A closer look at the ‘misuses of feminism’ for advancing imperialistic agendas: A case study of Iraq.

shayma bashawieh


Liberating third world, Muslim women from the clutches of oppressive Arab men has proven to be a popular and seductive justification for the military invasion of various Middle Eastern states throughout history. Individuals that support the ‘liberation’ of women of colour through military occupations argue that women in these ‘third world states’ are oppressed and require the assistance of a western military invasion to facilitate their liberation. This stems from viewing Arab women as mainly docile and passive individuals rather than active participants of their lives and destinies engaging in their own forms of resistance. Yet, a growing number of scholars and feminists are beginning to question the possibility of liberating women through the very forces that oppress them- namely imperialism and militarism. This paper- through a case study of Iraq- is similarly critical of the possibility of liberating women through a military invasion. It attempts to answer questions such as; how are women living in ‘post-liberated’ Iraq versus under Saddam, and what do their daily struggles look like, in its endeavour to paint a picture of the status of the various groups of women in Iraqi society pre and post 2003 invasion. The paper argues Iraqi women experience their society and the Baath regime differentially based on a combination of factors such as their social class, place of residence- urban or rural, political affiliation and so on. Thus rather than viewing Iraqi women as a homogenous group of oppressed women that require western military assistance for their liberation the paper encourages individuals to pay more attention to the grassroots. Only when the oppressed and exploited participate in the process of their liberation can the endeavor be successful.

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