Home / the fecklessness of Christina Hoff Sommers / Let Freedom "Family Feminism" Ring!

Let Freedom "Family Feminism" Ring!

Ann Friedman, despite being a figment of my imagination, points us to this piece by the mythical Katha Pollitt:

The video, originally posted on jebar.info, a Kurdish website, is now plastered all over the Internet: a young girl in a red track-suit jacket and black underpants, beaten, kicked and stoned to death by a mob of excited, shouting men. It’s a gruesome marriage of twenty-first-century technology and medieval barbarity. At one point, bloody and dazed, the girl tries to protect herself, whereupon a man drops a big rock or lump of concrete on her face, killing her. Her crime? As an Agence France-Presse story explains, Doaa Khalil Aswad, a 17-year-old member of the Kurdish Yazidi religious minority, a non-Muslim sect, had fallen in love with a Sunni boy and possibly converted to Islam. For this “crime” against family and community, Doaa was murdered in the small village of Beshika, near Mosul, in a collective act of woman hatred, led by her brothers and uncles. In the video you can see local policemen watching and one man recording the killing on his cellphone.

This is the new Iraq, where women were going to be free and equal–no more “rape rooms,” no more psychopathic Uday Hussein summoning young virgins to the palace for his pleasure. In the early days of the occupation, we heard a lot about building schools, starting women’s health programs, funding women’s microenterprises. At the 2005 State of the Union address, Laura Bush sat with proudly purple-fingered Safia Taleb al-Suhail telegraphing the message that women’s rights and democracy went together and that both were part of the big plan for Iraq. Well, scratch that.

Women’s status was never as high under Saddam as opponents of the war sometimes asserted, and it was already declining throughout the 1990s, as Saddam embraced Islam to distract the populace from the effects of the Gulf War, UN sanctions and his own depredations. But Iraq today is even worse for women: more repressive, more violent, more lawless. As if car bombs and suicide bombers weren’t horrific enough, criminal gangs, religious militias and death squads kidnap, rape and kill with impunity, with special attention to women professionals, students and rights activists. According to the United Nations’ most recent quarterly report on human rights in Iraq, domestic violence and “honor” killings are on the rise–Kurdistan, often described as comparatively peaceful and orderly, saw more than forty such killings between January and March of this year; in the province of Erbil, rapes quadrupled between 2003 and 2006. Women who’d worn Western clothes and moved about freely all their lives have been terrorized into wearing the abaya and staying inside unless accompanied by male relatives. In Sadr City and elsewhere, Shariah courts mete out misogynist “justice.”

Hmm, it’s almost enough to make me think that expending immense amounts of resources that could be used to genuinely help women (although, admittedly, as long as the current administration remains in office, not if it might enhance women’s reproductive freedom–can’t have that!) installing an Islamist quasi-state in Iraq will not be a positive development for Iraqi women. But since I’m not a good “family” or “equity” feminist but am rather one of those man-hating lacking-in-common sense types who doesn’t think that sexual double standards and traditional patriarchal family structures are a good basis for social organization, I would think that.

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