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

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail