Sunday, April 02, 2006

Commentary on Jill Carroll

Anti-Woman Language and Political Pre-Emptive Character Assassination

When ex-hostage Jill Carroll was first released there was a torrent of criticism against her for a forced taping saying that she had no beef with her captors and pointing out their small kindnesses after what must have been a grueling 82 days in captivity and the trauma of seeing her male translator murdered.

Carroll’s patriotism and veracity were called into question by bloggers and commentators like Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz, or by Aaron Margolis, among others, who compares Jill Carroll to Cindy Sheehan in saying that "she has also set herself up to be a new hero for the liberal left with her criticism of the Bush Administration." And oh, there are other speculative statements made about Jill Carroll.

There are a couple of things that come to mind as a consequence of this almost instantaneous backlash/whiplash commentary:
1. Would a man forced to make a statement in the same circumstance have suffered the same criticism? The picture of her in headscarf and Iraqi dress was pointed to repeatedly as proof that she was one with/of the terrorists. What is it about Jill Carroll that makes her seem so dangerous that an instant synchronized (?) campaign of criticism must be launched against her even before the information is all in?

Hey, guys, when was the last time you had to worry about being killed, beaten and raped because you did not wear traditional garb in a foreign country? And for all we know, her captors forced her to wear those clothes in the video. And speaking of rape, you do not know what her abductors did to her while she was in their care, nor do I, but being kidnapped by a bunch of throat-slashing murderers would be enough to create a raging case of PTSD for most anyone, male or female.

But there are some other parallels and issues here in this conservative stance that is bleeding out from between the lines and I want to address them. Because what these conservative men say against Jill speaks to their attitudes not only about women in volumes too large to ignore, but also includes political pre-emptive character assassination. This has all the flavor of Rove politics imitators at its sleaziest and none of the finesse.

Here's what I noticed right off the bat. The attack made against Jill Carroll was couched in language eerily similar to what I have seen many times used by defense attorneys when questioning the validity of rape survivors.

You've all heard the affirmative defense stance that almost always blames the rape victim by exploiting mythology about rape and women and victimization.

"Look at what she was wearing."
"You know she wanted it, after all she went there and should have known what to expect."
"Women who say no really mean yes, so you can never believe them."
"Good girls wouldn't (Take your pick) drink, go to bars, or work in Iraq in the first place. "

The social function of rape mythology and victim-blaming is to let the perpetrator off the hook. This is a language of control, by implying that the rape/or kidnap victim is in collusion with the rapist, or in this case, the terrorist. This type of language is meant to silence and discredit women like Jill by trying to force them to share the blame for being a kidnap victim.

In this case, many of these statements were made even before writers knew what was going on. It is interesting to note that the first barrage of attacks were directed at her dress. Is this just an extension of the Bush pre-emptive attack policy? Silence her just in case she MIGHT say something critical of Bush, an example of spin and damage pre-control at its most sordid.

2. I do not know what state Jill Carroll lives in, but let's pretend it’s South Dakota. If a woman in her situation was raped, came back and found herself pregnant, what then, pussilient Senators and Congressmen, what would you say about her inability to get an abortion?

Would you question her to see just how bad the rape was? Would she have to fit the definition of a rape survivor, as defined by Bill Napoli from South Dakota: To brutalize and rape, sodomize as bad as you can possibly make it, a young, religious virgin woman who was saving herself for marriage?


At 11:34 AM, Blogger Mikey said...

Hi Glenda, thanks for visiting my humble liberal blog! Your blog is great; hope you won't mind if I add it to our "Blogs We Like" links list.


Mikey @ Ascent to Dissent

At 12:05 PM, Blogger glenda said...

Gee, thanks! Add away!

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous earl bockenfeld said...

Why do these wingnuts hate Jill Carroll?

The comments on Imus that were broadcast were unbelievable. Saying she looked like a 'suicide bomber' and "MCGUIRK: She may be carrying Habib’s baby at this point." All the time IMUS was doing a pussiliency "guys, stop saying that that, now".

The LGF guys always take the high road.

"I've been watching this traitor bitch fawn all over her captors this morning. "Nice furniture, safe, nice clothes, they NEVER threatened me". I'm very glad you were so comforatble while working to undermine our efforts in Iraq. Now, wipe that muslim DNA from your face and confess to pre-planning this?"

"She's probably coming home with a suitcase full of cash (her kickback) and a dose of the clap."

Do you know any guys like this who don't conflate sex and violence? For these guys Iraq is all about dominance, and since sex is also about dominance for them, the two are subconsiously coexetensive.

These people make it hard to continue believing in the superiority of western values.

At 12:56 PM, Blogger eProf2 said...

Another case of victimizing the victim. Well done and thoughtful essay on your part. I just hope the best for Ms. Carroll and that the ordeal will pass with time.

Thanks, too, for your comments on the global warming and license plates over on my site.

May I add your link to my blog?

At 1:04 PM, Blogger glenda said...

Absolutely, EProf, thanks, if I may reciprocate when I get off my lazy behind and do mine. :)

At 1:16 PM, Blogger glenda said...

"These people make it hard to continue believing in the superiority of western values."

Don't get me wrong, I TRULY love my country, or I wouldn't be so outraged at the perfidy of our government, however, I do not believe we have shown by our behavior that we (the government) has any moral superiority, (as opposed to we, the American people!) It's one thing to talk the talk, but one must walk the walk, as I used to advise my alcoholic clients.

We are NOT walking the walk on this one, although to be honest, there are many good things that American people do in this world.

For example, the dad of a friend is a retired ex-Navy guy, the best person, who fixes tractors. I bought an old re-recycled 1950 Ford tractor from him to use out on my little ranch.

He and his partners took that and some seed money, bought old broken down tractors, fixed them up, and shipped them to Uganda, where they travelled in january to teach the women to run and maintain their new gifts. He makes not a dime from this. People like him are what keep me going. He's got some moral mojo going.

We can sit around bitching all we want, but at some point we need to stir our stumps and ACT on our beliefs.

At 2:25 PM, Anonymous earl bockenfeld said...

"If Jesus Christ came back today and saw what was being done in his name, he'd never stop throwing up." - Woody Allen ...

Glenda, I said "western values" but didn't say "western behavior", and should have used a sarcasm tag. Western values don't mean very much if western people don't apply them or try to live by them. In the case in point, I would like to think most people wouldn't make any of those comments about Jill and would be happy to see her freed. However with those comments out there and more still being made, some people may be influenced by them, or even come to agree with them.

I was also being a little tongue-in-cheek. The american Taliban always holds up the virtue of "western values". I happen to think that if you go around the world and look at ALL religions, you will see common things like the golden rule, the virtue of love over hate, and a striving for peace.
There's another quote, I can't recall who said it that: Christianity has never tried and been found wanting - it has been found hard and so it hasn't been tried.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger pinkfem said...

Oh, slam, Earl, so sorry, I am so bad at reading between the lines. I should have known better.

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Rory Shock said...

you are so right in everything you say in this post ... so right ...

At 4:41 PM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Hello! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Re: this post...maybe I should watch the news more often. I haven't heard any criticism. I presumed she made that video because she wasn't safe at home yet.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger pinkfem said...

Hi, m.g.,
Just hit the links in the post if you want to read 2 of them. Thy have been really sleazy! Thanks for visiting.

At 7:15 PM, Blogger CTB said...

Sleazy is the word- and I agree with your characterization of their attacks on her. Well done and thoughtful, Glenda. I wish I could say I'm surprised but of course I'm not. Dissappointed. Is there no level these people will not sink to? Dumb question...

At 7:45 PM, Blogger thepoetryman said...

Now breathless and unconstrained
She warbled odes for her captors
And then like razors slipped forth
Of a world she had been detained
Taken `way from her restful peace
And living’s translation shot dead
In an arid land discharged in war
Dignity stuffed in scarf’s bent head…

Now humanity free of its confinement
Open of nodding treacherous torture
Death in their breath she expresses
Of her ungodly "criminals at best"!
Everything is not as it appears to be
As painted thus in lyrical "ode"
The young Christian now safely home
Others still held she drops her bomb…

At 8:00 PM, Blogger glenda said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:53 PM, Blogger glenda said...

Thanks, Lily.

Thanks for the awesome poem, poetryman!!

At 9:06 PM, Blogger Lily said...

You have your picture!!!!

At 12:23 AM, Blogger sumo said...

It's a terrible shame that 'they' have to stoop to such nasty behavior, when there should be rejoicing in the streets that she has been released unharmed. I guess there will always be a spin to put on most everything. I for one heaved a sigh of relief. She could have been in a grass skirt...and it wouldn't have made 'them' happy...they'd have accused her of collusion with the coconuts.

At 4:08 AM, Blogger fallenmonk said...

They just can't stand it when the enemy shows some humanity. it doesn't fit their reality picture so they have denigrate the victim. Good post Glenda.

At 4:31 AM, Blogger glenda said...

It needs some tweaking but I'm getting there, with help.

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Kathleen Callon said...

Well written.

She doesn't deserve to be vilified.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Left of Center said...

I've been atepmting to defensd her since she was released. I suspected that first video was suspiscious from the start. The right bloggosphere is just so malicious and wrong. It really shows where there hearts are.

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Pekka said...

Now, this is a bit out of place here, but I have a hunch that Glenda is not going to mind too much for I will praise her to high heavens.

I saw your comments some where earlier and got interested enough to come and check you out a little closer. Glad I did for you are one of those God's creatures that I admire but don't know too much about.

Unfortunately, most of us reciding outside of the USA get our impressions what you are all about based on the drivel coming out of Washington DC. The more I spend time on sites like Brenda's here, the more I am amazed about the variety of opinions in your country. Some how, unfortunately, it seems that Bush's bull horn drowns the other voices and thus we tend to judge you all by it. It is getting harder and harder to be a pro-American under the present circumstances and naturally under the present administration. Luckily, politicians come and politicians go.

Brenda, like I said, I admire people like you who are tireless fighters for truth and justice(owmegawd it sounds so damn pompous) and you have been at it since 70's. How the hell can you do it? What keeps the fire in your belly? Don't you get sick and tired and perhaps depressed because the world seems to be going from crisis to crisis on and on and then you get this collection of the delightful gentlemen in the White House to contend with? Needless to say, this boy is going to visit your site regularly.

At 8:45 PM, Blogger glenda said...

Gee, Pekka, I am almost never speechless. I remember you- Ukraine? Thanks.

No, I am never depressed. That is not in my genes. :) Inshallah.

I am greatful for all the blessings in my life; my life is so easy compared to others in this country and in other countries.

Figure out why you have been put here and what your purpose is and it will put fire in your belly for a lifetime! There are so many wonderful Americans and among your people too.

We need healing between all out peoples. Please pass that on to the young people in your country for me. Americans are not warlike. It is our leaders right now and we are trying to get rid of them and vote them out of office.

Bismillah, Erachman, Erahim.

At 10:06 PM, Blogger glenda said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Stella said...

Utterly chilling and unfortunately true.

At 6:14 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Right now, Jill's about 20 miles east of me in Massachusetts.

At 3:14 PM, Blogger glenda said...

Do you know her? I hope she is well.

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