Monday, September 11, 2006

Nothing has changed really

By Guest Columnist Genet


Growing up in the shadow of the Kennedy assassination was always rather strange. I was one of the few six year olds in 1963 who actually had no memory of the assassination or the funeral that went on forever. Our family didn't own a T.V. until much later in the '60s, so I was blessedly free of media contamination as a child. To this day, I look at major media events as reasons to be a little detached.

Those who did see T.V. in 1963 are pretty much stuck on Dallas. Just one mention of that day in Dallas will send people down memory lane and you won't be able to shut them up once they've gotten started. It's as if they have to tell over and over again the story of where they were on that day.

Finally, the Kennedy assassination has faded from public memory. We don't have to relive it again and again via Walter Cronkite or even through the early Baby Boomers down the street. I've waited all my life for people to get on to another historical subject.

Just when I thought I was safe, along came 9/11. The media likes to go on and on about how the world has changed forever because a few dedicated fanatics successfully destroyed a symbol of American capitalism. We like to believe we are a good nation and that we have done nothing globally to warrant this kind of attention.

We like to believe the world has changed, but actually it hasn't. Either before or after 9/11, the world is predictably the same. Careful research has revealed all kinds of interesting things about 9/11. We forget it was largely the work of Saudi citizens, and that Iraq probably had no true connection to Al Qaeda.

In 1996, I was extremely upset to read about the Taliban leaders taking over Afghanistan and putting women under virtual house arrest. When I brought this subject up, men's eyes would glaze over. 'Tali-what, women's rights... waz that?" When the rights of half the population of a country were destroyed in a year's time, this wasn't much cause for foreign policy outrage.

I didn't hear much outrage when more than 51,000 Americans had been diagnosed or had died of AIDS before Ronald Reagan even gave a speech on the topic.

But somehow, the World Trade Center represents something to men. Mostly men talk about this, and men comment on "the war on terror." I never heard American men get outraged over the situation of women in the Middle East at all, but when tall buildings get destroyed, well, men take notice.

I am detached from the events of 9/11, I think because I remember the indifference to AIDS and the indifference to the rights of women worldwide.

The world would change if women actually controlled just one major nation in the world. It would be different if the rights of women were held as the human standard or the standard by which we measure any good society.

If women are enslaved or ruled by men, well, that's a situation far worse than 9/11, because this is what women have had to deal with for thousands of years.

9/11 is simply a symbol of the people of America and their gullibility over falling for the latest named enemy. Most people don't realize that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with this plot. Most Americans don't even know that Saudi nationalists were horrified by American troops on Saudi soil after the first Gulf War. They wouldn't know that a patriarchal kingdom such as Saudi Arabia would feel its "manhood" threatened by this occupation.

Why does the 9/11 mythology annoy me? Something has always seemed wrong about it. And I think what it is, is the emphasis on war and the male desire for control and dominance worldwide. It's when men decide it's time for Big Daddy to take over yet again. Mary Daly always labeled patriarchy "boring" and that when women feel boredom, it has to do with our disgust for any false manifestation of "patriotism" -- even that word and the use of the flag is male to me.

Rarely do I ever hear women do the tribal grunt, flag-waving thing, and unless they are military employees or grew up in a "military" (read male-controlled) family, they think of other things.

The idea of fear and what makes society safe from a male point of view is always interesting to me. I view patriarchy and male rule itself as an inherent danger to women. I am always amused at religious right men going on and on about abortion, but then being positively gleeful about war. The male objection to abortion I believe rests on their hatred of women's moral agency, of women controlling the levers of life and death.

Only men should be able to kill in the world, and only men should be glorified for all their wars and medals and statues and parades.

You should be suspicious of the constant erosion of civil rights in America, because "real men" want real control. Thirty years of feminism makes a certain segment of the male population longing for the good old days.

So 9/11 represents the desire for a return to male supremacy, but it isn't really about the rights of people worldwide. If that had been the case, then we would have been up in arms about the Taliban in 1996. We would be much more concerned with countries that have no respect for women's autonomy whatsoever.

Nothing has changed with 9/11. Nothing at all.