The Essence of War

by The Ghost of Dr. Violet Socks

I've written before about how the rape of women is an indissoluble part of war, but Professor Shortell makes the same point in about one-twentieth of the space. He quotes from this article in the New York Times about the war in Congo:
Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.
As Prof. Shortell says: "Rape and torture aren't accidents that happen on the fringes of war; they are the essence of war."

It is a conservative myth that men pay the price for war; that our brave boys are the ones who bear the burden of defending our whatever-the-fuck. I'm going to quote myself here, from a piece I wrote in February 2006 about Iraq:
Of course, the bigger point to be made here is that war exerts a profound and particular violence on women. Civilian females raped by marauding troops, female soldiers raped by their own comrades, military wives at home killed by their returning husbands—war and militarism hit women hard. This runs contrary to conventional wisdom, which holds that war is the special burden of men, the great sacrifice that males give for their country. Anti-feminists make a sort of fetish of this, claiming that war casualties are overwhelmingly male. That is, to put it politely, bullshit.

Despite the glorification of "our brave boys in uniform," soldiers are not the main casualties of war. Civilian populations are. In the 20th century, 90 percent of all war deaths were unarmed women, children, and men.

I put that statement in bold because I think it needs to become a permanent fixture of everyone's mental furniture. When we think about war, we need to think about its real effects. Forget John Wayne and Rambo; remember, instead, the citizens of Dresden, the women of Bosnia, the ash heaps/former humans of Hiroshima. Let's say it one more time: soldiers are not the main casualties of war. Innocent civilians are.
Let us add now to that roster of raped and maimed civilians; let us add the Congo women lying in hospital beds with colostomy bags—colostomy bags, I tell you, because they have been so brutally raped their plumbing doesn't work anymore.

That's what war is.

(Cross-posted from Reclusive Leftist.)

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus