Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Patriarchy is Lucy and We Are Charlie Brown

We keep falling for the same stupid trick with the football. Will we never learn?

I mention this because last night I was reminded that I once wrote a paper on Tacitus' "On Germania". It is considered to be one of the first ethnographies (cough, sputter cough). But what it really is is a blueprint for how to sell invasion of a foreign land back home. There is plenty of othering, idealization of the native and all around condescension, but what I focused on was the way Tacitus used his description of German women as a rationalization for conquest.

He describes the women as buxom beauties with a sense of family loyalty that is missing in their Roman counterparts. These women go to war with their husbands, they raise the children and cook the meals and do all the work while their unwashed men drink nasty beer and start fights with each other. They are oppressed, oppressed I tell you, by the loutish German men.

It is not a huge jump (any jump at all) to apply that same kind of thinking to Iraq or Afghanistan. We have to save the poor oppressed women from their brutish Muslim masters! We must rape and pillage and plunder to save these poor oppressed women from rape and pillage and plunder. Wait, what?

At the same time, it works to shut up women at home who might be getting uppity what with not being alowed to venture out of the house. See you could have it so much worse, you could be married to a drunken German or Central Asian Muslim! You can't complain when you've got it so good, privileged women of the Empire.

And it works. Over and over and over. We keep falling for the same bullshit propaganda. We keep thinking that this time the patriarchy is going to let us kick the ball, only to end up flat on our ass with grass stains.

The patriarchy has no new tricks. Just the same ones in new shiny packaging for at least the last 2000 years. When are we gonna wise up and walk away from the stupid football? How many wars must we fight before we get that it just ain't in our best interest?

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