Chesler, Ph.D, is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s
Studies at City University of New York. She is a best-selling
author, a legendary feminist leader.
I’m really shocked. Unexpectedly, and without warning,
I just lost 40% of my funding. This means that I may have to
close up shop. My funder, someone who has stood by me for 14
years, did not send her annual check. I kept emailing. Finally,
she texted that she’d decided that my work to help save
Afghan women was no longer one of her priorities. “I do
not want any more of them here,” she wrote.
immigration is a controversial issue—but my funder knows
that I was among the handful who wrestled with the dangers of
the West’s opening our doors to unredeemable misogynists
and potentially radicalized Islamists. While I condemned the
atrocious way in which the Biden administration chose to leave
Afghanistan, I also knew that despite all the blood and treasure
we spent in that country, there was no way we could ever change
the hearts and minds of those who live in rural Afghanistan,
control the poppy crop, or are members of the Taliban.
these particular Afghan women? On our watch, they became women’s
rights activists, judges, doctors, lawyers, journalists, poets,
scientists, social workers, small business owners. They are
most likely to assimilate, they are our daughters now. We—Western
feminists, Western governments—are at least morally responsible
that’s not the only reason my funder decided not to send
her precious check my way. Her decision came only days after
I‘d published a pro-abortion piece, a piece which was
read at a 2022 demonstration outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral
in New York City. Although I remained a steadfast supporter
of a woman’s right to an abortion, I had not written about
this for a long time. Come the 21st century, I was drawn to
other burning issues such as Islamist terrorism, rising Jew
hatred, the endangered lives of tribal women, persecuted minorities
in Muslim countries, and the degradation and disappearance of
both feminist knowledge and intellectual diversity in the West.
do I think that my abortion piece was a turning point? Once,
on a visit to my home, my funder quietly left a book behind.
The book was a rather shocking anti-abortion screed. I was meant
to find it. Carefully, kindly, we never discussed it. But I
knew that she regularly attended conferences at which anti-abortion
speakers were featured and I silently blessed her for her tolerance
for another feminist viewpoint.
the necessary perspective. No funder is obliged to fund or to
continue funding anyone. However, advance notice is always appreciated.
And, while my pro-abortion views may have played a part in this
de-funding, in terms of this particular issue, I’m among
the very lucky.
have been defamed and death threatened; violence against abortion
clinics in America have, so far, resulted in 11 deaths. Clinics
and their patients have been physically harassed by aggressive
activists and via lawsuits. Recently, small clinics across America
have lost even their most minimal funding and have only been
able to serve a small part of those who need their help. Even
feminists learned to speak carefully about the raging war over
control of women’s bodies. Increasingly, they were for
“reproductive freedom,” or for “choice,”
not for “abortions,” which should be legally available
other fronts, professors, graduate students, activists, and
authors, have lost their good reputations as well as tenure,
funding, colleagues, students, and publishers and all for holding
the “wrong” views on gender; Islam/Islamophobia;
Israel; racism; Palestine; prostitution; and on the Mother of
All Issues, that of transgender rights.
written many hundreds of articles about just such cases over
the last twenty years. My voice has kept the issue of censorship
alive and has strengthened those who might otherwise remain
invisible both to themselves and others.
never been properly funded—but that’s my fault,
too. I’ve never taken the time out to write grants or
socialize with philanthropists and heads of foundations. Even
if I had, my views were never the feminist flavor of the month—and
also, I kept moving from subject to subject. I pioneered subjects
but did not remain there to specialize in them.
truth is, I did not want to stop my research, writing, and activism
in order to raise monies. (A cash prize would have been nice
but that was not to be). Time was all I had and it was precious
to me. I lived from university paycheck to paycheck and on book
advances, which never, ever, even covered the costs of writing
compared to most other radical feminists, I was among the fortunate
few. No matter how hard I was challenged, I at least had a university
position. So many other valiant, visionary, and determined feminists
had no jobs and no job security; had neither capital nor funding,
and ran out of steam within a decade or two. Feminist bookstores
and publishing houses were shuttered, restaurants, bars, and
women’s centers also were. Whether we were published or
self-published, we never received significant advances or royalties,
our work went out of print, was increasingly forgotten, and
was not taught in Women’s Studies or elsewhere. There
were exceptions—but that’s what they were, exceptions
to a rule.
not a gender-neutral liberal feminist. I was a radical and at
a time when the Western university had not yet been taken down
by postmodern academics. Radical feminists were feared and hated.
We were not promoted. We had to fight for tenure and promotion—at
least, I did. In order to survive, we had to be leftists, pro-“sex
work,” and primarily anti-racist. I had politically incorrect
views about—well, about everything: Male violence towards
women, prostitution, pornography, motherhood, custody battles,
surrogacy, anti-Semitism, Islam, Islamic gender and religious
apartheid, Jihad, honor killing, gender identity, the trans
issue—just on and on.
think that writers and thinkers simply live on air and in romantic
garrets, that what we do cannot or should not cost real money.
That is not true. Even without taking a salary (I don’t),
work such as mine requires a webmaster, a website, a research
assistant, an IT team, hardware and software upgrades, office
expenses, subscriptions to newspapers and magazines—even
rent—and this all costs more than a proverbial pretty
penny. I’ve subsidized 60% of my own work but doing so
has worn me right down to the ground.
no outside funding=being potentially silenced. It’s another
form of censorship.
more and more of us are being silenced on both sides of the
aisle. What is acceptable to say depends entirely upon the company
you keep. There are certain subjects that one cannot safely
discuss with many conservatives: Abortion is among them, but
so is lesbianism, border control, and Donald Trump. There are
also subjects that one dare not discuss in most left-liberal
company: Israel, the scientific basis of gender, Donald Trump,
and God, in no particular order. One can discuss all these subjects
anywhere as long as one has the “accepted” point
of view; but not otherwise.
my funder also said that she was now more interested in funding
issues having to do with school curriculum, CRT, and intersectionality.
I immediately sent her 50 articles that I‘d published
in 2021 and early 2022 on these very subjects. She said she’d
go back and look at her accounts but that she was probably out
of discretionary funds.
how I need a Lorenzo de’ Medici, someone who appreciates
another Renaissance spirit and wants to keep it around. But,
until that day comes along—I must, most humbly, turn to
you, my readers and colleagues, for this essential support.