File spoon-archives/french-feminism.archive/french-feminism_1999/french-feminism.9901, message 5

Date: Tue, 05 Jan 1999 16:54:35 -0800
Subject: Re: FWD: Russian feminism

1. Clitoridectomy and infibulation pre-dates Islamic rule and the practise
was often banned by Muslims. In certain areas, Muslims were convinced that
the practise must continue, because they were fed misinformation, for
example that a particular group of women had unusually large labia
(supposedly indicative of a large sexual drive).

2. If my memory serves me correctly, the G.I. Jane movie repeated the theme
that a woman who combines intellect with gut feelings can win the strategic
battles, be they against political, real, or imaginary enemies -- at home
or abroad. If anything, the movie promoted direct interactions between
Western women and Middle-Eastern men. 

At the beginning of the movie, G.I. Jane combines the most advanced
technology and her gut reasoning to successfully predict the location of
spectral representations (radar) of the enemy. But, when Demi Moore comes
almost face-to-face with her "Arab" enemy, before she can confront him, her
superior officer -- a man -- kills the Arab man. The shooting jeopardized
their position. G.I. Jane says something like, "I could have handled that
myself." This scene symbolized the potential for a peaceful resolution to
conflict if an American woman was able to directly face her enemy.
Moreover, preventing her from doing so potentially escalates the conflict. 

Whatever representation Jane gained in direct relationship to her American
brothers was usurped the moment she attempted to utilize it
(internationally). It is only by overcoming this barrier that G.I. Jane
succeeds in her mission (albeit, a bloody one). I do not approve of the
racism which led to characterizing the enemy as Middle-Eastern. At the same
time, a closer reading of the movie does reveal a complex of relations.

3. Some American feminists are men born and raised in Muslim countries. As
a matter of fact, an Iranian-American man introduced me to the writings of
Audre Lorde, Teresa De Lauretis, Julia Kristiva, and Adrienne Rich (to name
a few). I am currently discussing the writings of Helene Cixous with
another Iranian-American man.

White American feminist may hold a particularly acute position in relation
to Islamic men, and it may even be an egocentric position. But, in this day
and age, could anyone who called a whole society "barbaric" be called a
feminist? Individual barbaric practises, however, that take place on a
global scale are the responsibility of feminist worldwide. A couple of
white American girls in their twenties were instrumental in making rape a
war crime. They went up against the World Court, while their brothers in
international human rights were very condescending and barely helpful.
These "American girlfriends, both of them white, and middle-class," handled
it themselves.

Truth is proximal. The personal is, indeed, political. IMHO -- individual
contact, rather than inaccurate analysis, redefines relationships. 


At 08:43 PM 12/29/98 -0500, you wrote:
>dear french-feminists....
>any comments to the text below? i'd love to read them.
>---------------------------FWDED MSG----------------------------
>Moscow-based magazine "Radek", dedicated to theory, art and politics
>continues the project "mailradek in english". The information about the
>magazine is available on the Website:
>Everybody who doesn't receive it can send a "subscribe english mailradek"
>e-mail to, and we'll include him into the mailing list.
>        Our address is: Russia 117333 Moscow, Vavilova 48-237, for O.Kireev.
>tel./fax:(095)137 71 31.
>text no. 66:  Russian G.I.Janes
>        "Bill Clinton's personal crises -- the campaign-funding scandals,
>        an impending trial for sexual harassment, his various legislative
>        and domestic failures -- require him to look strong, determined
>        and "presidential" somewhere else, and where but in the Gulf
>        against Iraq has he so ready-made a foreign devil to set off his
>        blue-eyed strength to full advantage."
>        Edward Said
>As a Russian feminist I have always felt puzzled looking at American and
>British enchantment with Clinton's "blue-eyed strength". He is
>especially popular among American feminists, as CNN insists. I guess, mostly
>among those, who would strive to become as "G.I. Jane". Just like the
>heroine played by Demi Moore, they too would be able to exterminate
>REPRESENTATIONS of "primitive" faceless Arab men who oppress "their" women
>in the most barbaric manner (e.g. clitoridectomy).
>Why "representations"? Because the war today (and the previous one) is
>entirely fought and won "on screen" for American women - on TV or on
>ship/plane or on their computer screens off the net. These women do not
>situate themselves "face-to-face" and "body-to-body" with the Arabs. They
>only kill these "villainous" Arabs in their female phantasies. An
>international sexual division of labor. Probably, some of them actually
>think that by destroying Saddam Hussein despite some adverse effects on the
>Iraqi economy and a "few" other unfortunate casualties who "were inevitably
>caught in the crossfire", they are ultimately helping Iraqi women to free
>themselves from "barbaric" trends in their own patriarchal culture.
>Why do I feel puzzled as a "Russian" feminist? When the war in Chechnya
>started, a lot of Russian women supported this "show" of Russian military
>might and potency to those "Chechens and other blacks from Caucasus". Even
>today, one of my friends, a Russian feminist, genuinely believes that
>Muslims are "barbaric" to women, and my sister thinks that Chechens and
>other Russian "blacks" in Moscow reproduce like rats, posing a threat to
>Moscovite population. The virtual absence of any sort of civil protest
>against a deeply entrenched Russian racism and ethnocentrism towards
>Russian Muslims and "other blacks" shows that they are not alone.
>In its orientalism and racism Russian culture is not that "asiatic"
>as many Russophobes have claimed. Let's face the fact that it is pretty much
>Western/Christian too -- at least, in its "civilized superiority". Thus I
>must be "optimistic" -- Russian feminists have all chances of sisterhood
>with their American girlfriends, provided both of them are white,
>middle-class and have a precise idea of what is right and wrong for Muslim
>"White Feminists Of The World - Unite To Fuck Muslim Men!"
>                                                        Irina Aristarkhova
>project: Anatoly Osmolovsky and Oleg Kireev
>realization: mailradek
>-------------------------------END FWDED----------------------------
>     --- from list ---

     --- from list ---


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