Women and war. I was happily stuck in the stereotypical mindset that the two just don’t mix.
In recent years, when I’d hear about female suicide bombers, I’d quickly skip over the story. I would tell myself it’s merely a strange anomaly. Or I’d picture a tortured woman, fearing for her children taken hostage. She was drugged and while she was unconscious they strapped a bomb to her and threatened to kill her children if she didn’t carry out their orders.
The attack that happened three days ago has been weighing heavy on my mind. I wrestled with whether to write about it or not. But I’m so distressed by this woman’s actions. I decided to investigate.
Sadly, all of my preconceived notions are wrong.
Instead of stories of women being forced, against their will, to perform these horrific acts I found stories of women calmly answering questions in a government office before reaching under their bra and setting off the device. Or women pretending to be pregnant, with a bomb carefully tucked underneath their clothes. All women. All ages. According to U.S. military statistics the youngest female suicide bomber was only 13 years old.
I love the customary image of a woman. We are the nurturing sex. We protect life. I imagined that if women held the majority of leadership roles around the world there would be no war. And I’m dumbstruck, sitting here, wrestling with article after article telling me that I’m mistaken.
One article suggests that the work of female suicide bombers is not a new phenomenon. They’ve been around for more than 20 years. From this 40-something-year-old perspective, 20 years is nothing. To me, it IS a new phenomenon. And I sit here wondering why? Why is my beautiful, idyllic convention being shattered?
And when I start to wonder how we have failed each other, why women are now willfully joining the ranks of male suicide bombers I can’t help but take a good, hard look at the human race and how we’ve resolved conflict in the past. War. Violence. Killing. It’s been going on as long as man has walked the Earth.
I remember, as a teen, comparing the male world leaders at war with each other to overgrown boys, fighting over a toy. Testosterone taking over their senses. I was smug in my vision of my fellow sisters. Calm. Rational. Wanting only peace.
Boy, was I ever wrong.