis, would like to lead sweet and peaceful lives. We’re up against an enemy now that is dying to kill us, that lives to kill, and that at best merely wishes to impose on the rest of us its laws and strictures.”

Among Chesler’s core beliefs, which she expressed to the United States Senate in 2005, is “the necessity of applying a single standard of human rights, not one tailored to each culture”

Phyllis Chesler’s message is not a revelation. Other women have made similar observations. She does, however, emphatically reinforce their accounts..

The victims are many. Their voices are loud. The evidence is growing. The answer to narrow-minded political correctness about extremist Islam is truth.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (  

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