In my recent quest to keep informed about the current situation in Iran and relay information regarding the Green Revolution there, I was reading an interview tonight with a noted feminist author and American professor of politics discussing the role played by women activists in recent Iranian protests. After slogging about halfway through the bloated academic tripe this woman was spewing, I found myself increasingly aggravated at her assumptions about feminism going hand-in-hand with non-violence, and thus I am in need of a rant to a (hopefully) willing audience. Guess what? You've been volunteered...
You see, she's not the first feminist (or anti-war activist) I've heard this sort of thing from. Now, while I consider myself a card-carrying feminist (albeit of dubious pedigree - I like Camile Paglia, after all), and while I have been known to engage in anti-war activism, I do not believe that women are by nature anti-war. However, I am endlessly being told that we are, often by well-meaning anti-war feminists who think that women are the key to ending global warfare. Boy, are they naive.
Shortly after 9/11, I had the dubious privilege of arguing a path of non-violence to people who wanted to turn Afghanistan into a glass parking-lot. Foremost amongst them? A woman. Time and time again, I hear women arguing in favor of war, even if they themselves would never dream of sullying their own hands on violence. If they won't fight themselves, they'll egg their men on to do so.
When I was a teenager, I was a pacifist and a budding young anti-war activist, raised to be that way and thus raised to be a target. Growing up in Boeing's backyard, needless to say, my opinions were not welcome, and I spent a fair amount of time getting beat up on by kids with no such philosophical limitations. Funny thing is, once I dropped the pacifism and learned basic self-defense, I no longer found myself the target of such violence. The more I learned about how to dish out violence, the less need I found for it.
What I do see a need for is for women to stop being told by well-meaning feminists that they should identify with a lack of willingness to fight back. Endlessly being told that women are anti-war belies our genetic capacity to fight (and to fight dirty, if need be), and makes far too many women into victims. Bullies go for easy targets, and if you're an easy target, you'll be dead before your non-violent principles get you anywhere. Plus, it's easy to be non-violent when you're not getting shot at, mugged, or raped. Academics preaching non-violence need to put themselves in harm's way before I'll be convinced by them.
Someone who has put herself in harm's way repeatedly in the name of non-violence is Starhawk, who I greatly admire. And yet, I do not see myself ever being willing to die in the hopes that some thug will feel guilty enough over killing me that he (or she) will stop oppressing my fellows. It is notable that in the wake of reports from Iran about armed Basij killing unarmed protesters, Starhawk has been strangely silent.
Though I admire the willpower required to stand against one's oppressors non-violently, and though I agree with George Bernard Shaw, who said that "the first man to raise a fist is the man who has run out of ideas," nonetheless, I rage against those who think that violence is solely the domain of patriarchy. Warrior genes don't discriminate by gender, and neither does death. And I'll not deny my innate will to protect myself and my own just so I can look like a better woman to people who clearly have no clue what a woman, and a feminist, truly is.