Dori Hartley | VenusBlogs Managing Editor
Photo: Nano Calvo

[dc]T[/dc]racy Clark-Flory does it again, in her recently published article for Salon, The war on female sexuality: Is globalization to blame?

Women’s bodies have become a global battlefield. The brutal New Delhi gang rape case, and the fierce protests it sparked, is just one example. From education of Afghan schoolgirls to veiling in France, female sexuality and freedom has come to symbolize a global conflict “over the nature of the self,” argues David Jacobson, a University of South Florida sociologist, in “Of Virgins and Martyrs: Women and Sexuality in Global Conflict,” which comes out later this month. It’s chiefly an ideological divide of “honor” versus “self-possession” — or, as he puts it in the book, “who owns and control’s one’s body, especially when it comes to women: is it the individual herself or the community, through enforced practices of honor, virginity, veiling, and marriage?”

To David Jacobson, a University of South Florida sociologist and author of the upcoming book, “Of Virgins and Martyrs: Women and Sexuality in Global Conflict,” she asks the question: Why is female sexuality at the heart of some of our most significant global conflicts?

It’s extraordinary. What we’ve seen in Delhi recently is a horrifying symptom of this broader global phenomenon. The more patriarchal a society, the more vicious the backlash to the integration of women, not just in the labor market and education but to the growing autonomy of women in areas from fashion to consumerism to marriage. I think what’s happening is that women’s sexuality and women’s status has really become the hinge of two very different visions of society and visions of morality.

She also puts forth these questions:

There’s a piece of this that’s something of an age-old phenomenon, right? Women’s bodies as sites of conflict and incitements for war?

Where does this honor-based view of female sexuality come from?

You make a point of making a distinction between how women’s bodies are viewed in patriarchal, honor-based societies and by Muslim culture as a whole. What are those key differences?

We see vaguely related tensions between “honor” and “self-determination” in Western cultures, too, right — take, just for one example, the SlutWalks?

Why, exactly, has the West moved away from that patriarchal notion of female honor?

Are those values of “honor” and “self-determination” at all reconcilable? What can we learn from zooming in on the role women play in these global conflicts about the way forward?

Read the full article for the answers to these questions. From New Dehli to the war on women here, sexual freedom has sparked a global conflict. An expert explains why.

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