by Dr. Susan Block
The supreme victory for the rapist is proof that his victim "enjoyed" it. Though he may force his way into her property, demolish her home, murder her loved ones, pillage her belongings, though he may terrify and humiliate her, beat and batter her, break her bones and tear her flesh, spill her blood, wound her organs and lay waste to her very soul, if, in the midst of the rape, between tears and shrieks of agony, if his victim should, for a moment, for some reason, any reason, if she should smile, or, better yet, orgasm, the rapist is redeemed; he is even (in his mind) heroic.
This is why, when the Anglo-American rape of Iraq began, we so desperately searched the Iraqi faces on our televisions for a smile. And that is why, when after three weeks of horrendous carnage, we finally got more than three Iraqis in one place to smile at our handsome invading army and help them to topple a statue of our mutual accursed enemy, we declared the war to be, virtually, over.
Of course, it's not really over. The bombing and shooting continue, and then there's the looting. But those smiles make everything all right. All the murder and mayhem continue. But hey--a dazed teenager grins at an expensive American camera, and hoots "Thank you Boosh!" and we're ready to forget children with their arms blown off and too many corpses on the highway to count, let alone identify. We feel good about our war now, at least some of us do. As the rapist would say, "I gave her what she really wanted." She needed to be raped. She wanted to be violated.
As psych-buffs know, sometimes a rape victim does smile, and even orgasm, in the midst of a horrible, excruciating assault. Perhaps it is a life-saving attempt at ingratiation or the body's way of defending against the onslaught, a variation on the Stockholm Syndrome, but it is a natural, albeit humiliating response. Of course, the rapist cares little about the "psychology" of his victim. That smile is his triumph, his war medal of honor.
This is why we feel so good, and so guilty for feeling good (and in this case, the guilt is good), about seeing those smiling Iraqis and watching that big ugly statue come down over and over again (even if it was a staged media set-up with fewer than 100 people, including press, marines and folks from Ahmed Chalabi's entourage, which long-shots and comparison photos of the event reveal).
looting you of your oil, so you might as well loot yourselves.
The toppling of the statue has other patriotic erotic connotations. It is the cutting down of our enemy. The orgasmic, victorious crescendo of the Cockfight at the Baghdad Corral. The castration of Saddam. The decapitation of Saddam. Well, not exactly Saddam the man (though according to the Bushies, he's gone from being the evilest human since Hitler to being not worth bothering to find). Not the actual Saddam. Just a statue (though a larger than life statue that plays really well on TV!). Kind of like a dildo versus the actual cock. A surrogate Saddam. Saddam in effigy. The toppling of the evil Saddam statue is an image of glorious, righteous castration for the history books and a wet dream for the apocalypse-seekers. For the "patriotic" American, it avenges the awful images of our Twin Towers of corporate strength and potency--Dick One and Dick Two--going down in flames, themselves castrated by the fiery sword of the terrorist. Even though it was a different terrorist.
But oh, how can we be so picky about whether or not Saddam or any Iraqis actually had anything to do with 9/11--when we're experiencing such deep, heroic, patriotic, erotic feelings? Not only does our victim enjoy being raped, she's glad we murdered her horrible old husband! Who cares about proof of responsibility for 9/11, or the fact that the U.S. politically and economically supported Saddam during the period of his worst offences? Who cares about those tedious old Weapons of Mass Destruction when our hearts are swelling with pride over our role as rapist-rescuers?
And now the looting. As one Iraqi shopkeeper who was having his store cleaned out by looters, as the American troops stood by doing nothing, remarked, "before there was one Saddam Hussein. Now there are thousands of Saddam Husseins." And why not? Seeing the looters smile and flash victory signs at American soldiers as the Americans smile and flash back, the message is clear: We're looting you of your oil, so you might as well loot yourselves. Have at it! And keep smiling. Just don't come near us with those grenades." The result: Everything is being looted. Not just Saddam's palaces. Everything. At the moment, there is not a functioning hospital in Baghdad. The Iraqi Antiquities Museum has been cleaned out of 5000-year-old priceless antiquities, most stolen, some smashed to pieces in the fury of "liberation.". This is not just Iraq's heritage that the illegal Anglo-American rape of Iraq has destroyed; this is the heritage of the Western world, the archeological legacy of the Cradle of Civilization, the land of Abraham and Sarah, the ancient Sumerians and the legendary Garden of Eden. Marines guard the oil fields and even, brazenly, the Oil Ministry, leaving the hospitals, museums and the shops of hard-working Iraqis to the looters.
And still the cozily embedded mainstream media keep playing the image of the toppling statue and the smiling Iraqis. CNN might as well be anchored by Ari Fleischer. The jacked-up newscasters revel in the soft-core porn of war, "tastefully" showing very little of the rampant hardcore death and dismemberment, just lots of handsome, stalwart troops and beguiling, brown-faced grins that communicate: Freedom! Liberation! Smiles! They love us! We may have brutally, systematically raped their country (and the rape continues), but they want it! They really want us to bomb the shit out of them. They like thatů
Who are all these looters anyway? Rummy says they're "ordinary Iraqis" though a bit "untidy." I don't know about that. I remember a little Iraqi factoid from months back when the Statue Toppling was just a gleam in Boy King Bush's eye: Saddam let all the prisoners out of his prisons. Tens of thousands of them. He let the criminal element back on the street, and now here they are, ruling Iraq, the interim government of crime preceding occupation. Is this the Baathists' "unconventional weapon" that that crazy old Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf kept threatening to unleash?
spread their lips into what looks like a smile when they're scared.
It is the smile of submission and ingratiation, not pleasure, and it
often masks deceitful scheming against the powerful alpha male recipient
of the smile. Considering what we have put them through, who knows what
lurks behind that beautiful Iraqi smile?
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Most of Dr. Block's essays are reprinted in Counterpunch, "America's Best Political Newsletter," edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair
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