Women in a World of war and Militarization (Introduction) - Resources for Feminist Research

Women in a World of war and Militarization (Introduction)

By Resources for Feminist Research

  • Release Date - Published: 2004-03-22
  • Book Genre: Social Science
  • Author: Resources for Feminist Research
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Women in a World of war and Militarization (Introduction) Resources for Feminist Research read online review & book description:

These are difficult times for feminist journals, when the very project of social justice has come up for questioning from many academic and non-academic quarters, and notions such as "democracy" and "freedom" have become ruses for conducting imperialist invasions and occupations. A part of this, and a very important one for us to consider, is that imperialism has taken up the cause of women, especially in non-Western countries, and become women's "protectors" and "liberators"--with friends like these who needs enemies? But we have noticed that the most potent legitimation of wars unleashed by the United States and its allies on Afghanistan or Iraq came from the sudden onrush of Western "civilized," "free" and "democratic" concern for Afghan of Muslim women in general. Bush's "feminist" war was ostensibly conducted against fundamentalist forces such as the Taliban or dictators such as Saddam Hussein, but we know that both were carefully fostered by the United States for decades. US soldiers were the shock troops that removed communists from power in Afghanistan, prevented any democratic or socialist aspirations in the Middle East, and stemmed Soviet influence in those regions. But, of course, the Soviet Union disappeared a decade ago and the US-nurtured fundamentalist forces and warlords have spun out of control. Now two years of so after the conquest of Kabul, the same warlords, as well as new ones, along with US, Canadian and other troops, vie for power. Rampant killing continues, fundamentalism is socially hegemonic, and women of Afghanistan remain in the same darkness they were in for decades--enveloped by purdah and fundamentalist misogyny. Once women had served their purpose of providing an excuse for waging war, they were forgotten by their high-powered Western friends. Also forgotten were promises for structural, institutional or cultural changes which were necessary to attract funding and which are now lying in the dust among other heaps of useless pieces of paper. Thus, one important concern is how to be feminist in this era of high imperialism without inadvertently supporting racist and colonialist agendas --that is, without becoming entrapped by a discourse of "civilization" which can only provoke barbarism. Another issue that confronts us, in a capital-dominated unipolar world which has emerged after strangling "third world" socialist/communist and national liberation struggles, is that of ethnic nationalism, driven in many cases by religious fundamentalism, cultural chauvinism, and the inventions of tribes and traditions. In all cases, women are their objects. Patriarchy in its most brutal forms is disguised in a rhetoric of anti-colonialism, or in an idiom of authentic cultural identities and traditions. Yet violence against women, against people at large, continues unabated. Voices of anti-patriarchal resistance from the third world are dismissed as inauthentic and Western, as colonial collaboration, and as though rationality and aspirations of equality were only Western inventions. It is between the devil of imperialism and the shark-infested deep sea of ethnic nationalism that we now need to steer our feminist course. And it is to this end that we hope this volume of Resources for Feminist Research will contribute. Through every article here we are finding our way, and we are aware that we have a long way to go.

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