NEWS & LETTERS, May 2004

Woman as Reason

Feminist anti-war message

by Terry Moon

Below is Terry Moon's talk given on the national day of protest against the war in Iraq, March 20, in Memphis.

* * *

We all know Bush is a liar. He lied about weapons of mass destruction; he lied about the link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein; and he lied about women. While Bush appropriates the language of feminism as a way to give a moral justification for his immoral wars, he, at the same time, wages war on women worldwide.

Bush used International Women's Day as an excuse to say that his bloody wars that have killed thousands, have given women "new rights and new hopes," and now Iraqi women are no longer the targets of "systematic rape." The exact opposite is true.

Saddam Hussein had women raped and murdered, killing thousands when he practiced genocide against the Kurds and Marsh Arabs, and again when he joined with fundamentalists; but it is the U.S. occupation that has destroyed security within Iraq; that has thrown so many out of work that the population has become impoverished. It is NOW that rape is systematic within Iraq, and the selling of girls, something not experienced there before, is becoming an epidemic.

The founder of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, Yanar Mohammed, said recently: "The saddest part of the occupation is that it permits the imposition of political Islam. Every woman has to be under veil, covered from head to toe, even Christian women. In the mosques, they tell the men that they are responsible for covering the women, and that women are not to work nor go to school beyond the sixth grade.... If people want to practice religion, they should do so personally inside mosques, not through law and government. Nobody deserves to be ruled by a misogynist mentality...."

Middle Eastern women challenge a narrow concept of what peace means, what revolution means. They do it like the Women's Liberation Movement did it here: they challenge the sexism within their own culture. They demand freedom, not only against an outside force, U.S. imperialism, but from their own governments, their own religious fanatics, and often their own families. Peace is more than the absence of war, or the defeat of U.S. imperialism. Freedom is more than a right to vote. Women in the Middle East show this, even though many live under a unique form of personal as well as societal fascism.

In Afghanistan, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) is the most public face of women's resistance. Recently, a RAWA member spoke in Kabul. She said: "The 'war on terror' toppled the Taliban regime, but it has not removed religious fundamentalism, which is the main cause of misery for Afghan women. In fact, by bringing the warlords back to power, the U.S. has replaced one misogynist fundamentalist regime with another. But then the U.S. never did fight the Taliban to save Afghan women."

As for those who think feminism came from the West, she said: "Feminism does not need to be imported; it has already taken root in Afghanistan. Long before the U.S. bombing, organizations were trying to establish freedom, democracy, secularism and women's rights."

The present moment calls for more than a condemnation of George W. Bush, as evil as he is. It calls for a total view, in which opposition to U.S. imperialism is made inseparable from a critique of reactionary political fundamentalism and a projection of the new human society we are for. Implicit in the struggle of women in the Middle East is that change has to be so deep that all human relationships are transformed into something new, something truly human.

That tells us that to say no to war, we have to oppose the occupation, and that one of the best ways of opposing the occupation is to give solidarity to the forces fighting for liberation within Iraq, above all women's liberationists.

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