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Damsels of Death By: Phyllis Chesler
Chesler Chronicles-Pajamas Media | Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Four female suicide killers just murdered 57 people and wounded 300 others in Iraq. Many of their victims were on a religious pilgrimage.

This should no longer surprise us. Like men, women are human beings and are therefore as close to the apes as to the angels. Thus, like men, women are as likely to nourish as to destroy. Still, we live in a culture that on the one hand, suspects women of being sneaky, “bitchy,” even evil but on the other hand, idealizes women as morally superior to men and as Natural Born Mothers, not as Natural Born Killers.

And, we are used to hearing that women in the Third World, including the Islamic world, are victims, not killers. How can they be both? They can.

According to the U.S. Military, in the last five years in Iraq, 43 women carried out suicide bombings. Women hide their explosive belts and bombs under their flowing black abayas–one more reason that such outerwear should be banned in the West. Actually, Muslims kill more Muslims than anyone else does. This latest attack was apparently launched by Sunni Muslims against Shiite Muslims. It might be in the interests of Islam to ban such clothing which has been used to disguise both male and female terrorists.

Of course, The New York Times suggests that “despair” and “spousal grief” drives women to become suicide terrorists.

Not so fast.

Women who have been despised and abused since birth may be especially vulnerable to the kind of ideological and religious entrapment which promises them glory (and their families money). Also, due to inbreeding/first cousin marriage and family violence, they may be mentally retarded, already terrorized, or prone to depression and therefore easy to manipulate. Or, female suicide killers may be filled with rage–enough rage so that they want to scapegoat strangers to avenge themselves against family intimates.

True, some women are mourning the loss of brothers, fathers, and sons but what about Islamist ideology? What about al-Qaeda handlers who tempt women with glory just as they tempt men? What about the Palestinian members of Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Brigade, Hezbollah and Hamas (al-Qaeda does this too), who exploit depressed, mentally ill, and mentally retarded women into strapping on an explosive belt and blowing themselves up? What about a culture in which being born female is often a capital crime, a culture in which girls and women are honor murdered for the slightest, alleged infringements of the patriarchal rules? If someone feels she is already a marked woman, why not redeem her shame by going out in a blaze of glory and taking some infidels along with her?

Yesterday’s huge blasts in Iraq were carried out by four different women and few infidels were involved. These women continued the centuries-old feud between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims. If anyone still believes that women are more compassionate than men, think about this: According to the International Herald Tribune,

“The second (female-launched) attack occurred inside a tent that provided shade and rest for female marchers. The female bomber walked into the tent, sat down and, according to a police official, Abu Ali, read the Koran with the women sitting inside. When she exited the tent, she left a bag behind, and moments later, it exploded. ”

The woman sat down and prayed with them and then sent them to their deaths.

I remember two films, one by my friend Pierre Rehov. Both filmmakers had interviewed Palestinian female terrorists in Israeli jails. None of the terrorists showed any remorse. Many were proud of their murderous or potentially murderous attacks. They all seemed quite religious. One woman had assumed a leadership position; she and her enforcers policed and punished the other women with enormous cruelty.

These women were ideologically empowered, both politically and theologically, to commit violence. They saw nothing wrong with doing so–just as the families of their culture see nothing wrong with honor murders.

My friends: We are up against a formidable enemy who worships death, despises life, and lives only to fight. We must prove equal to the task.


Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the well known author of classic works, including the bestseller Women and Madness (1972) The New Anti-Semitism (2003) and The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (2005). She has just published a new edition of Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (2009). She is an Emerita Professor of psychology and women's studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women's Health Network (1976). Her website is www.phyllis-chesler.com.


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