Penis Politics

I recently told a sweet but sometimes dense (by his own admission) male friend that it isn’t all about penises. I meant it in a personal sense, but when I opened my morning paper and saw a story about a prostitution ring that involved smuggling women into the country in packing crates, I was reminded that actually it is.

My birthday fell on the same day that the story broke about the latest terrorist threat to airplanes (known for some time, but conveniently made public the day after Leiberman’s defeat). Next year maybe I can go on a trip and travel in my birthday suit at the rate things are going. In the meantime, I read that women’s lipsticks are being confiscated. Hairspray too. We should have expected this after they tried to take away our knitting needles and started frisking us if we were wearing underwire bras after 911. I have done some intensive research on this and so far as I can tell the murder rate attributed to any of these items is 0%. Unless of course you tell a woman that she can’t carry them, in which case all bets are off.

But in the meantimeour ports are still unsecured (which no doubt is why it is probably painfully easy to bring women into the country in crates). Gun laws are being eased in this country and weapons (many curiously penis shaped) are raining/reigning down on innocent people all over the world.

My friend Yanar Mohammed writes from Baghdad, “I do not want to tell you ugly and disgusting stories we hear around us every day, but it is a reality.” A reality of impossible living conditions that include violence specifically targeted against women. She tells me of a young woman whose uncles have dug her grave in their garden, an honor killing waiting to happen. She sends me a picture of an achingly beautiful woman.

At the same time, Cheney lets spew this bizarre rant implying the Lamont win in some way helps Al Queda and the Bush Brigade can no more recognize a civil war, let alone their own culpability, any more than they can admit to the reality of global warming. Well actually they know that these things are true and that they fit nicely into their real agenda of destroying entire segments of the population of the world, but it just isn’t pc to say so publicly.

In Israel and Lebanon, both sides hold up the pictures of children killed by the other side’s weapons. As if the death of any child is a call for the death of someone else’s baby. In Africa condoms are frequently unavailable (yet more of the immoral morality of the Bush Administration) and even when they are, men won’t use them (why is this surprising, even in my white privileged world, too many men are still saying please honey it ruins my penis-centric experience) and women and children are now dying of AIDS at catastrophic rates.

My local paper proclaims that tomorrow it will print the names of parents (presumably mostly male parents) who are behind on child support. But we fail to make the connection between men who won’t support their children financially in this country and the same men who have no scruples about going halfway across the world and killing children as a systemic part of our military policy. It all comes down to penises.

My male friend tells me I should speak out about my needs and desires. This should not be hard as I am so outspoken on many issues. But as I examine my reluctance to talk, I know that this is hardly a personal issue. Day in and day out we read about the abuse of women, of honor killings and women stashed in crates. If we dare to make the connections in our personal lives, we promptly get slapped with the man-hating bitch label. In Israel, in Iran, in Afghanistan, when women speak out about the global ramifications (word used intentionally) of penis politics, they are screamed at, shot at, arrested. But this is a truth that must be spoken and we dare not be silent.

LUCINDA MARSHALL is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network, www.feministpeacenetwork.org.



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