• Cynthia Enloe speaks on Globalization

3/25/2008

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Government Department, in partnership with the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, welcomed Cynthia Enloe, activist, professor in the Department of International Development, Community, and Environment at Clark University, and Director of Clark University’s Women Studies program.  A prominent scholar, Enloe has written extensively on women and militarization. Her books include The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire, Bananas, Beaches, and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics, and Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives. Enloe, whom Professor Judy Dushku described as “a modern day Simone de Beauvoir” for her ability to speak her mind even in the face of adversity, gave a lecture on Thursday, March 6th, on the role of globalization and its impact on women.


Enloe, for the purposes of this lecture, further defined a particular form of globalization: the militarization of foreign countries by United States military bases. Asserting that many U.S. military bases are placed without the consent of the host country, Enloe went on to say that in these scenarios, those who suffer most are local women.  She highlighted the dangers of the sex industry that often surrounds military bases, noting that women often work in prostitution out of desperation, in order to raise their families.  Little is done by military officials, she said, to protect these women, who are vulnerable to violence. She cited as an example a case in Okinawa earlier this year, where a 14 year old girl was allegedly raped by a marine stationed at the Okinawa Military Base.  Enloe explained that difficult issues arise when dealing with military crimes on bases overseas, because there are often disputes over whose police should detain the alleged criminals.
 
At the same time, Enloe warned students not to simply see the United States military as the enemy, and not to lose sight of the focus of her lecture: remaining aware of the global issues surrounding our country. If acts of violence are being carried out under the guise of “United States security,” it is important for United States citizens to be aware of them, Enloe urged.  But often, she said, citizens are not fully informed by any media outlet.  She asked for a show of hands in the room for anyone who had heard a news report about the violence against the 14 year old in Okinawa; when only two people in the full house of over a hundred raised their hand, she said, “Imagine what it would feel like to live in a place where another country has a huge impact on your quality of life, and the citizens of that country can’t even spell your name or find where you are located on a map, and they aren’t even aware that they have a military presence in your country in the name of their national security.”
 
Opening the floor to the audience, Enloe applauded the military personnel in the room for their hard work and dedication to our country. She met with many students and faculty at the reception following the lecture, encouraging all to remain aware of the global issues surrounding our military - and of the media’s coverage of these issues.
 
Enloe’s lecture is only one of the events hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences to celebrate Women’s History Month.  The Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights hosted Janet Yassen, Crisis Services Coordinator, to give a lecture on the “Victims of Violence” program at Cambridge Hospital on March 13th, and on March 27th of this month, Kiki Zeldes, author of the world-famous book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, will speak about “Web Resources for Women’s Health.”

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