Here In The "Reality-based" World...
I am linking to this article about women's rights in post-Saddam Iraq both because you should read it, and because it gives lie to something Laura Ingraham said on her radio show the other day. She said something to the effect of, "Why aren't feminists and women's rights groups supporting the war? We're freeing the women of Iraq and they don't care."
It's because we aren't freeing the women of Iraq, Laura, and we aren't going to. In the Iraqi election, women running for office had to do so anonymously or face being killed by disapproving men (as some candidates were) or having harm come to their families. You aren't going to win many campaigns if the voters don't know who you are, and democracy is something of a farce if don't know who the candidate you're voting for is (he or she could, in the end, be anyone). You have to know what your choices are in order to reasonably choose who you want to represent you.
Being oppressed by a single dictator and his regime isn't much different, if at all, from being oppressed by another segment of the population. Both use terror and violence to coerce and control women. There is little difference.
If women are not full and equal partners in the political process, they will be oppressed. History tells us that there is little doubt of this. Under Saddam, both men and women were oppressed, but women, in many ways, were less oppressed then than now, as Saddam's regime as not a strict Islamist regime, enforcing Koranic Shariah law like the Taliban, and could choose not to wear headscarves in public, for example, in relative safety.
Women's rights and feminist groups haven't been supporting the war because they aren't blind to the fact that neither liberating Iraq from Saddam's clutches nor introducing democracy necessarily, in and of themselves, improve the situation for women. So far, in fact, both moves have caused the situation for women in Iraq to deteriorate. They will applaud the role of the US in freeing Iraqi women from terror, oppression, and violence only when the US has actually done something that has freed Iraqi women from terror, oppression, and violence.
Being oppressed in a democracy is no better than being oppressed in a dictatorship. Ask the slaves.