International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

Wielding Masculinity Inside Abu Ghraib: Making Feminist Sense of an American Military Scandal

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Responding to the torrent of Abu Ghraib stories coming out of Iraq during the spring and summer of 2004, President George W. Bush and his Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, tried to reassure the public that the graphically abusive behavior inside the prison was not representative of America, nor did it reflect the Bush administration's own foreign policies. Rather, the Abu Ghraib abuses were the work of "rogue" soldiers, a "few bad apples." The "bad apple" explanation always goes like this: the institution is working fine, its values are appropriate, its internal dynamics are of a sort that sustain positive values and respectful, productive behavior. Thus, according to the "bad apple" explanation, nothing needs to be reassessed or reformed in the way the organization works; all that needs to happen to stop the abuse is to prosecute and remove those few individuals who refused to play by the established rules. Sometimes this may be true. Some listeners to the Bush administration's "bad apple" explanation, however, weren't reassured. They wondered if the Abu Ghraib abuses were not produced by just a few bad apples found in a solid, reliable barrel, but, instead, were produced by an essentially "bad barrel." They also wondered whether this "barrel" embraced not only the Abu Ghraib prison, but the larger US military, intelligence and civilian command structures ([Hersh], 2004b; Hersh, 2004c; Human Rights Watch, 2004).

Publication Title

Asian Journal of Women's Studies

Publication Date

1-1-2004

Volume

10

Issue

3

ISSN

1225-9276

DOI

10.1080/12259276.2004.11665976

Keywords

feminism, Abu Ghraib, military, gender, war

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