Revolution #161, April 12, 2009

Readers Respond to Articles in Revolution

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    February 1, 2009     December 6, 2008




From Bagram, Afghanistan
A Conversation about the Rihanna Poster

From Bagram, Afghanistan

Revolution newspaper received the following comment from a reader off of reading the article in issue #117, “Bagram Prison, Afghanistan: A Brutal U.S. Torture Center”:
Comment: i have been stationed in Bagram for more than a year now and the things that are discussed among soldiers out here is horrid that the prisoners should all be burned and thrown into ovens like in the concentration camps. i mean it is like the people in control of this prison have all the same mentality to make this their own holocaust. i mean if you think of it the things they do to these prisoners is not far from what was being done in Dachau. there is so much wrong out here that they need to make this base bigger and bigger just so they can contain the amount of people they have here. i mean they know that if the families of their prisoners ever find out where they are they will want to see them or talk to them and they can not have that. the sad thing is that our children are going to have to grow up in a world where the children of these men will grow with hatred in their heart for what these people are doing today and i mean some of us came out here to try and defend our country and protect our loved ones but in the end it will all have failed due to the new type of breed this war will create.

* * * * *

A Conversation about the Rihanna Poster

Revolution received the following letter:

Maria is a 23-year-old college educated mother of 2 young children. Her mother is white, her father is Black. She sees herself as Black because that’s how she’s been treated during her life. She was brought up in an evangelical household but her college instructors have influenced her toward nationalism and feminism.

She bought the “Declaration for Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity“ (issue #158), but had not read it yet when I showed her the back page Revolution poster of Rihanna. Her first reaction was “why would your newspaper print such a picture, it’s not right to humiliate the victim in this way.” She read through the poster and said she agreed with what it said, but still, why put this picture of Rihanna out there. I pointed out that the photo of Rihanna was pushed out in public very broadly by other media and had created a backlash against Rihanna. I thought Revolution saw the necessity to respond to those arguments in a provocative and forceful way and so created the poster.

Maria is part of a support circle of young low-income Black mothers, most of whom she says are in very bad relationships. She is like them in that she is Black, young and poor; she is not like them in that she graduated from a small respected liberal arts college and has a broader and deeper view of society. She sees her role as trying to help these women break out of the cycle of violence and poverty they are trapped within. The group had talked about Rihanna. Most of them thought it was wrong for her to go back to Chris Brown, but on the other hand the women in the circle do the very same thing in their relationships. Maria said that the Rihanna story has had a very bad effect on these women because here is someone who is a celebrity, who has no economic reason to go back to a bad relationship and yet she did. If Rihanna can’t make that break, how are these women expected to do it? She talked about how these women blame themselves for problems they have in relationships and constantly make excuses for their abusive partners. She said that they joke and laugh about getting beat up. And then added, how would they be able to live with it if they didn’t do this?

I told her about an experience I had as a very young revolutionary. I was arrested for putting up posters and ended up in jail with women who had been picked up for prostitution. I was as curious about them as they were about me. They explained that women were created from Adam’s rib and had to be under the protection and control of men and that’s how they justified their relationship with pimps, included the abuse.

Maria and I talked about how deeply embedded in society these views of women are. But it isn’t human nature, she said. You can go back thousands of years and see that women were looked at and their roles were very different.

Exactly, but how did that change and how do people learn that it is not human nature.

She said it’s white, patriarchal European culture that reinforces all these backward ideas.

Yes, but it’s not just white patriarchy, these ideas have grown up in many different cultures and are reinforced by many different religions. It is true that imperialism reinforces and promotes these backward views, but we have to dig deeper to understand the roots.

I encouraged her to read the Declaration which digs into all of this. We need a very broad and deep discussion in society on this Declaration. There needs to be a revolutionary movement that is uncompromising in its opposition to all of this abuse of women, so that women who are caught in this trap see that there is another way for them to live.

Maria said she wanted to make copies of the Rihanna poster and get it out to the women in her circle and she wants to read the Declaration and talk about it.


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