Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rendering Iraqi women invisible continues the illegal war

Reading over Ammar Karim's garbage for APF is to be hit with waves of nausea. I realize that a gay Republican with apparent fantasies of being a 'housewife' managed to entertain the lowest common denominator of American trash culture; however, the term is "home maker," not "housewife." Decades ago that was established. And only the sexists and the men wishing they were women -- excuse me, wishing they were "ladies" or "adult girls" -- use the term "housewife." To these men, there's some sexual thrill in seeing themselves the play thing of an all controlling male and I'm sure the hookers who help them indulge their fantasies rake in a huge hourly rate. AFP is a wire service. A worldwide wire service. It needs to show a little more intelligence not just with word choice but with scope when reporting.

The beauty field is one of the biggest employers of women in Iraq. Yet everytime we turn around this week, another man is reporting on men in Iraq in the beauty business. It's just another way that they've worked to render Iraqi women invisible throughout the illegal war. They had to render them invisible at the start (John F. Burns and Dexy Feel-Good Filkns grasped this) because to do otherwise was to mar the fantasy that 'liberation' and 'democracy' were taking root in Iraq. It's a little bit harder to sell illegal war back home when the citizens learn that instead of advancing the rights of women, the illegal war is actually reducing their rights. To make the illegal war appear 'noble,' a lot of reality had to be stripped in the whoring that passed for reporting.

It's a sign of how disgusting so many correspondents remain that all this time later they can do nothing but file reports on men in the beauty field. Men, men, men. It's amazing Iraq has a young population, to read the coverage. To read the coverage, Iraq should have an aging and dwindling population because the coverage is male, male, male implying there are no women in Iraq.

When Reuters did their ridiculous article this week, I did hope that a few others would call it out. (We called it out here.) They didn't and now we get AFP doing their version of the article. They probably will get away with it this week as well. But grasp that they will only get away with it in the short term. Grasp that this b.s. is exactly why so many outlets are struggling today. Reading the Reuters or AFP article, you don't have to know how many women in Iraq are employed in the beauty industry. All you have to know is that your gut tells you the story isn't making sense. And that leads to the distrust which leads you to rejct paying for 'news' sources which fail to report reality.

If the reality of what Iraqi women were facing had been reported widely in 2003, the Iraq War likely wouldn't have continued to today.

The Occupy Wall Street coverage has often been criticized for ignoring women participating and that's a valid criticism. But grasp that the Iraq War has now been covered for years and where are the Iraqi women?

You've got Reuters and AFP covering men in the beauty world, you've got IPS covering male Iraqis, you've got Tim Arango covering males who lack musical talent to carry on any Iraqi traditions so they resort to chanting while embracing the occupier culture -- naturally Tim Arango never stops to ponder how f**ked up is that? The only woman who appears in Tim Arango's New York Times article is Avril Lavigne.

And she 'appears' on a poster.

How very telling.

The US press is full of lots of crap when it comes to women -- Susan (Random Notes/On the Edge) calls out some here -- but with Hillary as Secretary of State, Michele Bachmann running for the GOP's presidential nomination and many other women in politics, business, the arts, activism, etc -- they really can't render women invisible. Yet they manage to do that with their Iraq coverage nearly every day. Almost half the population of Iraq is female. The foreign press (foreign = non-Iraqi) has been happy to render all of those women invisible. It's one of the reasons that a number of us advocated for the incoming administration to appoint a woman as Ambassador to Iraq. A woman was needed there for symbolic reasons. But the White House knew better and knew Chris Hill was the way to go. (The idiot Chris Hill.) The woman who gets the most press attention in the Iraqi media? Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoun Al Admlouji. There are news cycles where she's the only woman noted and news cycles where if she's not noted no woman is.

It's strange isn't it, that Iraqiya can appoint a woman spokesperson but the New York Times is more interested in profiling 'rappin' Iraqi boys than in speaking to Maysoun Al Admlouji about the work she does as the voice of the Iraqiya political slate -- the slate that, please remember, came in first in the March 7, 2010 elections. Strange and telling.

It's amazing when you start thinking about all the birth defects currently -- reported in the Iraqi and the Arab press, but largely ignored by the US press -- in Iraq as a result of burn pits, DU and other hazards brought on by the war, that the press can't find the women. Then again, if they could they might have to deal with the realities of war and it's so much easier to write about 'rapping Iraqi young men' and pretend like that represents the state of Iraq.

Al Mada reports that violence against women has increased in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and that attempts to strengthen women's legal rights are hampered by cultural and religious issues. The article notes Bushra Juhi (AP) report from earlier in the week. Al Mada also reports that the increase in divorce is tied to the rise in the rate of domestic abuse (and notes there were 28,800 divorces in 1997 compared to 53,840 last year). They also note that the number of Iraqi women who are widows has grown to 3 million.

They're ignored as well. It's a shame that despite being half the world's population, all this time later, women still have to figure out how to make themselves 'attractive' enough to warrant press coverage.

Tell me who you long for
In your secret dreams
Go on and tell me who you wish I was
Instead of me

I'm not necessarily
The girl you think you see
Whoever you want is exactly who
I'm more than willing to be
I'll be carefree
A Peace Corps trainee
Your Gypsy Rose Lee
To please you

Who cares what I might be for real
Underneath my games
I'll let you chose from a thousand faces
And a thousand names
-- "The Girl You Think You See," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her album Anticipation.

Dar Addustour notes that a year ago they published a front page report on a secret cable between Nouri al-Maliki and the League of Righteous where he did not promise not to arrest the group's leader but asked for their help in resolving the issue of Kirkuk.

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