Title

Abu Ghraib: Degrading and Torturing the Feminized Other

Authors

Kaitlin Kelly

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Abstract

My research examined the sexual abuse of male detainees perpetrated by United States military personnel at Abu Ghraib detainment center and the context surrounding these events. Though many have seen the photographs of hooded men, forced simulated sex acts and grotesque human pyramids, they are but a title page of an entire book of abuse perpetrated. Using military personnel interviews and first hand detainee accounts collected by the Red Cross, as well as legal memos, I was able to more fully understand the immediate historical and social context surrounding these events. The sexual torture present at Abu Ghraib was deeply informed by historical precedent, in Nazi Germany and the Algerian French War. By utilizing second wave feminist critique, philosophical theory, masculinity and queer theory, and Orientalist literature I was able to understand why feminization of the victims is a central locus of power in sexual torture. Sex is seen as a core aspect of our identity thus to exploit this core is an efficient mode of eliciting information and dominating the Other. Sexual torture is horrifying as it forces one to face their own fragility and vulnerability, attacking the most susceptible core of identity, and annihilates it through extreme pain and humiliation. This experience is utterly world destroying, causing a loss of self, identity, and most painfully, voice. Following such a decimating loss, the true horrors cannot be described accurately, to their full extent. Torture devastates absolutely, yet its true magnitude may lie in its inherent lack of comprehensibility.

Advisor

Malek Moazzam-Doulat

Department

religious_studies

Support

Ford Research Endowment

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