Sunday, June 01, 2008

A Totally Different Kind Of Girl Power

A recent news story struck me in an odd way yesterday and it's left me feeling both kind of thrilled and really strangely worried at the same time. I just can't seem to really get a full grip on it which has left me kind of fumbling around in an effort to really clear up the whole vision.

In an online question and answer session in April, al Qaeda No. 2 leader Ayman Al-Zawahri was asked about how a woman can become of member and fight a jihad. His response is one that tends to fit into the ways that stereotypically people think of when it comes to strict Muslim countries, namely that women should stay at home and care for the home and families of the male fighters.

This has led to a ground swell of response from Muslim women in the Middle East who are questioning this answer. They are of the mind that it is their right and privledge to fight right alongside the men. Using alternate ways of communicating like the internet, these women are organizing as a group to fight for their right to go into battle.

For me, this has kind of left me feeling rather queasy and I'm not positive how I should really think about this. One the one hand, I give these women all of the props in the world for standing up and speaking their minds on an important topic in their world. If you were in the same situation that they are in, wouldn't you like to have the ability to fight for your freedom? It would seem like a natural thing to want to help win some manner of personal rule since the outcome will affect all their friends and neighbors.

On the other hand (and this is a big hand), I'm left feeling highly uneasy at the thought of these women fighting to have the right to go into battle and probably die along with taking their adevesories with them. An added level to this story is the news that more women are being used as suicide bombers these days then the men. When I read a fact like that, it kind of makes me sit back and wonder for a moment about what these women would be allowed to do if they actually won this arguement. It's one thing to take up arms against your perceived or real oppresors but it's a totally different thing to become a walking incidiary device while your male counterparts hang back and get to go home the next day.

Along with other things, the Middle East has seemed like a hotbed of the kind of thinking that leaves women as nothing more than possessions of their husbands and without any kind of chance for a normal life. Anything that can help to change that and bring them some equality would be something that I'd tend to applaud. But this has left me in an uneasy middle ground. You have living oppression on one hand and dead combatant on the other hand and neither of them really read any good no matter how you look at them.


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