Burka and Bikinis, War on Aghanistan, and Death by Culture.

Luis Ramos:

I’m also noticing a trend here between women and the media.

Reading this week’s articles, along with the other previous ones, has made me realize how powerful on an institution media can be. Like seriously. The media has been able to manipulate us by making us believe that everything they say it’s true, when in reality they are just being biased or are covering up the truth, as shown in “Unveiling imperialism: media, gender and the war on Afghanistan” by Stabile and Kumar.

Reading Stabile and Kumar’s article was quite interesting. I learned a lot of things about the United States… things that I was not expecting to find out. In the past, I was never informed about the history between the United States and the Taliban, prior to the Afghanistan war that occurred after the 9/11 incident. I always believed their interaction built up after we experienced one of the greatest downfalls in American history. Perhaps, I could blame this on the fact that the media did not want me to know because they would rather focus on another issue that seemed even more compelling and important than the issue at hand. I’ve been completely blind to everything that has been happening, especially with the fact that the United States is highly responsible for the things Afghan women face in today’s society. We need to recall the fact that “US media have never been particularly good on domestic women’s issues, much less international women’s issues, for a host of reasons. Since the early days of television, news producers have avoided topics that might prove ‘controversial’, a word that was and remains a euphemism for arguments that might indict capitalism as an economic system.” (777) The US only went into war against the Taliban because they were oppressing women. What the US media forgot to mention was that Afghan women had always been oppressed prior to the formation of the Taliban due to how the Afghanistan people hated Western culture and traditions. The US only cared about the issues in Afghanistan when they could profit out of something. In other cases, they would not meddle into anything just to reassure that they still had a connection and access to their oil. I found these truths to be obliterating to my personal knowledge, making me wish I knew about it before-hand. It comes to show how the media failed to release factual and accurate information to their own viewers.

When reading “The Burka and the Bikini,” this is the image that popped into my head. It’s a great representation of the comparison that’s being made between the two cultural women in relations to their body management or treatment.


As for Narayan’s “Death by Culture,” it was also an interesting read to see how the author looks at the historical development of US feminist movements against domestic violence and Indian feminist movements against dowry-murders to highlight the ways in which cultural contexts shape the way debates over violence against women develop. Narayan explores the way dowry-murders in India have been misrepresented in Western contexts by ignorance of the cultural context. Americans are not well informed about cultural practices that take place in other cultures. It’s the same issue with domestic violence. India is not well informed about the domestic violence that American women confront throughout their lives. I believe the culturally-dependent differences of these debates makes it difficult for US women to recognize the similarities between Indian dowry-murders and domestic violence in the US. I don’t think it’s possible to come to a cross-cultural understanding about these two issues.


7 thoughts on “Burka and Bikinis, War on Aghanistan, and Death by Culture.

  1. Sophie Furman

    I loved when you mentioned how you didn’t know that the United States and the Taliban, had a relationship before the war that happened after 9/11 because that same idea came to mind when I was reading the article. The idea that people are picking our news for us, and only letting us see what they selectively pick is really interesting. We almost give news reporters, and news paper writers an unspoken trust to tell us the important information going on in the world, when really there’s a lot we still don’t know about, because it’s not what they’re told to write about or it’s not current for our countries current news “values.”

    I also really enjoyed the link you posted because it’s a great representation of the idea that we’ve been talking a lot about in class, how there’s no win situation for woman, it’s a loose loose when the spectrums can’t meet in the middle at all. Dressed either way it says the same thing, “what a cruel dominated male world” so the question still stands as to how can we find a middle ground?

  2. Sarah Wills

    I agree with Luis that the media is extremely manipulative of women. This article about how Afghani women are portrayed in the US is just one example of how stories can be twisted to achieve a certain message. The US media only started exposing the oppression of the women in Afghanistan when it suited their agenda. This was the time period after 9/11 took place, therefore, the media was trying to portray Afghani men as negatively as possible. For example, these men not only planned and executed an attack on America, but they are also cruel to women. This just adds more reasons as to why we should fight back. It is very interesting to examine the timing of everything due to 9/11 and the portrayal of Afghani women.

  3. Gina Pol

    The link that you posted was a great representation on the ideas presented in “The Burka and the Bikini.” The differences in our cultures and how other cultures are being portrayed have a profound effect on how we view things. I think it has become normalized for myself and maybe many others that every time we go to the beach we would see women and girls wearing bikinis and men wearing shorts. But then there is a time every now and then when there is someone on the beach nearly fully clothed and people often glance at this individual as if it is a crime to wear clothing on the beach. The individual would be asked questions like, “aren’t you hot?” to further enforce the idea that you should wear less clothing when you are at a beach. This kind of situation shows the expectations that we have as a society for individuals to engage in this beach culture and those who do not follow will be seen as deviant in our eyes.

  4. Bianca Scofield

    I hate to say it but, like you Luis, I did not know much about the war in Iraq. I knew that we were really there for oil, and that we, out of anger because of 9/11, blindly excepted to invade even though 15 out of the 19 men were Saudi Arabian and none were from Iraq. I did not know the that media and government used the torture and oppression of Iraqi women to justify the invasion, however. I was really too young when 9/11 happened to fully comprehend what had happened less than a hundred miles away from my house. Now that I am aware of the filtered version that the media presented at the time I can understand why many people believed it. So many people are uninformed about the Iraq war, and I honestly believe the media and government want to keep it that way, because in my opinion it should have never happened. I can see in some instances in history war can make peace down the road, this however is not one of those instances.

  5. Karen Cardona

    Luis I really liked the part where you mentioned the way in which the USA used a conflict that had been occurring for years in the middle east as a tactic to invade the country. This conflict began to be noted as a ‘woman’s issue’ which in my opinion is extremely problematic. Most of the violence occurs from male to female so i have always questioned the reason why this is not known as a social issue. I believe that we need better sources of information because the information that we receive is so filtered and so biased that at the end what we receive is incorrect to keep the people in a bubble.

  6. Brittany Juliano

    Something that surprised me about Narayan’s article was how comparable domestic violence in the U.S. is to dowry murder in India. Why have people never analyzed dowry-murders in terms of domestic violence before? In fact, why have I never thought of it as such before? I think it speaks to what Narayan discusses as the ‘exotic’ depiction of these dowry murders that place it outside of the realm of what we think of as domestic violence. The fact that most women are killed by “accidental” or “suicidal” kitchen fires, should not set these issues apart from those same issues that many American women face. American women my suffer at different means, but it is suffering non the less.

  7. Sophie Sharps

    The reading “The Burka and the Bikini” as well as the link to the image you posted really made me reflect on the customs and practices we have in our culture that have been so strongly normalized yet have been entirely constructed based on our cultural values. This image depicts the wildly varying and extreme manifestations patriarchy has in various cultures. As all three sets of authors discuss, Americans look outward and are quick to judge the practices of “others,” without actually examining the implications of our own practices.

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