Thursday, June 25, 2009

For All Those Assholes Who Glorify War : War Means Rape

Warning : Sensitive Reading Material

So many stupid idiots glorify war or assume that war is inevitable and ought to be accepted as a part of life that I am going to include some pretty graphic scholarship here on a fact that everyone colludes to ignore : that every war includes rape, at least incidentally, and often as an inextricable part of its operations.

To support war, therefore, is to support rape.

Chew on that one for a while, while you read these quotes, which speak for themselves :

"Mass rape in war. Rape in war is not a modern phenomenon. It has always occurred during warfare. ... Regardless of the reasons for its occurrence, the failure to punish the perpetrators has remained consistent over time. This lack of accountability is directly linked to the gender-specific nature of the crime. ... Rape is a sexual form of torture with the vast majority of victims being female ... Enemy males, also sometimes sodomied, often are more reluctant to reveal the abuse than females. ... There is a gendered imbalance of power in the world, especially in the upper echelons of government and military, the very people with the power to prosecute such wartime offenses. Raping a woman humiliates not only her but also her male guardian, exposing his inability to fulfill his duty to protect the women of his family. Thus, raping a woman in front of her parents or husband is common practice during war. ... Repeated brutalization in gang rapes sometimes results in the victim's death, often from vaginal bleeding. The likelihood of permanent physical damage, including infertility, increases with each assault. The chances of contracting a venereal disease also rise since military infection rates are higher than civilian (Machel 2001, 44) Rape is sometimes even employed as a means of spreading such infections." (Tonya M. Lambert, "Rape in War", in Bernard A. Cook, Women and War, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California, 2006, pp. 481 - 482.)

"One reason that rape was ignored in international criminal law was because it seemed to be merely an "ancillary crime" incident to war. Rape was not itself seen as a violation of international peace the way that genocide, apartheid, and slavery were. Rather, rape was seen as merely something that soldiers did on their own, thus making it no different from the countless rapes committed by non-soldiers in cities and villages across the globe. ... For centuries, rape has been considered one of the spoils of war, something that male soldiers expected as partial payment for their courage and bravery on the battlefield. The attempt to characterize rape as an international war crime, on the same level as the murder or torture of innocent civilians by enemy soldiers, is not new. In 1646, Hugo Grotius said that rape " should not go unpunished in war any more than in peace." Today, this seems uncontroversial, although it took 350 years before the international tribunals recognized the wisdom of Grotius's remarks." (Larry May, Crimes Against Humanity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005, p. 98.)

"Rape has not only been perpetrated in an indiscriminate way by victorioius marauding troops who do not fear the rule of law, but it has also been used in quite a discrimiante way either as a means to terrorize civilian populations or to perpetrate some form of genocide or ethnic cleansing." (Ibid, p. 99.)

"Rape as a weapon of war is a recognized form of torture ... [M]ost torture is not prosecuted, and when it is, perpetrators seldom receive punishment commensurate with the crime. ... In war, soldiers learn that it is okay to use enemy women, since they are "only women" and "only the enemy," and they will likely soon be killed anyway (and so not aware for long). Thus, many reasons appear to explain why war rape has been relatively invisible to outsiders, engaged in shamelessly by perpetrators, and rarely prosecuted or even denounced throughout its history. Victims have been silenced by death, shame, and fear, and survivors have lacked the opportunity, freedom, and encouragement to publicize their experience." (Claudia Card, The Atrocity Paradigm, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002, p. 123.)

"The woman raped is often a throwaway or sacrificial victim, a secondary target used to send a message to the primary target, namely, other women ("this is what will happen to you if you are insufficiently deferential and obedient") or to men ("this is what we will do to your women"). In war and in peace, the role of women raped and murdered is often like that of bomb victims. They are used to manipulate others whose compliance the terrorist seeks." (Ibid, p. 125)

"When civilian women are raped in their homes or communities by enemy soldiers, the primary target is men --- husbands, fathers, brothers. These rapes are meant to demoralize the men, make them manipulable. ... If there is one set of fundamental functions of rape, civilian or martial, it is to display, communicate, and produce or maintain dominance, which is both enjoyed for its own sake and used for such ulterior ends as exploitation, expulsion, dispersion, and murder." (Ibid, p. 125)

"Male soldiers have always considered the raping of women to be part of the spoils of war to which they are entitled. ... In some wars the raping of the enemy women has been used by military commanders and civilian leaders as a systematic weapon of war. The purpose of systematically raping enemy women as a way of waging war seems to be twofold : first, to generally terrorize and demoralize the enemy through rape and sexualized torture, and second, to demoralize the combatants by harming, polluting, or possessing "their" women." (Ann E. Cudd, Analyzing Oppression, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, p. 103.)

"The fact that rape does erupt and flourish during war --- Brownmiller's "open season of rape" --- far more than it does under any other conditions seems to support her idea that rape is merely a tool of power and control. Men everywhere seem more likely to rape women who have lost their defenders. "The opportunity for free play to sexual passion has been considered a perquisite of soldiers, especially in the taking of a besieged city," notes Quincy Wright in his classic A Study of War. Rome, for example, stood for eight hundred years before Alaric's two-year siege finally broached the city's defenses on August 24, 410. Alarci's Visigoths looted and killed the starving Roman citizens and raped the Roman women." (Michael Patrick Ghiglieri, Joshua Bilmes, The Dark Side of Man, De Capo Press, New York, 1999, p. 90.)

"Descriptively, rape in war ... aims to terrorize and degrade, hence demoralize, the vanquished, to symbolically and sexually reward and revenge the victors, and/or to interrupt reproductive continuity. It has been used as a ritual of degradation of the other side, a way of instilling terror, a tactic of demoralization, a plundering of booty, and a humiliation rite for the men on the other side who cannot (in masculinity's terms) protect "their" women ... It means supremacy : we are better than you. And possession : we own you." ... What further marks rape in war, which generally happens through cadre initiative, is its mostly out-of-control quality. It is what armed men do in groups when there is nothing to stop them." (Catharine A. MacKinnon, Are Women Human?, Harvard University Press, Harvard, 2006, pp. 222 - 223.)

General Patton, commanding an extremely well-disciplined army in light of world history, told the Grand Vizier of Spanish Morroco, "I then told him that, in spite of my most diligent efforts, there would unquestionably be some raping, and that I should like to have the details as early as possible so that the offenders could be properly hanged." (George Smith Patton, War As I Knew It, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 1947, pp. 23 - 24.)

Note that despite his discipline of the army, raping was seen as simply an inevitable result of warfare, even with drastic punishments.

"Wulfstan's (admittedly polemical) Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, from the eleventh century, describes how ten or twelve Vikings might rape a thegn's wife, daughter, or kinswoman, while he looks on, disgraced. In a context of warfare and unrest, in the medieval era as in our own, all social norms and ideals are cast aside." (Conor McCarthy, Marriage in Medieval England, Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2004, p. 21.)

I could continue on and on ad nauseum. It is clear that war means rape, and thus support for war means support for rape.

Tacitus mentions that the wives and children of Germani warriors would stand on the sidelines and cheer them on. Perhaps an unintentional or intentional side effect of this was to reduce rape in warfare, as wives would be there to witness and scold behavior of their menfolk. This custom should be examined as a potential cultural means of reducing this most heinous war crime. Tacitus also mentions Germani military tribunals that could order the death penalty, and one of them involved shaming the body of another, and it is quite possible that this involved rape. In the case of this body-shaming of another, the punishment was to be drowned in a swamp like the scum they were.

Perhaps a fitting punishment to be revived.


OpenID svartesol said...

Thank you for raising awareness of this. It seems to be "the elephant in the room" people don't want to talk about, but it is an inevitability of war.

It happens in peacetime too, but it _definitely_ happens in wartime. This is one of the many, many, many reasons why it raises my hackles when people say "Heathenry is a warrior religion".

3:04 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Well, yah, saying it is a "Warrior Religion" is to make the entire pantheon ruled by Tyr (which, contrary to their pitiful assemblage of one misinterpreted Frisian monument in Britain, and a complete mistranslation of a passage in Tacitus' Histories, there is ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE FOR WHATSOEVER), and basically to make it a Monotheism of Mars. There are Gods who have skills they can pass on to those people who find themselves in the troubled times of combat so that they can be ready for their troubles. This is different than a "warrior religion".

It's an earthen religion, really, meaning it stays close to the ground and to the pragmatic. That means we have to be realistic about things. True glory is real and not hollow phraseology, and comes out of true victories.

Rape is never a victory.

6:04 PM  

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