Cynicism


Recalling tales of Rosie the Riveter, and the notion that World War II helped push women’s issues to the forefront in American culture—that during the Long Decade housewives grew impatient, and sometimes despondent at their return to the domestic bliss of subjugation—we should remember in twenty or fifty or a hundred years, when history finally has a chance to objectively assess the Iraqi Bush War—its causes, effects, and justifications—that were it not for George W., Iraqi women may well have languished under the passive-aggressive iron fist of monotheistic tradition.

Sabriyah Hilal Abadi began sleeping with a loaded AK-47 by her bed shortly after the war began.

It was a comforting possession for a woman who had lost her home, her husband and, last weekend, a room in a dilapidated building she shared with 27 squatter families, most headed by women.

The mother of four fought mightily to stay in the sparse, two-story building in the Zayouna neighborhood of Baghdad that once belonged to Hussein’s Baath Party, but soldiers forced her out.

Iraq’s government is intent on proving it can enforce the law. But in its determination to rid the party building of its squatters, the women say, the government has plunged them deeper into homelessness and may have pushed others toward violence.

Thousands of Iraqi women have in recent years embraced new roles as violence has claimed their men. For Abadi, 43, the turning point came when she accepted the powerful assault rifle from friends concerned about her welfare.

“Before the invasion — never,” said Abadi, who oscillated between rage and sadness during three interviews. Speaking about the army, she waggled her finger. Speaking about her son in college, she looked dismal. Speaking about her old house, she began to weep.

Times have changed, she said. “The women now take on the responsibilities of men and women.”

Empowerment, courtesy the New American Century.

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