Theater of Cruelty

War resistance with a feminist look

Marielle Leranand
Marielle Leraand
Former deputy chairman of Rødt, and regular commentator in MODERN TIMES.
UKRAINE / In this romantic fairy tale with a pure Hollywood dream of a man stands Volodymyr Zelenskyj. But we know that this could develop into a new world war.


The United States has been conducting invasions and occupations in violation of international law for decades. Now it is Russia who have committed violations of international law. So how should we feminists relate to this situation?

To date, the radical women's movement has no independent analysis of war. In my view, this is not surprising, and it is a shame not to have this discussion as a living part of a women's movement.

If we go back to just before The Iraq War, "everyone" was involved in the anti-war movement in one way or another. The women's movement joined the demonstrations and stood with the anti-war movement.

Adherence to demonstrations continued for several years into the Iraq war and during the first part of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. But then it became quiet…

The left as a whole became silent.

My analysis of this is that the left as a whole became silent. Both in SV og Red it was constantly downgraded to have an anti-war work. This development took place gradually, but was marked. In both parties, there was a shift to an increasingly one-sided focus on "Difference Norway".

Hearts and minds

When we had come to the invasion of international law libya, the women's movement was not part of the affiliated organizations when we demonstrated. Now it should be said that during the first demonstration against the Libyan war we were a gang of about 100 people outside the Storting, and the left was totally divided on this issue.

Feminists were also convinced that "it was a just war", or "left-wing war" as Audun Lysbakken called it. It was a just war because Gaddafi was a bad guy that it was good to get rid of.

I can agree that Gaddafi, at least by the Western press, was portrayed as a nasty guy, even though he was a folk hero in Africa and Palestine. But that was not what this war was about.

The actual circumstances was that this was one regime change war which was fought by the USA, with France, Great Britain and Qatar as important co-actors, and with Norway as a very eager tail.

A woman's perspective on the war must be to analyze one war true and correct, not based on a motive for revenge that can be very justified against the one who is designated as the "demon" among men. We must reveal that it is a matter of gathering "hearts and minds" to go to war.

Imperialist Blocks

We must have the same perspective when we look at the war in Ukraine. We must not be fooled by the struggle between the various patriarchs of the world. We must not be forced to romanticize or demonize one or the other head of state.

We who are feminists must rise above this attempt. We must disclose their empire-building policies. Whether it's about creating a hero figure, yes, a pure Hollywood dream of a man, as we see in Volodymyr Zelensky. The national hero we know from all American adventures after World War II, and which we must again and again reveal as pure propaganda, plays and lies.

Hero worship of a man to justify that the United States and NATO countries, and thereby Norway, participate "on the right side" in a battle between good and evil.

In this romantic adventure, we become willing, both women and men, to send everything we have in support of the "good forces." And consequently all protest subsides when we also step in as a weapons supplier and thus as co-fighters in a life-threatening war – which we know can develop into a new world war.

Norway participates "on the right side" in a battle between good and evil.

We who are radical feminists must be able to analyze and see that these are imperialist blocs that stand against each other. Ukraine is the country that lies on the butcher's bench. And there are forces in Ukraine that are willing to sacrifice everything to side with the world's strongest alliance and imperialist bloc.

Another aspect here is the seductive hero worship of the war with men as army commanders, and with a very patriarchal definition of "man". It is greatly reinforced in a war situation.

The collective category "women and children" is the one we as women end up in when the war rages at its worst. The big guys do the business… I remember a women's meeting many years ago where a women activist from Ireland attended who said: "We pick up the pieces while the men do the politics."

Like the farmers on a chessboard

No men between the ages of 18-60 are currently allowed to leave Ukraine. They are obliged to enlist and sacrifice themselves in the war against the Russian supremacy. Like the peasants on a chessboard, the men are sent out, on the battlefield, to the slaughterhouse. We sacrifice the peasants for the fatherland.

This ideology has implications for women. Not only are these men someone's boyfriend, husband, son, brother or father. It also affects our view of who women are. Which function women are intended. Both during the war and in the time following a war.

Peace work thus becomes a particularly important feminist attitude and action, which must now again be rebuilt.

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