An odd thing happened when Benazir Bhutto died. Liberal feminists seemed not to notice.
Sure, Hillary Clinton made use of the former Pakistani prime minister's assassination on the campaign trail. It was legitimately a major world event two days after Christmas and a week before the Iowa caucus. Anyone running for president who wanted to be taken seriously had to address it. But for Hillary, it was also an opportunity for a woman who wants to be feminist-in-chief to remind people that she and Bhutto shared a gender bond, something no one else running for president can do. But Clinton didn't get into too many details about the type of woman leader Bhutto was. Clinton talked about how they related as fellow mothers -- general stuff that she would ultimately get grief on the Internet about, for forgetting how many children Bhutto had.
Clinton's lack of depth was not an anomaly. The National Organization for Women was noticeably silent about the first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim country. NOW's Web site was stuck on stupid with a "naughty list" of toys that promote gender stereotypes instead.
One thing Clinton certainly didn't do is remember the good times she and Bhutto shared as leaders at the United Nations' infamous Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, in 1995. At the conference, the two women were on opposite sides, one Ivy League grad arguing for every girl and woman's right to abort innocents (that would be then first lady Clinton, who earned her law degree at Yale), another Ivy League grad arguing to protect all human life (Bhutto, a Harvard alum).
Bhutto wasn't perfect by any stretch. Her tenure was riddled with corruption, she had friends we'd call enemies -- but she still managed to offer the world an alternative model of feminism. As she argued for protecting the most innocent, she sounded more feminist than those who claim to speak for all women. In a speech at the opening of the gathering, she warned: "To please her husband, a woman wants a son. To keep her husband from abandoning her, a woman wants a son. And, too often, when a woman expects a girl, she abets her husband in abandoning or aborting that innocent, perfectly formed child."
In reporting at the time, her speech was explained as being a condemnation of violence against women. Fair enough. But it was more than that: She was arguing against the forced abortion of female babies, and she was also arguing on behalf of innocent human life.
Bhutto heard "the cries of the girl child," and she said: "This conference needs to chart a course that can create a climate where the girl child is as welcome and valued as the boy child."
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