Book: One of the Guys: Women as Aggressors and Torturers

Mother Jones

Did feminism die at Abu Ghraib?

By Cameron Scott | March/April 2007 Issue


A classic feminist bumper sticker reads, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too.” But behind that idea often lurks the assumption that women are a kinder, gentler type of people. So what are we to make of Private Lynndie England, the poster girl for the Abu Ghraib scandal? In her introduction to this compelling but conflicted collection of essays about the role of women in the dark side of America’s war on terror, Barbara Ehrenreich describes how England upended the idea that violence and cruelty are almost exclusively male traits. “[That] kind of feminism,” she writes, “died in Abu Ghraib.”


The soul-searching chapters that follow, however, largely sidestep the reality that women torture for the same reasons men do—stress, groupthink, and just plain sadism. Many of the writers can’t bring themselves to see England as a woman in charge of her own actions. One writes that “England is a disturbing figure because she seems so powerful and free.” General Janis Karpinski, the only high-ranking officer charged in the abuse scandal, offers a laborious excuse for England’s misconduct, arguing that her lover, Specialist Charles Graner, manipulated her into posing for those horrific photos. The existence of violent women remains so mind-blowing that even a female general can’t get beyond the ironically un-feminist explanation that they are merely pawns in men’s dirty games.

Advertisements

About Male Matters USA

See About the Author
This entry was posted in Female Violence, Gender Violence and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s