WE ARE ALL AFGHANS NOW
We Should Support RAWA,
by Dr. Susan Block
When the bombing began, I was cooling my spiked heels, sitting tight on the frontlines of the New War on Terrorism in a 747 bound for glory, devastation or Frankfurt airport, steeling myself to actually use one of those lethally sharp high heels as a weapon, should the Enemy--any enemy--try to steer our plane into a building, any building. Lucky for me (and my travel wardrobe), airport security has yet to classify spike heels on par with menacing nose hair clippers.
And thank goodness, goddess and god that I didn't have to use them. We arrived safe and sound in Frankfurt without terrorist attack, jet fighter escort or even a false alarm. Actually, it was a pleasant flight, complete with free drinks and unusual passenger bonhomie, exploding in a climax of giddy applause for our blessedly competent pilot when we landed.
I did spend a somewhat challenging 10.5 hours sitting next to a very sweet Iranian gentleman named Nasser who regaled me with tales of how in his country--so much more civilized than poor, wretched Afghanistan--an adulterous woman is, as a rule, buried up to her neck, then pelted with stones by the faithful.
In Afghanistan, he informed me, I would be arrested for wearing my spike heels, not because they could be used as weapons, but because they made a sound when I walked that could be heard by men in a place in which women must not be seen or heard.
Of course, sweet Nasser did manage to reassure my palpitating heart by summarily condemning the 9.11 attacks as "terrible, just terrible," speaking nearly perfect English, showing me photos of his very American-looking children eating pizza in LA and giving me his business card, which stated he was a civil engineer (Whoa, wasn't Mohammed Atta a civil engineer?). My paranoia fluctuated with my desire to reach out to peaceloving Muslims and show them we Americans weren't Nazis ready to brand them all as fiends.
Besides, I genuinely liked the guy. My heart went out to him when he told me he was interrogated like a criminal at LAX. I was touched by his gratitude that we Americans hadn't thrown him into jail because of his nationality. But I sidestepped his ardent invitation to visit him in Tehran. "It is a beautiful city. You must come! You can stay with my family…but I must warn you, if you are caught showing your elbows in public, you will be beaten," he explained as I smiled nervously, rubbing my naked elbows.
Nasser and I did manage to agree that life for women and a lot of men was probably most repressive under the supremely hypocritical, decadent yet puritanical oil sheiks of Saudi Arabia. Here's a place dripping with money and opportunity, and the women aren't even allowed to drive! Evidence is mounting that the Saudis, our coy and coddled "allies" whom we defended against that other "Evil One" Saddam, provided much of the financial support for the 9.11 terrorist attacks. Just look at the passports: At least six of the purported hijackers were Saudi (none were Afghan). Osama, their alleged leader, is Saudi (being stripped of his Saudi citizenship seems to have been but a cosmetic spanking for his bad-boy ways). Much of the money behind Al Queda and those Afghan and Pakistani religious schools where boys learn to subjugate girls and hate America is Saudi. So why wasn't America mounting attacks against those who truly "harbor and support terrorists," rich, old-slick Saudi Arabia, instead of poor, decrepit Afghanistan? Nasser and I looked into each other's sad eyes, and realized we'd just answered our own question.
So there I was, so preoccupied with womaning my own battle position in the Terror War, calming my jitters by having my own little "peace talks" with Nasser, that I sort of missed the commencement of the Bombing Campaign. Maybe I lost track of time with the jet lag, but suddenly, there we were, bombing the poop out of a country that barely has any poop in it, as remote from Nasser's and my 747 as an Afghan woolen sock from a silk stocking.
Now, I should explain that while I may talk tough about bombing Saudis, when it comes to conflict on a personal or global scale, I'm unfashionably peace-mongering. I believe in the Bonobo Way (for more on that subject, please see Beyond Terror and Sex, Terror, Jerry bin Foulwill & Raving Castrati). But I am also a realist. At least, I try to be. And now that the 9.11 tragedy has metamorphosed into BOMBS AWEIGH for America against Afghanistan, I'd just like to weigh in with my view of which Afghan fighters we should throw our support behind.
Obviously, we're against the Taliban. And for some good reason. Though I'm not for bombing them into a Stone Age they're already in, I don't have much good to say about this rogue, Saudi-greased, so-called "government" that beheads prostitutes without blinking an eye, even in the dust-laden Khyber breeze. The fact that the Taliban are protecting or pretending to protect Celebrity Terrorist Osama (like Madonna, he now needs just the one name for worldwide recognition) is only the most famous of these fundamentalist religious thugs' offenses against humanity. Their treatment of women as chattel in the true medieval sense of the word underlies their brutal approach to life in general.
This is not to demonize them as the "Other" that we could never be. Indeed, the Taliban serve as a stark warning to us as to where our own society might go if we allow it to be overtaken by our own fundamentalist Bible-bangers.
So, Jerry bin Foulwill notwithstanding, we're against the Taliban. Rhymes with Caliban, that brutish monkey-man in Shakespeare's "Tempest." But whom are we for, besides ourselves and our oil? Currently, we are flirting with the Iran-backed Northern Alliance, bedazzled by their swashbuckling courage, their sexy fighting pajamas and the simple fact that they're anti-Taliban (as of now, that is; some of those noble moujahedeen switch sides like I change hats). Wounded as we are and looking for allies on the inside, we're giving these Northern Alliance guys our hearts, our good press, our guns and our money, hoping against hope that they won't turn on us like so many we've armed before. Odds are they will. Plus, in terms of women's rights, word is that the Northern Alliance isn't much better than the Taliban (or the Saudis). In power, they could be even worse.
Of course, if we want some sort of stability in Afghanistan once we're done tearing up the place playing hide-and-seek with Osama, we do have to back some homegrown group or other. My suggestion is that we throw our support behind the most democratic collection of freedom fighters in the region: RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.
Who is RAWA? RAWA is the woman behind the veil, the one whom all these Taliban, Northern Alliance, Iranian and Saudi men are desperately trying to hide. RAWA is the Afghan female fighting for the right to show her face, to get an education, to love whom she pleases and to live in some semblance of freedom and dignity. The women and men of RAWA are dedicated to their struggle against the Taliban fundamentalists and their foreign masters. They are determined to establish freedom, democracy, peace and women's rights in Afghanistan, and to launch an elected secularist government based on democratic values. Most of them live in the Khaiwa camp of Pakistan's northwestern frontier, a settlement of 500 Afghan families whose women don't wear burkas and do learn to read, an island of tolerance in a sea of misogyny.
The stunningly gorgeous land of Afghanistan (that I love so much, having spent an unforgettable month there when I was young) has been battered by foreign invasions and torn by civil wars, like a beautiful woman beaten by her husband and whipped by the religious police. The bombs fall, the winter sets in, the hunger deepens, the terror widens. It is as if the suffering of Afghanistan has become so intense that it is now throbbing throughout the world in all of our individual and collective feelings of anguish and terror. We are all Afghans now.
So, which Afghans do we trust to lead us from violence to peace? I cast my vote for the ladies, the political prisoners of Saudi money and Caliban ways. I must admit that I can't help but find those majestic bearded warrior-men to be quite sexy. Here's a slightly embarrassing confession: I've had several major orgasms in the last few weeks just imagining one of those cruelly sensuous moujahedeen whipping my ass for wearing my burqa too short. But I try not to let my pussy sway my politics. I believe that the most likely saviors of Afghanistan-and the world--lurk behind the fluttering grey-blue veils. I call upon our leaders to substantially and publicly support the brave women and men of RAWA now, the best hope for Afghanistan to find a freedom they can share with the world.
There's a marvelous idea I've seen circulating on the Internet regarding what to do with Osama if we ever manage to catch him. After all, if we kill the guy, he becomes a martyr, inspiring every kid with an ax to grind to become a celebrity terrorist. If we take him prisoner, we give him a forum to air his deadly views, not to mention putting ourselves at a much higher risk for terrorist acts from his upset followers. So here's what we should do, goes the idea: whisk him off to an unknown hospital in say, Thailand, force him to undergo a complete sex-change operation, then send him back to the Taliban to live as a woman.
It's a joke, of course, but it rings with a delicious sense of sexual justice. Plus, it helps heal that awful castrated feeling so many of us Americans have felt since our biggest phallic buildings were so painfully cut down. In that sense, it's a sort of sick, but somewhat therapeutic, anti-terror vengeance fantasy.
But enough about psychic healing. As a sex therapist, I'm a big believer in the curative powers of fantasy. But fantasies have their limits. Fantasies won't help much in the face of real bombs, real hunger and the very real enslavement of the Afghan female. Neither the fantasies of humiliated American dickheads nor the fantasies of wounded Afghan male chauvinists nor the fantasies of oily Saudi hypocrites nor even the fantasies of peace-mongering lady sex therapists.
But the reality of the Afghan women--the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters--the animas of all these extraordinary Afghan men--now, that's something we can bank on. Let us stop the bombing and put our money and our support behind RAWA, the future of a free Afghanistan and a less terrorized world.
For more information about RAWA, go to rawa.org.
For another great site featuring RAWA statements, interviews and commentary, go to feminista.com
SUSAN BLOCK'S JOURNAL ENTRIES