“Simone de Beauvoir’s father once remarked, ‘Simone thinks like a man!’ Little did he know that the young girl he adored would become a leading figure in the feminist movement. De Beauvoir’s influential work, The Second Sex, unveiled the ways in which women have been marginalized by patriarchal society throughout history, starting with ancient myths and laws.
The book sparked the feminist movement and became a key pillar of postwar liberalism. Now, in light of recent events such as the October 7 massacre, de Beauvoir’s ideas are gaining renewed relevance in unexpected ways. The heroic actions of Israeli women on that fateful day have brought her theories to life in dramatic fashion.
Inbal Lieberman, a 25-year-old woman from Kibbutz Nir Am, demonstrated tremendous courage and leadership when she led an emergency squad in repelling a group of terrorists. Across the Gaza Strip, Captain Karni, along with other women, bravely fought off attackers and defended their communities. These women embody the qualities that de Beauvoir argued women possess when given the opportunity: strength, resourcefulness, and bravery.
In stark contrast to the actions of these women, major Western feminist groups have remained largely silent in response to the violence inflicted on Israeli women. This silence raises questions about the true courage and commitment of these organizations when it comes to standing up for women’s rights.
The actions of Hamas, the group responsible for the attacks, stand in direct opposition to the feminist ideals of justice and equality. Despite this, many feminist groups have failed to condemn these acts and show support for the women who have suffered at the hands of Hamas.
As we witness the bravery and resilience of women like Inbal Lieberman and Captain Karni, it is clear that they are carrying on the legacy of women’s liberation that has been a part of the Zionist ideal from the beginning. It is time for feminist organizations around the world to take a stand and support women who face violence and oppression, regardless of the circumstances.
The writer, a Hartman Institute fellow, is the author of the bestselling Mitzad Ha’ivelet Ha’yehudi (The Jewish March of Folly, Yediot Sefarim, 2019), a revisionist history of the Jewish people’s political leadership.”