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Monday, January 10, 2005

George W. Bush: Feminist Hero?

I would like to weigh in on what I have noticed lately is a disturbing trend amongst conservative gasbags to slam feminists for their lack of attention to the plight of the women in the Middle East. The implication being that American feminists are giving a pass to those cultures meting out indignities to women because it doesn't jibe with their criticism of the Administration's Middle East policies. To wit, Andrew Sullivan comments on an article written in the Wall Street Journal about Arab men who prefer rotund women, and are thus force-feeding them into to obesity:

Kudos for Daniel Pipes and the WSJ for bringing attention to this problem. Where, one wonders, are Western feminists?

Yes, Daniel Pipes and Sullivan are probably tossing in slumberless nights worrying about the poor women of the Middle East. And the Administration is quite proud of all it has done in the name of women in Afghanistan. Even Jerry Fallwell jumped in recently to give BushCo. credit for securing for Afghani women the right to vote. And the folks at Little Green Footballs? They live for this shit.

Most recently, Max Boot writes in the LA Times:

I don't recall a single Hollywood feminist expressing gratitude to the U.S. military or its commander in chief for the liberation of Afghan women. No doubt Streisand, Sarandon & Co. were too busy inveighing against the horrors perpetrated by John Ashcroft.

Well, fellas, here's a little history lesson for you. In the two minutes that Bush and his henchmen took to justify the carpet bombing of the poorest country in the world, they were quick to point out the terrible lives led by women under the Taliban, mostly to neutralize left-wing criticism of the plan. We feminists in the west already knew about this because back in 1997, the Feminist Majority's Eleanor Smeal launched the International Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan to counter the Taliban’s abuse of women. Back as far as 1998 shrill, bra-less harridans like Susan Sarandon, Rosie Perez, Calista Flockhart, Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet were participating in events to support RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

So, after satisfying American blood lust with untold Afghani civilian deaths, once BushCo. had the chance to show just how much they really did care about the women of the country -- that's exactly what they did. When sending out invitations to the post-war reconstruction conference in Bonn, the Administration made sure it handed out invitations to members of the Northern Alliance who, according to US State Department's own intelligence, had systematically raped and killed Hazzara women in Kabul in March 1995. And how many women did they invite to the conference? Um, that would be...none.

You may ask how I knew this. I learned about it at the time when western feminist Gloria Steinem appeared on the Larry King Show, upbraiding the Administration for its hypocrisy and urging them to include women in the reconstruction. (It was probably just before the segment where Pipes, Sullivan, Boot, Falwell et. al. were on bleeding for the women of Afghanistan, but alas I must've turned it off by that point.)

And who went so far as to travel to Europe to press for RAWA to be included in the talks? Well, that would be Americans in the Green Party. In the end, women were only allowed at the Bonn conference as observers. Not as participants. Only as observers.

So please, spare me the grave concern for the suffering of women you only bring up in the first place so you can take a cheap shot at someone else, someone whose efforts you know nothing about because you haven't taken the time to investigate. If you haven't heard about feminist efforts to support the women of the Middle East it's only because you haven't looked. It's not the kind of sexy story that's going to be breaking headline news, certainly nothing as glam as the breakup of Brad and Jen. But you're talking out of your ass, and while that's nothing new, it doesn't sound particularly comfortable, either.