Monday, February 1, 2010

The Culture of War and Lipstick

The sexy singer from Barbados, Rihanna, has a new video for her song "Hard".  I have to wonder if she wasn't paid by the military recruiters to make this video.  If she wasn't, she should have been.  It attempts to make war itself desirable and sexy.  It's an appeal to the "bad-ass" mentality.  To me it represents so much of what is wrong with the American war culture.  The real bad-asses are the ones standing unarmed in front of the guns and tanks, demanding justice and security for the innocent civilians caught in all the red-blooded, testosterone driven nationalism.  I'd rather see Rihanna using her sex appeal to get the boys to put down their guns, rather than adding more bullets to an atmosphere already heavy with lead and death.

The message to young women is clear, that by adopting the "hard" violent persona you are somehow more sexy, desirable and secure.  There's also the implication that your sex is itself a weapon, and that a girl can use it to control and manipulate the man's world.  It's far from a new message.  I got the same message when I was a young woman from Cher, Madonna, Tank Girl, etc.  The messages are that "we have what they want and can use it to get what we need" and that it's somehow safer to join "them" in the game rather than to play by our own rules.  What exactly is it that we need from men that we can't get from a sperm bank?   R-E-S-P-E-C-T as Sister Aretha spelled it out for us all.  This is the clearest message being delivered in this video, that if your woman enough to straddle a pink tank, you will have that desired respect from all men.  It's a tragically flawed message. 

The reality of our war on terror is that more of our soldiers have died by suicide than have been killed by the "enemy".  War is not sexy.  It is wholesale murder, mostly civilian.  A greater percentage of female soldiers are raped while in service, Enemy within: rape in US military ranks.  Their sexuality and acceptance of violence as a way of life did not protect them.  They did not even get the respect of the men that they were fighting side by side with.  Please, my beloved sisters, do not join this team.  It can only bring suffering.

How does war affect a woman?  Does she bring a soothing quality to combat?  Or can she kill another woman and her children as cold-bloodedly as a man?  Turns out that she can.  Women have proven to be just as, if not more so, brutal than men.  Often they claim that they have to be to prove that they aren't "soft".  Some of the worst atrocities in the Rwanda genocide were waged by a woman,

Mother of atrocities: Pauline Nyiramasuhuko's role in the Rwandan genocide

At age 18 Israeli girls must serve in the military.  They are speaking out on how that service has changed them. 

Female Soldiers Break Their Silence

Sure, we can be like the famed Amazons, we have warrior hearts, but let's use that courage and ferocity to wage peace.  Of the two genders women should best understand what it takes to bring a beautiful human being into this world.  Let's not break each others hearts by killing those precious beings we've worked so hard to nurture.  Let's own our sexuality sisters.  What is more sexy than a mother nursing her child, or playing hide and seek in the park, or the mother holding the peace sign outside the White House demanding a better, safer life for all mothers everywhere.  Let's make peace the sexiest game in town.

Here's a better video, join the tribe.

1 comment:

Tom H. Hastings said...

Wow, what a rich and helpful post. As a peace activist and feminist, it has always made me so disgusted that being able to kill in combat is dangled as some kind of advance for women. It is a most serious setback, ruining the best in women and exacerbating the worst. Thank you for confronting this. Whether it's gays or women, I've always been so opposed to admitting MORE classes and categories of people into the bloodsoaked armed forces rather than fewer and fewer. I wish it would reduce to just the war profiteers and then let them have at it. Instead, in a perverted twist on Tom Sawyer manipulating everyone into whitewashing the fence, the Pentagon is luring more into the ranks of killers. How tragic and avoidable.