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A feminist decries pacifists' 'rubbish'

BATTLE LINES

Criticizing Code Pink and Women Against War, a blogger says a U.S. victory may help liberate Iraqi women from a tyrannically sexist society.

March 24, 2003|Reed Johnson | Times Staff Writer

As the scrappy Ivy League-educated voice behind the blog site www.asparagirl.com, Brooke Schreier lays out her views on subjects ranging from the momentous to the mundane. In one posting she'll muse on her upcoming marriage to her fiance in L.A. In another she'll free-associate about hearing emergency sirens outside her window in jittery Manhattan. "I do have my magic talisman handy, though, to ward off any problems: chocolate ice cream," she wrote the other day. "Solves almost everything."

But it is Schreier's recent postings on what she regards as the myopic attitude of mainstream feminists toward the U.S.-Iraq war that have made her a minor overnight sensation in the small but expanding world of those who keep online journals, or Web logs ("blogs" for short). Criticizing such groups as Code Pink and Women Against War, as well as the international antiwar protest campaign called the Lysistrata Project, Schreier says that "so many women are being told that because of their gender they should support the antiwar movement."

Au contraire, argues Schreier, 23, speaking by phone from New York, where she works as a Web producer and designer for IBM. One of the most compelling reasons for backing the war, she thinks, is that it may help liberate Iraqi women from a tyrannically sexist society. And although a Code Pink organizer has said that "testosterone-poisoned rhetoric" is behind the push for war, Schreier thinks such attitudes smack of a monolithic and "retro" view of femininity.

"What also galls me is that these women are claiming not only sex but femininity itself as a uniformly passive, gentle, loving, pacifist attribute. What rubbish," she writes on her blog in a critique of the Lysistrata Project and related issues. "I shouldn't support waging war on a mass-killing dictator because as a woman my place is to elevate discourse and consensus and eschew 'manly,' messy action? They're even implying that if I am not a peaceful, good-mannered, right-thinking woman like them, a woman for peace, then perhaps I am not really a woman at all?"

Schreier also takes on the National Organization for Women's assertion that American women will be "disproportionately affected" by the war as funds are diverted from education, health, welfare and other social service programs. An odd view, she says, given that American men are far likelier than American women to be doing the actual fighting and dying.

"Being that I am pro-war and in favor of the invasion of Iraq, it was also incredibly disturbing to me to see how much modern feminism, especially modern, feminist, large organizations like the National Organization for Women, have allied themselves to antiwar groups," Schreier says. As one recent measure of women's attitudes toward war, a December opinion poll in The Times showed that 52% of American women supported sending U.S. ground troops into a war with Iraq (the figure for men was 64%). The same poll found that 59% of women surveyed (and 69% of men) thought the U.S. "should retain the right to launch a preemptive strike if it feels under threat."

Though Schreier describes herself as a Republican, her political views don't fit snugly into any conventional template. She says she's "in some degree pro-choice" on abortion and "not necessarily part of the [Andrea] Dworkin camp of feminism that sees pornography as inherently evil.... I think that I am part of that generation that sees freedom in all its various forms as an inherently good thing."

Since posting her thoughts about war and feminism earlier this month, Schreier says, she has been getting about 3,500 page views a day -- an "abnormally high" number for her -- and scores of posted comments in reply. That's only a fraction of what top blog sites like Instapundit.com, the "so-called Grand Central Station of Bloggerville," command. But it's much more than the average dead-tree reporter gets in response to a typical newspaper story. Asparagirl.com also was recently cited in the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web On-Line and has been linked to by better-known bloggers, including writer and conservative provocateur Andrew Sullivan.

Before she became a blogger, Schreier says, she had a Web site up "in some form or another" for about eight years. She'd also edited the online campus newspaper for her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania.

Then came Sept. 11. "I felt a sense of personal vulnerability living in New York, and I think I found an outlet for that somewhat by writing," Schreier says. Her blog turned a year old in February.

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