Feministe on the CIA Distributing Viagra in Afghanistan

by Kevin Jon Heller

The blogosphere is all atwitter with news that the CIA has been using Viagra to bribe Afghan chieftains into revealing information about the Taliban.  I was going to point out that, however successful the erections-for-info exchange might be, it is worth wondering to what extent the practice facilitates rape, marital and otherwise.  But it appears Cara at Feministe has beaten me to it.  Her post focuses on the following paragraph from the article:

“You didn’t hand it out to younger guys, but it could be a silver bullet to make connections to the older ones,” said one retired operative familiar with the drug’s use in Afghanistan. Afghan tribal leaders often had four wives — the maximum number allowed by the Koran — and aging village patriarchs were easily sold on the utility of a pill that could “put them back in an authoritative position,” the official said.

And here is what Cara has — rightly — to say:

A few paragraphs prior in the article, it’s discussed how “sex” has been a popular bribing tactic by the CIA and other intelligence agencies throughout history.  The problem is that “sex” in this context, what with their mention of using attractive women as “bait,” very clearly means women’s bodies.  And the same thing seems to be absolutely true here.

What does that mean?  An authoritative position?  Because to me, when I hear that the ability of a man to get an erection around his wife puts him back in an authoritative position, my mind screams rape rape rape rape rape.  What else could one possibly mean by equating a man’s capacity for intercourse so closely with authority over a woman?  (And any other possible explanation must by its very nature still be deeply misogynistic.)

[snip]

What I’m concerned about is that regardless of any actual enabling of rape — which would of course make the situation far worse — the CIA seems completely aware of and okay with the prospect of their enabling rape.  In fact, they’re the ones who seem to have first jumped to the conclusion, even if they likely wouldn’t use the word “rape” themselves, what with it making their actions seem much too icky.

All of this talk about passing out necessary tools for marital rape and allowing men to regain an authoritative position over their wives also strikes me as particularly ironic seeing as how a major method used to justify this war — other than repeating “9/11″ over and over again — was by promising the “liberation” of Afghan women.

Point well taken.

http://opiniojuris.org/2008/12/27/feministe-on-the-cia-distributing-viagra-in-afghanistan/

One Response

  1. Since when CIA supporting something like rape is a surprise? These guys have been killing and torturing people for decades now.

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