Who dies in war? It isn’t always men. Overwhelmingly often, but not always.
A recurring theme in gender discussions is female mortality in war, “….women are the primary victims of war…” and similar claims. The fact is that men, combatant or non-combatant, are overwhelmingly the victims of war and of violence in general. This is true despite fact that these war victims are usually erased as male in news reporting.This doesn’t fit the chivalrous narratives that inform so much feminist historical analysis, but it is nonetheless true.
However there is more detail to the picture than just “men killed/women raped and force-married into the winners’ tribe”. Admittedly that type of warfare has occurred – that type of modified total war was what the English encountered during contact with the Eastern Woodland cultures.
But that is not the only kind of war. The conduct of the war depends on the objective of that war. You make these modified total war kind of wars when you want to kidnap women to build your population up. But when your population is large enough that you need more land for it, you don’t want fertile females, you want empty land. So you find some to empty, and you don’t take captives. The Eastern Woodland nations should know; they were on the receiving end of that kind of war.
Here’s another data point, from a long time ago. Dienekes has a post up discussing a paper in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology reporting results of a study of 378 Neolithic skulls from Denmark and Sweden. The Neolithic lasted in that area from 3,900 to 1,700 BC. The population appears to be directly ancestral to modern people in the area, with a wave of settlement associate with the onset of the Neolithic but no similar replacement of population in subsequent changes to bronze or iron technologies. Subsequently there was a change of culture associated with the language shift to an Indo-European (Germanic) language and cattle-raising.
The abstract of the base article states:
“Significantly more males are affected by healed injuries but perimortem injuries affect males and females equally. These results suggest habitual male involvement in nonfatal violence but similar risks for both sexes for sustaining fatal injuries.”
“I would be interested to know how this Neolithic sample might differ from more recent ones. My limited understanding suggests that between-male violence often has a signalling component whereby an individual’s or group’s dominance over another is asserted, so the fight often does not go all the way to death, but only until the status quo is manifested by the controlling party or toppled by a challenger.
This type of “signalling” aspect of violent behavior does not apply to male-to-female violence because of the physical strength inequality between the sexes. Indeed, as with violence towards children or the elderly, male-to-female violence may have a “reverse signalling” effect, because it suggests that the perpetrator is unable to fight with “the strong” and is only able to assert physical dominance in “easy fights”. On the other hand, such “easy fights” might be more abundant if perpetrators tend to enter fights they can win.
Fight-to-the-death, on the other hand, may occur either by accident (e.g., when the aim is to assert dominance, but the killer underestimates the tolerance of the victim), or by intent (when the aim is physical annihilation, either because reconciliation with the victim is perceived to be impossible, or because the victim’s death may help keep other challengers in check).”
The signaling violence he refers to is probably associated with status struggles within a group. A group lived and died by the number of labor-worthy and war-worthy men it had, so however much in-group status fighting strengthened a group, actual deaths of those striving for power were not in the group’s interest.
The lethal, gender-equal violence probably has other explanations. For one thing it is not at all clear, especially at this distance in time, how many of these lethal head injuries came out of fight-to-the-death situations. There may have been very little fighting and a lot of executing.
Scandinavia has historically been a source of migration rather than a destination. In other words, arable land has been at a premium for a long time. What kind of warfare would that produce – wars for more population or for more land? And what traces would a war for land leave? Probably bashed in skulls of the entire population on the losing side, everybody without regard for gender. That’s what this evidence suggests to me. In this kind of situation, men and women died in equal numbers.
“There may be lots to learn about gender roles and social hierarchy from large palaeoanthropological samples. For example, how much did ideology affect secular patterns of interpersonal violence, and how much did changes in weapon technology (e.g., from Neolithic to Bronze, Iron, and more recently firearms).”
I think the motivation for the violence, a desire for land to till clear of previous inhabitants would have a lot more effect on the pattern of violence than the methodology of that violence, as in what weapons are used.
- The Woman Card - May 2, 2016
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- “Not my kid….” - February 22, 2016
A recurring theme in gender discussions is female mortality in war, “….women are the primary victims of war…” and similar claims.
You know why those claims are so easy to make? Because when it comes to war time casualties civilian women and children are counted but civilian men are nearly nonexistent. For some odd reason the male casualties are mostly brought up when said males are combatants. Look at some news articles about civilian deaths in war torn areas of the world. How are they usually reported?
“X number of people have been reported as dead. Y of them women and children.”
Even when Y is less than half of X it will still be reported that way.
People think that women and children are the majority of casualties in war because the women and children casualties are damn near the only casualties that are actually explicitly mentioned,.
Ginko, while I appreciate the links to my work, this post would have been better support for your point.
Danny, you are mixing up two things here: What you have to say about how civilian casualties are reported in the news media is absolutely correct, whether it be the “including women and children” and “mostly women and children” (very often in populations in which these demographics account for 75% of the population) tropes, or simply failing to refer to any male casualties at all.
Counting casualties is another issue entirely. I’ve never heard of a count of civilian casualties which excluded male civilians. The main problem with civilian counts is their exclusion of combatants – a purely social (and highly gendered) construct, as though combatant casualties don’t contribute to the human cost of warfare. At least our combatant casualties get reported as tragic losses. There is nothing so insignificant or worthless as a dead enemy soldier.
This is absolutely correct. The Bosnian war was also of this type. The aggressing Serbs had no interest in what happened to the Bosniac population, so long as they were gone. In practice this meant that the men and older boys were systematically executed while the women and children were expelled to uncontested regions. There was plenty of rape to go round, but no systematic effort was made to rape every woman. See this paperfor more information. The same was probably true of the other conflicts in the region, but I know less about them.
I’d be interested in any information you have about the Eastern Woodland nation.
Daran, thanks for that link. I’ve worked it in to the post. Thanks.
“I’d be interested in any information you have about the Eastern Woodland nation.”
Plural. That culture area took in the Five Nations and the other Iroquoian gorups such as the Laurentians, Huron, Petun and Mingo, and also the Chreokee, for that matter. It included all the Algonkian speaking nations east of the Mississippi such as the Ojibwe and all those groups around the Great Lakes, Shawnee and the Illiniwek tribes in Illinois, as well as the tribes of Virginia, Pennsylavania, NY and New England the English came in contact with first. It also included the Siouan nations along the Mississippi and the Osage along the Ohio River, driven out by the Five Nations in the 1300s.
There is an esentially white supremacist narrative that English settlers showed up and immediatey started killing of the Indians and pushing them out. Since those English were few in number, without an functional agricultural complex of their own and couldn’t produce the artifacts that would have gven them a technlogical advantage, this is the same as calling them some kind of supermen or superior race.
Another piece of this narrative is that these settlers were “illegal aliens”. This implies that the native governments had no control over their presence, when in fact they could have crushed the easily in the beginning. In fact a generation after initial setlement there was an atempt in massachussetts to ethnically cleanse the Englsih settlements because the English were “increasing in the land” and were not assimilating to established cultural norms. This is called King Phillip’s War.
The Five Nations in particular waged a form of war that targeted women and children to kidnap to build their own popualtion, but all these other nations did too. This and the torture of captive men so embittered the Englsih against these nations that they never forgot it and continued to vist revenge for this on peoples hundreds and hundreds of miles away, completely unconnected with this behavior, for two centuries and more.
“There is nothing so insignificant or worthless as a dead enemy soldier.”
Insignificant to whom? He’s quite signifaicnt to his own people, the same as the “friendlies” are to the friendly side. And the enemy side gives not one shit for friendly soldiers and their deaths. That’s just human nature. You take care of our own.
To us, by which I mean our society, not the smaller localised “us” having this discussion
Yet the “enemy combattants don’t count” trope applies even when we’re trying to take care of “them”. The US/Nato intervention in Libya was for the purpose of protecting civilians. Combatants – mostly conscripts – didn’t count.
Calling it “human nature” is a cop out. All human behaviour is “human nature”. Some forms our culture suppresses, while other forms it encourages.
“Calling it “human nature” is a cop out. All human behaviour is “human nature”. Some forms our culture suppresses, while other forms it encourages.”
Yes, exactly. it encourages this kind of in-group prefernece because it has been adaptive. The more broad-minded approach you advocate is also adaptive, but only under special circumstances and those circumstances have to do with there being a sense that we’re all in this together. That is a pretty hard case to make across the lines of nation and society.
I can understand someone’s distaste with the utilitarian nature of that, as a matter of aesthetic preference, but the freedom to dispense with utilitarian approaches is itself an artifact of special, cushy circumstances, of the kind we call civil society. I approve of them, but I know better than to think they are anything but a construct.
“To us, by which I mean our society, not the smaller localised “us” having this discussion.”
That’s what I thought. My point is that we are not the center of the universe, our take on things is not normative, and we have exactly as much responsibility as anyone else to be the broad-minded, generous adult in the room.
“Yet the “enemy combattants don’t count” trope applies even when we’re trying to take care of “them”. The US/Nato intervention in Libya was for the purpose of protecting civilians. Combatants – mostly conscripts – didn’t count.”
Even that best case scenario makes your point, and there are plenty worse you could point to. The UN rape brothels in the Congo are the kind of international peace-keeping aid and assistance the world can do without.
I wouldn’t lump victims of genocide together with victim of war.
dungone, there are genocidal wars. This is one of the big differences between national and tribal wars. Partly it’s because tribes are leaderless and extermination is the only way to win and there is no one empowered to surrender in the name of the tribe. That means there’s no one empowered to hand territory over, it has to be cleared off one dwelling at a time.
Even when there is no specific territory, a tribal war may still be about resources and rresources are for the purpose of supporting communities, and wiping out competitor communities is one very sure way to safeguard a resource.
Gingko, genocide is possible without war, just as it is possible to run a slave trade without war. I think that these activities are on a different continuum even if they at times coincide with one another.
People tend to associate all things that are bad with war and then lump all of it in with masculinity and sexual competition. Yet, wiping out an entire population is actually an extreme form of sexual rejection. So is slavery, and in fact all caste and class systems. They are products of hypergamous thinking just as much as they are of male aggression. I don’t think women have to fear dying in war when the war is a sexual competition among men. I think they have to fear dying in war when the war is driven by demands of other women – more food, more land, more riches to bring home to the wife and kids. Obviously this is a simplification, but I am just trying to get a very general idea across.
It is possible that male dominance over society had actually brought about less genocide and made it safer to be a woman. It is possible, in fact, that women have a stronger in-group bias than men as well as a stronger hypergamous sensibility, whereas testosterone-driven men have a stronger sense of justice and fair play. I think that in light of recent discussions on this blog, it seems that we would probably agree that extreme forms of male chivalry are often driven by female hypoagency and that females have a huge role as gender role enforcers for men. Isn’t it somewhat odd that the most tradcon “women and children first” societies are the ones who end up committing genocide against outside groups?
Looking at your statement,I guess gender is not the only thing that can make victam invisible.It can be ethnicity to.
Maybe you should take a look at this.
@Valkina, as much as that documentary wants to say otherwise, a lot of the peace and prosperity in Yugoslavia during the 1980’s went to one ethnic group at the expense of another. I have met Yugoslavs in a German refugee camp in the 1980’s who gout out knives and tried to kill each other as soon as they found out that one was Muslim and the other Christian. That war was bound to happen sooner or later, with or without Western intervention. The documentary really glossed over the fact that the territory had been set up from the very beginning to be divided against itself and therefore more easy to control by Communists. If you really want to understand how and why the Soviets lost control over the Eastern Block as well as their own country, you really need to look no further than the degree of racism and ethnocentrism among the ruling class of the Soviet Union.
I put the documentary in order to show Daran, that Yugoslav war was not black and wight.And that there were bad things happening on all sides.And that it wasn’t Serbs = evil,everybody else = good.
I am aware of the fact that there are bed blad between nations.Who ever big part of the hastiley comes from the double standard the west has in prosecuting war crimes.
Just watching the first ten minutes of that film is enough to see that it is a blatant propaganda piece. It’s also easy to find dozens of web pages denying the Srebrenica Massacre, just as one can find dozen denying any other genocide. Denial is the seventh stage of genocide, after all.
You are presenting a false dilemma. The alternatives are not just “bad things happening on all sides.” with the implication that blame should be shared more or less equally, vs. “Serbs = evil,everybody else = good”. Yes atrocities happened on all sides, but overwhelmingly the worst atrocities were perpetrated by Serbian Forces.
When I referred to the Serbs as “aggressors”, I was simply referring to the posture of the belligerents at the time. The Serbian forces were militarily stronger, and so were able to pursue their war aims, which were as I described. If the Bosniaks had been stronger, and the Serbs weaker, then the Bosniaks might have pursued aggressive war aims of their own. But they weren’t. So they didn’t.
@Daran, there was certainly a great deal of propaganda from both sides of that conflict. There was never any viable evidence for the “rape camps” that were being reported in the media. Whenever I hear just about anything about women and children being specifically targeted by the enemy in a time of war, I become skeptical. But of course, it tends to have the desired effect. I was on the ground in Iraq when Jessica Lynch got captured and it was a sight to see. The White Knights were going into a frenzy, like someone had just struck a tuning fork built into their skulls. Men were getting ready to rip off their shirts and commandeer humvees to go on Ramboesque rescue missions of their own immagination. As it turned out, Lynch was receiving excellent medical attention from Iraqi doctors. At a hospital. But that didn’t stop the right wing cronies running the war from trying to exploit her for everything they could squeeze out of the situation.
And yeah, that documentary was horrific propaganda. Just watch the part where they tried to blame peace keeping forces from “staging” the massacre by purposefully putting refugees in the way of Serbian forces. “Only” 5,000 people were “ethnically cleansed” and it was all America’s/NATO’s/peacekeeper’s/The West’s fault, since everyone apparently should know that soldiers in war naturally kill everything in their path like a runaway train. It has the inadvertant side effect of being misandric while blaming the victims – a rather novel feat almost never seen outside of genocide denial.
And here I that we are supposed to hear both sides of the sorry,before we decide who is guilty and who is not.Instead of screaming propaganda whenever other said something you don’t like.
Bue that way are Croats denial and apologists for training to justify operation storm.
If by “viable” you mean able to stand up in court, then yes there was:
That’s a judicial finding, by the way, not merely an allegation.
As am I. That doesn’t mean that the rape camps weren’t real.
I am not an fool, so please don’t treat me like one. Within the first ten minutes of the film I saw the pre-break-up Yugoslavia depicted as a great national lovefest. Of course it’s propaganda. I have better things to do with the next two hours of my life.
As I indicated in my response to Valkina, I have no intention of watching this part or any other part.
The peacekeepers were appallingly impotent. They had no power to “put” refugees anywhere.
That said, there is plenty of blame to go round. The UN did declare Srebrenica to be a “safe area”, which may have encouraged some refugees to go there, then did nothing effective to make it so.
A judicial finding is not “evidence” in the strictest sense. At the very best, the passage you quoted says that there were 16 proven victims. Obviously there were far more on both sides, but this doesn’t actually count as hard evidence in my book. It doesn’t prove that these camps were “rape camps” set up for that specific purpose, as opposed to regular run of the mill concentration camps full of regular run of the mill death and horror for everyone involved. With 2.5 million people displaced and 200,000 murdered, it shouldn’t be surprising that rape would go along with it. And yes, as a weapon of war. And some men must have been raped, too.
http://myweb.lsbu.ac.uk/philip-hammond/2000b.html Relevant excerpt:
Here are some excerpts from the report they cite:
All the above applied to the broader conflict in Yugoslavia. What about Bosnia in particular?
To summarise, according to this report, there were rape camps in Bosnia, by any reasonable definition of the term. Also rape was used “in conjunction with efforts to displace the targeted ethnic group from the region”. In other words, rape was being used to support the aims of the war, which seems to me to support the “rape as a weapon of war” claim.
Anyone citing this report in such a way as to imply that they didn’t find evidence of rape camps is perpetrating an egregious distortion.
A judicial finding means that evidence has been presented to the court and found to be reliable.
I didn’t quote it for the number of victims, but as evidence of a rape camp in Bosnia, which you denied.
If you want to play word games, then you certainly can define the rape camps out of existence. “detention of women in hotels or similar facilities for the sole purpose of sexually entertaining soldiers” – not a camp as such. “regular run of the mill death camps” – not set up for that specific purpose. As far as I can see, the most authoritative sources report considerable evidence that many women and some men were held in detention centres where they are systematically raped, that this was a deliberate policy, and that it was done in support of the war aims. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a rape camp.
” “detention of women in hotels or similar facilities for the sole purpose of sexually entertaining soldiers” – not a camp as such. “regular run of the mill death camps” – not set up for that specific purpose…”
This reminds me of an interview of a fomrer Japanese officer on an old series on WWII called “The World At War”. He was talking about the Korean “comfort girls” and said he respected them, because often that was often the last bit of pleasure those men had before they died, and in a tone of wonderment at finding himself respecting a Korean woman for any reason.
It was just creepy to see someone speaking out of such a frame of reference.
Daran, dungone and Valkina, thank you very much for developing this lobe of the discussion. It is very much to the point.
I haven’t had time to respond to Daran yet, but I will by tomorrow morning. Thanks…
Ah, hell, I’ll just do it now.
From the UN report:
And that’s it. From this, they extrapolated that there had been female 20,000 victims and made sweeping generalizations about wide ranging abuses. In the passage that Daran quotes, they make generalize about broad strategies based on anecdotal evidence from a handful of witnesses and pepper it with strong words to make it sound convincing when in reality, some of the claims they made were quite spectacular and would warrant a high degree of corroboration. At one point they vaguely try to bolster their argument by saying that they independently verified that another camp really did exist:
Overall, it only serves to drive home what Phillip Hammond wrote about it, and goes along well with what he said about other reports of “rape camps” in Bosnia.
What really is curious, though, is that the UN investigators actually spent a substantial portion of their report documenting rape and sexual assault against men. Yet, when the UN and the media went on to describe female rape camps, they were completely silent about the men. I actually went out on a limb and tried to search for how many men are estimated to have been raped and I found nothing. But for women we get a figure of 20,000 pulled out of who knows where. It’s almost as if the evidence of men being raped had been used to bolster the idea that women had been. So women-only camps get labeled as “rape camps” but male-only camps where fathers are forced to have sex with their sons and men’s penises get cut off by Serbian women are just “camps.”
But without the actual evidence, it’s only hearsay and an appeal to authority. The only evidence mentioned in the finding were 16 victims – that’s all we can say of what was presented. We have absolutely no clue where the rest of the claims came from. Anyway, if we’re going to go based authority, then I implore you to look at all the scholarly citations that Phillip Hammond’s paper received. Probably more than most you’ll be able to find on the Bosnian rape camps.
I haven’t been defending the 20,000 figure or any other figure, and I don’t know why you keep harping on about it. (Actually I do.) The only point at issue is your claim that ‘There was never any viable evidence for the “rape camps”’. If by “viable” you mean sufficient to satisfy a judge, or a committee of investigators, then yes, there was viable evidence. If by “viable” you mean sufficient to satisfy every wingnut, birther, holocaust-denier, truther, flat-earther, or crank on the internet, then no. No evidence of anything is that viable.
I’m done with this discussion. Feel free to have the last word.
Thank you. It’s worth observing that if a gender-reversed version of the “lobe” – where I was rebutting denials of male-victimisation – were to take place on a feminist website, then it is quite likely to be shut down as a “what about the menz”.
I had intended to respond to this bit too:
I entirely agree with this description of how male victimisation (and also female perpetration) documented at the incident-level gets erased in secondary and tertiary treatments, while, the female component gets larged up. I’ve blogged about this on numerous occasions. (For example, here and here).
The appropriate response to the erasure of male victimisation isn’t to erase female victimisation. It’s to try and paint an accurate picture which includes both.
Actually you don’t know why. It’s called missing the point, Daran. Not the greatest offense and I’ll be glad to explain. My original statement which started this, that you disagreed with, is as follows:
You said there was ample evidence for rape camps, etc. etc., in response to the comment where I said that. Seems like you were responding to me as if I was denying that widespread rapes had occurred, whereas I had never said that. I said that there is scant evidence as to the actual extent of the rapes. My comment was about the way witness accounts had been sensationalized by the media and turned into propaganda by the governments involved. The 20,000-50,000 rape figure is extremely relevant to that and had been part of what my original comment was referring to. I had made the comment, it was mine to begin with, and you were responding to me and what I said, not the other way around 🙂 Everything that I presented you with, including the academic paper by Phillip Hammond, was along the lines of my original statement.
I’m not sure what exactly it was that you were responding to, then, but it seems that you may have misread me and we ended up talking past one another. I think that perhaps if you did take a greater interest in propaganda, sensationalism, and psy ops, then you would have a better perspective of how gender and the exploitation of women play into it (disclaimer: I worked closely with psy ops during the Iraq war and I lived in an Eastern Block country where my parents were political activists. When you said you weren’t interested in watching that Communist video, I kind of took offense because this is the kind of propaganda may be stupid, but a lot of people risked their lives fighting against it. I’m not above learning as much as I can about it myself).
“Thank you. It’s worth observing that if a gender-reversed version of the “lobe” – where I was rebutting denials of male-victimisation – were to take place on a feminist website, then it is quite likely to be shut down as a “what about the menz”.
Daran, as we well know, that is setting the standard of comparison pretty low. I think you find in men’s spaces there is not much tolerance of sexist dismissals of women’s harms, just pushback against letting them be used to erase harms to men. That looks radical and misogynist only because of the way the culture shapes expectations.
Sorry for being late, had internet travels.
“If by “viable” you mean sufficient to satisfy every wingnut, birther, holocaust-denier, truther, flat-earther, or crank on the internet, then no.”
Many of this thing just to mean somthing,like for example holocaust-denier.But now ,people use it as a salencing tactic.If you don’t fall in lain you are this and that evil thing. Holocaust-denier just to be someone who that holocaust was the lie.Now I see some people being cold holocaust-denier bue just saying that “Yes there was 6 million Jewish deaths but there where not the only ones being killed by Nazis”.
Birther and truth? I don’t know who these people are.
No, the operative part that the deniers are saying is “The Holocaust did not target Jews, it hurted everyone!” and other such nonsense, including and not limited to “Da Atheists did it..” or “Da Gayz did it…” or “Hitler was an Atheist Eskimo Midget Gay Pedophile Illegal Immigrant!”
That said, I do agree that Daran was off the mark here by redefining “viable” in an extreme manner and using it to pose a loaded double barreled question to a hypothetical strawman.
The “Da Atheists did it!!!” it is my favorite.
I guess all the priests in Jasenovac were actually atheist in disguise,just wanting to make Church look bad.
Yet another example, this time for the UN WOMEN – United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women: