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FEATURE | summer 2006

Crude Awakening
How U.S. War Policies Sell Out Women in Favor of Big Oil

With the Iraq war still raging, threats of U.S. action against Iran mounting, the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and gas prices climbing in the U.S., Ms. magazine's cover story explores why Big Oil has become a feminist issue. 

Martha Burk, author of Cult of Power: Sex Discrimination in Corporate America and What Can Be Done About It, examines how U.S. war policies sell out women in favor of oil interests:  "Whether supporting gender apartheid abroad, or sacrificing feeding programs for U.S. women and children so that ExxonMobil can get a tax break, or simply standing by while the company reaps record profits at the expense of women who must drive to work and heat their houses, U.S. priorities are consistent: Oil wins over women's rights hands down."

Burk explores how oil was a major factor in the decision for the U.S. to invade Iraq , and how the U.S. ignored Iraqi women's organizations demands for laws codifying women's rights to work, equal pay, pregnancy leave and child care (all guaranteed in Iraq 's previous constitution).  In contrast, the new constitution protects private oil companies.          

In Saudi Arabia, Burk points out, the U.S. turns a blind eye to the repression of women (including those in the U.S. military) in order to maintain a sweet deal for Saudi oil.  And in Afghanistan , the U.S. government was willing to sacrifice women and girls to the Taliban's horrific gender apartheid regime in order to secure pipeline rights for American oil company UNOCAL (now part of Chevron). 

Now, the U.S. has rattled its sabers at Iran , site of the second-largest pool of untapped oil in the world.  "Although the ostensible reason for a U.S.-led invasion [would] be weapons of mass destruction, the politics of oil are peeking out from behind the WMD curtain," Burk writes. Continue to the full article