This post was written by guest contributor Emaan Majed.
The scene opens on a bustling Peshawar market. The street vendors peddle ripe oranges and bananas. Decorated rickshaws bustle through busy streets as Maya, the determined female protagonist of Zero Dark Thirty, makes her way to her destination. But in contrast to actual Peshawar markets, the only Muslim women on the movie screen are two briefly seen, unnamed extras wearing sky blue Afghan chadris.
The central narrative of Zero Dark Thirty surrounds the 2011 capture of Osama Bin Laden by a Navy Seal team. In this rendering the seal team is led to OBL by Maya, portrayed by Jessica Chastain. Maya and her colleagues go through many leads, breezily torturing each suspect until he breaks. Much has been said on the graphic torture of Muslim men the movie glorifies. But what most mainstream outlets and Westerners in general have ignored is the effect this torture has on Muslim women. The devastating effect the torture, capture, and murder of Muslim men has on their wives is overlooked by the movie and by the larger American foreign policy it emulates. The American military and government are eager to wage a war on terrorism in the name of women’s rights and show kindness to little girls whose fathers are suspects. However, their brutal treatment of Muslim men threatens the families and economic situations of many of those little girls by destroying their communities. Gayatri Spivak’s famous quote “white men saving brown women from brown men” is the framework this movie operates on, but it does not seem to realize that these white men are doing brown women more harm than good. [Read more...]