Teaching Gender Equality to Afghan Men: Using Gunshots to the Head

Referring to Pakistan (because apparently no cultural knowledge of Afghanistan is available, or, the geographic displacement allows the writers to malign and stereotype a related culture without endangering their relations with Afghans), the website of the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System states the following:

“Similar attacks have been carried out in Pakistan against women working in professional capacities outside the home in rural areas.”

That is on a page allegedly dedicated to the memory of Paula Loyd, who was attacked by Abdul Salam in a market in Afghanistan on November 4, 2008, set on fire, and she died from her injuries more than two months later, on January 7, 2009. She worked for a U.S. military program at the time of her death, and had served several years in the U.S. Army, both full time and later as a reservist. She was  a staff sergeant. She also had a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology.

What Loyd’s many online mourners and sympathizers — one must be careful and say alleged mourners and sympathizers — have done is to use the fact of her death as a way of reproducing a stereotype of all cultures and all men in Afghanistan. In the process, they miss some outstanding facts, and even put Loyd herself in disrepute, hence alleged supporters, because they do her memory no favours.

Paula Loyd was supposedly a cultural specialist when it came to Afghanistan. She also had a degree in anthropology, not an advanced one, but a degree nonetheless. She had spent several years in Afghanistan. According to Paula Loyd herself, she was not subject to the same rules and standards as Afghan women — please read this, because the last time I produced this quote, it was conveniently ignored by bigots whose only mission is to verbally defecate on another nation, in support of their imperial conquest:

“Sometimes I’ll be talking to the men in a village and they’ll turn to the interpreter and say, ‘Is that a man or a woman?’ But I haven’t had any problems with them. They’ve all been very nice,” Loyd said….Loyd said Afghans do not expect their societal norms to apply to her because she is not from their culture. “So the fact that I’m a woman doesn’t mean I need to be in a burka and they can’t deal with me. They take me for who I am, they accept me for who I am. And they’re willing to work with me,” she said. (source)

.
She apparently reflected this very thinking in speaking to Abdul Salam. Whatever Afghan norms may be regarding professional women and so forth, Loyd says they were not applied to her. This attack, therefore, cannot be understood as “another example” of how Afghan men treat women, and therefore the focus of so many American commentators is entirely misplaced to begin with — that is, if we believe Loyd. (Apparently, her employers at the Human Terrain System do not believe her, and have a fundamentally different interpretation which they seek to push, on a page dedicated to her memory.)

If we do not believe Loyd, and most of her online mourners do not realize that they in fact undermine her credibility and her knowledge, then there are only two options available: Loyd was ignorant, and really did not understand Afghan culture; or, she did understand, she persisted regardless, and she would have expected such an attack, and therefore she was just stupid. Either way, her supposed mourners and sympathizers put her in this position, not me.

Keep in mind, none of her teammates apparently thought anything was unusual about a local man speaking to Loyd, since none intervened immediately sensing possible danger.

Now, what do the many online American critics of Salam like to say repeatedly? The attack on Loyd is representative of Afghan culture (they think there is only one), which does not discriminate between local and foreign females, and all independent and professional females are to be targeted for murder. So they know better than Loyd.

Moreover, they use the opportunity of her death to stereotype and malign a culture.  Then why are Americans there? Is it to teach Western norms of gender equality, and thereby to “civilize” these people? If so, what civilizing lessons are taught by gunshots to the head, applied to detainees who are supposedly protected by the very international conventions on war crimes to which the U.S. is a signatory, and with which the U.S. refuses to comply?

Salam was murdered by foreign occupiers in his own country. Those claiming to have any interest in “equality,” can begin by addressing that perverse equation, their own imperial hypocrisies, their guttural cultural slander, and then their misplaced sympathies and third grade sentimentality.

In the meantime, the official website of the Human Terrain System continues to use Paula Loyd to pander to vulgar cultural racism.

[see also: “Dr. Rat: Defender of the Rat People.”]

_______

32 thoughts on “Teaching Gender Equality to Afghan Men: Using Gunshots to the Head

  1. My question is,

    Are you really this brilliant or are the people you’re arguing with really that stupid?

  2. I really appreciated this article because it draws some very clear lines through the racism, ignorance, and confusion of a lot of people who claim to be upset about Loyd’s death, and then go and submit some of the ugliest comments I have read in a long time on the Boston Globe. I mean the same article where you were quoted – http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2009/02/12/anthropologists_war_death_reverberates/?page=full#.

    I also live in Montreal by the way and while I have been reading several articles on this blog over the last three weeks, it’s only this morning that I discovered that you live here too.

  3. Thanks very much eliza, and with any luck we might get to meet some day. I am very happy not just for your visit today, but the prior visits that you alluded to above. I also read your responses to the Boston Globe reader commentaries and I have to say that you really hit several nails on the head simultaneously. Most of those people are refusing to ask themselves some basic, preliminary questions, which is why my response to MadAxe was not meant to be a “snappy” as he thinks. I begin by asking questions of what such people pose as definitive conclusions, and reveal that they contradict themselves, or lead into other conclusions that they would find unsavory. I then ask what are the alternative interpretations one can draw, on the basis of the available evidence, especially if the previous interpretations simply do not work. I am glad you focused on that quote from Loyd, because if they dare to read it, she shuts them up.

    I read the comment about occupation being a sinister political word that should not be used, and your excellent response. I agree fully. What I would have added is that this “Afghan Vet” has probably been dangerously over exposed to the mind-rotting indoctrination of higher ups, right up to Donald Rumsfeld. Remember how Rumsfeld used to have these drill sessions in front of the press corps, trying to outlaw words like “resistance”? His solutions were absurd, and got him into deeper trouble: early on, he referred to the resistance as “technicals”, a mere borrowing from Somalia. Then it became the “fedayeen”, which was worse because here he was using a Palestinian term of glorification. Eventually, yes, it finally was resolved that the resistance really was a resistance.

    Until Americans learn to hover, silently, in mid-air, or withdraw from Afghanistan having invaded it, yes, it can only be an occupation. I noticed the person you responded had NO alternative term. There is nothing like destructive criticism without offering a productive solution. He/she is intellectually lazy: no definitions offered, no alternative terms and their definitions, and no reason for making different choices other than the same old, dumb, repetition: the criticism is political, the thing being criticized is above politics.

    How tragic is the deadening of the brain, with the domestication of counterinsurgency propaganda in the U.S.

  4. Hi Max,

    Interesting argument line. Just a quick note, however, on the logic which I know you don’t need (grin). It is dangerous to confuse population level statements, such as those about “X culture” or “X people” and individual level statements such as the actions of person “X”. When you argue that

    “If we do not believe Loyd, and most of her online mourners do not realize that they in fact undermine her credibility and her knowledge, then there are only two options available: Loyd was ignorant, and really did not understand Afghan culture; or, she did understand, she persisted regardless, and she would have expected such an attack, and therefore she was just stupid. Either way, her supposed mourners and sympathizers put her in this position, not me.”

    you are using a binary (crisp set; either/or) logic at a population level to apply to the actions of an individual person.

    Having said that, it is also probably the only logical form that the people you are trying to argue with will understand (wry grin). “They” use an even more invalid form of tautology – selective interpretation of the individual to reinforce a population level suppositional conclusion. You are bang on when you say that “This attack, therefore, cannot be understood as “another example” of how Afghan men treat women”.

    Stepping back from specifics of the logic for a minute, what is really bothering me about the “bloody flag” rhetoric (although the Jenkin’s Ear incident [cf: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_Jenkins%27_Ear ] would be a better example) is the resonances with the worst of 19th century imperialist attitudes (i.e. the Belgian attitude of we’ll civilize you or kill you in the attempt) combined with an attitude towards republican “democracy” resembling that of the counter-reformation.

  5. “you are using a binary (crisp set; either/or) logic at a population level to apply to the actions of an individual person.”

    Not exactly, no — I am referring to it, for certain, because otherwise I cannot even address it.

    The clear statement made by many commentators is that Salam’s actions are representative of a culture. I take their view as a starting point for my questioning, to show how their views do not work even on their own terms. I am happy that we both agree on this, and I appreciate your commentary, because you clearly see what at least one of our roles as anthropologists ought to be in such public debates.

    I gather that the average hater also hates anthropology, for challenging them to think of others as humans, or for asking them to understand how an individual is not representative of a whole culture, nor is a whole culture representative of an individual. In fact, culture itself, once again becomes a deeply problematic concept, and I can better understand why so many anthropologists are so eager to throw out their once favourite child.

    Incidentally, you know that some people, even on this blog, have been writing that what Salam did to Loyd was an honour killing? I mean, really, it is laughable. Now Salam not only mistook Loyd to be an Afghan woman, he mistook her for his bride or daughter, and in fact, he probably cannot distinguish between a bride and daughter either. Another said that what Ayala did to Salam would be acceptable to Afghans, as it too was an honour killing. In this case, Salam was Ayala’s daughter or bride. The only statement missing here is: “Who’s your daddy, bitch.”

  6. I think this is actually a case that’s almost irrelevant to culture, at least to a specific culture – A man attacked and gravely injured (at the time) a woman of obvious great importance to another man. The second man killed the first man for it. I don’t think this is any more an expression of imperialistic conquest, than the attack/killing of Loyd was an expression of Afghan cultural attitudes towards women.
    You are as guilty of mis-understanding, and painting with the broad brush of narrow-mindedness, by using the death of Loyd and the action taken by Ayala to push your attitudes of the international military presence in Afghanistan as an “imperial occupation”. You have an obvious agenda, against HTS and what you see as its un-ethical use of anthropology, and against what you also seem to see as Western Imperialist attitudes (a view which seems to color your perception of everything military, or relating to current conflicts). You are using the death of Ms. Loyd, and a series of assumptions about the actions leading up to and following her attack, to further that agenda and your stereotypes, in the same despicable manner that those you attack are using it to further their own stereotypes.
    You’re not above the mud on this one Dr. Forte, you’re simply slinging in a different direction – But its the very same mud. You’re dining out on tragedy, and suffering. And doing so, I might add, without any seeming compassion for those actually involved. They are tools at your disposal, their suffering a device, a lever, for argument – That’s not seeing people as human beings either.

    I think what happened was a tragedy. But I see no large scale implications of it either way. Yes it was violence towards a woman – This is not a unique trait to Afghan’s, of any stripe, or Middle Eastern men in general. It is however not a defensible behavior anywhere, no matter how marginalized, or minority, the source. Nor is murder defensible. It’s immoral, at in the view of most cultures in most circumstances (morality being the rather culturally diverse thing it is). But, it is understandable – Seeing others as human beings, we have to at least allow for them to be driven by passion and rage. Drawing conclusions, one way or another, about entire societies or cultures (on either side of the killings), from this tiny incident is, at the least, irresponsible. Frankly, its childish.
    Doing so to further an agenda? Reprehensible.

  7. You know, Max, I’ve been thinking about this for the past couple of hours and it has inspired my latest post. When I came back to check your response, I cracked up laughing – “honour killing”? Gods, I hadn’t even noticed that comment! Loved the “missing statement” too ;-).

    “In fact, culture itself, once again becomes a deeply problematic concept, and I can better understand why so many anthropologists are so eager to throw out their once favourite child.”

    Really, it’s always been problematic because of a totally naive interpretation of “culture” as an objective force or quality (wry grin). It’s one of the reasons I always appreciated Taylor’s work when he attempted to isolate something concrete, or Boas’ similar work.

  8. Oh how very romantic of you, MAtwood. Really, such sentimentality so genuine it could have come from the mouth of a seven year-old, moves me to tears.

    Everybody is using her death, including her own family…and you. You, I say, because you have now chosen to intervene in this debate around her death, to push your own agenda.

    Anybody who doubts that the U.S.’ war in Afghanistan is anything other than an imperialist occupation is a useless fool, blinded to their own nation’s propaganda, not a liar but something far worse: someone who believes their own lies. It shows in your writing, your desperate, breathless quest to decontextualize and personalize the entire issue, a mere encounter between three people, totally divested of power, politics, etc. In your mind, they were all naked and disarmed too, no uniforms, no assault rifles and pistols, no MRAP in the background. How very convenient for the imaginary Lifetime Channel movie that your are filming in your imagination.

    What happened to Loyd was no more of a tragedy than what happens to the many nameless ones who also die because of this war. What is reprehensible is your selective focus, and it’s ugly and shameful. Loyd got into a war, and got killed. It’s a political war. You do not expect serious and intelligent people to separate the persons from the politics that they engage in freely. Loyd had her own agenda, and she was part of an agenda. Stop making her out to be some sort of innocent little lamb. In the meantime, when soldiers accompanying HTS members who were killed, as in the case of Bhatia, also die…notice that the HTS website does not deem it worthy to even mention their names. They don’t count. But Loyd did?

    And really, wipe away the tears and grow the hell up. For an adult, your message is pretty disturbing.

  9. I’m curious, Dr. Forte, is the style you use here on your blog is actually your professional “voice”. I imagine attending a conference with you would be quite entertaining, if it is. Your irreverent and insulting demeanor must liven up a panel discussion like nothing other.

    I personally never claimed to be above any of the mud slinging, or capitalizing on deaths or any of it. I was simply attempting to point out that, despite your tone to the contrary, you weren’t above it either. You brought no intellectual or moral superiority to the table, you were simply entering another dog in the fight.

    I think its interesting too that you use Loyd more as an object of revulsion, than anything else. Others pity her, others feel for her suffering, but you cast her as an agent of her own death, and nearly a deserving one. Serving her imperialist masters, her death could only have been expected, you seem to be asking us to assume. The Afghani who killed her, alternatively, his death is to be pitied and mourned. He a defenseless man of another culture, lashing out against the symbols of power and western imperial invasion with a modest flammable liquid, only to have the agents of that power and imperialism shoot him down like a dog. He died much quicker, and in less pain, than Ms. Loyd, but that doesn’t matter – He died an undeserving death, while she, she apparently died a perfectly acceptable and expected death for what she dared do.
    She dared use her education to assist a military in keeping its soldiers alive – Soldiers who are trying to stabilize a region, and prevent a return of oppressive fundamentalist regimes ala the Taliban. Soldiers who are not just of a prosperous (well, once) western nation – Given that there is an international force in Afghanistan, cooperating with one another. But I suppose the Canadian government is imperialist as well, as is the Swedish, and numerous others who have contributed soldiers to the force.
    Yes, surely they are Imperialists. Surely Afghanistan was better off as a nation run by the very worst of fundamentalist religious fanatics (who did their best to divest Afghanistan of culture, and do so by force). Surely the West only wants to use Afghanistan for its own ends, rape the country and its women, and profit off them. The new U.S. president and his administration, with their latest troop surge, are only shifting the balance of power – Taking Imperialism out of the hands of White westerners, and giving that power to minority westerners. Still imperialists all.
    Thank you for showing us the error of our ways, and how we’ve been brainwashed by our imperialist masters.

    As for the encounter – Fine, let us re-contextualize it, let us examine the motivations and the actions that came of it.
    Why did Ms. Loyd get burned? If this was not the action of one individual man, irrelevant to his culture, then why was she attacked?
    And, did Mr. Ayala commit murder by the laws and traditions of the culture of the man he killed? Was a crime actually committed as far as the society where the death occurred is concerned?
    Aren’t we all projecting our moralities, dependent upon our cultures, onto the situation? What does the culture in which it occurred say about it?

  10. Yes, I am very entertaining in fact, in all spheres of interaction. No, this is not my “professional” voice, this is my blog. Do you follow this much? I am worried now, because you seem to have glided past everything and anything I said on your soft little pillow of smug self-assurance as the proper voice of morality.

    I suggest you read my very latest post, for more entertainment. It was written for those in the front pew, like yourself.

    Marketing the Martyr: Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale…Paula Loyd

    Oh yes, I also beat my wife.

    Goodbye.

  11. I would expect nothing less from a Cannuck, who has lived his whole life under the protective umbrella of a country he obviously detests. I really truly hope the chickens come home to roost. What will be your droll observations if these atrocities become common place in say, Vancouver? I presume you will be there handing out matches.

    Your obvious hatred of all things American and your slant towards the Islamic left precludes anyone from taking you serious.

    100,000 dead Afghanis? Oh please. Civilian casualties last year were 2118, the highest on record since the invasion. So over seven years that makes maybe 14,000 at most. 55% or 1164 were attributed to acts by Islamic radicals last year alone. Are you sure your burka has not slipped down over your eyes? Believe me if the US wanted to kill civilians they could sure do a better job than you state they have to date.

  12. Excellent!

    Thanks very much Keith, this is the kind of good humour that I wish more people would show when posting here. I am worried that some people might now think I am mocking opponents and posting highly stereotyped and cliched statements myself, under a pseudonym.

    But this was great, even down to writing “Cannuck” with two “n'”s, because I am a “Cannadian.” Loved the nationalist jingoism, the routine Islamophobia, the tense fear-mongering, and the protective umbrella idea :-D

    Well done!

  13. 100,000 dead Afghans? By the way, it is AFGHANS, not “Afghanis.” Where do you get this number?

    Islamic left??? I thought they were “Islamo fascists.” I suppose now they will morph into “godless Muslims.” I love it, thanks again very much.

  14. Max,

    You wrote: “Now, what do the many online American critics of Salam like to say repeatedly? The attack on Loyd is representative of Afghan culture (they think there is only one), which does not discriminate between local and foreign females, and all independent and professional females are to be targeted for murder. So they know better than Loyd.”

    Oh how very romantic of you Max. You display such sentimentality, it appears so genuine that it could have come from the mouth of a seven year-old. Truly, it moves me to tears.

    You are using her death as nobody else does. You, I say, because you have now chosen to intervene in this debate around her death, to push your own agenda.

    You wrote: “…why are Americans there? Is it to teach Western norms of gender equality, and thereby to “civilize” these people?”

    Which, of course, misses the presence of the Canadians, the French, the British, the Australians…why do you ignore these presences, one wonders. The evident answer is your apparent lack of eductation on military affairs and international relations. But then, of course, you are a minor teacher without a single published monograph, so I suppose you have to try and make your academic mark somewhere, eh? Anything for tenure.

    Then you wrote, “If so, what civilizing lessons are taught by gunshots to the head, applied to detainees who are supposedly protected by the very international conventions on war crimes to which the U.S. is a signatory, and with which the U.S. refuses to comply?”

    Ah yes, if you had not noticed, the murderer was brought up on charges of murder, pled guilty, and is now serving time in a federal penitentiary. Last I checked, that is called the rule of law. Murderers are tried. If the evidence is sufficient to convince a jury of peers, or if they plead guilty, they are then sentenced to jail.

    I suppose that is the lesson. Aside from the more immediate lesson that one should not murder people, as the assailant in the first case did, sans reason. Or do you believe his murder of the anthropologist was justified in some way?

    Was she waging war? If so, how could you tell? Was it merely because Americans were near her? Would her murder not therefore (if it was “justified”) be a justification of the murder of all Medecine Sans Frontier (westerners mostly, some American) and American NGO employees, or indeed their murder regardless of origin?

    This seems illogical Max. Please explain your justification.

    Bob Bateman

    Salam was murdered by foreign occupiers in his own country. Those claiming to have any interest in “equality,” can begin by addressing that perverse equation, their own imperial hypocrisies, their guttural cultural slander, and then their misplaced sympathies and third grade sentimentality.

  15. “Oh how very romantic of you Max. You display such sentimentality, it appears so genuine that it could have come from the mouth of a seven year-old. Truly, it moves me to tears.”

    That’s very funny, to use my statement against those who poured out so much grief over this military employee as if she were some innocent child, or a saint. But I take it that you meant to be deliberately dishonest.

    “Which, of course, misses the presence of the Canadians, the French, the British, the Australians…why do you ignore these presences, one wonders. The evident answer is your apparent lack of eductation on military affairs and international relations.”

    I don’t ignore them. The post is about Paula Loyd. She was neither Canadian, French, British, nor Australian. And I actually do have formal training in international relations, so your statement is actually quite stupid for being ignorant.

    “But then, of course, you are a minor teacher without a single published monograph, so I suppose you have to try and make your academic mark somewhere, eh? Anything for tenure.”

    MORON. I have published monographs, and ones that have been very well reviewed by other scholars. You could have verified this easily — see the gigantic link at the top of the front page, or the OA logo? Click on either, and you will eventually find out what I mean. I also have tenure already, so this blog is hardly what I would be using for such purposes. Sorry, Bob, but I made my academic mark…you’re the nobody here, with his self-authored Wikipedia entry, which is quite disgraceful and ridiculous of you.

    “Last I checked, that is called the rule of law.”

    Well so much for the preachings of the expert on international relations then! The crime committed by Ayala, as I have explained repeatedly, was a war crime. You are not allowed to execute detainees. Salam was detained, and was unarmed when he was executed. Ayala was charged under a totally irrelevant law, when the U.S. is a signatory to international war crimes conventions that have the force of domestic law.

    “Was she waging war? If so, how could you tell? Was it merely because Americans were near her?”

    How about that she was wearing an American military uniform and worked for the American military? Yes, what an innocent civilian, like an aid worker.

    At this point, Bob, you seem to have inhaled a bit too much from your own fog machine. You clearly border on incoherent, and your desperate reach for ad hominems indicates that you are falling apart.

  16. This was a rather pathetic move on Bob the Adjunct’s part, to try to take down a tenured associate professor. Bob, do you really want to call me out on my academic qualifications, are you sure you’re equipped for that little game? No problem, because I am in fact willing to play that game. Whenever you’re ready, you can come back here and post your illustrious adjunct CV. Mine is already online in several locations, some versions being older and not updated.

    So, everyone, let’s see the teaching awards, research grants, scholarships, fellowships, tenure track positions, service work, number of different courses, summa cum laude honours degree, books and edited volumes published with excellent reviews, awards for merit, early tenure, journal articles, and research networks that Bob the Adjunct wants to boast about. His silence will speak volumes.

    And in the meantime Bob, you can feel free to kiss my tenured ass.

  17. What I especially liked was the idea that one would blog “to make an academic mark.” Three major fallacies there, recognizable as such only when one pauses to think before firing insults at the blogger:

    (1) Who says I need to make an academic mark?
    (2) Who says that everything done by someone who works as an academic is meant to be for the purpose of academic advancement? I have known colleagues who volunteered at the SPCA, or did part time support work for Greenpeace. They do not put those things on their CVs as if they were meant as academic achievements. This blog is even specifically anti-academic, so the conclusion drawn by fools such as Bob Bateman above is even less warranted, and more ridiculous.
    (3) Who says that one can use a blog for the purposes of academic promotion? If that were true, and if it were so simple, ALL academics would be blogging — more than that, they would ONLY be blogging.

    Bateman doesn’t even know the basics of academia, and he wants to come here and make such foolish assertions. Anything for an ad hominem attack, eh Bob?

    Some academic he is.

  18. Regrettably, Maximilian’s stated attitude, that Ms. Loyd’s murder was acceptable and, in fact, desirable, is a typical expression of the misogyny inherent in Western culture. One can only presume that Max’s greatest regret is that Taliban-style executions don’t take place of the “uppity women” in his own department.

    None of this excuses the murder of her murderer, of course. But if Max is going to cry crocodile tears over the oppressed, it’s telling that he (predictably) only has them available for victims with penises.

  19. I think the point is not that Paula Loyd’s death was acceptable (I have not read that anywhere on this blog), but rather that she is being portrayed as nothing more than an “innocent, beautiful, blonde” woman in order to legitimate the murder of an unarmed U.S. military detainee. As though by saying “but she was a woman” or “but she was so beautiful,” we are supposed to accept Don Ayala’s murder of Loyd’s killer. It suggests, in a very disgusting way, that Paula’s death was most tragic because she was beautiful (and white), not because she was a human being.

    To pretend that the murder of Loyd’s killer was simply a justified act of revenge for the killing of an “innocent, beautiful” woman not only denies her position as a soldier in an occupying military force, but it reduces her to nothing more than an aesthetically pleasing bystander who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Wouldn’t you say that is a “typical expression of the misogyny inherent in Western culture?”

    Paula Loyd was killed while serving in an occupying army. Her killer, Abdul Salam, was murdered while wearing handcuffs in U.S. military detention. Neither death is acceptable, but there is great gap between these two deaths – and you are choosing not to see it, apparently because Paula was a woman (and possibly because you believe she was an “uppity one,” according to your creepy and unsubstantiated accusation, above).

    I fail to see how Max is a misogynist and you are not.

  20. Arwen,

    An impressive rejoinder – especially so because you manage to respond to any number of things that I didn’t say. I did not characterize Ms. Loyd as either “innocent” or “beautiful”. In fact, the only person who has made the implication that Ms. Loyd’s tragedy hinges on her attractiveness is you. Simulatneously, you manage to ignore the central issue – Max’s seeming willingness to crawl over a pile of women’s corpses to, purely by coincidence, decry the (admittedly illegal and wrongful) killing of one predatory, bestial murderer.

    The issue I’m raising here is not between the value of Loyd’s and Salem’s lives, but rather Max’s transparent devaluation of women’s lives in general. If this upsets you, take it up with him, not me: his very choice of title for this article (“Teaching Gender Equality…Using Gunshots to the Heada”) invokes the most shameful rhetoric of the right-wing “men’s movement” in the US and Canada. Perhaps Max has an axe to grind against an ex-wife; not my problem, but one would hope that he wouldn’t feel it necessary to take up arms against all Afgan women in solidarity.

    His devaluation of women’s bodies is also transparent in his choice of words: Salem was “murdered” by “foreign occupiers.” Max has no problem using active tense when the aggrieved party has male genitalia. But in describing Salem’s act (and, let us be clear, his brutal attack _mirrors perfectly_ the violence that has been perpetrated upon Afghan women for centuries), suddenly Max loses his descriptive powers. Ms. Loyd “was attacked”, and (just happened to be?) “set on fire”, and then “died”, perhaps of a broken heart, “two months later,” as if that somehow ameliorates the brutality of the crime, rather than aggravating it.

    I am perfectly fine with Max taking up arms against American imperialism. But if he’s willing to condones violence against women o make his point I’m going to label him appropriately: as a misogynist.

  21. Then I also need to label you appropriately: a rabid idiot.

    Your attempt at reading between the lines is somewhere between fantasy and illiteracy. Your one-sided concern for women’s rights, which applies only to Afghan women and not American women, does not entitle you to speak as if you might be a feminist, but it does validate your message as another example of imperialist prose.

    Your attempt to personalize the issue by speaking of an ex-wife is another example of your idiocy. I have no ex-wife, and the woman who has been my wife for 15 years is right here and will gladly disabuse you of your willful ignorance on the matter of my stance regarding women’s rights. You had to go personal however, that I understand, because your pathetic vilification is all you have in the absence of credible substantiation or logic.

    You are a fool and deserve no further comment.

  22. Phyllis seems to have a pathological man hating issue.

    In fact, my comments have been restricted to the colonizer-colonized relationship as a whole, while disputing the mendacious, convenient trope of “women’s rights” that is selectively applied to Afghan women.

    Arwen’s point is an excellent one, but unfortunately the likes of the Phyllises of the situation will not learn. Instead, Phyllis motive seems to be to fire up those who might hate the women’s rights movement as a whole, which makes her far more dangerous than any Salam.

    As for the women in my department, Phyllis’ commentary is grotesque, vulgar, shameful, baseless and extremely disrespectful towards them. If that is Phyllis’ attempt at feminism, her act is revealed as a shallow ploy. Personally, I doubt whether “Phyllis” is even a woman, but rather someone claiming to write as one.

  23. The way that Phyllis tries to advance the cause of women’s rights — which, mind you, I do not think is even remotely the intention behind her cynical occupation of that ground — is by simultaneously reinforcing racist assumptions. This is typical imperialist feminism, at best, and it invites any amount of both discredit and outright ridicule.

    That anyone can think I said Loyd “deserved” to die, and deserved to die because she was a woman, speaks volumes of how political motivations can impinge on elementary reading and comprehension skills. No one can deny that I write in some of the most straightforward language that you will find coming from any academic. Any misunderstandings, confusions, and misconstruals, in this case as in most others, tend to be deliberate, studied misunderstandings.

  24. Thanks! My insults are rather outmoded. But be careful here: if you do not accept that Loyd stands for all women everywhere and at all times, then you too could be a “misogynist.” LOL.

  25. This can be very enjoyable, because Phyllis’ spew was ready made for the retort: “Do I also beat my wife?”

    The desperation with which some have searched for a gender angle, like Phyllis who chooses to obsess with genitalia (confusing sex with gender, but what the heck, Phyllis is obviously new at this game). However, not all genitalia interest Phyllis, right? While claiming that I use only the active tense with Salam, that he was murdered…which set of genitals does “she” conveniently overlook? Those of the very murderer himself, Ayala’s. Salam was a man, killed by a man — and now suddenly “her” miserable little thesis falls to ruin.

    Also lying in ruin, Phyllis’ notion of the active tense: “she” believes that there is a difference between “was murdered” (Salam) and “was attacked” (Loyd). Perhaps “she,” or “her” legally responsible guardian, would care to elaborate on the phony distinction that is being imagined here?

    Ayala, presumably, is gender neutral — he is an American after all, far above problems of gender inequality, such as the rampant rate of sexual harassment and rape in the U.S. armed forces, and even the murder of female US soldiers by male soldiers, that simply do not interest the Phyllises.

    No, instead, let’s focus on the Afghan man, that dark, dirty, little woman-hating monster who dared to raise his hand against one of our white women — and remember, he has a cock!

    “his brutal attack _mirrors perfectly_ the violence that has been perpetrated upon Afghan women for centuries”

    Those are Phyllis’ words, expert on the vast history of Afghan cultures going back centuries. The lovely thing about her statement is its mirroring perfectly the ethnocentrism and nationalist chauvinism of the bigot. Salam now stands for all men in Afghanistan, and we know everything about Salam: he is an Afghan man, hence, he must hate women. The fact that colonialism typically feminizes all of its objects is unknown to Phyllis, this alleged “woman” who thinks she is speaking for women’s rights. Then, of course, I am a right wing left winger — it all makes sense, in some alternate dimension.

    Sorry, I have to go now, I have a wife to beat.

  26. All of this pseudo-feminism really gets under my skin, Max – thanks for your insightful replies and your ability to see the humour in these stupid comments. Have you ever seen this blog? (see especially the posts labelled “Werthers Original Imperialists”) Usually a few gems…

  27. Hilarious, thanks!

    I think you’re right to call it pseudo-feminism. Consider that the rendition of Paula Loyd as an innocent, helpless victim whose death was avenged by a macho knight in shining armor…escapes notice as a misogynist tale that denigrates and disempowers women. Not to mention that the simple dichotomy required by Phyllis cannot work, because at the very minimum there were three actors here, and two of them are killers, both men, but on opposing sides.

    Phyllis was just desperate for any angle, so she took the “yeah I bet you beat your wife” argument, as an attempt to personally discredit, but without any facts to support “her.’

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