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veil-burning in somalia May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in Ayesha Dharkar, bodies, deception, Ethics, fashion police, Female Power, female soldiers, gender, ideology, in the news, International, islam, modesty, morality, nationalism, news stories, politics, Power, somalia, the state, The Terrorist, wartime politics, women and war, women in the military.
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There have been news stories in the past two days about government soliders in Somalia, which is currently in a state of civil war with explosions taking place recently in capital Mogadishu, taking women’s veils (ones where only the eyes are uncovered) and burning them.  When I first heard about it, I thought it seemed like what happened in pre-1979 revolution Iran, when women weren’t allowed to dress in religious garb in an avowedly secular state ruled by a monarch, but it turns out that the recent veil-burning wasn’t government-sanctioned.  The soliders did it because they wanted to make sure that the women weren’t part of the ‘rebel’ Islamist movement, and hiding bombs or weapons under their veils.

I thought this situation was interesting in its similarity to The Terrorist.  Malli is valued within her organization because she’s a woman, which means that she is underestimated and seen in a de-politicized way, which will enable her to get past security checkpoints–while carrying the ammunition she needs in the basket on her head, and not firewood or whatever the soliders may assume it is, showing that it is precisely her femaleness that allows her to get by–and get close enough to the politician to assassinate him.  It seems that the Somali soliders were concerned that they were letting Muslim women who might pose a threat get by because of their female religious need/desire to cover themselves modestly, and decided to take action, for their own safety presumably.

Something else that comes to mind is how this fits women into nationalism.  (more…)

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The fight over the veil May 7, 2007

Posted by Wasik in bodies, careerwomen, controversy, fashion police, Female Power, feminism, ideology, in the news, iran, islam, morality, nationalism, politics, religion, the state, The Terrorist, Uncategorized, women and war.
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[This started out as a comment to sindhub’s post on Women’s Bodies and Ideology, but then quickly became very long so now it is a normal post. But sindhub– thanks for bringing this topic up!]

The debate about traditional islamic dress for women– loosely referred to in Western discourse as ‘the veil’– is probably the most complicated, intricate and endlessly controversial way in which, as you mention, nationalist and religious (though the two are often inextricably tied) movements use women’s bodies to enforce ideology.

In Western media and popular culture, the issue is often presented very one-sidedly, ignoring the nuance involved which has perpetuated this debate for so long. I distinctly remember one episode of “Seventh Heaven” in which taking up the veil was seen as an absolute tragedy to be lamented; throughout the episode, Mrs. Camden was haunted by visions of her daughters veiled and oppressed, and the end of the program featured many of its actors speaking out against the treatment of women in states under sharia law. (more…)

more on Malli/Dhanu and nationalism April 30, 2007

Posted by sindhub in Ayesha Dharkar, nationalism, rape, Sri Lanka conflict, The Terrorist, wartime politics, women and war, women in the military.
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Hm, this is something I didn’t find out about until now somehow: the woman who the character of Malli from The Terrorist is based on was raped by an Indian ‘peacekeeping force’ previous to joining the rebel movement.  Apparently the Tamil Tigers used this for political gain; according to Wikipedia, “Her alleged rape is seen to be an offense to the Tamil people as a whole and a source of passion for the Tamil Tiger Organisation.”  I just thought this was an interesting factoid in light of our discussion about nationalism and women.  It’s another example of how women are seen as the ‘property’ of whatever group they can be identified with, and how that can be used for political gains under the auspice of nationalism.

motherhood trumps all? April 25, 2007

Posted by Wasik in bodies, careerwomen, female bounty hunters, Female Power, gender, motherhood, Sri Lanka conflict, the state, The Terrorist, Uncategorized, women and war.
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Both “The Terrorist” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight” raise the question: when a woman’s kickass body is an essential tool in her job (in the former, because she is a suicide bomber, and the latter because she is a counter-assasination agent for the State Dep’t), is it possible for her to also be a mother?
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real-life Mallis April 18, 2007

Posted by sindhub in Ayesha Dharkar, in the news, Sri Lanka conflict, The Terrorist, women and war.
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I found this link to some photos taken by the BBC of Tamil women training with the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam/the same group that the woman that Malli is based on fought with) in the conflict with the Sri Lankan government.  I think it’s notable that a lot of the captions point out that the reason the women fight is to protect their people, and also that their male relatives have been killed or are ill.

Malli’s Choice April 18, 2007

Posted by rachaelg in Female Power, motherhood, Power, The Terrorist, women and war.
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Did anyone else notice how the cause Malli was fighting for was never really explained?  I don’t even think we ever learned the country she was in (though it seemed clear it was India).  The “Leader” remained nameless and so did the “VIP.”  By leaving these kind of details ambiguous, The Terrorist (more…)