Monday, December 10, 2007

Wow. . . just. . . wow

I'm so mad, I don't know whether to spit, scream, cry or throw up - or maybe a little of each. According to this ABC News article, a 22-year-old Halliburton employee working in Iraq was gang-raped by a bunch of her co-workers and Halliburton and the US government are trying to cover it up. I know this kind of shit has happened before and will happen again, but I'm having an especially visceral reaction to this one.

Jamie Leigh Jones will have a chance to tell her story on "20/20" (not sure when) and most women who go through similar ordeals never have a chance like that (being white probably helps). Unfortunately, due to the fact that US contractors in Iraq are relatively safe from US law, and they definitely wouldn't be tried in an Iraqi court, there is little likelihood those men will face justice.

This woman (who was younger than 22 at the time) was drugged and repeatedly vaginally and anally penetrated against her will, and it sounds like she was physically and emotionally abused in other ways, as well. What about civil court? Well, you try going up against one of the biggest and most notorious corporations in the world and see how far you get! KBR, another company involved and connected to Halliburton (I'm sorry I don't have more details, business structure is somewhat elusive to me) is trying to ensure the case is heard in arbitration - meaning there wouldn't be a recorded transcript of the proceedings and that Jones wouldn't have a voice of her own. Halliburton has won 80% of it's arbitration cases.

This is yet another case of men who really believe it's acceptable to treat a woman as though her sole purpose is their sexual fulfillment. They drugged her and completely stripped her of her humanity and treated her worse than a blow-up doll.

Where, exactly, does this extreme hatred for this woman come from? I mean, you don't do something like that to someone you like, right? So, how did this woman go from co-worker to sub-human? Or, was she viewed, on some level, as sub-human all along? Women considered attractive frequently report feeling like they're treated like public property - that, somehow, a bunch of people agreeing that a woman is attractive is sufficient to view her as separate from her Being (similar, I think, to pregnant women being fair game for judgment and unsolicited advice). Was there something different about her, or did those men have the same attitude about all of the women with whom they worked? How is this OK, and how is this
not reflective of the patriarchal structure of most of our world? This doesn't happen with anywhere the same frequency to men, and on the occasions that a man is similarly victimized, it's inspired by homophobia (erroneously equated in many men's minds with "acting like a woman").

I know there aren't really answers to any of my questions, but, like so many other questions, it's important to keep asking them.