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the cinnamon peeler's wife

9.29.2004 at 11:32:00 AM

rape as a tool of disempowerment

"If equality means entitlement to an equal share of the profits of economic tyranny, it is irreconcilable with liberation. Freedom in an unfree world is merely license to exploit."
(Greer, The Whole Woman)

rape is a topic which women often think about but rarely discuss. i was a bit surprised once when in a discussion with a good friend, she revealed that her biggest fear was to be sexually assaulted. i guess i should not have been surprised, maybe the fear is one we often push to the far recesses of our minds. but in further discussion, the utter disempowerment and total violation more than the just the physical assault are what we could not bear to face. she had had more experience in dealing with victims of such assaults and thus felt some sort of vivid specter of fear. i can't say that this is my ultimate fear. however, after listening to stories of victims of gender violence in conflict areas, i could not sleep for many nights. the pictures and stories were of course horrible, but it was the stoic faces of the women talking about their tragedies that would not stop streaming through my mind.

the pogroms carried out in gujarat are an entire topic in and of themselves. however, the use of systematic rape in gujarat is just one example of using women's bodies as means of gaining control over a people. univ of chicago prof, martha nussbaum discusses the implications in the current boston review issue. just a quote from her article: "Control over women’s bodies was thus substituted for control over other aspects of daily life." Definitely worth a read.

though not directly connected, her words reminded me of Dr. Ingrid Mattson (hartford seminary) discussing the control over women in post-caliphate muslim societies. once muslim men felt that they had lost power in other spheres (politically, etc.) they could exert control in their lives by controlling women and the private sphere. thus emerged a paradigm of man as amir of the home, she argued, deviating from the traditional contractual partnership. thus now we see a common theme of outwardly exerting power over women as means to prove religiosity in some warped sense.

Blogger Azher said...

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