Friday, February 1, 2008

About female suicide bombers

In the wake of the latest two suicide bombings by women in Baghdad markets made me do a search for WHY women are doing this.

— Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally retarded women detonated in a coordinated attack on Baghdad pet bazaars Friday, Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital last spring.


The Women Suicide Bombers

Andrea Dworkin

There are good reasons for women suicide bombers, and anyone who knows what's happening to women in the Middle East can't be surprised.

This is not the first time there have been women martyrs from Palestine. Between June 1967 and October 1985, there were 353 terrorist attacks inside Israel and each caused casualties. In the era of Oslo and the early days of the Palestinian Authority there were a near endless parade of suicide bombers who murdered Israeli civilians in acts of terror. There were, in the interstices of the terrorists, young women, often women who had been raped, sometimes by men in their own families. Rather than face an ignominious death, the young women wrapped themselves with explosives and committed a glorious suicide, one that would raise them up into the elite of martyrdom. Now one sees the same happening with exemplary young women, whose motives have to do with trying to scale the heights of a woman-hating society. How does one rise up in a land where women are lower than the animals? If one does what the men do, does one get a measure of the respect the community gives the men?

It is better, easier, and more logical to blame the Israelis for women's suffering than to blame the men who both sexually abuse and then kill them according to honor society rules. Says one woman: "It is as if we were in a big prison, and the only thing we really have to lose is that. Imagine what it is like to be me, a proud, well-educated woman who has traveled to many countries. Then see what it is like to be an insect, for that is what the [Israeli] soldiers call us-cockroaches, dogs, insects."

The female suicide bombers are idealists who crave committing a pure act, one that will wipe away the stigma of being female. The Palestinian community is not sacrificing low women, women of no accomplishment, women with no future. Instead, the women suicide bombers are the society's best in terms of human resources, a perverted example of the best and the brightest. There are reasons for this.

The first has to do with sexual abuse. Israeli and Palestinian feminists have worked together in rape crisis centers to repair the torn hymens of Palestinian rape victims. This is a life-saving procedure, since sexual abuse is perceived as a form of the woman having prostituted. There is no empathy, no post-traumatic stress disorder, no redemption, no revenge against the rapist, no legal prosecution of him. Instead for the woman or girl there is secrecy or death. In becoming suicide bombers, women trade in the lowly status of the raped woman for the higher status of a martyr. The fact that women suicide bombers have not been recognized as such before this current onslaught of anti-Israeli aggression has to do with the invisibility of women in general and the necessary silence of injured women.

The second reason for women suicide bombers is to try to rise in the nationalist struggle so that when that struggle is over the status of women will be recognized as deserving of citizenship and equality. In Algeria women fought heroically. All the rules that bind women seemed to change. Women were in the company of men. Women were brave. Women were not hidden. After liberation the women were pushed back down. A similar dynamic took place with Israeli women, needed to fight and to settle the land early on, now distinctly second-class, especially under increasingly influential religious law.

The third reason is pride: the deep-seated belief that a young woman can be as brave, as sacrificing, as willing to submit to revolutionary imperatives as men. Girls and young women want to stand up to the Israelis, hard to do in a landscape of maniacal fighting men. The best and brightest are motivated to stand up for their families: their beaten fathers, their destroyed homes, their angry mothers, and the brothers who are civilly superior to them.

In this time of terror, there is no tie between Israeli and Palestinian women, no conviction on the part of Palestinian women that the Israeli women they are killing have anything in common with them. Even though policy is made in both communities by aggressive, angry men, there is no sisterhood to speak of, no sense that there but for the grace of God go I. Instead adult Palestinian men pick out those needing or desiring martyrdom, strap explosives around them and send them into Hell, not Heaven. The more women want to prove their worth, the more women suicide bombers there will be. The lower the Israelis push the "cockroaches," the angrier the accomplished Palestinian women will be, and sisterhood between them and the young bombers will also disappear. The older women will let the younger women do the dirty work. They will not stop them.

Both Israeli and Palestinian men push women into an anti-sisterhood camouflaged as nationalist liberation.

Andrea Dworkin is the author of "Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation." Her most recent book is "Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant."

Add to this sad list of childless and "useless" women the mentally retarded females, who were told to go out and sell something and then were remote-controlled blown up.

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1 comment:

RoxRocks said...

I kiss the frozen ground that I was born in this country. Seriously.