Saturday, March 15, 2008

City of Widows-book by Haifa Zangana

How to Fight the Patriarchy: Actively Oppose the Iraq and Afghanistan Occupations

The ongoing violence of the occupation is preventing the Iraq people from rebuilding their country, and the desperate and dangerous situation of the women, especially widows, is resulting in their needing to leave the public sector to seek security and sustenance from their families, their communities and their mosques. Also, the US administration allies with and gives power to sectarian groups, creating sectarian violence in a nation that has been secular and desires to remain free and secular.

This is the position of Haifa Zangana, author of City of Widows, an Iraqi Woman's Account of War and Resistance. Zangana will be speaking at the Hammer Museum in Westwood on April 2, 2008 at 7 p.m. Her book will be available after the program, or order online

You may ask, "How will actively opposing the imperialistic policies of the US fighting the patriarchy, and which patriarchy are you referring to--the male leaders of the different sects of the Islamic religion or the male leaders in this US? Who says our society is a patriarchy?

Our society is a patriarchy and I am referring to both the Iraqi patriarchy and the US patriarchy. Gerda Lerner, in Creation of the Patriarchy, defines patriarchy thusly: the wider definition of patriarchy means the manifestation and the institutionalization of male dominance over women in society in general.

As a humanist, I have always been against the Iraq war, because it is unjust and destructive. I was against the war in Afghanistan also. I have demonstrated against both, and I have attempted to use my vote to prevent or end these wars and occupations. But, I have come to realize that, as a feminist, I have to do more. The same guys that are plundering Iraq of their resources are the ones attacking women's rights in our country. Above and beyond opposing the atrocities, I can see that this occupation is undercutting the progress that Iraqi women have made in the last century. For example, they organized U.S. citizen Iraqi women to beat the drums for the Iraqi invasion, and the Independent Women's Forum, a right-wing American (Lynne Cheney's group) group was funded to give lectures on "Democracy" to Iraqi women. Also, there's dozens of USAID-funded so-called women's NGO's (UN affiliated Non Governmental Organizations) over there to push U.S. goals along with a few hand-outs.

We cannot work on our feminist projects here in the United States as though we're in a bubble. While we're busy accomplishing this or that reform, our leaders are lowering our status worldwide. The media has not made this connection. MADRE has put out an excellent report, Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy, Yifat Susskind, 2007. This report is available by mail by calling or e-mailing Nancy Khweiss at (212)627-0444 or or or she will send it to you online at http://www.iraqreport.pdf/.

Zangana educated me about the history of Iraqi women and their current situation. She helped me to put the custom of wearing a veil in the context that Iraqi women see it. I would love to have discussions of those of you who read this book about what you think about women wearing the abaya, the cloak that covers the entire woman's body. I think reading Zangana's book will enable you to see past the media's spin on this situation as it did me, and then I'd like to hear from you.

No comments: