Friday, March 30, 2007

Long time, no see...

Gosh, has it really been that long since I last posted? Apparently so. It's not that I haven't been thinking turmoiled feminist thoughts, it's simply that I have been too tired to write them, or even formulate them in a coherent manner.

Today's rant of choice involves the 15 soldiers abducted by Iran. Obviously, a disturbing scenario in and of itself, not helped by the insane war mongering of certain US ex-ambassadors to the UN (yes John Bolton, I mean you). Leaving this inside, what really bothers me is the media treatment of Faye Turney. In case you've been living inside an isolation tank for the past week or so, she is one of the 15 naval personnel captured by Iranian forces. And she is a mother, with a distraught family at home.

There is uproar, to be frank, about the fact that they have captured a woman, and continue to hold her. As a result, we have heard absolutely bugger all about the men who are held with her, regardless of the fact that they also may have children, or families, or friends who are worried and miss them. Why is this?

I will not deny that, in terms of things that can happen in captivity, a woman may be seen as a more vulnerable prisoner. We all know of the terrible things that can be done (I don't think we need to list them all, more out of concerns for space than squeamishness) and there is no doubt that Iran is, to some extent, playing upon these fears by using her as a bargaining tool. Similarly, all of us may be guilty of internalising the old refrain "women and children first" and - for those of us who *are* women, finding this helpful when faced with dire circumstances - e.g. the sinking of the titanic. The fact is that the capture of a woman is, for many people, simply more horrific than the capture of men.

So we have this instinctive reaction. Not just to capture, but to murder or robbery, or attack and so on. Is it right? Are we really prepared to say that, all things considered, a woman is intrinsically worth more than a man (forgive me if I am wrong, but that seems to be what the logical conclusion is)? That she is a more valuable asset? Perhaps we would want to frame it as - the children will suffer the loss of their mother more than the loss of their father.

This, it seems to me, is dangerous. If we go down that route, then we give vital ammunition to those who wish to see women off the front lines, out of their jobs and back home with their children. If we have to work harder to protect women for the sake of their children, then it is only a matter of time that someone decides that to *protect* women, we should not put them in dangerous places at all. In fact, let's just lock them up in big, padded, breeding wards and let the child-bearing commence.

Okay, that was a little silly, but you get my point. Rather than a feminist concern for women, the media frenzy smacks more of the "precious doll-lady" attitude of old. I don't think it's "unsisterly" to point this out and in fact, in the name of solidarity, is deserves a proper debate. Even if, in the end, it is to the detriment of Faye Turner (who, let's face it, probably wishes she wasn't the centre of such scrutiny anyway).