Two predators engage with one another.
“She is beautiful, man!”, said one of them.
“There is another one over there”, groaned another voice in a lustful, hastening but triumphant manner.
It takes less than a few seconds to know that this is a dialogue amongst men, the kind of nuisance that women encounter in their daily life. In the streets, the workplace, the school, the factory, the company, indeed even in the house, women are burdened with this lustful gaze. Many men, publicly and freely, feel no hesitation with these predatory expressions of their masculinity. This is the discourse of harassment and violence, and it is male.
But when did this dialogue amongst men begin? When the first man felt entitled to his bounty, he was glancing at prey. “She is beautiful, man!”, denoted that which ought to be hunted, a “fat” source of nutrition. We can imagine the scenario as thus: one hunter tells his fellow hunter that “This game is worth hunting, she is beautiful and fat.” The other would reply “Yes, and there is another one!” The competition amongst men would begin, each hunter would brag about their strength, and each one would demonstrate it by making their prey submit. A dialogue short in words but deep in historical content, this is the origin of the dialogue amongst men. It wasn’t, however, until the establishment of patriarchy that the prey would become the other half of society, the very source of life itself, the woman.
Genealogically speaking, the dialogue amongst men has haunted their behaviour since prehistory. With the emergence of the proto-state, it was redirected to the private, social and political spheres in order to dominate and subjugate women. Men formed a new coalition composed of the hunters, elders, and shamans, combining the physical strength of the hunter, the experience and knowledge of the elderly class, and the “magic” and technology of the Shamans. A new alliance was forged to manipulate and, thus, administrator a new society along coercive lines. Humanity was to be plagued with patriarchy, and only afterwards evolve into a state-based race with its own kings, priesthood, and military chiefs.
The reader might be lost, confused as to why we are talking about kings, priests, hunters and prey in the first place. More importantly, you mays ask who the "she" is which is being spoken about?
But she herself interjects into our dialogue.
“I am a fighter of the YPJ,” she answers "I come from Kurdistan. I was raised in a patriarchal society but educated within the long revolutionary tradition of women. I carry my weapon and books to fight the mentality of the huntsmen, to fight the patriarchy they enshrined 5000 years, and to pay tribute to strong women like myself, women like Zilan, Beritan, Arin and Mirkan. The women who fought the patriarchs of Turkey and fought the men who oversaw an Islamic State in Syria. I aspire to be these women; I am them”
Her body may have perished but martyrs never die.
As a member of the YPJ, she took part in the battle to defend Afrin from the Turkish State and its jihadist proxies operating under the banner of the “Free Syrian Army”. In a heroic asymmetric battle, with the armed peoples' on the one hand, and NATO army accompanied by mercenaries on the other, she was killed by pro-Erdogan jihadists. They stripped her, mutilated her body, and cut her breasts.
They hated everything she represented, for not only was she a free woman, but she was in the vanguard of a Kurdish-led project in Northern Syria that is predicated on the pillars of radical democracy, people’s empowerment, feminism and social ecology. She, alongside other women, sought to defend a project that ensured stability, peace, the comradery of different ethnic and religious groups, and oversaw a sanctuary for those fleeing the dictatorship of Assad, the tyranny of FSA groups and the theocratic patriarchy of IS.
In a word, her very being was interpreted as a “national security” threat to Turkey, partially because it was: a free woman that exists as the embodied opposite of what the Turkish nation-state stands for: patriarchy, nationalism, and hard-line Islamism.
Why did they commit such violence on her body? The YPJ fighter once again provides us with a response.
“Because my sisters and I crushed them in Kobani. Because we destroyed their so-called capital in Raqqa. Because we got in the way of their plans. Now they are coming for revenge.” She continues “My sisters and I will tear that patriarchal mentality into pieces.”
Since the beginning of the invasion of Afrin, the Turkish State has used warplanes to bomb the city, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians, most of whom are women and children. Like the Islamic State, the Turkish State has also engaged in a calculated campaign to fight heritage, destroying an archaeological wonder in Ain Dara, the Syro-Hittite temple. The Turkish State has turned an oasis in the midst of war into a bombing-field that has already displaced 16 thousand people. As it now currently stands, locals and officials in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria have even gone so far as to allege that the Turkish state is using napalm against civilians.
The woman we speak of, who was brutally mutilated, must not be remembered only as a casualty of (T)FSA and Turkish-state misogyny. No, we must not make the mistake of the mainstream media, which has often overlooked the ideology she fought and died for. Let's not objectify her. She was the inspiration to many more that aspire to be her, those women who will valiantly fight against the patriarchal forces of this world.
This heroic woman, who came to physically represent the war for liberation against barbarism, may or not have finished her elementary school. But she was most definitely educated in a Jineology school established during the Rojava revolution. She, in fact, had a knowledge often overlooked in western schools of thoughts, the knowledge both of 5000 years of male domination, and the key to overcoming it. Jineology, is derived from two terms. Jin, in Kurdish means woman, and logos in Greek, means reason. So it is the science of women. This term was advanced by Abdullah Öcalan, a political theorist and ideological leader of the PKK, in his third volume Sociology of Freedom.
Trained in Jineology, this woman learned about the history of her sisters and their struggle throughout history. She learned about the era of the Neolithic and the role of women in administrating society along relatively libertarian and egalitarian lines. She learned about the rise of hierarchy, domination, patriarchy, the state, and class. Most importantly though, she was equipped with an ideology and a method to overcome these structures of domination, inspired by women goddesses; dieties like Inanna, Ishtar, Star, and Tiamat. She fought within a legacy that she was proud of: the libertarian traditions of West Asia, as well as making use of the heritage of Western feminist movements as well.
It was in the Jineology school where she learnt that the first recorded word was that for freedom (Amargi). Mythology, religion, philosophy and science, in a word the human experience, taught her that freedom was both desired and possible. For her, history was a lesson, education: a means to construct a personality ready to engage socially and politically in daily life, and knowledge: synonymous with practice.
Many of us were enraged when we saw the footage of her mutilation. It was filmed on Tuesday after Pro Erdogan Jihadists found the young woman’s corpse in the village of Qurna near the Turkish border, north of Afrin.
In the footage, a dozen men, some armed, gathered around her mutilated body on the ground. There, standing atop her body, two men engaged in the dialogue amongst men, falsely believing that they had won. Mercilessly, they trod on her breasts, naïve to the fact that their whole system will be crushed under the boot of the global woman’s liberation, just as there IS compatriots were to learn when it was women fighters of the YPJ who announced the liberation of Raqqa.
According to Amad Kandal, an official with the Women’s Protection Units, “She did not surrender. She fought to the death.” Kandal vowed that she would avenge her comrade. “This kind of behaviour will only serve to reinforce our determination to resist until victory.”
Mutilating a female fighter body is nothing new in the viciousness of war. We find the very same act occur in the ancient epic of Enûma Elish. After defeating Tiamat, Marduk cut her body into pieces. In the epic, the male God, Marduk, is depicted as epitomizing order and heroism while the mother-goddess Tiamat is supposed to represent chaos and evil. The struggle in the epic is not merely a battle between two armies, but rather, an ongoing war between the heritage of organic society and that of the patriarchal state.
To Abdullah Ocalan, Organic society is made up of a legacy of non-hierarchical institutions structured around ethics, cooperation, and relatively egalitarian values and institutions. It is pitted against hierarchy, patriarchy and class interests intertwined in the heart of state. And it is the state which perpetuates itself with two weapons: informal coercion and violent submission. The heritage of the male-god Marduk was retained in the Abrahamic monotheistic religions. This explains why God is male in religious discourse, whereas the mother-Goddess was condemned to be an object which has no power but to obey the orders of the male. Though Tiamat was defeated, her legacy of resistance remained. This too should explain why the mutilation was imagined by those Jihadists to be an act of God.
To this, the YPJ fighter has her own response: “This time, My sisters will make history. We will avenge our Goddess Tiamat and smash the legacy of Marduk.”
Defending her is defending humanity against barbarism, free reason against instrumental reason, rationality against irrational actions, freedom against hierarchy and domination, feminism against patriarchy, people's empowerment against disempowered and passiveness, hope against despair, weakness and meaningless, utopia against the unfree established social order. In short, life against death.