FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Unmaking Equality

by AGNIESZKA KAROLUK

On Thursday, January 24th Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the US military will lift the ban on women serving in combat. Many women’s groups and feminist activists saw this announcement as an unqualified victory.  According to Kiki Cardenas writing in the popular blog feministing.com, “People asked me: “Well, do you know what you would be fighting for? DO you believe in the war?” Yes and No. I would have been fighting for women’s equality in the world and here in the U.S. and that was reason enough for me.”

Lurking in the background of sentiments such as these is the common perception that the United States military invasions into Iraq and Afghanistan were motivated by a desire to liberate burqa-clad women in these countries.  Cardenas isn’t fighting for women’s equality, she’s fighting for the exploitation of her gender’s struggle to further the ends of imperialism via the military industrial complex. One way we may examine this idea is by way of post-colonialist philosopher Gayatri Spivak’s observation that, “White men will not save brown women from brown men.”  This is not a racially reductionist formula—”white men are the root of all evil”—but rather a provocative entreaty to wake us from our imperialist dreams. The need for such reminders is exemplified by former First Lady Laura Bush, who on November 17, 2001 shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan addressed the American people on a radio show, “Civilized people throughout the world are speaking out in horror — not only because our hearts break for the women and children in Afghanistan, but also because in Afghanistan we see the world the terrorists would like to impose on the rest of us.”

Rather than “saving brown women”, allowing women to serve in combat roles is simply a false win for feminism and women’s rights in the US. It is nothing more than the advancement of normalization of the military industrial complex. When US military men and women are killing children in Yemen and Pakistan with Drone strikes, feminists and women’s rights activists should be actively organizing against these unjust and immoral actions rather than rallying around promoting the military and its death squads. The drone strike program is ever expanding, according to journalist Jeremy Scahill on his recent appearance on Democracy Now!, Obama had now sanctioned “signature strikes,”

“If an individual had contact with certain other individuals, if they were traveling in a certain area at certain times, if they were gathering with a certain number of people, that there was a presumption that they must be up to no good, that they are suspected militants or suspected terrorists and that the U.S. could take preemptive action against those people—and by “preemptive action,” I mean killing them with a missile”

The fight for women’s rights is far from over, and we certainly do not live in a post-feminist society,  regardless of all the all too common view of the kind Carla Bruni-Sarkozy expressed when she  remarked, “My generation doesn’t need feminism.” This might be easy to say for the former French first lady, but such lazy dismissals do little for the vast majority of women who still struggle for their basic rights.

In 2013, the fight for birth control and reproductive rights are under fire and workplace wage gaps are still the norm in many cases.  There are bigger fish to fry than focuses on “opportunities” for women to fight in the military. The frontlines of the fight for women’s liberation should lie on labor opportunities, child care, housing and health- fundamental rights which all humans deserve, which unfortunately women and LGBTQ individuals are constantly denied due to various legal, social and economic barriers.  According to the Center for American Progress, while women overall make 77 cents for every dollar the average white male makes, black women and Hispanic women only make 70 cents and 61 cents, respectively.

Lastly, another major issue regarding women in the military which is overlooked is Sexual assault.  Studies  suggest that as many as one in three female soldiers are raped during their US military service. Because of machismo and patriarchy which plagues American military culture and higher-ranked officers unwillingness to investigate allegations or rape and sexual assault, many times the victim who reports abuse is punished.

Military is culturally and functionally abhorrent to the interests of the women’s movement. Imperialist expansion under the guise of women’s liberation is degrading to all. As a feminist, I will say that allowing women into combat rolls does nothing for the advancement of women’s rights globally and refuse to allow this to go on in the name of women’s liberation.

Most Afghan and Iraqi women do not see it as a “win” that they or a loved one will now have the chance to be killed by a female American soldier.

-Zillah Eisenstein

Agnieszka Karoluk is a Program Assistant in Islamic World Studies at DePaul University.

*Special thanks to the following individuals for their thoughts, edits and contributions to this article: Al Baker, Kevin Doherty, Shiera Malik

Weekend Edition
April 29-31, 2016
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail