America in tha Hood

Last Saturday night, I opened my show in a hood. No, I’m not a detainee, enemy combatant, prisoner of war, prisoner of love, nor even (despite the rumors) Saddam’s sex therapist. So, why did I wear a hood? Because these are hooded times. We as a nation have been hoodwinked by hoodlums. All around the world, our brothers and sisters in and out of American uniform have been putting human beings in hoods. This is Bush’s War, Perma-War, War in tha Hood, every hood and village and city block. These are the Hoods of War.

A hood is a mask over the face of humanity. A hood covers up the truth. A hood is a bag, a War-on-Terror twist on the rude old saying, “Just put a bag over her head, then you can do anything to her (or him).” A hood is one of the simplest, cheapest, most efficient sensory deprivation systems known to sadistic civilization. No wonder we use them on prisoners.

Some of us also use them on ourselves. Americans have had our own heads up our hoods, especially as concerns Bush’s War. We hide in our hoods and hope for the best. A hood can make you feel safe. Of course, it’s an illusion; wearing a hood makes you anything but safe! But many of us prefer the illusion of protection to the awareness of painful reality. News of Bush’s lies wreaking death and destruction barely penetrated the consciousness of many Americans; our hoods were so securely wrapped around our heads.

Then The Photos were released: Vivid excerpts from “Bush’s POW Porn,” a multi-billion dollar production, showing Americans torturing naked prisoners in hoods! The sheer naked hooded horror operated on Americans like Shock & Awe was supposed to operate on the Iraqis, zapping our collective psyches, burning our own hoods right off our heads–at least temporarily–letting us see with our own naked eyes that we are up to our hoods in war. Now our eyes smart with the truth.

It’s a stinging revelation. Even many members of the American Press, who had been behaving like hooded lapdogs to our own Mad King George II, are beginning to see and talk and write about the real, unvarnished horrors of his horrid little war.

But it’s hard to keep your hood off in times like these. Now our Senators and military leaders say that some of the latest Photos are too horrible for us to see. They are trying to pull the hoods back on our heads, “protecting” us from reality, depriving us of our senses of sight, hearing, feeling and the common sense we need to pull ourselves together and put a stop to this hooded madness.

Meanwhile, on the Fashion Front, thanks to The Photos, the Hooded Look is fast becoming a style statement: Girls in tha Hoods. Supermodels in tha Hoods! Rock Stars in hoods. Straight Hood. Gay Hood. Hooded games. Hood therapy. Hooded Protests, too. In a sign of discontent over Bush’s War, several hooded mannequins were suspended on trains in Rome’s metro system. The Hooding of America–and the World! –is hot. Very edgy. Paris runways beckon.

Of course, the hood I wore Saturday night was just your basic old pillowcase. But can you imagine a silk Gucci Hood? A sheer Chanel hood emblazoned with logos? A Victoria Secret Hood of lace with sweet little bows on the corners? A pure white hood (um, maybe not, too Ku Klux Klan). A black leather hood (actually, hardcore deprivation fetishists have been wearing those for years). How about an i-hood that wires you up to your favorite music, movies and video games?

The U.S. military uses what look like garbage bags for hoods, sometimes with the garbage still in them. Or sand bags, the better to grind your humanity into granules.

There’s what I call the Water Hood, also known as “water boarding’ or the “water cure,” where interrogators shove a prisoner’s head in a barrel of water and make him think he’s drowning. Actually, he is drowning; they just save him from death at the last second (if all goes well).

Then there’s what I call the Full-Body Hood, also known as a sleeping bag. Interrogators at a detention center run by the Third Armored Cavalry, of Fort Carson, Colorado stuffed senior Iraqi officer, Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush head first into a sleeping bag, then kicked and rolled him around while attempting to question him. By the time they removed the man, he was dead. Dead in tha Hood.

I know, it’s awful! But, everything awful becomes fashion. Then it becomes fetish. The hood thing has already become one of my fetishes (can’t you tell?). I confess: Since I saw The Photos, I’ve fantasized about hoods. I decided to “role-play” my fantasies when I opened the show in a hood. But after a couple of minutes, I took it off. I mean, I couldn’t breathe! But what do I expect? It’s torture. It’s not supposed to be comfortable, is it?

Guess not. Guess I’m too much of a hedonist for serious hood torture, and too much of an ethical hedonist to see any kind of nonconsensual torture of helpless prisoners as what Rush Limbaugh calls “having a good time.” Ha, ha, ha. Let’s put Rush in the Hood, deprive him of his drugs, as well as sleep, food and clothes, then make him stand on a box and let a dog bite his quivering ass, and see how much of “a good time” he has.

As a sex therapist, I find the “good time” excuse to be particularly disturbing. Unlike “abuse,” in the world of consensual sex, “torture” is not always a bad thing. In fact, a little bit of torture–pranking on your lover, tickling their sense of reality, pinching ’til it hurts so good–is spicy. Spice is good. But like too much spice spoils the meat, too much torture, well, it kills you or maims you.

And that is what we have to stop.

The Photos of American soldiers grinning proudly as they torture their hooded captives blew our See-No-Evil-Hear-No-Evil-Speak-No-Evil hoods right off our heads. These Photos are a gift, an awful opportunity for us to see what we already know in our hearts, that Bush’s “Preemptive” War is one gigantic atrocity, causing its participants at every level of the military food chain to commit little atrocities, and some big ones (like massacring half the people at a wedding party).

But everything new becomes old after a while. Now that the Shock & Awe of The Photos is wearing off, some of us–too many–are slipping back into our hoods again.

These are hooded times. Terrorized times. But it’s times like these that demand that we resist allowing our leaders to put these goddamn hoods on us. Or maybe it’s just time we pull the hoods off our own heads, so we can get a good look at the humanity in each other’s eyes.

© May 31, 2004, Dr. SUSAN BLOCK
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Dr. SUSAN BLOCK is a sex educator, cultural commentator, host of The Dr. SUSAN BLOCK Show and author of The 10 Commandments of Pleasure. Visit her website at

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Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is a world renowned LA sex therapist, author of The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure and horny housewife, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. For information and speaking engagements, call 626-461-5950. Email her at