‘The picture of Lynndie England, dubbed “Lynndie the Leasher,” leading a naked Iraqi on a leash (also being referred to as “pussy whipping”) has now become a surface on which fundamentalism and modernization, apparently dialectically opposed, can wage war. One could argue that this image is about both the victories of liberal feminists, who claim that women should have equal opportunities within the military, and the failures of liberal feminists to adequately theorize power and gender beyond male-female dichotomies that situate women as less prone toward violence and as morally superior to men. Writes Zillah Eisenstein: “When I first saw the pictures of the torture at Abu Ghraib I felt destroyed. Simply heart-broken. I thought ‘we’ are the fanatics, the extremists; not them. By the next day as I continued to think about Abu Ghraib I wondered how there could be so many women involved in the atrocities?” Why is this kind of affective response to the failures of Euro-American feminisms, feminisms neither able to theorize gender and violence nor able to account for racism within their ranks, appropriate to vent at this particular moment, especially when it works to center the Euro-American feminist as victim, her feminism having fallen apart? Another example: brimming with disappointment, [Barbara] Ehrenreich pontificates: “Secretly, I hoped that the presence of women would over time change the military, making it more respectful of other people and cultures, more capable of genuine peacekeeping … A certain kind of feminism, or perhaps I should say a certain kind of feminist naiveté, died in Abu Ghraib.” Similarly, Patrick Moore articulates the death of a parallel yearning, as if gay male sexuality had never chanced on its own misogyny: “The idea that female soldiers are as capable as men of such atrocities is disorienting for gay men who tend to think of women as natural allies.” Nostalgically mourning the loss of the liberal feminist subject, this emotive convergence of white liberal feminists and white gay men unwittingly reorganizes the Abu Ghraib tragedy around their desires.’
From “On Torture: Abu Ghraib,” Jasbir Puar, Radical History Review, no. 93, Fall 2005.