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Saturday, April 02, 2005

"Its about hierarchy, power and control. It is not about life." 

You MUST read this Juan Cole gendered analysis of how the Schavio case connects theoretically to the Iraq invasion. Gender-based analysis of power relationships uses the theory of patriarchy (rule of the fathers) as the structure for social analysis. It applies in all sorts of areas where, at first glance, the male/female dicotomy does not seem evident or applicable but wherever relations of power are central to understanding. The insights this type of analysis provides are unique and meaningful:
How does Bush square all the violence he has unleashed in the world with his praise of 'life?' What is the link between war-mongering and being 'pro-life?' It turns out that anti-abortionism is not about life at all. It is about social control. It helps establish a hierarchical society in which men are at the pinnacle and women kept barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Likewise, the Schiavo case was in part about the religious Right dictating to Michael Schiavo how he must lead his private life. This campaign is not really about life at all, as the examples of the raped woman or the woman whose pregnancy puts her life in danger demonstrate. It is about control, and the imposition of a minority's values on others. And that is why the Iraq war is the perfect symbol for the anti-abortionists. Colonial conquest is always a kind of rape, but now the conquered country must bear the fetus of Bush-imposed 'liberty' to term. The hierarchy is thus established. Washington is superior to Baghdad, and Iraq is feminized and deprived of certain kinds of choices. And that is also how the Schiavo case makes sense in the end, because the religious Right feminized Michael Schiavo, made him into the pregnant woman seeking an 'abortion,' and wished to therefore deprive him of choice in the matter. If hierarchy is gendered, then the persons over which control is sought are always in some sense imagined as powerless women. Powerful non-fundamentalist men and uppity Third World countries that won't do as they are told are ultimately no different from feminist women seeking an abortion. All must be subdued, in the view of the Christian Right. It is about hierarchy, power and control. It is not about life.

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