I can only shake my head when the Bush Administration and its cronies act surprised that the Iraqis aren't falling at our feet worshipping us for liberating them. "We got rid of Saddam, and he was a bad man, and now we're bringing Democracy to them! This is what all humans dream of! Why can't they See the Light?"
If only they had consulted with feminists before embarking on this mission, they would know.
You can't liberate someone else.
We know. We've tried. We tried to liberate men. When we fought for the rights we now enjoy (voting, owning land, getting credit cards in our own name, getting good jobs), we pointed out that women suffer from discrimination that can be invisible-- and so do men. We raised the country's consciousness about the male-dominated structures in society that many people are not even aware of in daily life. We showed that these barriers hinder a lot of men in addition to women.
That's right. Men suffer from patriarchy too. And they don't have to. We could create a society where all people, not just the men at the top of the hierarchy, get to live to their fullest potential.
This could have galvanized men-- especially those not at the top of the hierarchy-- to join with women and claim liberation. To move with us to establish new cultural norms that respect everyone. To be free rather than chained to the tyrrany of alpha male domination.
But the men weren't galvanized. They hemmed and hawed, made excuses, even actively resisted acknowledging that they needed liberation.
They don't want true democracy and equality-- when it is claimed for them by women.
And the Iraqis don't want the democracy that was "won" for them by Americans with guns and little understanding of their culture.
In the end, people seem to prefer living under dictators-- whether they are Saddam Hussein or the dog-eat-dog world of male competition. Maybe it's easier than trying to make something new. A fresh, blank page can be intimidating. Freedom can be scary because it seems boundless and overwhelming.
If Bush had asked us what the result of "liberating" the Iraqis would be, we could easily have told him the sad truth. Been there, done that.
02/08/07 at 21:39