112 - The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop...

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Unformatted text preview: The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid THE INTERSECTIONS OF FEMINISM AND IMPERIALISM IN THE UNITED STATES ANN RUSSO DePaul University, USA Abstract------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This essay offers a critical analysis of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan in terms of its synchronicity with US imperial- ism and militarism. While the FMF’s Campaign draws public attention to the discrimi- nation and violence facing Afghan women under the Taliban, its discourse is embedded in an ahistorical and Orientalist framework that assumes the benevolence and superior- ity of the US in establishing gender equality. Thus, the FMF reproduces an imperial femi- nism tied to US state interests in empire building – a feminism that evades accountability for the consequences of US militarism while it establishes its own power and authority in determining the future of Afghanistan. The imperial feminism of the FMF is an example of how actions taken to challenge hegemony can in fact support and reify the hegemonic projects of the state. In effect, the FMF draws upon the same imperialist and problematic ideas about women as those expressed by the Bush administration to protect Afghan women in the name of empire.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Keywords Afghanistan, gender apartheid, imperial feminism, international feminism, Orientalism, US militarism INTRODUCTION In the aftermath of 11 September 2001 (9 / 11), the Bush administration justified the ‘war on terrorism’, specifically in relation to Afghanistan, in part by the notion that the US must act in order to ‘save Afghan women’ International Feminist Journal of Politics, 8:4 December 2006, 557–580 ISSN 1461-6742 print = ISSN 1468-4470 online # 2006 Taylor & Francis http: == www.tandf.co.uk/journals DOI: 10.1080 = 14616740600945149 and to restore women’s human rights. The US media built on this justification by flooding the news with images and stories about the plight of women in the Taliban’s Afghanistan. As a result, many in the US were alerted to some of the harsh realities of women’s lives in Afghanistan and this in turn affirmed US military and political intervention as a legitimate method of establishing ‘gender equality’. Feminists were divided over the US response to 9 / 11, parti- cularly with respect to the invasion of Afghanistan. The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), for instance, did not join in the public mobilization against the military invasion but rather welcomed the focus on the Taliban’s gender apartheid and gender violence. The FMF, in conjunction with many other feminist and human rights organizations in the USA, had been spear- heading a ‘Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan’ campaign since the mid-1990s. Thus, they saw the post-9mid-1990s....
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112 - The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop...

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