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July 28 2008 7:48 AM


Another suicide bombing in Iraq last week. Another female perpetrator. The bomb "killed a pro-American Sunni militia leader, an Iraqi police captain, a local politician, and five other people," according to Friday's New York Times . Apparently, it's "at least the 16th time that a woman has donned a bomb and exploded herself in Diyala Province since last year."

William Saletan William Saletan

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

Why women? The Times explains:


Wearing billowy, black head-to-toe garments, the female bombers have been able to conceal powerful explosives and slip into crowded areas too heavily guarded for a male suicide bomber to ease through undetected. While men often undergo physical searches, Islamic rules do not allow male security officers to pat down women.

How many more women have to blow themselves up before we get the message? Female suicide bombing is a logical extension of suicide bombing. Suicide bombing exploits your disbelief about what people will do. Female suicide bombing exploits your disbelief about what a particular group of people—women—will do. Your biases are no longer somebody else's problem. They're your problem. Look for Arab bombers, and terrorists will send an American-born Hispanic instead. Look for men, and they'll send a woman.

Actually, I don't like the way I wrote that. These women aren't just "sent" by somebody else. We've had enough socio-babble about how women commit such atrocities because they've been "marginalized" and "exploited" by men. It reminds me of the pro-life dogma that women shouldn't be prosecuted under abortion bans because the woman is just the abortionist's pawn . Spare these women your condescension. If you're going to make abortion a crime, charge the woman. If you're handling security where bombs are a threat, search everyone. And if you don't have enough female security officers to search the women, go hire some.

But this is just a Muslim problem, right? We Judeo-Christian Americans don't have these hang-ups, right? As the Washington Post noted two months ago:

In Afghanistan as well as Iraq, female soldiers are often tasked to work in all-male combat units -- not only for their skills but also for the culturally sensitive role of providing medical treatment for local women, as well as searching them and otherwise interacting with them.

But—oops!—the Post story is about Pfc. Monica Brown, who won

a Silver Star in March for repeatedly risking her life on April 25, 2007, to shield and treat her wounded comrades, displaying bravery and grit. She is the second woman since World War II to receive the nation's third-highest combat medal. Within a few days of her heroic acts, however, the Army pulled Brown out of the remote camp in Paktika province where she was serving with a cavalry unit -- because, her platoon commander said, Army restrictions on women in combat barred her from such missions.

Enough with the sexism. We can't afford it.