Students Against Othering

Mission Statement

Students Against Othering’s (SAO) mission is to educate the public about the dangers and consequences of othering, specifically in relation to Muslims and Arabs. We here at SAO hope to educate the general public about the existence of othering, and how it effects many minority groups. We hope to raise awareness through showing identifiable examples of othering, and how this is a part of everyday life for targeted minorities such as Muslims and Arabs. Our goal is to show that our differences as human beings should be celebrated, and that we as a people should work toward understanding rather than assimilation. Respect, awareness, and understanding of different cultures are vital aspects to the solution to othering. Unfortunately, othering is one of the many results of unequal power dynamics, but we hope to convince people with and without power to treat one another with respect and understanding, and therefore diminish othering worldwide.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Exploitation of Afghan Women

           Using women for war is the issue being discussed here. It is of course important to publicize problems in efforts to stop violence and oppression everywhere. However, the question is how does the U.S. go about publicizing problems such as domestic violence? And by doing so, are we perpetuating the exploitation and oppression of women?
Could the violence discussed in this video happen if the U.S. leaves Afghanistan? These pictures in TIME magazine are important but also very emotionally charged. This video explores the idea of Afghan women being exploited through large, moving pictures. Is this particular case a form of exploitation that can be accepted in order for their stories to be told to the rest of the world? How much of the story was fully given by this woman? Was it her choice to be photographed and interviewed and have her story told?
Anushay Hossaine argues that the use of these pictures would be okay if the U.S. was actually doing something for the women while at war and not using them as an excuse. Could exploitation in this way serve as a stepping-stone towards more meaningful and virtuous action? What could the U.S. do to offer support and aid for cases like this one without employing hegemony on the Afghani society?
In comparison, we were not allowed to see pictures of the dead soldiers for an intended purpose. In my opinion, sharing stories is one of the most powerful and empowering forms of communication and I support anyone who wants to share their story in order to bring to light their situation and enact change. However, if it is not the choice of the storyteller to give their information and share part of themselves with the public, I do not think it is right to force someone to tell their story. It is a violation of human rights and continues the “Othering” problem that we encounter when learning about other cultures.
Saving Muslim Women, as Lila abu-Ludghod argues, is the discourse that was used by the Bush administration to justify going to war in Afghanistan. This form of exploitation only furthers the problem because all we ever see as the American public is the horrific pictures, video clips and stories. We never here about what is being done to alleviate these problems or even the plan of action to change this violent oppression.
The media such as TIME magazine focused on the oppression of Muslim women and the campaign to Save Muslim Women after 9/11. Abu-Lughod claims that this discourse has a colonial resonance—that white men are positioned as needed to save these women of color. The women in this video don't explicitly say this, however they welcome aid from the U.S. if that were the only mission of the military.
            In the same way that Chelser’s article, “The Violent Oppression of Women in Islam,” evokes strong emotion in the reader, there is a fine line between honorable efforts and exploitation of a devastating story. We should solely promote strategies and methods of empowerment with women caught in these very violent, unjust situations. The role of power dynamics is very critical here. It can be defying and counter-productive to take the power away from these women again by displaying their story as a charitable, sad case.

By: Gianna Fazioli
Works Cited
Spencer, R. and Chesler, P. 2007. The Violent Oppression of Women in Islam. David Horowitz Freedom Center. 5-25.

"Afghan Women Exploited by US Media"Youtube.com09 August 2010.

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