"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Baghdad Burning

There are so many things I could have written about in the last half of February. I had plans for posts about the talented and diverse female Academy Award nominees and about Norbit, the ridiculous new fat-suit movie starring Eddie Murphy, but none of that felt important anymore once I got engrossed in this book:
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Don't let the subtitle, "Girl Blog," mislead you into thinking it was written by a naive child. The author, who calls herself Riverbend, is an intelligent 24-year-old woman living in Baghdad who sheds light on what it is like to live in a war-torn country. She covers everything from the political climate, to what Iraq was like pre-occupation, to Iraqi culture and Islamic customs. Her open and honest writing also forcefully tears down countless stereotypes about Iraqi and Muslim people. She has been blogging since August of 2003, and the book is a full collection of her posts from that date through September 11, 2004, graciously put into print by the Feminist Press. The Press recently published a second book covering her posts from October, 2004, through March, 2006, but all of these posts as well as all of the new ones are available on the still-active blog, found at riverbendblog.blogspot.com.

Not every post is overtly feminist. In fact, only a small percentage of her writing deals specifically with women's issues. But it goes without saying that the mere presence of her powerful voice in the blogosphere is an inspiring political statement, as it is anytime an otherwise marginalized woman gets to tell her story. And when she does discuss the plight of Iraqi women, it becomes unquestionable that war is a feminist issue.
"More and more females are being made to quit work or school or college. I spent last month trying to talk a neighbor's mother into letting her 19-year-old daughter take her retests in a leading pharmaceutical college. Her mother was adamant and demanded to know what she was supposed to do with her daughter's college degree if anything happened to her daughter, "Hang it on her tombstone with the consolation that my daughter died for a pharmaceutical degree??? She can sit this year out."

The worst part of the whole show was when they showed a mortician in Baghdad claiming he hardly ever saw any rape victims! What rape victim is going to go, in our current situation, file a complaint? Who do you complain to? Besides that, women are too ashamed to make rape public, and why bother when you *know* the person will never be caught -- when no one is going to bother to look for the aggressor?"
As James Ridgeway states in the introduction to the second book of her posts:
"Dehumanization of the 'enemy' is a prerequisite of war - just as it is for terrorism and for torture - and Riverbend's work stands as a vital antidote to dehumanization. Writing from her home, she brings the war into homes around the world. As one reads Riverbend, the distance between Baghdad and New York or Washington - or Omaha, or Denver, or London, or Rome - diminishes."


Lori said...

Baghdad Burning is one of my favorite blogs! I've been reading her posts forever, and am so happy - thrilled-proud that her words and thoughts are getting a bigger audience. Thanks for giving her some press!

Tracey said...

Thanks for the comment! I'm so sorry I never saw it. The computer I post from gives me very limited access to the pages with all the settings, and I didn't realize there were comments waiting to be moderated. The problem should be solved now, though.