Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Woman Who Was Used as a Shield

Prayers tonight for peace and quiet reflection--not jingoistic celebration.

At this moment--11 pm on the West coast--people are still cheering in Times Square and in the park in front of the White House.

Yes, it is good that the terrorist, Osama bin Laden, is dead. But let us light candles and pray.

It's not a football game, not a time to yell and cheer. We should be on our knees thanking God that this particular terrorist can plan no longer, that no US military were killed in the operation, and that very few others were killed.

I pray especially for "the woman who was used as a shield" and lost her life.

Was she a fanatic supporter of Osama and Al Qaeda? Or was she sold into this life through an arranged marriage?

In any case, one of these supposedly brave warriors used her in an attempt to save his own life. She became an object--not a sex object but an object to place between him and a bullet.

Human bodies are too soft and permeable to function well as shields, so it was probably her gender alone that he thought would defend him. Men who are fighting might be reluctant to shoot a woman placed between them.

Standard gender ideology requires a man to defend a woman--to risk his life to protect her. Apparently that can be thrown out the window when a man's own life is in danger. Grab her--use her as a shield.

Why does this situation feel so familiar to me?

Women are so often used as shields. We stand out in front of men who are in conflict. Our honor is a banner for our men's honor, our family honor. Our shame unleashes male wrath to kill and replace us.

Our hijab is a flag flying the Muslim colors. Our unplanned but completed pregnancy flies the Roman Catholic colors. Our silence proclaims the fundamentalist church's loyalty to Jesus.

We are all women used as a shield. We shield our men from child care and housework, from hunger and from wilting self-esteem.

Let us pray for this woman who died in her home in Abbotabad today, and for the men who died with her. Requiem eternam dona eis.

Let us pray for a world in which victors do not rejoice over their enemy's death but soberly, quietly turn to God, asking only:

Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Allah eleison.

1 comment:

Anne Eggebroten said...

The facts were mixed up at the time I wrote this--and still are not too clear. It appears that the woman killed was the wife of the homeowner and courier--and probably was not used as a shield.

The woman with bin Laden when he died was apparently his youngest wife, shot in the foot during those confused moments, probably not used as a shield, perhaps even trying to move toward the invaders.