Psychologists have long thought that bringing women into traditionally male realms would create kinder, gentler institutions. However, female torture of male prisoners at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison seems to prove the opposite. Of the seven U.S. soldiers charged in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, three are women.
Leela Jacinto writes for abcnews.com that women are usually the victims of wartime sadism?especially sexual assault?not its perpetrators. “We live in a world where women are seen as victims,” says anthropologist Carolyn Nordstrom. “In every culture across the world there is the concept of women as nurturers, there is a sense that women don’t do this kind of thing.” But she thinks women may “forge whole new ways” to torture and sexually humiliate male victims.
Law professor Rhonda Copelon says, “Sexual violence is used on women to humiliate, intimidate and destroy their identity and wholeness as women. Sexual violence is used on men to feminize them, to take away what is seen as their masculinity.”
“It’s clear that women have the capacity for sexual violence?maybe not a lot, but some amount,” says Amy Caizza of Women’s Policy Research. “And it’s probably true that with more women involved in conflict as troops, it’s more likely to happen.” The number of women in the U.S. military has risen to 15% percent.
“It’s interesting that with the three women charged in the case, there’s no information that they dreamed up the abuses,” says feminist scholar Cynthia Enloe. “I’m interested in who thought of the sexualization of the abuses. I have not seen anything that suggests it was the low-level women guards.”
“A certain kind of feminism, or perhaps I should say a certain kind of feminist naivet
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