Are Women the Secret Weapon in a Mass Antiwar Movement?

W.J. Astore

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is an organization that’s helped to change the narrative on drinking and driving. Could a new organization like Mothers Against War (MAW) do the same for the world’s endless cycles of war?

In an antiwar movement that’s often fragmented and something less than the sum of its parts, a movement that unites women (and, of course, sympathetic men) in a dedicated push against war makes a lot of sense, argues Andre Sheldon. As he pointed out to me in our conversation yesterday, women united in the #MeToo movement against sexual violence; women marched on Washington in the aftermath of Trump’s election, donning pussy hats to remind us of his wanton and casual sexism (see Linda Roller’s account here for Bracing Views); Black women created the Black Lives Matter movement; and women helped to drive a movement against gun violence in the “Moms Demand Action” movement.

One thing we all have in common: we all have mothers. And there’s another thing that’s true for most of us (especially for us men): We should have listened to our mothers more, especially as a counterpoint to macho pro-war narratives being driven by powerful state and corporate interests.

As retired Army Colonel Ann Wright so eloquently put it recently: “For God’s Sake Boys, Stop this War S**t!!!”

In one of my favorite “Calvin & Hobbes” comic strips (from 1987), Calvin is shown comparing art projects with his friend, Susie. While Susie is content with a “tidy little domestic scene,” Calvin has something more ambitious in mind:

Something tells me we need more Susies and fewer Calvins.

For some reason, certain men, especially those who wear suits in the government, seem to think that toughness is all about putting on “big boy pants” and waging war. Of course, these same men usually don’t go to war themselves; they send other “boys” to fight and die for them. Macho posturing is common to both political parties in the United States, and it’s not just restricted to men. Perhaps the worst offenders were George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who also both avoided the Vietnam War, but women like Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice have shown no remorse in waging disastrous wars. Think here of Hillary’s infamous comment, “We came, we saw, he died” in the aftermath of the death of Qaddafi and the collapse of Libya into chaos.

Obviously, the answer isn’t as simple as putting women like Clinton or Rice in command. What we need instead are courageous and outspoken women like Barbara Lee and Dorothy Day. For, as Dorothy Day put it, “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”

Too many men have the emotional maturity of eight-year-old boys still seeking to knock each other over as they play “king of the hill.” But when the hill is Planet Earth and the toys they play with are nuclear missiles, the stakes are somewhat higher than bragging rights at the local playground.

Instead of “Jesus, take the wheel,” maybe it’s high time that women do. Something tells me we’d be better off as a people and as a planet.

Addendum: For more information on Andre Sheldon’s proposal, please check out his Facebook page.

14 thoughts on “Are Women the Secret Weapon in a Mass Antiwar Movement?

  1. Over 50 years ago, Moms did just what you’re proposing as explained here: As a teen, I cut out images of the Vietnam War from Life Magazine, creating my own “War is not healthy for children and other living things” poster, based on Lorraine Schneider’s iconic graphic, shown here:

    In case you missed it, here’s a video of Russian mothers calling to task the governor of their region for lying about the war:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Agree completely!

    There is something about women, particularly mothers, in a male-dominated society. I’m reminded of the mothers who continually demonstrated against the Pinochet regime, carrying pictures of their disappeared children. Imagine the impact of 100,000 mothers in Red Square, demanding that Putin end the war and bring their boys home.

    He can’t beat them or shoot them, and even arresting them would bring universal condemnation (except maybe from Tucker, who never met a tyrant or jack-booted thug he didn’t adore).

    Of course, always remember that women can have all sorts of opinions, and no doubt there are many women in Russia who support the war. And don’t forget how many women voted for Trump.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, you know the snarky quip from about a decade ago, Bill: “When women are bored, they go shopping.
    When men are bored, they invade other countries.”

    The difference is mental hard wiring, of course, which hasn’t evolved since the dawn of the human species. But our now-interconnected world can’t withstand testosterone-fueled warmongering. I can’t explain HRC or Condi, except to speculate that they’re determined to get along in a male-controlled world by out-machoing the boys.

    For those who have the time and inclination, I highly recommend Clive Barker’s “Imajica,” which takes the male/female dichotomy to the extreme. Spoiler alert: it’s a better world when women are in charge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The road to success is paved with power. One lays the pavement in the distance as one follows the road. HRC took that road and became, if she wasn’t already, the kind of person that gets to the top. Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Nikki Haley, Samantha Power, the list could be extended. Women won’t save the world as long as extreme strivers who are willing to sacrifice anything to get to the top get there and women show themselves adept at extreme striving.

      Take the example of Marianne Williamson who had several ideas that would likely get the approval of many who read this blog. In the 2020 Dem primary debates she spoke well, setting her apart from the rest of the field. She was quickly ruled out as some kind of dreamy touchy-feely new-age person clearly not suited for the oval office. But how about a following based on what she said? Was a movement started? After all, Oprah liked her.

      I could not immediately recall Williamson’s name. I asked two women in the room nearby, both of them half my age, for her name, describing her program as best I could, and mentioning that she had been in the debates. They could not recall her.

      I have no hope of any women’s movement in the US coming about that will change things. Remember that the possibility of total nuclear destruction has been with us for decades now and it still threatens us with no effective demand for change. No national group of women or men or both together have arisen on the subject, that I know of.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The sad truth is that anyone who ISN’T ruthless, who tries to bring people together for the common good will be marginalized in the 21st century. Ms. Williamson, along with Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders, are prime examples.

        The last two people who were really successful at uniting diverse groups of people FOR THE COMMON GOOD were RFK and MLK, and as they couldn’t be marginalized, well…

        TFG and his minions aren’t uniters; rather, their goal is to divide by race, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It astounds me now that LBJ was able to get the programs through that he did. He was second to none in ambition and he sent us down the drain in Vietnam, but he did have a soft spot for Americans at the bottom. Good intentions combined with the political savvy from his very successful years in Congress to lean on people with clout, even to intimidate them and shame them to effect was no small achievement. He was dedicated to the people as one would hope a democratically elected leader would be but that few are. A good part of that was personal insecurity with a fixation on being loved by the people, but oh how nice that foible looks by comparison the those of more recent White House occupants.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said. I’m going to keep the title because it reveals something of my own biases. I try to avoid militaristic language, and have written extensively against violence and militarism, but I’m as prone as the next guy to slip into it. It’s just so easy … which says something, I think.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Twelve-thirteen years ago our Hawaiʻi Governor balanced the State budget by furloughing the students and teachers for seventeen days; most families had no safety nets for their children’s care and most kids were left unattended. This news prompted me to seek ways I could help, and I was eventually directed to Laura Taylor’s Aloha Peace Project here on Kaua‘i. I was privileged to volunteer with her organization for several years in Kaua‘i’s elementary schools. We had large portable stages on wheels, and three-foot puppets (like the Muppets) each classroom teacher and the counselor would animate to enact problem situations for the students to solve and learn. We also had a lot of hands-on projects the children created while empowering them to be peacemakers. The families and schools remarked on the noticeable changes at home and fewer difficulties on the playgrounds, and even adults in the community were affected… so many stories…!!!
    The children learned skills for diffusing bullying situations, character-building principles for handling social situation problems with respect, courage, inclusion. Children know what’s right; many times they just don’t know the words to use to resolve conflict. The schools adopted a version of the Aloha Peace Project into their curriculum. Laura is 81 and still alive on Kaua‘i. Here is one article in our local newspaper from a few years back:
    Reminder from Crosby Stills and Nash:

    …and a child shall lead them … Isaiah 11:6
    A few years back I was introduced to the Playing For Change musicians through the Hawaiʻi Aloha song:

    And my love for them has grown through watching and listening to these musicians all around the world singing in harmony for their goal of Peace Through Music.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you WJ !!!

    For people that would like to Stop War:
    A new global movement led by WOMEN, but not exclusive to women, is prepared. It is a Global Movement of Nonviolence, For the Children (GMofNV) and it is one step away from beginning.

    If anyone would like to assist, please contact Andre (at)

    Women have already been uniting and have practiced mobilizing as evidenced by the Women’s March on Washington, Women marched in Jerusalem, Women Crossed the DMZ in Korea

    Also, Women in India, the #MeToo movement, Portland, Oregon, and in Belarus. A GMofNV is designed to “harness the power” of women and nonviolence to create trust and respect between nations and people.

    It is time for WOMEN to UNITE around the WORLD as the peacemakers!

    Liked by 2 people

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