Saturday, March 28, 2009

Resexing Militarism for the Globe by Zillah Eisenstien

Kanako's Notes (the personal is the political):

1989. 3 pm, One dry hot day in Ft. Bliss TX, one of the worlds largest army bases, stuck between the south side of El Paso and northern slums of Juarez MX, is where my dad pulled the car over because Taps was playing over the base's loud speakers. He saluted towards the location of the post's 500 sq ft American Flag in his heavy camos leaving the engine running, the driver's door open and me and my sisters and our brother in the car. This happened everyday but on Sunday. No matter what any uniformed officer was doing, when taps was playing they all had to stop and salute in silence. Anyway, this one dry hot day my dad, after saluting to the flag that we couldn't even see from where we were mind you, bragged, " The Military is the first place that people from all races could work as equals, women too. I work with black, Mexican, Korean, all kinds of people. Isn't that neat?" I rolled my eyes and smashed my forehead against the car window until it hurt a little and stared at my weirdly angled reflection, my fist pressed against my chin, one eye squinted shut, and a big ol' frown on my lips. I knew deep inside that there was a catch. That getting to work for this army sucked hard and that most of my friends parents joined because they were broke and it was the best possible solution to their disenfranchised lives. I also didn't (this is my 14 year old brain) think this shit was equal for women, they were totally out numbered and not allowed to fight on the front lines as of yet.

Eisenstien breaks women's "equality" in the military down in her article like this, "Women in the military may make the military look more democratic as though women now have the same choices as men...(but) this is because there is less democracy, if democracy means choice and opportunity...this stage of patriarchy often requires women to join the army in order to find a paying job or a way to get an education..."

Eisenstien then goes on to break down some percentages of women in uniform. The largest percentage of women present in a current military are Nepalese women in the Maoist movemen (30 percent). I personally support armed resistance against violent oppressors, especially for women, I'm not sure where Eisenstien stands on that one.

Eisenstien then briefly touches on the fact that in Iraq, so many men are held hostage by US forces that women now must do men's work and attributes the fact that women lead many city councils now in Rwanda due to the massacres.

Eisenstien goes on to inform us that reports of domestic violence and sexual abuse from military families doubled after 9/11.

Zillah dissects the way war is masculinzed, preached as by dudes for dudes... then states, "If we give up the fixedness of both sex and gender then we are left to examine the changeability of sexing gender and gendering sex. This does not erase sex of gender but rather demands an accounting of their politicized contextual meanings...the practices of gender will change even though the authorized essentialized views of femininity and manliness can remain static", in relationship to the way women participate.

Zillah also investigates how the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are sold to the masses partly by being marketed as a way to "liberate" the women there. Zillah calls bullshit on that notion, since the women there are now dead or with less/no ability to move about and I'm as freaked out by her the way "feminist" notions where appropriated by the US killer's marketing machine to pull the blinders on folks. I would also like to add that the environmental toxification of the Iraq and Afghanistan's peoples' homeland by these attacks are irrevocable and that these women and their children's health will suffer indefinitely.

The section on rape in war made me barf. Eisenstien describes the way in many cultures how the victim of rape is shamed/blamed after the heinous attack and the act also affects the women's father and brother by emasculating them. Eisenstien explains "The enemy nation is demasculinized while the victor is remasculinized." Then Eisenstien gives a slew of statistics such as "Over 500,000 girls and women were raped in the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Tens of thousands of girls and women have been raped in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, and East least 37 service women had sought sexual trauma counseling from civilian rape crisis organization after returning from war duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait."

Patriarchy, suicide bombers, and war

In this section Zillah describes the the way female suicide bombers are judged differently then men, i.e. "It is assumed that politics cannot sufficiently describe the action of women so there must be something else to the story, some other reason for their action. So their acts are described as ones of 'personal despair'...Whereas male suicide bombers are explained in terms of 'psychosis of martyrdom' given the ...'hopelessness of deeply stagnant societies,' female bomber as explained in terms of jilted love, and failed marriages." Zillah thinks this double standard is inappropriate and believes "The female suicide bomber denies traditional gender essentialism; she denies hetero-normative gender in its usual construction."

Zillah is aware of the complexities and differences that exists within a race or a gender, but when a brown women is on a poster for air force advertisement she becomes a "decoy for imperial and fascistic democracy." Eisenstien ends by stating, "Domestic violence and sexual rape are gendered constellations of a politics of war and terror. So are the new diverse gender expressions of women lives in all colors. Without naming and seeing these new configurations of racial and sexual inequities, the resexing and gendering of war cannot be uncovered in its newest forms. Until then the bartering of democracy in the name of women's rights and freedom will continue to mask the destruction of democratic possibilities."


kanako said...

whoa, what do I think of all this? I grew up with guns in the car guns in the home, my dad was strapped, my parents where fighting everyday. my dad wore the pants, my mom wore a frown. The gender divide was huge in my house, my dad had all decision making power include how all money was spent. All this pissed me off and I am aware that part of the reason I was driven to financial independence and success was because I wanted to be able to buy my mom what ever she wanted and also so that no one else could have power over me. I have a hard time just viewing women's position in war and the world for that manner without considering their self stability. Yes war is male produced and male dominated, but it is because they control the means and the choices. This is all so complicated, but I want to examine how to change this reality, not just dissect of it from the bottom looking up.

kanako said...

anyone in oly wanna watch Winter Soldier? The documentary Eisnestien mentions in her article? we could get a box of tissues for our tears and/or pain killers...