Week 8 Day 2 Discussion Question 1

On Monday, we considered misogyny and sexual violence as tools of U.S. settler colonialism.  For Wednesday’s class, we are considering misognyny and sexual violence as tools of U.S. warfare, focusing on Abu Ghraib, torture porn, and the case of Iraqi prisoner abuse.  Taken together, what do these two topics reveal about sexual violence as a tool of U.S. national power?

3 thoughts on “Week 8 Day 2 Discussion Question 1

  • April 6, 2022 at 2:13 pm

    Similar to the sexual violence of U.S. Settler colonialism, the torture porn and sexual violence used against Iraqi prisoners is used as an accessory to propagating dangerous and unjust power dynamics. To document and participate in such crimes is to engage the ultimate act of diminishing one’s identity and dignity. It shows how the U.S. humiliated and tortured Iraqi people – not just for answers, but for their own amusement and ego. When considering the link to sexual violence against Native people, Kaela makes an excellent point of linking this violence to identity – the identity of native people gave colonists a false sense of assumptions, perceptions and permissions to engage in assault and torture. It would be safe to say that Iraq, being a conservative Muslim country, was targeted with this specific torture method in mind. Ultimately, the link between the oppressors of Native people and Iraqi’s, is that these actions were done because they could be done so without consequence or repercussion, highlighting how power was used to conduct atrocities against marginalized groups.

  • April 6, 2022 at 12:12 pm

    Both readings highlight the exploitation of sexual violence and torture in order to obtain power. When looking at the Abu Ghraib, torture porn, and the case of Iraqi prisoner abuse, the U.S utilized this tactic in order to get the answers they were seeking to find following 9/11and the acts of terrorism prior to 2003. The use of sexual violence is the ultimate tool illustrating ultimate power over someone. Sexual violence reinforces the gender inequalities. Sexual violence has been employed as a strategic weapon of war for at least as long as historians have been documenting conflicts. The use of sexual violence demonstrates dominance. In terms of violating human rights and it being a “war crime,” war itself is a violation of human rights. War itself is tough to make any humanitarian arguments, the act of war itself is evil and portrays the ultimate lengths people will go to regain power or take the power from individuals. The Abu Ghraib torture was the epitome of taking advantage of Iraqi soldiers and exposing them in vulnerable ways to the public eye. This was the United States assertion of dominance over the Iraqi soldiers and the acts of violence they have previously executed.

  • April 6, 2022 at 10:26 am

    In both the readings for Monday as well as for today, sexual violence is used to dehumanize and disenfranchise people who are actively being oppressed by colonial powers. For indigenous women and the victims of U.S. war crimes, sexual abuse is the abuse of their identity; it is the complete violation of their cultural and religious identities and demeans in all aspects. The U.S. actively enjoys stripping people of their humanity this way; the photos from the Iraqi prison abuse confirm that for those enacting the abuse, it is something they want to record, remember, and share with their peers. Tetreault likens the photography of the Iraqi prisoner abuse to lynching postcards from the 20th century, where white communities gathered to murder and mutilate people of color, treating it like a social gathering. The U.S. revels in the spectacle of violence, and finds inherit pornographic pleasure in depictions of violence., and enacting it feeds the same sadistic drive to dehumanize those who are “other”. This is where colonial oppression finds power, it is in the raping of the people, of their cultures, identities, and land.

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