June 02, 2004

SWATO: Sumerian Women Against the

SWATO: Sumerian Women Against the Occupation

Here’s a quick quiz question for you: How likely is it that “The National Women’s Studies Association” (NWSA) supported the liberation of Iraq? If you answered “About as likely as Dennis Kucinich ordering a plate of veal,” you’re spot on.

A correspondent from our Bloomington (IN) office recently sent us a copy of the Summer 2003 number of “NWSA Journal,” which bills itself as “A Publication of The National Women’s Studies Association,” and, in what is clearly one of the most astonishing moments in the history of American academia, the progenitors of so-called “women’s studies” were staunchly opposed to the war. Wow: Next you’re going to tell us that those in African-American studies departments harbored similar views!

In a curiously disregarded “Open Statement,” the NWSA opined:

As educators, NWSA members call for open democratic dialogue that will 1) identify the root causes and potential consequences of current U.S. policy in Iraq and 2) devise and implement non-violent methods of ending human oppression.

NWSA believes that all women’s studies practitioners, programs, and centers are obliged to create spaces for and lend their voices to such dialogue and analysis.

A rather odd view, is it not? After all, the unsavory lot known as women’s studies professors is supposedly enraptured by so-called “diversity.” Apparently, a diversity of perspectives is not what they're after. Rather, they yearn for a “democratic dialogue” in which everyone agrees with their suppositions. Fancy that! No wonder they like Saddam so much: They share his take on “democracy.”

Somehow, in what must be the gravest political blunder in modern American history, President Bush overlooked the NWSA’s statement, and went about liberating Iraq anyway. The über-feminists in women’s studies departments nation-wide must surely have been upset that Saddam Hussein could no longer continue his enlightened reign, and persist in his financial assistance to such female-friendly groups as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

In the self-same issue of “NWSA Journal,” the editor of the periodical, a woman who teaches “interdisciplinary studies” at the cosmopolitan Appalachian State University called “Margret (Maggie) McFadden,” contributed an introduction entitled “Women and War, Women and Peace.” If this piece doesn’t establish the foreign policy bona fides of women’s studies professors, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” don’t know what will. Maggie begins:

The present worldwide protest against the U.S.-led war with Iraq, protests in which women are playing a leading and essential part, are not new.

Okay, the protests against the liberation of Iraq have a long and distinguished pedigree. This is somewhat curious, as the decision to end the glorious regime of Saddam Hussein was fairly recent. In fact, this led us to ask: How long and distinguished is this pedigree? Thankfully, Maggie, in the very next sentence, comes to the rescue:

We can look back into the past and remember what women have done in ancient Sumer, Egypt, and Greece….

Wait a minute, Maggie. Are you implying that the protests against regime change in Iraq go back as far as the times of the women of Sumer? ("The Women of Sumer"—kind of sounds like a special on “E! Entertainment Television,” doesn’t it?) Now, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” aren’t the experts on Sumerian, Egyptian, and Greek history that Maggie obviously is, but we have the sneaking suspicion that she’s a few millennia off on her chronology. In fact, we’re pretty sure that the world’s first civilizations far predate the Baath Party in Iraq. It’s just a hunch.

If the proto-feminists in Sumer really did assemble the first protests against President Bush and his war, they proved mighty prescient. Although we may disagree with their political views, we must applaud SWATO—Sumerian Women Against the Occupation—for their supreme foresight. And we wonder what was their take on the Vietnam War.

Yet, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” still have a quibble with Maggie’s historical exempla. We have the distinct impression that Maggie’s mention of Greek women protesting stems from a few of the works of the Athenian comic playwright Aristophanes. Last we checked, Maggie, these plays were fictional. This, alas, led us to doubt the veracity of Maggie’s mentions of ancient Sumer and Egypt.

Maggie could always offer the classic Hayden White Defense: History cannot relate the truth, but is merely an ideological fiction, as fanciful as any novel. Touché! If Maggie wishes to employ this clever debating strategy, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” wonder why she didn’t mention the Sabine women’s successful attempt to stop the Romans and the Sabines from warring. Sure, modern historians consider this tale shrouded in myth and fancy, but why should this stop Maggie from introducing it?

Could it be that Maggie’s knowledge of Roman history is not as deep-seated as her understanding of the intricacies of ancient Sumer, Egypt, or Greece? And, we hasten to add, her uncanny familiarity with modern American politics?

Posted at June 2, 2004 12:01 PM | TrackBack