Sunday, April 13, 2008

Has anyone noticed that whenever there is a story on Kurdish guerrilla groups in Northern Iraq the pictures most often include women fighters? Even al Jazeera is doing it. Does anybody know what that is supposed to mean?


Nicolas said...

Woman in the PKK (technically not the correct name anymore but that is an other story ;-) ) have a long tradition of furthering gender-equality. In accordance with other left-wing groups from the '70th it is integral part of their mission not only to fight for independence/autonomy but also to change society. You find female kaders in the military wing in high positions and there are work-shops for women to discus (beside all other political/social stuff) gender issues. There is even a kind of re-education camp for men conducted by women. I don't know about the actual percentage of woman in the PKK - the reason why you see always woman fighters on the photos is in my opinion just an other example of sexism by a male dominated press. (;-) ..seriously!)
There is also a high number of woman in the political party that is closest to the PKK, the DTP.

Nicolas said...

Supplement: ;-)
The PKK is a North-Kurdish (read Turkish) movement that uses Iraqi territory as a strategic base.
The PEJAK is a much younger and smaller Iranian movement with supposedly close ties to the PKK, operating in the same mountains of northern Iraq as the PKK and also has female unit. I'm not informed of the social ideas of the PEJAK.
Both the PUK and the KDP are South-Kurdish (read Iraqi) movements that are in actual control of northern Iraq, they also have some female units but the social struggle for woman-rights is much less important in these groups.

Wassim said...

the reason why you see always woman fighters on the photos is in my opinion just an other example of sexism by a male dominated press

Nicolas thanks for that, I think you've hit the nail on the head.

Lirun said...

i think the media includes the imagery to show desparation and indoctrination.. suggesting that things have to be quite extreme and radical if women are to fight..

in short: sensationalism..

Nicolas said...

"things have to be ... extreme ... if women are to fight"
Hmm... this interpretation in itself sounds a bit sexist (no insult intended!).
I don't see why there needs to be more "desperation and indoctrination" to include woman. It makes totally sense not only to "change the master" but also the social situation. So if you believe in gender-equality it is just consequent to aim for balanced ration of man/woman in all areas.

Was your society desperate and also indoctrinated at its foundation? ;-)

It is just "sex sells". It works with me - it makes me double-check if i see a woman fighter and I guess it also did work for wassim (who already has to cope with "naked woman [in] the London paper" and "giant billboards for strip clubs". ;-)

Nicolas said...

my last comment was directed @Lirun

Lirun said...

the classic female stereotypes dont include combat soldiers.. yes the world is sexist.. so is life.. so is biology..

what to do..

the perspective i am giving is as a person from the west who was brought up consuming western media..

as soon as you see female combattants you assume that they have been either brainwashed.. imagery often used in connection with iran or that the society is so desparate that it has engaged its women into a sphere typically reserved for various reasons for men..

let me reverse the question.. when the press began focussing on american and english female soldiers in iraq - especially those involved in torture.. what did you think of these women.. and given that the majority of perpetrators were not in fact women - why do you think the international media made such an issue of the women involved..

in either case - none of these women are ever made to look sexy..