Consider the following, highly disturbing photographs documenting U.S. soldiers’ sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2003-04:
Now consider Mary Ann Tetreault’s commentary on the Abu Ghraib photographs, as exemplified by the following passages:
I would call these photographs pornographic, if we define pornography as a record of the violation of a subject’s physical and psychic integrity. However, many Abu Ghraib images also are pornographic in the conventional sense. Their subjects are naked and lewdly posed, some with clothed American women playing dominatrix roles. These photos . . . are like stills from snuff films, statements of the utter worthlessness of the prisoners and the life-and-death power over them exercised by their captors. And, like conventional pornography, these images convey complex messages about the persons who produced them. (Tetreault, 34)
Sexuality, coded according to complex cultural norms of feminine subjection to masculine power, infuses the language and acts of members of dominant groups against those they seek to subjugate. The pornography of Abu Ghraib constitutes a field report on the production and reproduction of US global dominance. (Tetreault, 34-35)
While a woman, PFC Lynndie England, performs the role of dominatrix in one of the photographs, Tetreault maintains that the images reflect “feminine subjection to masculine power.” Do you agree? What is your reaction to the photographs as they relate to the use of sexual violence as a nation-building tool?