Posts Written by Emily

“Standing by her man”: the message behind media stories on Asma al-Asad

A SYTYCB entry

On Tuesday morning I read a CNN article titled “Will Asma al-Assad Take a Stand or Stand by her Man?” I went to work and thought about the article all day. I came home from work, and I thought about the article some more. An entire day passed and I all I could think about was: Will Asma al-Assad stand by her man?  Have you ever heard something so ridiculous?

My initial reaction was anger at the blatant sexism of the statement. My anger turned to outrage and repulsion after reading all of the comments posted hypothesizing that she has run away to France to go shopping, men informing us that they would “tap that ass” or conversely saying “who let the dogs out?” Then I read one comment saying she needs to be “punished” – yes, “punished” in quotation marks. In the context of an article that, like the media is apt to do, cannot discuss a woman without sexualizing her and critiquing her body, one commentator said she should be “punished.” In other words, raped.

My second reaction was confusion. The video clips of interviews with Asma al-Assad do suggest she cares deeply about human rights, so why is she not speaking out against her husband?  Why has she not defected? More generally, why do the wives of dictators not do anything to stop their husbands? How does she live with it? How does he live with it?

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