Media Punditocracy Cuts Women out of the Discussion
For the past 5 years feminists have been doing most of the work in understanding and combatting the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan is one of the largest and most firmly-established anti-Taliban resistance groups in the world. The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan has been the authority in the US on the Taliban regime for nearly five years (Eleanor Smeal has given briefings to Congress on the topic and has testified before a joint hearing of two U.S. Senate Foreign Relations subcommittees). Acclaimed journalist Saira Shah lived undercover as an Afghan woman (with the assistance of RAWA) to make her groundbreaking documentary, Beneath the Veil. Because the first victims of the Taliban were women, women and women’s groups, abroad and also in the U.S., are the most credible authorities on the Taliban regime.
And yet, somehow or another it ended up happening that only
12% of television programs have featured women as experts on the post-September 11 crises [FMF], even after the U.S. alleged the complicity of the Taliban in the attacks. Instead, they are trotting out the predictable crowd of old white male pundits: generals, retired CIA operatives, State Department cronies. In the time since September 11, I have seen networks, without a trace of irony, put Bob McNamara, Henry Kissinger, and Oliver North in front of the camera as
experts on what we ought to do about international terrorism. Well, I guess they ought to know–when it comes to terrorism, maybe it takes one to know one!
So, while the media drumbeat for the war continues it’s the same old cock-swinging commandos droning on about Afghanistan. The same CIA and State Department cronies who propped up the Mujahedeen and the Taliban in the first place, who trained Osama bin Laden because they believed that foreign jihadi were more
reliable opponents of the pro-Soviet regime than locals. And since women’s voices are being silenced, no-one much seems to be pointing out that Afghan women were the first and most horrifically victimized by the Taliban regime. That Afghan women, who are imprisoned in their homes and banned from driving or travelling without a male relative on pain of death, cannot escape the cluster bombs dropping over their heads. That women continue to be oppressed our equally thuggish allies in the Northern Alliance (who are nothing more than the old Mujahedeen). That women have repeatedly been cut out of the tribal councils on forming a new government, and the U.S. government can’t be bothered to give a damn whether or not equity for women is brought up as an issue in the formation and constitution of a post-Taliban State.
The mealy-mouthed monologue of the corporate/government-colonized newsmedia has been parroting the words of feminists that they ignored for years–deploying a weak brand of pop feminism against the Taliban to keep the war fervor high. And yet, somehow, it seems that the actual women are not being included in the dialogue, and the actual needs facing women in Afghanistan are not being discussed.
What a fucking surprise.