Saturday, March 14, 2009

Feminism and War: Confronting U.S. Imperialism: Introduction

Here are my notes so far, if you are reading along, please let me know if there are any confusing terms that need to be defined and i'll see if i can help decode. this is the starting point of the book, as laid out in the introduction:

-the book came out of a Feminism and War conference in Syracuse University in October 2006

-U.S. military budget at the time: 1/2 Trillion $ a year

-U.S. military casualties at the time: 3000+, Iraqi civilian casualties: 60 a day from bombs or gunfire

"The administration of President George W. Bush had explicitly argued that U.S. intervention argued would promote the cause of women's liberation in those countries (Iraq, Afghanistan), thus claiming a 'feminist' motivation for U.S. military aggression."

-what does it mean that women are being used as a justification/motivation for war?
what are the assumptions here? does feminism support women in the military?
the first footnote of the chapter lists several statements, articles, books by feminists exploring thess questions, starting in 2001, including one by RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan)

the conference (and the book) shows that the relationship between feminism and war is "contested and complex". what are "women's interests"? how do we understand and pursue them? "war" must be examined in term of 'world economic globalization', as a tool of imperialism, etc.

-how is feminism used as justification/legitimacy for imperialism and war? also explore constructions of race, gender, sexuality, class etc in this context

"Given the centrality of US imperial wars in the world today, it is impossible to understand 'feminism and war' on a global scale without understanding the specificities of the racist, hetero-sexist, and masculinized practices and ideologies mobilized by a USA in pursuit of economic and political hegemony" (2)
therefore, the imperial wars in the middle-east should be examined in terms of the recent history of US foreign policy/wars since WW2 (Guatemala, Cuba, Vietnam, El Salvador, Sudan to name a few)

This book intends to examine the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as examples of the US "on rescue missions in the name of democracy and 'civilization'". What does democracy actually mean, given this situation? What is feminism in this setting? What particular forms of racism, colonialism are being enacted here? How are images of sexuality and gender being used to further this agenda? What is the reality of how war is impacting women's lives in these countries? How is the image of the Western female soldier being used to further this agenda? Which females are seen as "helpless" and which as "liberated"? What is the actual reality of what is happening?

Conclusion: feminism needs to have an anti-imperialist, anti-racist lens.

No comments: