girl power

Clearly, no real, sustainable political change can take hold in the Middle East until women are given equal rights with men. No matter how hard we try, Democracy and things like female genital mutilation, burkhas and honor killings just cant coexist.

If youre interested in discussions about such things, theres a really good op-ed piece by Charles Krauthammer on the subject of womens oppression in the Middle East in todays Washington Post. Krauthammers the first person Ive heard to mention the possibility that the photos of abuse from Abu Ghraib may be particularly loathsome to Arab males because they show a woman (that smiling woman whos tugging the naked man on a leash) completely dominant. That occurred to me as I was looking at it, but I didnt know how to articulate it. Krauthammer did. Heres a clip:

It is no accident that jihadists around the world are overwhelmingly male. It is very rare to find a female suicide bomber. And when you do, as with the young woman who blew herself up in Gaza, killing four others in January, it turns out that she herself was a victim of sexual subjugation — a wife accused of adultery, marked for death, who decided to die a martyr rather than a pariah. But die she must.

Which is what made one aspect of the Abu Ghraib horrors even more incendiary — the pictures of female U.S. soldiers mocking, humiliating and dominating naked and abused Arab men. One could not have designed a more symbolic representation of the Islamist warning about where Western freedom ultimately leads than yesterday’s Washington Post photo of a uniformed American woman holding a naked Arab man on a leash.

To me it seems like womens rights is probably the biggest single issue in the Middle East, bigger than democracy or the battle between the Israelis and the Palestinians. If someone could figure out how to make women equal with men in the Middle East, theyd save the world. What the world needs is a female Iraqi Martin Luther King Jr… At this point, Id even settle for a female Iraqi Al Sharpton.

While were on the subject of Iraq, theres a good article in the Washington Post today on the growing public division between US military leaders as to the handling of Iraq.

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