Creative Destruction

November 19, 2006

Feminism and Media Representation of Gender-Selective Atrocities

Filed under: Current Events,Feminist Issues,Iraq — Daran @ 6:42 pm

Look at this headline on Boston.com

Men in Iraqi police grab kidnap scores in raid

Notice how the perpetrators are gendered, but the victims are not. In fact there’s no mention of the victims’ sex anywhere on the first page. It’s not until you get to the second that you find out what happened:

The gunmen speedily weeded out the men from the women. The women were taken to a room and locked up, witnesses said. The men were pushed into the trucks and driven away. The kidnapped included employees and visitors to the agency, janitors, and PhDs, even a deputy general director of the agency. Some were blindfolded and tossed into the backs of pickup trucks, said witnesses.

There’s some small comfort to be drawn from the fact that – unusually for this kind of atrocity – many of the men were released alive. Some of them were tortured. Many others are still missing, probably among the dozens of bodies floating down the Tigris, with electric-drill holes in their skulls. What’s not unusual for this kind of atrocity is its gender-selectiveness. Almost all of the bodies being washed up in Iraq are male.

But you wouldn’t know that from the media. A day later, and the victims had been completely desexed.

These reports exemplify incidentalisation and displacement which, together with exclusion are the three strategies commonly used in the media to marginalise and conceal the gender-selective victimisation of men.

Feminists make the opposite complaint. According to them it’s violence against women, which is marginalised and concealed in the Media. For example, in respect of the killings of women in Beit Hanoun, Brownfemipower says:

…take a close look at how the violence against these women is justified or even erased

As far as erasure is concerned, in three of the four articles she cites, the victims are identified by gender in the title or first paragraph. The fourth article was about the day’s killings across the occupied territories as a whole, rather than just those at the women’s demonstration. Nevertheless, the women are there, the only victims to be identified by gender.

In none of these articles, nor in any other I found while researching my recent posts on the men and women of Beit Hanoun did I find any examples of the three strategies being used to marginalise or conceal the victimisation of the women. The only people erased were the males who, according to OCHA, were the majority of those shot dead at the women’s demonstration.

Echidne of the Snakes made a similar complaint with respect to the Amish School Shooting.

And only a few days earlier another murderer selected smaller teenaged girls for his violence in another school. Yet this is something the radio news last night didn’t mention when discussing “school violence”. Indeed, the Air America news avoided a single mention of the victims’ gender.

That last sentence in particular caught my eye. What Echidne has just described in the vocabulary of the three strategies is displacement, and I have yet to see an example of it applied to female victims. Echidne’s remark motivated to me several weeks ago to examine the first hundred returns from Google News on the atrocity. Apart from some very early “news just in” bulletins when the victims’ gender wasn’t known, every single one of the reports identified them as female. Nor did I find any examples of incidentalisation (nor exclusion, but the nature of the crime made that strategy impossible). Echidne’s observation, while notable, seems to have been an isolated case.

And you need to read far down into the newspaper stories before you come across a one-sentence-aside about the hatred for girls these horrible acts clearly demonstrate.

Why this silence, this looking-aside? Why make loud comments about possible motives but not look at the obvious one: that these men hated girls? Is it because on some level the society accepts such a hatred, because if we start focusing on it we have to ask some mighty unpleasant questions?

I could ask the same questions of her. Why the silence about the gender-selective slaughter of males in Iraq, which she’s certainly aware of? Why haven’t any of the major feminist blogs as far as I can see done a post about the this kidnapping atrocity? If men had been locked in a room while scores or hundreds of women were kidnapped and tortured, the femisphere would have erupted.

The answer, of course is that gender-selective atrocities perpetrated against men don’t fit the feminist narrative. Girls being killed because they’re girls is evidence, in feminist eyes, of widespread societal misogyny. Women being spared because they’re women is because… err… Let’s talk about something else.

More about the mass kidnapping can be found here.

Edited for clarity and typos.

46 Comments »

  1. Your headline provides further evidence of the by-now incontrovertible theory that atheism causes bad spelling.

    Comment by bobhayes — November 19, 2006 @ 8:35 pm | Reply

  2. [...] Posted by brownfemipower on 19 Nov 2006 at 05:53 pm | Tagged as: radical woc feminism So it seems that I’ve been the subject of many posts over at the blog Creative Destruction. The most recent posts states the following: According to them it’s violence against women, which is marginalised and concealed in the Media. For example, Brownfemipower says: [...]

    Pingback by Women of Color Blog » Media representations of gendered violence — November 19, 2006 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

  3. Your headline provides further evidence of the by-now incontrovertible theory that atheism causes bad spelling.

    A ha.

    Now we have a stereotype that atheists can’t spell, which explains the fact that atheists can’t spell.

    Robert, we must believe that Daran and Amp can spell! We must not mention their bad spelling! Otherwise we’re just dooming this blog to an eternity of garbled spelling!

    Comment by Tuomas — November 19, 2006 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

  4. I cudent unerstant yor mesaig.

    Comment by bobhayes — November 19, 2006 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

  5. I was having a recent discussion with a feminist about whether or not men can be oppressed on the dimension of gender. Her answer was that of course men cannot be oppressed, by definition. Apparently, getting tortured and killed only counts as oppression when it’s done to women.

    Comment by Aegis — November 20, 2006 @ 3:30 am | Reply

  6. Getting rounded up and locked in a room at gunpoint sure sounds like your a victim to me, even if you don’t end up getting dragged a couple of additional miles and tortured to boot. Indeed, it would constitute kidnapping under the laws of most countries.

    Comment by ohwilleke — November 20, 2006 @ 5:51 am | Reply

  7. gah! “you’re a victim”, more proof that atheists can’t spell, I suppose.

    Comment by ohwilleke — November 20, 2006 @ 5:52 am | Reply

  8. Interesting read, thanks for this.

    I have a reply to Aegis -

    Your discussion with this “feminist” sounds like an unfortunate encounter. My constant hope is that people realize that the feminist lens reveals oppression of all persons, all genders, and races. It is an erroneous statement that only women are oppressed by gender; erroneous and narrow.

    Comment by Sudy — November 20, 2006 @ 10:48 am | Reply

  9. you may have a point about some feminists websites – most of the liberal feminist american blogs more or less approve of the violence against men in Iraq and see all men in Iraq (and afghanistan, haiti and wherever else brown women need rescuing by nancy and hillary) as more or less interchangeable agents and carries of patriarchy and misogyny etc – but you are DEAD WRONG about brownfemipower, who is certainly one of the bloggers most attentive to the victimisation of and aggression against men, as men and otherwise, by Empire. You are ignoring, in the way you’ve chosen the quote, the context for her remarks; she is always seeking to straighten out the skewage which arises from liberal feminist quarters which seeks to portray the victimisation of brown women as exclusively or most importantly at the hands of brown men, such as those taken away to be executed by the US created, trained, backed and controlled death squads. She is always trying to correct that habitual, racist imperialist apologist portrayal of brown men under attack by empire as perpetrators and not victims of the violence colonial conquest and aggression inflicts. I assume your reading here results from just having skimmed her blog to look for convenient illustrations of a point you want to make totally unrelated to her blog, and not an actual rebuttal to something you identified at brownfemipower.com, because you just have it wrong on that score, and if you read the blog, you’ll see that.

    Comment by chabert — November 20, 2006 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

  10. Sudy said:
    Your discussion with this “feminist” sounds like an unfortunate encounter. My constant hope is that people realize that the feminist lens reveals oppression of all persons, all genders, and races. It is an erroneous statement that only women are oppressed by gender; erroneous and narrow.

    Thank you for acknowledging this; unfortunately, your view is unusual for feminists. The feminist I encountered (who is part of the Women’s Studies program at a top university) is typical of the prevailing feminist view on the subject of oppression.

    I have only once ever seen a feminist in print who argued that men could be oppressed (Caroline New, a British sociologist of gender who nobody here has heard of). New also acknowledges that feminists tend to deny the possibility of the oppression of men. For example, Michael Kimmel (very mainstream sociologist of gender) claims that while men can oppressed on the dimensions race, class, or sexual orientation, they cannot be oppressed on the dimension of gender, even if they “feel” powerless.

    Maybe there is a whole host of feminists who do believe men can be oppressed. Yet these feminists don’t seen to be very vocal about that view, so nobody knows; meanwhile feminists who consider it impossible for men to be oppressed speak for them.

    Comment by Aegis — November 20, 2006 @ 7:45 pm | Reply

  11. I have only once ever seen a feminist in print who argued that men could be oppressed (Caroline New, a British sociologist of gender who nobody here has heard of). New also acknowledges that feminists tend to deny the possibility of the oppression of men. For example, Michael Kimmel (very mainstream sociologist of gender) claims that while men can oppressed on the dimensions race, class, or sexual orientation, they cannot be oppressed on the dimension of gender, even if they “feel” powerless.

    Oppressed
    To keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority: a people who were oppressed by tyranny.
    To weigh heavily on: Poverty oppresses the spirit.

    Patriarchy dehumanizes men and oppresses women. I wouldn’t say patriarchy keeps down by severe or unjust use of force or authority or weighs heavily on men. If dehumanization is oppression, then men are oppressed. Does capitalism keep men down by severe and unjust use of force or authority or weigh heavily on men? Perhaps men of color or men working in sweatshops or fields in “third world” countries.

    Comment by Donna Darko — November 20, 2006 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

  12. So no, I don’t think men are oppressed as much as dehumanized by patriarchy and capitalismwhile men of color and “third world” men can be oppressed by patriarchy and capitalism.

    Comment by Donna Darko — November 20, 2006 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  13. I would argue that men AND women AND transgendered are all oppressed by patriarchy. The sticky point here is that each gender (and its particular intersection with race and class in local cases) experiences this oppression differently. There are overt forms of oppression like blantant misogyny or homophobia, but also structural forms of violence like the glass ceiling and so forth. Women and trans- tend to be on the brunt of both. But because men are mostly subject to the kinds of subtle forms of oppression that are overlooked when examining other genders (by the more dangerous and blatant forms of oppression they experience) it is not easy to see these forms of oppression. In many cases, this subtle kind of oppression takes the form of a deployment of representational strategies that limit the possible subjectivities a person can take up.

    Maxim magazine and its ilk are an example. Its overt oppression of women is clear by how blatant it frames the representation of women in its covers. However, it also subtly oppresses men by dictating a shrunken, limited view of what it means to be a man–the possibilities of male sexuality. And to modify one’s actions or thoughts based on the representations or discourse that order masculinity is, in fact, however subtle, a form of oppression.

    This is the one stumbling block that I find most interesting for the future of feminism, or gender-concerned politics: patriarchy oppresses everyone, regardless of gender. It just does it in different ways for each gender. In this way, theoretically, it shares a structural order like other repressive discursive regimes (to use Foucauldian language) like Orientalism. To say that Orientalism doesn’t oppress “Westerners” misses all those links in the analytic chain that explain, partly, at least, how US soldiers in Iraq AS WELL as Iraqis are living that oppression.

    Comment by Dharmaserf — November 20, 2006 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

  14. Aegis, do you know what PHMT stands for? Because that seems like a fairly well-accepted bit of common sense within feminism.

    Comment by hf — November 21, 2006 @ 2:52 am | Reply

  15. Aegis, do you know what PHMT stands for? Because that seems like a fairly well-accepted bit of common sense within feminism.

    Here’s something I wrote earlier:

    “Men have disadvantages too” and it’s ugly twin “Patriarchy hurts men too” serve a number of useful ends for feminists. Superficially they acknowledge male suffering and disadvantage, and so serve to deflect one possible criticism of feminism. The word “too” positions male disadvantage as adjoint to and subordinate to female disadvantage, thus trivialising it. Finally, these alternative framings allow feminists to avoid ever admitting to the existence of female privilege. This is important, because the existance of female privilege would present a powerful challenge to the very idea of male privilege.

    (”Patriarchy hurts men too” has one further function: By identifying victimiser and victim, it blames the victim, thus giving the feminist further reason to dismiss it.)

    Comment by Daran — November 21, 2006 @ 4:31 am | Reply

  16. I think Dharmaserf has the right idea.

    Donna Darko… I don’t think a dictionary definition of a word like “oppression” is authoritative. Any definition of oppression should be argued for through conceptual analysis, like Caroline New does in the article I referenced. New argues that “A group X is oppressed if, in certain respects, its members are systematically mistreated in comparison to non-Xs in a given social context, and if this mistreatment is justified or excused in terms ofsome alleged or real characteristic of the group.”

    Even accepting that dictionary definition, “To keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority,” men are obviously oppressed if only due to having to sign up for the draft (though there are many other examples). As for dehumanization, I think that it will count as “oppression” by any definition that makes sense. Dehumanization of women and minorities is considered oppression in the common usage of the term, so dehumanization of men should be considered oppression also. Not only is dehumanization a form of “systematic mistreatment,” but it is also used to justify other forms of mistreatment.

    hf:
    Yes, PHMT stands for “Patriarchy Hurts Men Too,” a common feminist catchphrase for trivializing the oppression of men. I believe Daran has discussed it on this blog already. Getting “hurt” sounds like stubbing your toe or something. The word does not come anywhere near describing the gravity of the harm men come to that the gender system is implicated in, such as death en masse, torture, forced labor, and genital mutilation (both circumcision, and more extreme subincision).

    Feminist use of “PHMT” is both analytically inaccurate and morally wrong. Notice also that admitting that men are “hurt” by patriarchy, which is easy, isn’t the same thing as saying that men can be oppressed by patriarchy. Furthermore, the use of “too” makes male oppression seem like it was mentioned as just an afterthought.

    When feminists say “PHMT,” it’s almost worse than not even addressing the subject at all. It just shows that they are (a) unaware of the serious harms that happen to men in patriarchies, (b) unable to see that many of these harms are systematic and part of larger patterns, just like harms to women, or (c) unable to empathize with males.

    Comment by Aegis — November 21, 2006 @ 6:28 am | Reply

  17. [...] Creative Destruction: Media Fails To Note Sex Of Victims When Men Are Massacred The post is written by Daran, and so naturally contains needless feminist-bashing, which (as usual) boils down to Daran being angry that feminists are neglecting to pay enough attention to men. However, I think the point he makes in this and other posts – that men are being singled out for violence and slaughter in Iraq, and that this is unjustly ignored by the media – is true. [...]

    Pingback by Link Farm & Open Thread #40 « Creative Destruction — November 21, 2006 @ 8:17 am | Reply

  18. [...] Creative Destruction: Media Fails To Note Sex Of Victims When Men Are Massacred The post is written by Daran, and so naturally contains needless feminist-bashing, which (as usual) boils down to Daran being angry that feminists are neglecting to pay enough attention to men. However, I think the point he makes in this and other posts – that men are being singled out for violence and slaughter in Iraq, and that this is unjustly ignored by the media – is true. [...]

    Pingback by Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Link Farm & Open Thread #40 — November 21, 2006 @ 8:20 am | Reply

  19. Aegis:
    I use the word, KYRIARCHY, a neologism from the feminist theologian, Elizabeth Shussler Fiorenza (ESF).

    This word replaced patriarchy in my vocab because I find it much more thoroughly describes and includes the many layers of power that exist within our society.

    From the the root, kyri – meaning lordship, ESF introduces this word to show that, typically, white, heterosexual, landowning, christian males exist with the most priviliage in the world. Gender is a part, not the whole, of the package that dictates privilege. A white women with all the aforementioned characteristics has more privilege than a black man. If one concentrated primarily on gender, this would not be acknowledged. This is why, I believe, that many feminists have fragmented arguments. They do not thoroughly analyze or acknowledge the intricacies and nuances of power and privilege, which, I believe, is to one’s own feminist detriment.

    Comment by Sudy — November 21, 2006 @ 11:44 am | Reply

  20. I just woke up, so please bear with me.

    Daran says,

    “Finally, these alternative framings allow feminists to avoid ever admitting to the existence of female privilege.”

    I think it is interesting to frame the subject this way. The first thing I would like to point out in passing is that one cannot seperate local instances of privilage/oppression (or anything else for that matter) without noting its intersection with class and race. I would hazard to guess that class has as much, if not more, to do with privilage than gender. The second, and more extended point I want to make is that locating and isolating items of “female privilage” sounds like a back-handed way of finding the feminist equivalent of “Uncle Tom.” (This comment may be a bit much, let me try again:) If we locate specific or structural cases of female or male privilage, a question is “Does it come with an associated oppression to retain that privilage?” We can also ask, “how does an instance of privilage weigh in against all the privilage/oppression that affects a particular gender?”

    I think both of these questions point out that underlying Daran’s comments is a slightly combatative framing. I think we should celebrate certain privilages and worry about others. This depends on the nature of each privilage. If it comes with no appreciable oppression to another group to gain that privilage (and here we should really say “right” but since some women in the world can’t vote…), like women or non-whites voting, then it should be celebrated. If it comes with an associated oppression, like the privilaging of heterosexual marriage and an oppression of same-sex marriage, then we should worry. The point here is that privilages may not be bad if they don’t entail further oppression.

    I want to continue this analysis by looking at something else Darfur says:

    ““Men have disadvantages too” and it’s ugly twin “Patriarchy hurts men too” serve a number of useful ends for feminists. Superficially they acknowledge male suffering and disadvantage, and so serve to deflect one possible criticism of feminism. The word “too” positions male disadvantage as adjoint to and subordinate to female disadvantage, thus trivialising it.”

    I would not dispute that this goes on. However, we should not homogenize feminism. There are many voices in feminism, which is an important 3rd wave discovery that empowers the voices of those who many not be white, heterosexual, or rich feminists. Nonetheless, as with every movement, there is faulty reasoning in some cases. However, I do think there is a point to be made. It is not that forms of male oppression should be trivilialized, but rather that we be clear on the various kinds of oppression there are out there. And sadly, women and trans- are subject to more systematic and overt forms of oppression and violence than men. And I think this needs to be addressed. Gay bashing and the culture of rape are two examples that clearly show a systematically overt form of oppression that needs to be addressed that, frankly, doesn’t affect men as much directly. As such, these forms of oppression need to be addressed immediately and with vigour. However, this doesn’t take away from more overt forms of violence against men BY MEN (in most cases) in related instances, like, for example, the undesired bar fight, or more appropriately war scenarios (which is more vague, since women also are soldiers). In some ways, participating in the career of soldiering is opening up a space for this violence, while walking down the street as a woman or trans- (or homo-) should not ever be concieved as opening a space for violence. So, ideally we should not trivialize any sort of oppression or violence, but focusing on the most unjust forms of violence and oppression first, seems to make sense.

    Finally, I don’t think we should necessarily cut clear boundaries between forms of oppression like I do above (for analytical clarity), because in many cases it is the same structural processes at play that contribute to these forms of oppression. There are systematic processes at play that create a level of acceptable violence that allow for the various kinds of violence against each gender. Actual instances of violence and oppression are made possible by the same inter-weaving of oppressive systems (patriarchy, class, capitalism, etc.). So going back to my little argument that soldiering is a choice and being a woman is not–it becomes more complex when we ask “what socio-economic context informs the choice to become a soldier? In what cases is it really a choice at all?”

    In that light, I would argue we are all in the same boat. ANY instance of oppression hurts us all. And it is for this reason that I don’t see what’s wrong with tackling the most abusive and overt forms of oppression first. The problem here, of course, is the assumption that we can’t tackle them all simultaneously. Shouldn’t we be building up all of our critiques of oppression together, simultaneously? Shouldn’t we be taking our local concerns (feminism, critique of violence against men, oppression of people of color or LGTB) as one front in a collective struggle? I see too much from people who should be working together back-biting and in-fighting.

    Comment by Dharmaserf — November 21, 2006 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

  21. The point here is that privilages may not be bad if they don’t entail further oppression.

    Italics are mines. Could you give an example of an acceptable privilege?

    And sadly, women and trans- are subject to more systematic and overt forms of oppression and violence than men.

    Part of Daran’s point is that the framing you just gave is in and of itself dismissive of male oppression and discrimination. You, unfortunately, framed one group’s oppression as inherently worse than another’s based on what seems to be a purely political position. Ironically, one of the signs that oppression is systemic is the oppression’s invisibility due to general acceptance of its existence.

    So, ideally we should not trivialize any sort of oppression or violence, but focusing on the most unjust forms of violence and oppression first, seems to make sense.

    Who makes the decision as to what forms of oppression are “more unjust” than others?

    There are systematic processes at play that create a level of acceptable violence that allow for the various kinds of violence against each gender.

    Perhaps I am reading this incorrectly. If so, I apologize. Would you give an example of an acceptable level of violence?

    So going back to my little argument that soldiering is a choice and being a woman is not–it becomes more complex when we ask “what socio-economic context informs the choice to become a soldier?

    Daran’s critiques were not about the treatment male soldiers but male civilians.

    Comment by toysoldier — November 21, 2006 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

  22. You’ve raise a lot of interesting points here. I’m sorry I don’t have time to address them all.

    Dharmaserf:

    I want to continue this analysis by looking at something else Darfur says:

    That’s the first time anyone’s confused me with a war-torn region in the Sudan. :-)

    It is not that forms of male oppression should be trivilialized, but rather that we be clear on the various kinds of oppression there are out there. And sadly, women and trans- are subject to more systematic and overt forms of oppression and violence than men.

    How do you know? How much effort have you or feminists put into evaluating the oppressions and violence that men are subject to?

    Gay bashing and the culture of rape are two examples that clearly show a systematically overt form of oppression that needs to be addressed that, frankly, doesn’t affect men as much directly.

    Gay bashing doesn’t affect men? Don’t gay men get bahed?

    As such, these forms of oppression need to be addressed immediately and with vigour. However, this doesn’t take away from more overt forms of violence against men BY MEN (in most cases) in related instances, like, for example, the undesired bar fight, or more appropriately war scenarios (which is more vague, since women also are soldiers). In some ways, participating in the career of soldiering is opening up a space for this violence, while walking down the street as a woman or trans- (or homo-) should not ever be concieved as opening a space for violence. So, ideally we should not trivialize any sort of oppression or violence, but focusing on the most unjust forms of violence and oppression first, seems to make sense.

    This is a typical feminist response. When you say it’s violence against men BY MEN, you are equating victim and vimtimiser, and thereby BLAMING THE VICTIM.

    Would you say to an American woman that the domestic violence she suffers is less unjust because it’s violence against Americans BY AMERICANS? Was the Ruandan genocide less unjust because it was blacks being killed BY BLACKS? Should we privilage the genocide against Polish and Russian Jews over that of the German Jews? And those Oaxacan villagers really need to sit down and think about why they as Brazilians are so violent.

    You do realise that men are more likely than women to be assaulted in the street than women, don’t you? It’s happened to me four times in the past decade, twice with actual violence. And yes, it is oppressive, and no, my having a dick does not make it any less unjust.

    So going back to my little argument that soldiering is a choice and being a woman is not–it becomes more complex when we ask “what socio-economic context informs the choice to become a soldier? In what cases is it really a choice at all?”

    Exactly.

    In that light, I would argue we are all in the same boat. ANY instance of oppression hurts us all. And it is for this reason that I don’t see what’s wrong with tackling the most abusive and overt forms of oppression first. The problem here, of course, is the assumption that we can’t tackle them all simultaneously.

    That’s one of the problems.

    Shouldn’t we be building up all of our critiques of oppression together, simultaneously? Shouldn’t we be taking our local concerns (feminism, critique of violence against men, oppression of people of color or LGTB) as one front in a collective struggle? I see too much from people who should be working together back-biting and in-fighting.

    I’m not back-biting. Nor am I “bashing” feminism. I offer specific critiques, both of the way society constructs masculinity and of the way feminism constructs it.

    Comment by Daran — November 21, 2006 @ 5:20 pm | Reply

  23. Girls being killed because they’re girls is evidence, in feminist eyes, of widespread societal misogyny. Women being spared because they’re women is because… err… Let’s talk about something else.

    I don’t think that’s quite fair. Women being spared because they’re women is evidence, in feminist eyes, of widespread societal misogyny. When women aren’t killed they’re not killed because they’re not worth killing, and because doing so is beneath the hostage takers. They’re not killed because they are of low value. If they hostage takers had regarded them as important they would have done to them what they did to the men.

    P.S. I know someone will accuse me of tautology. But still think I’m right. I am suggesting that that if men are killed this is evidence of misogyny and that if women are killed this is evidence of misogyny, but not just on the grounds of who gets killed. There is extrinsic evidence of misogyny. In the Amish School Shooting the guy did – in fact – hate women. In the Iraq Kidnap they kidnappers did – in fact – think women were unimportant.

    Comment by nik — November 21, 2006 @ 5:33 pm | Reply

  24. Daran’s critiques were not about the treatment male soldiers but male civilians.

    Actually I find the division into “combatant” and “non-combatant” a deeply problematic gender-construction.

    Comment by Daran — November 21, 2006 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

  25. nik:

    I don’t think that’s quite fair. Women being spared because they’re women is evidence, in feminist eyes, of widespread societal misogyny. When women aren’t killed they’re not killed because they’re not worth killing, and because doing so is beneath the hostage takers. They’re not killed because they are of low value. If they hostage takers had regarded them as important they would have done to them what they did to the men.

    Did you look at my critique of the Haditha story? If women are of low value, why are they prioritised in the headlines? It’s like seeing the headline “Cash receipts taken in Louvre raid” and only mentioning the stolen Mona Lisa at the end. When the UN organised an evacuation of Srebrenica in 1993, why were males excluded? If your house is burning down, you don’t grab the non-valuables and run. Srebrenica didn’t burn down until 1995, but when it did, the entire adult male population was massacred.

    P.S. I know someone will accuse me of tautology.

    I’d call it a contradiction myself.

    But still think I’m right. I am suggesting that that if men are killed this is evidence of misogyny and that if women are killed this is evidence of misogyny, but not just on the grounds of who gets killed. There is extrinsic evidence of misogyny. In the Amish School Shooting the guy did – in fact – hate women.

    I’m not so sure. There is evidence that the attack was sexually motivated. Roberts went in equipped with lubricant, among other things although he apparently didn’t sexually assault any of the girls. He expelled the adult women along with the boys. Why did he do that if he hated women?

    In the Iraq Kidnap they kidnappers did – in fact – think women were unimportant.

    I don’t know what they thought.

    Comment by Daran — November 21, 2006 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

  26. Daran and toy soldier,

    you make really good points. I want to address them, but it is late. I will come back here in the next couple of days and give an analysis. The main point, I think, is that I think you are right. I don’t necessarily think the views I expressed above are mutually exclusive with your responses. Anyway, until then…

    D

    PS. Totally sorry about the Darfur thing Daran, must have been my id brain thinking about something I had read earlier while I was concentrating on trying to organize my dumb brain into comprehensible language.

    Comment by Dharmaserf — November 22, 2006 @ 6:51 am | Reply

  27. Actually I find the division into “combatant” and “non-combatant” a deeply problematic gender-construction.

    I agree. The term non-combatant does conjure up the image of civilian women and not civilian men.

    Comment by toysoldier — November 22, 2006 @ 11:07 am | Reply

  28. I don’t think that’s quite fair. Women being spared because they’re women is evidence, in feminist eyes, of widespread societal misogyny.

    Some cynic might suspect that every differential treatment between genders is always somehow explained to be evidence of widespread societal misogyny.

    Comment by Tuomas — November 22, 2006 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  29. It may be true that misogyny is a motivation behind many types of ill treatment of men. But that doesn’t mean that those treatments aren’t also oppressive to men. Likewise, misogyny may be a motivation behind saving and protecting women preferentially, but that doesn’t mean that those treatments can’t be advantages or privileges for women.

    Comment by Aegis — November 22, 2006 @ 5:43 pm | Reply

  30. [...] Earlier today I commented on a post Brownfemipower made as a response to the criticism Daran from Creative Destruction presented in his post about the media marginalization of violence against the men, specifically the men of Beit Hanoun. [...]

    Pingback by Dodgeball « Toy Soldiers — November 22, 2006 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

  31. Dehumanization of women and minorities is considered oppression in the common usage of the term, so dehumanization of men should be considered oppression also. Not only is dehumanization a form of “systematic mistreatment,” but it is also used to justify other forms of mistreatment.

    Women are dehumanized and oppressed. Men are pressured to measure up and this wouldn’t fit dictionary.com’s definition of oppression. I don’t think the definition by the one theorist is very good or it at least suits her own purposes. Poor men, black and Latino serve in the US military in disproportionate numbers. So it is not middle-class or upper class white men who go off to war. I would add that each gender and each race experiences oppression differently.

    Comment by Donna Darko — November 23, 2006 @ 3:30 am | Reply

  32. And, Andrea Smith reminds us, “Women of color live in the dangerous intersections of gender and race.”

    Comment by Donna Darko — November 23, 2006 @ 3:34 am | Reply

  33. Donna Darko,
    You have not addressed any of my points. The dictionary.com definition is not authoritative. You reject Caroline New’s analysis of oppression, but you don’t actually provide any arguments against it. Of course each gender and race (and class) experiences oppression differently. Where have anyone said otherwise? Certainly, the military weighs more heavily on poor men, black men, and Latino men. This doesn’t mean that white, middle-class men aren’t oppressed by being drafted, it just means that they less often oppressed in this manner than lower-class and minority men.

    The only claim I am making right now is that it is possible for men to be oppressed, and that the military is one example of this. Claiming that men suffer gender oppression by no means excludes the racial and class oppression that some men suffer. I am not terribly impressed by attempts to explain away harms which exclusively target men as examples just of racism or classism. When men are preferentially targeted by that harm, then it becomes an example of sexism against men in addition to whatever racist and classist dynamics are going on.

    Also, claiming that men are oppressed by no means implies that the oppression of men is “equal” to the oppression of women. My current position is that if current statistics of sexual violence are correct, then women in the US are more oppressed than men by any reasonable criterion. Still, which sex is oppressed more is an empirical question, and someone could change my mind by showing me some egregious oppressions of men in the US that are comparable in both severity and prevalence. Ultimately though, I think “who is oppressed more?” is a stupid question, because both sexes suffer oppression to such a great magnitude that our attention should be on remedying these oppressions, not on comparing them.

    Comment by Aegis — November 23, 2006 @ 5:39 am | Reply

  34. Women are more oppressed than men. Women of color are more oppressed than white women. Poor men and men of color are more oppressed than middle class or white men. Generally speaking.

    Comment by Donna Darko — November 23, 2006 @ 5:48 am | Reply

  35. Daran

    When the UN organised an evacuation of Srebrenica in 1993, why were males excluded?

    My recollection (I was in Britain that year, reading the Guardian everyday, paying a lot of attention to the coverage of the Bosnia War, but I haven’t gone back to confirm my recollection) is that the UN wanted to evacuate everyone, but the Bosnian Serbs would only permit the evacuation of women from Srebrenica. It isn’t that women were valued more by the UN, by the Srebrenicans, or by the Bosnian Serbs, but rather that the Bosnian Serbs felt that killing all the the women was relatively unimportant compared to killing all the men, while the US felt that saving anyone they could was better than saving no one. I would say that the Serbs considered the men to be more valuable than the women, although their value was in being killed (in depriving the Bosnians of men, depriving the Bosnians of women was viewed as less important, possibly because it was assumed that released women would not take up arms, while the men would).

    Comment by Charles S — November 23, 2006 @ 6:46 am | Reply

  36. Donna Darko said:
    Women are more oppressed than men. Women of color are more oppressed than white women. Poor men and men of color are more oppressed than middle class or white men.

    Why do you feel the need to assure me of this? I agree with you, and I’ve already conceded in my last post that I consider women to be more oppressed than men. Although there are some men’s rights activists who do consider men to be more oppressed, I have made clear that I am not in their camp.

    The point is, that men can be oppressed. This is a fact which feminists consistently ignore, or trivialize, like you are right now by redundantly insisting that it is less than female oppression. Why can’t feminists talk about the oppression of men, even white men, without insisting “but, but, but, women/minorities are oppressed more!” Maybe black women are oppressed more than hispanic women, but should we have to mention this every time we talk about the oppression of hispanic women? No.

    Oppression is always unjust, even if another group somewhere else is oppressed more. For instance, just because women suffer more severe forms of sexual violence outside the US, it’s no excuse to trivialize sexual violence against women in the US. When an injustice is pointed out towards group A, saying “oh, group B has it worse” is not a moral or empathetic response. It may be true that group B does have it worse, but that fact is being brought up in a way that distracts from the injustice towards group A.

    Comment by Aegis — November 23, 2006 @ 6:47 am | Reply

  37. regarding # 35–also, women were used as a tool of genocide as well, women had been raped under the belief that a pregnancy through rape contaminated the blood lines, killing off the culture. In other words, women needed to be kept alive to continue the genocide.

    Comment by brownfemipower — November 23, 2006 @ 11:19 am | Reply

  38. When feminists say “PHMT,” it’s almost worse than not even addressing the subject at all. It just shows that they are (a) unaware of the serious harms that happen to men in patriarchies,

    Ah. So you agree with feminists about the cause of men’s suffering. You agree that fighting the patriarchy as they do will reduce men’s suffering, but for some irrational reason you consider this insufficient because — why? Because they give different reasons for working towards the same goal?

    Comment by hf — November 23, 2006 @ 10:02 pm | Reply

  39. hf said:
    Ah. So you agree with feminists about the cause of men’s suffering. You agree that fighting the patriarchy as they do will reduce men’s suffering, but for some irrational reason you consider this insufficient because — why? Because they give different reasons for working towards the same goal?

    Good questions, despite the snarkiness. First, I agree that what feminists call patriarchy is the cause of men’s suffering. I actually prefer the term “sex/gender system,” or simply “gender system.” Yes, this gender system is implicated in the oppressions of both men and women.

    Where I part ways from you is that I do not believe that “fighting the patriarchy as [feminists] do will reduce men’s suffering.” The problem is not that feminism is fighting the gender system, but the way it fights the gender system. In general, feminism only fights the gender system in a very narrow manner, by attacking the aspects of the gender system that cause injustices towards women. This is because feminists are centered on the interests and needs of women, not of men. Feminists either ignore, trivialize, or exacerbate gender-based injustices towards men. Feminists sometimes alleviate some types of male oppression as a side-effect of eliminating female oppression, yet not all types of male oppression can be eliminated so indirectly. I cannot support the approach of feminism because I am not willing to wait around until when (or IF) it takes off its blinders towards injustices towards men and deigns to consider them a priority.

    To truly fight the gender system, we must directly address both its oppression of women and its oppression of men. Right now, feminists are only addressing the former in any systematic or effective way. This approach is faulty on both moral and practical grounds. While I don’t require feminists to actively address the oppression of men, it is immoral for them to trivialize it, exacerbate it, or deny that it is possible. The practical problem is that since the oppressions of men and women are complementary and interlinked, it is unlikely that feminists will succeed in eliminating the oppression of women without remedying the oppression of men.

    Feminists can’t have it both ways. If feminists are going to focus on the oppression of women, then they cannot claim that their approach will remedy injustices towards men in any significant way. If feminism is going claim to fight the gender system, then it needs to put its money where its mouth is and fight against the gender oppression of men also.

    Comment by Aegis — November 24, 2006 @ 2:40 am | Reply

  40. The difficult, Aegis, lies in the fact that (as far as I know, anyway), there is no solution to the problem of the gender system. Sure, we could scrap it and come up with something else – but every candidate thus far nominated looks to be just as oppressive, only in a different flavor. (New CHERRY-flavor oppression! Next year: Lime.)

    So you can’t find the whole system. What you can do, however, is fight the aspects of the system that disfavor you, and try and move the inevitable someone-is-going-to-be-fucked-over energy over to some Other – hey, men will work! Recent example: instead of deciding that housework standards are too high, feminists instead want men to do more of the work. It isn’t UNFAIR – if we’re going to have absurd standards, then men ought to do their part – but it isn’t contra-oppression.

    I don’t think feminists are cynical and evil about this, I think they just don’t want to acknowledge that oppression is an inevitable feature of the human experience because it would make things too depressing. So they do what they can do, which is to try and get someone else in the chains. Misery loves company.

    Comment by Robert — November 24, 2006 @ 3:19 am | Reply

  41. If feminism is going claim to fight the gender system, then it needs to put its money where its mouth is and fight against the gender oppression of men also.

    In a meaningful way. The problem is, it pays lip service to gender-oppression of men.

    Case in point: Iraq. There is a Balken-style ethnic war brewing. I don’t know whether anyone else noticed, but the city of Balad got ethnicly cleansed last month. Just as in the Balkans, “military-age” men are at particular risk. And just as in the Balkans, this is not being recognised by an international comunity fixated on protecting “vulnerable women and children”.

    Feminists aren’t fighting this gender-system. They’re part of it.

    Comment by Daran — November 24, 2006 @ 3:32 am | Reply

  42. Feminists aren’t fighting this gender-system. They’re part of it.

    There is no dichotomy. Everyone is part of it. Some people try to fight it, others embrace it, others just get on with things.

    Comment by Robert — November 24, 2006 @ 4:35 am | Reply

  43. Donna Darko:

    Women are more oppressed than men. Women of color are more oppressed than white women. Poor men and men of color are more oppressed than middle class or white men. Generally speaking.

    Me:

    The problem with feminism is that it concludes that women are more oppressed than men, but in making that judgement, it looks at female oppression through a microscope, and male oppression through a telescope. Backwards. Pointing at the ground. With the lens covers still on. And both eyes closed.

    Comment by Daran — November 24, 2006 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

  44. [...] Posted in Iraq, War, Reposts, Gender Issues, Male Disposability at 11:06 pm by Daran (Originally posted at Creative Destruction. Here slightly edited.) [...]

    Pingback by Feminism and Media Representation of Gender-Selective Atrocities « DaRain Man — December 30, 2006 @ 9:22 am | Reply

  45. [...] For an example of selective targetting, and how the mainstream media downplays this aspect, see this post [back]This is generally true of Ethnic conflicts. See Mueller, John. “The Banality of Ethnic [...]

    Pingback by Feminist Critics — March 23, 2007 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

  46. You are a complete and total asshole. To attempt to claim that women are not the victims of violence far more often than men is INSANE. This has been a FACT for centuries. Take a look at the statistics from any country (those countries that maintain them) and tell me that women are not raped or molested and murdered at the hands of men! You obviously DO NOT WANT to know the truth, you are only interested in promoting lies.

    Comment by munchkinpup — July 21, 2007 @ 3:05 pm | Reply


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