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From My Corpus Callosum

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December 3, 2001: My deepest sympathies to everyone affected by the September 11 atrocities, especially the families and friends of the victims. This webpage contains interesting letters and commentaries I get regarding Out of the Cave: Exploring Gray's Anatomy, as shown by the archives. However, because of September 11, I have not posted any letters in this issue of From My Corpus Callosum. When a friend called a few days after the terrorist attacks and said, "It felt like Mars, the god of war, had invaded planet Earth," I knew I had to make a statement on the tragedies. Instead of letters, this issue has links to articles which probe the connections between terrorism and the global Mars&Venus mentality.

By all means, please keep the cards and letters coming. In the next issue of From My Corpus Callosum, I will revert back to posting the most interesting letters and keep a promise I made to my readers on August 18: a commentary on the Gray-inspired terror of The Surrendered Wife.

As the universe gasped at the collapse of the World Trade Center, it felt like "everything had changed forever." But for a critic of Mars&Venus, what had really changed? A few days after the attacks, a friend told me she couldn't stop thinking of Crown Him Patriarch. "It felt like Mars, the god of war, invaded planet Earth," she exclaimed. "How much did patriarchy have to do with the attacks? Isn't it connected with terrorism?"

Unfortunately, few are asking those questions, which shows that some things didn't change after September 11. Neither President Bush nor the peace movement asked why terrorists are almost always young males, pundits trivialized Mohamed Atta's misogyny, First Lady Laura Bush gave feminists no credit for raising global consciousness of the Taliban's brutal oppression of women, and the mass media continued supporting patriarchal relationship "experts" as it showed--one more time--Saira Shah's splendid documentary, Beneath the Veil, to shore up support for the war.

We Americans have been here before. Decades before Osama bin Laden became a household word, the mass media constantly reported on "youth" violence, never noting that almost all of those "youths" were white middle-class males. Years before Mohamed Atta allegedly commandeered the World Trade Center suicide mission, America stood in horror at the Jonesboro shootings, ignoring the fact that all the "children" killed were female. Months before Laura Bush decried the Taliban's egregious human rights abuses against women, her husband's administration appointed anti-feminists Wade Horn and Elaine Chao to key leadership positions. And almost one decade before Oprah Winfrey invited Afghan feminists to be on her show, she was promoting "Dr" Gray's career.

After two Jonesboro, Arkansas boys terrorized America on March 24, 1998, President Clinton invited us to look at "the common elements" that perpetuate violence. After nineteen men terrorized America and the world on September 11, 2001, President Bush declared a war on terrorism, which provoked pundits to demand that we unflinchly explore its multi-faceted roots.

If the world really wants to end attacks by Mars, the god of war, it must take a hard look at how it perpetuates male supremacism. As long as the world demands that little boys become Martians and that little girls become the Venusians who support them, we will have our hands full with Osama bin Ladens and Timothy McVeighs. As long as we remain silent about male privilege while professing support for women's rights, men like John Gray will continue to insidiously terrorize women. As legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon noted:

"When the platitudes about 'tragedy' are done, the moralistic sanctimony over evil spent, and the transparent grasping of authorities for authority, of the powers for power, is for the moment over, will we face this: This is a man-made atrocity."

"We made the men who could, and did, do it. We need to look at how."

Listed below are stimulating and sometimes challenging articles which explore the connections between terrorism and the global Mars&Venus mentality:

  • Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan!
    In November 1998, I posted resources on anti-Taliban activism in the addendum to Those Martian Women! Since the terrorist attacks, the world has taken gender apartheid more seriously. Still, the fight is not over and I urge everyone to support the campaigns of the Feminist Majority Foundation and RAWA.

  • World Culture War
    Meredith Tax argues persuasively that feminism is a linchpin of the global culture war(s) between fundamentalism and modernity. While she never mentions Mars&Venus, she still reminds us that John Gray's books, which are popular in Iran, are part of the yearning for a semi-mythical global past, where men ruled everything and women supposedly were happy about it.

  • The Mohamed Atta Files
    Michelangelo Signorile divulges information about the troubled relationship between Mohamed Atta and his father, who chided him for being "girlish" and wanted him to "toughen up". Again, I couldn't help wondering about the connections between terrorism, patriarchy, homophobia, and Mars, the god of war.

  • The Common Element
    Allan G. Johnson's incisive commentary on the Jonesboro killings and our culture's denial of the connections between patriarchy and violence is equally applicable to September 11.

  • Terror's First Victims and News Reports
    Janelle Brown writes about women under the Taliban and mentions the Gray-affirmed "surrendered wife" cult in the United States. Trish Wilson compiles a wide variety of news reports on the politics of terrorism and challenges us to wonder, "If the USA ever had a Taliban, what would it look like? Who would be responsible for it? And how could we stop it?"

  • Veiled Threat and The School for Violence
    Barbara Ehrenreich maintains that to fully grasp the dangers of the post-Sept. 11 world, we have to examine the Taliban's hatred of women. Riane Eisler shows why terror is built into the patriarchal, or dominator, system.

  • Masculinity As a Foreign Policy Issue and The Belligerent Bunch
    Cyhthia Enloe urges American policymakers to include gender issues in their analyses of foreign policy. Don Hazen summarizes the mass media camapaign to "damn Sadaam" and concludes that macho jingoism, not passionate patriotism, undergirds its belligerence. Says Enloe: "A feminist analysis . . . demonstrates that popular gender presumptions are not just the stuff of sociology texts. Every official who has tried not to appear 'soft' knows this." Says Hazen: "No matter how far the Bush administration goes in expanding security power and remaking the international landscape, the war boys will still be calling for more."

  • Rape and Violence Against Women Have Always Been Terrorism and The Home Front
    Nikki Craft lambasts our culture's exploitation of feminist issues to win support for a war and David Vest challenge our culture's selective, "gender-neutral" definitions of terrorism. Says Nikki: "No nation on earth has ever gone to war for women's rights. We are not likely to be the first." Says David: "Is it terrorism only when men are equally at risk?" He hopes that in the aftermath of 9/11, "maybe we'll even have less patience with people who "harbor" terrorists . . .who support the domestic Taliban when it counsels women to 'submit.'"

    Most readers will probably disagree with Craft and Vest's anti-war views, but their pungent comments about patriarchy and terrorism deserve a hearing.

  • Fabulous Feminist Beate Sirota Gordon
    Historians usually give Douglas MacArthur the credit for "liberating" Japanese women after World War II. However, Beate Sirota Gordon should get the honors. Born in Vienna, raised in Japan, and university-educated in the United States, she led the campaign to include women in the new Japanese Constitution. In a post-Taliban Afghanistan, I suspect the feminists who restored women's rights will be treated like Beate Sirota Gordon, which underscores the need for a feminist anti-defamation and education league.

  • I Cried . . . I Laughed . . .the Fall of Kabul
    Tahira Khan grieves over the oppression of the Afghan people, but laughs at the innocence of Western activists and the hypocrisy of the American media. "I laughed. . . . .at the supersonic speed, the Western media has shown to discover Afghan women's existence as human beings."

Tahira Khan isn't the only person laughing at the media. As I read the December 2001 issue of O, I laughed . . . and I cried. I laughed at Oprah's simultaneous support of anti-Taliban feminists and "apolitical" relationship experts like Dr. Phil, who's scarcely less patriarchal than "Dr" Gray. I cried at her cozy assertions that September 11 proved "we are part of the family called America" and what novelist and feminist activist Isabel Allende told her it means in her native Chile: on Tuesday, September 11, 1973, the CIA orchestrated a military coup against one of the oldest democracies in Latin America. The brutal Pinochet regime lasted for 17 years.

As I begin working on my final essay, Transforming Our Mars&Venus Society, September 11 is challenging my sense of focus. It is so tempting to keep showing the links between Mars&Venus and global politics . . . and ignoring "Dr" Gray's latest placations. But regardless of what happens on the world stage, the relationships industry will keep churning out patriarchal advice and someone will have to blow the whistle on how it silently terrorizes women. In the face of continuing backlash, it is not enough for these whistle blowers to be individuals. They must be oganizations.

Someday, somehow, feminists need to build an organized egalitarian relationships movement along with a feminist anti-defamation and education league. Yes, these goals are ambitious. However, Greenwich Village resident Robin Morgan, a veteran of 35 years of radical feminist activism who saw the Twin Towers collapse, urges us never, ever, ever give up:

Even as we mourn, we somehow must continue to dare audaciously to envision and revision a different way, a way out of this savage age, to a time when our species will look back and gasp, recoiling at its own former barbarism. Even as we weep, we must somehow reorganize to reaffirm our capacity to change the world, each other, and ourselves--to insist, even in the teeth of despair, on a politics that is possible and necessary: a politics not of thanatos and death, but of eros and joy.




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Copyright 2001 Kathleen Trigiani. All rights reserved.