Rape in War

“War provides men with the perfect psychological backdrop to give vent to their contempt for women. The maleness of the military—the brute power of weaponry exclusive to their hands, the spiritual bonding of men at arms, the manly discipline of orders given and orders obeyed, the simple logic of the hierarchical command—confirms for men what they long suspect—that women are peripheral to the world that counts.” –Susan Brownmiller

“There can be no security, without women’s security. Rape is not a lesser evil in the hierarchy of wartime horrors, it is not a crime that the world can dismiss as collateral damage, or as cultural, or inevitable.” -Margot Wallstrom

Throughout history, rape has been the least condemned and most silenced war crime. Sexual violence increases during times of war, it is often dismissed as being an inevitable part of conflict.

Gloria Steinem answered to some questions about rape in war. I just could not resist to republish the interview.

Q: What are some of the reasons rape is so prevalent in war?

A: First, it’s important to note that rape and war didn’t always go together. For instance, European colonists wrote astonished letters home about how “even these savages”—by which they meant the residents of this continent they were invading—didn’t rape, not even their women prisoners. But those were wars of self-defense. If you’re going to get groups of men to risk their humanity, health, and lives in wars of offense, the traditional way is not to pay them a lot, but to addict them to the “cult of masculinity.” You have to convince them they’re not “real men” unless they kill and conquer. And, at its most basic, “masculine” means not being “feminine.” On a continuum, it means controlling women, conquering women, raping women, even with objects: bottles and broom handles in “peacetime” here, and gun barrels and knives in Bosnia or Congo. There’s a reason why it’s a truism that rape is not sex, it’s violence.

Nanking 1937

It’s also true that men may rape in groups out of social pressure to prove their “masculinity”—in peacetime, too—but gang mentality is a way of life in war. Military officers sometimes order men to rape as proof of loyalty and shared culpability. Some men express regret and say they wouldn’t have raped without group pressure. Also the group hatred war requires means humiliating enemies by raping “their” women, implanting sperm, taking over their means of reproduction, wiping out the enemy race or ethnicity. Cultures that put all “honor” in the purity of “their” women—and keep women weak—are actually setting them up as targets.

Even in peacetime, the “cult of masculinity” is so powerful that men commit crimes in which they have absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose: “senseless” killings like those in schools and post offices, serial murders, domestic violence, stalking, killing their wives and children and then killing themselves. They’re not hate crimes because they don’t hate the people they kill—but those people symbolize their lack of control, and so are killing the “masculinity” on which their whole sense of self depends. In interviews, such men often describe themselves as victims because they believe they should have been allowed to have control. I think we should call such crimes “supremacy crimes.”

Vietnam 1968

Q: What do you say to people who assert that sexualized violence is a “natural” part of conflict?

A: I try to think of something from the past that was also thought to be “natural,” and wasn’t. For instance, violence was once a “natural” part of childrearing, as in, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” It was also “natural” in marriage, as in, “Wives and bells must be struck regularly.” It was “natural” in religion, as in flagellating and starving the flesh to free the spirit.

Bangladesh 1971
Or I quote Olof Palme, the great former prime minister of Sweden, who said that gender roles are the deepest cause of violence on earth, and it’s up to governments to humanize them. Gender roles may give us our first idea that it’s okay for one group to eat and the other to cook, one to talk and the other to listen, one to order and the other to obey, one to be subject and one as object. The most shared characteristic of original societies in which violence was only for self-defense, not armies—and of the most egalitarian societies now—is that gender roles are fluid and not polarized.

So you might say it’s the reverse. Conflict is not the only or even the primary normalizer of the extremes of “masculine” and “feminine.” Those roles at home are the normalizers of conflict.

Bosnia 1993

Q: Why use the term “sexualized” violence?

A: Because there’s nothing sexual about violence. Sex is about pleasure. Violence is about pain. Nature tells us what’s good for us by making it pleasurable, and what’s bad for us by making it painful. To get those things mixed up usually requires a childhood in which people we loved and depended on inflicted pain, and we came to believe we couldn’t get one without the other.

It also works the other way around. People, especially men addicted to “masculinity,” may think that inflicting pain is the only way they can get sexual pleasure. For instance, I didn’t learn there was a mammoth concentration camp only for women—it was called Ravensbrück—until the end of the 1970s when my friend Konnilyn Feig included it in her book called, Hitler’s Death Camps. Nazi doctors there performed a higher proportion of so-called medical experiments there — they simulated battle wounds and amputations, practiced surgeries and forms of sterilization; endless horrors — and their subjects were mainly young, beautiful women. The other women in the camp called them “rabbits” because they were used as lab animals. They tried to protect them. This was the slow sexualized violence known as sadism.

Rwanda 1994

Q: Sexualized violence is frequently underreported. Why do you think this is?

A: Yes, I do. To say otherwise would be to excuse them as human nature. We know there have been societies in which such crimes were rare or absent; they are not human nature. And even if they were, the most significant characteristic of humans—the one that allows our species to survive—is that we’re adaptable. Violence in the home normalizes violence in the street and in foreign policy. Because we genderize the study of childrearing as “feminine” and the study of conflict and foreign policy as “masculine,” we rarely see that the first causes the second. Of course, the goal is to stop war altogether. If we raised even one generation of children without violence and shaming, we have no idea what might be possible. But at least we can limit war to those who want to fight it.

Afghanistan 1995

Q: Do we need both men and women involved to stop these atrocities?

A: Yes, we do. There is more responsibility where there’s more power. Though women have a responsibility to speak up for ourselves — to reverse the Golden Rule and treat ourselves as well as we treat others — men have more power and so are responsible not only for their own behavior, but for creating an atmosphere in which men are penalized for violence toward women and rewarded for treating women as equals. It’s parallel to the fact that I, as a white person, have more responsibility for white racism than do the people of color who suffer from it.

Men also can show each other the rewards of full humanity. It’s been said that the woman a man most fears is the woman within himself. Men are punished by being cut off from human qualities denied to them as “feminine.” I think one element in men’s punishing and killing of women is an effort to do away with what they fear within themselves.

Congo 1998

Q: Do you think it’s ever possible to bring these atrocities to an end or at least significantly curb them?

A:Yes, I do. To say otherwise would be to excuse them as human nature. We know there have been societies in which such crimes were rare or absent; they are not human nature. And even if they were, the most significant characteristic of humans — the one that allows our species to survive — is that we’re adaptable. Violence in the home normalizes violence in the street and in foreign policy. Because we genderize the study of childrearing as “feminine” and the study of conflict and foreign policy as “masculine,” we rarely see that the first causes the second. Of course, the goal is to stop war altogether. If we raised even one generation of children without violence and shaming, we have no idea what might be possible. But at least we can limit war to those who want to fight it.

Q: What do you say to people who believe that this happens far from home, in societies beyond repair? In other words, that there’s nothing we can do.

A: I say, Open your eyes, watch the news, talk to the women in your families and neighborhoods, listen to our women soldiers who were raped by their own comrades. The difference is only one of degree. No society is beyond reproach or beyond repair.

This project is not trying to create a competition of tears. It’s wrong whether men or women are suffering. It’s just that the suffering has to be visible and not called inevitable or blamed on the victim before we can stop it.


  1. Gorbachev says

    The problem here is not rape.

    The problem is war and the breakdown of social mores that stop people from hurting, maiming, enslaving and killing each other.

    Death. Mass death. Murder. Theft of everything – from objects, to resources, through dignity, to opportunity, to labor, to life itself.

    Rape? It’s a serious dilemma. It accompanies the dehumanizing of the enemy. Women become objects, males obstacles to the objects. KILL the males, RAPE the women: The enemy is nothing but a tool or an object. It’s not that they’re not human. They’re OTHER. All cultures conceive of “us/them” : the “them” are not truly “human” in the same sense as “us”. Every single culture in the world, and all attested historical cultures, from tiny tribes to nations, have always had this notion. It’s utterly endemic to the human experience. It’s also multi-layered: within groups, there are in-groups within in-groups. Classes, trades, genders, sub-genders, belief systems, etc.

    The truth is that the logic of men not having wombs means that men must acquire females to reproduce. This is a primal urge. It means men have a *VERY REAL* incentive to rape, programmed into their brains, dating back to the time when we were monkeys. Of course, you need to beware the other females and a female who can fight and the female’s male relatives, but this is why most rapes happen when other people aren’t around.

    Civilization and social order are ways of policing this and many other urges. It’s why property crimes are punished: MY ant-catching stick. I made it. Leave it alone! You go make your own! My tree branch! I’m sleeping here! Etc.

    Female humans, who are weaker by deliberate evolutionary design than male humans given their different reproductive strategies, rely heavily on ahderence to social order to maintain some sort of choice and power over their own lives. In fact, civilization can be seen as a tool to emplower women, despite its many drawbacks for women.

    Situations of social anarchy are almost universally awful for women. By and large, all laws serve 1) the top males first, then 2) most females, then 3) 90% of the males left out of the top.

    The good thing about feminism is that it has the potential to free both the females (2) and the left-out males (90% of the men in any society).

    Note that this social order, which prevails almost everywhere, is reminiscent of any ape society.

    Men on the outside, when social order breaks down, often must cobble together an internal social structure that is self-supporting. This is usually good for them, but very bad for any males or females on the outside of the group.

    Incidentally, this is just as true for female humans, but the consequences of females banding together against other females is very different, so we see it as different. In instinct and cause and design, it works the same way.

    See a group of women stoning an “adulteress” or “prostitute” to death in any Middle Eastern country. You’ll never see greater enthusiasm, more blood-curdling cries or savagery.

    The truth is that human males and females are shockingly similar in design and psychological motivation. A few differences in reproductive anatomy change a lot of things, but not the fundamental nature of being human, which is ugly as often as it’s beautiful and social.

    The difference emerges because the mating strategies of both groups are different. The same urge – violent, tribal, contemptful of outsiders – take on different forms. But the same urge is still there. Talk to some 15 year-old girls about the other girls at their school. or about boys. Or about anything. This naked vicious cruelty expresses itself differently – but it’s very powerful and it’s very real.

    In many cases, the women urge men to greater violence, espeially when enemies are in weakened positions. This is observed in public: A girlfriend will egg on a male combatant, shaming him if he’s losing; a woman will goad a man into attacking another man, an *extremely* common event at many bars and nightclubs.

    Famous cases emerge from Classical antiquity: it was a very frequent call for the wives and daughters of soldiers fighting in the field to appear, screaming at their men to be more effective. To kill, to leave no prisoners, to gather the most booty and enslave the greatest number. Far from being distressed when Roman soldiers took female slaves and enjoyed them, their wives often revelled in the wealth, power and prestige this lent to their families, and took the opportunity to make sure the enslaved females were properly chastised. These were powerful women – not enslaved themselves. The fact that their males were abusing foreign or lower-class women was irrelevant. The point was their own power.

    The upper classes in Victorian England were famous for having women who often worked to undermine advances by women of lower social class. This was not a symptom of patriarchy: it was the very flower of the human spirit, the same human spirit that drives us to belittle our rivals, crush our enemies and take their resources.

    Absent men, women would reinvent war, social hierarchy and abuse. They share the same instincts and are the same animals. We’re all tragically human.

      • uncephalized says

        Yes, he probably should have written “strongly selected-for evolutionary designoid feature”, or something, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt that he knows evolution is a blind process and was going for brevity, hmm?

  2. Gorbachev says

    The fundamental issue is this, when you get right down to it:

    When social order breaks down, the very worst of human nature is allowed to play itself out. The collective ID emerges.

    In all situations, groups act far less intelligently or with with far less self-control than individuals. Advertising plays on this. The same is true in sporting events, or in any kind of competition.

    This is amplified many times in situations of fear or violence.

    Rape and murder are part and parcel of war. In antiquity, the goal of many wars was enslavement of others. Rape is a form of enslavement: You take away the other side’s ability to reproduce, you steal their productive power.

    Even ritualized warfare was about enslavement or resources: The Aztec Empire had ritualized warfare meant to get captives for sacrifice (almost all male), females for slaves (domestic labor and sex), and young males to raise as genderless workers barred from sex through low social status, often imprisonment. Death awaited any who ceased to be useful.

    Most social orders are based on variations of this. We idolize humans as some sort of ideal social being, but in truth, as they play out, all societies whether civilized or not are usually class-riven, authoritarian, and brutal. And within societies, people are often just jerks to each other.

    We forget that we’re just a bunch of less hairy apes. There’s not much more to our social order than that.

    That men may, when conquering other groups, steal the women and enslave the males is a natural consequence of fighting. it’s often the whole purpose of fighting.


    Islam, one of the “religions of the book”, actually specifically endorses, encourages and encodes this. Ancient legal codes prescribed how the spoils of war could be distributed. Islam encourages taking prisoners, keeping slaves, and precisely tells men how they can use enslaved women, and how the men can be killed. It’s extremely specific. It codifies and even endorses it.

    Hence: In Pakistan, Christian girls are regularly kidnapped, raped, forcibly married – and judges regularly uphold the marriage to the rapist. This is what Islam is *meant* to do: it means that the system is working properly, according to Islamic scriptures. The same is very true in Egypt. Coptic Christian women are regularly abducted and raped, and not being Muslims, have no sense of social security, and Muslim men have no reason to respect their human value as independent beings, because Islam doesn’t grant this to non-Muslims.

    In that, Islam is just replicating the most basic human social mores.

    In anciet Rome, a shockingly huge number of slaves born into slavery from captured mothers were certainly the children of fathers who raped or took advantage of the women. We know this because an unlikely number of slaves were manumitted, likely the sons and daughters of the owners.

    The ultimate tragedy here is war.

    In cases where rapes and random murder weren’t common, usually there was a reason. In those cases, the social order had not yet completely broken down, or the social order was being reinforced, or the army was an extension of the social order.

    There’s a very, very fine line between a band of thugs and a well-organized platoon. it’s all too easy to cross that line.

  3. Gorbachev says

    I’d like to note that where female soldiers have been cultural phenomenon, they are usually as aggressive, violent, abusive and genocidal as males. Scythian soldiers were often female. They were the models for the original “Amazons”. They were famous for brutal behavior, grotesque mistreatment of captives, and sexual slavery – but in this case, sexually enslaving males.

    Men and women are far more similar in their brain and thought patterns than people like to believe. The idea that women are more “nurturing” is a sexist trope.

    Women are nurturing to their children and relatives. To outsiders, they’re often just as savage as men. Greedy, amoral, viewing outsiders as obstacles to be used or overcome.

    Only social limitations and patriarchy result in women seeming nurturing towards non-relatives in any great degree.

    A female animal, a large female mammal at that, is almost always as violent as the males. The different is only the target of her violence, the social pattern her violence takes, and the method she uses.

    Males will rob, kill, mutilate, subdue, enslave / rape, and kill. Females will do all of the above in the right circumstances, or will encourage their males to do it for them.

    That can’t be forgotten: Females often greatly reward males for doing all of the above, and bringing home the spoils.

    Among the fiercest haters of Jews and proponents of war in Nazi Germany were women. The same was true in Russia, where women volunteered in record numbers (for the time) to go out and kill Germans. They were famous for shaming men who refused to kill and fight.

    Watch Somali women cheering on, even goading, their men to greater feats of staggering violence. Women are on video record tearing apart the bodies of enemy soldiers all over the world.

    Men and women are the same. This can’t be repeated enough. If women could rape, or were motivated to do so, they would do it with gusto.

    Females are also motivated by something else: Protecting their children. At some point, female humans, like all social mammals, may seek communal safety. This is a cost-benefit analysis. If an enemy is powerful, they will often push for peace. If enemies are weak, it’s just as often the more powerful females urging war or abuse as the males.

    But rape?

    The best way to prevent rape in warfare:


    Wars are so destructive, on so many levels, rape is a very important concern but not the greatest.

    Having your limbs hacked off; children being conscripted into armies; whole families, tribes and nations begin eliminated; hundreds of millions of people dying in nuclear holocausts–

    These are things to be terrified of. Rape is among them.

    I would very politely suggest, though, that rape is just a symptom of social collapse and disorder – not the emergence of a new form of patriarchy.

    Almost all social societies that are patriarchal are also societies that savagely punish rape (against the right class, at least – most societies are also divided by class).

    Patriarchal men are obsessed to the point of distraction with controlling other men’s access to sex, especially access to related females

    While they control females, they brutalize and destroy males who step out of line.

    On the other hand, assuming the related males are “allies”, this is not always bad news for women under patriarchal societies. Without the patriarchal males, they would be at the mercies of any male who happened to come by. Someone has to kill, main, or fight off the wandering interloper males.

    All of this makes much more sense if you view human societies as what they are: Primate troops of large apes, similar but not identical to those of baboons, chimps and gorillas, with the thinnest, tiniest, almost transparent layer of “civilization” painted over it.

    Dent or scratch that veneer, and the animal comes out.

    If you wish to study this in more detail, an excellent study is the not-at-all-lawless society of drug lords and their mates (some drug lords are female).

    In such societies, these rules play out far more openly.

  4. Pieter-Jan van der Veld says

    There is a book; “A woman in Berlin, eight weeks in the conquered city” written by Anonymous, a woman who lived through the “experience” of war rape. It is sure worth reading.

  5. Ava, Oporornis maledetta says

    Gorbachev: “Absent men, women would reinvent war.”

    I take strong exception to this claim. It’s not only not proved by a few anecdotes, but it doesn’t reflect the complete nature of women. You cite instances of women goading on male fighters, etc., but they are very probably drunk when they do so. It is incorrect to extrapolate that behavior to all of womankind, ancient or modern. Nor were the noble Roman women who may not have cared if their husbands fathered slave children the norm. They account for an extremely tiny percentage of women in history.

    Powerful women such as Elizabeth I certainly sent armies to war. That was in response to perceived needs of the state she governed. And yes, women sometimes argue and fight on a personal basis. There have been a proportionately small number of women commandos–but not without the intensive indoctrination that makes men commandos also. But these are obviously exceptions, not the rule. And you neglect the huge point that men can forget about children if they want, but women can’t. That nurturing thing? It’s not a small detail of otherwise bloodthirsty women, idiot. It’s the main reason you’re alive. Women have had to work constantly for millennia to humanize males to the point where national economies and legal systems are made to feed and educate the young.

    Women are not ruled by testosterone.

    Try using your imagination. Dog-eat-dog is not the only model of the world. Ask any woman.

  6. Ava, Oporornis maledetta says

    Gorbachev: “Watch Somali women cheering on, even goading, their men to greater feats of staggering violence. Women are on video record tearing apart the bodies of enemy soldiers all over the world.”

    In very tiny numbers.

    You have a major sample size error. And a major bias–your only examples of female behavior are from war zones. For FSM’s sake, those are conditions of a hot war. Those are human beings in extremis. It is utterly fallacious to generalize from that to peacetime, development of civic capacity, and advanced economies. Moreover, the very rare female behaviors you cite go away with representative government, the rule of law, and universal education. Show me a Swedish woman who would cheer on “feats of staggering violence.”

    And it’s SOMALIA, Einstein. I notice you don’t cite the behavior of women living in Montreal, Milan, Baton Rouge, or Oslo. Because that would give the lie to your claims of universal female savagery.

    Sure glad I don’t live in your mental world.

  7. davros says


    The problem here is not rape.

    The problem is war and the breakdown of social mores that stop people from hurting, maiming, enslaving and killing each other.

    No, the problem is rape. You are dismissing that problem by pointing out another problem – war. Yes, war does make more rapes happen, but to focus on war you are effectively dismissing the issue of rape. Taslima says ‘open your eyes’ and that rape is a problem which has been under-reported and given too little attention – and you respond by saying ‘no look over there at war’.

    Lets open our eyes to the things that have happened and continue to happen, and talk about ways to improve. Your long ‘explanation’ of the origins of war only sounds like ‘not my fault’.

  8. Annie says

    TASLIMA. Jesus Christ! Post trigger warnings!
    I wish there were flashy rainbow Vegas lights I could frame that last sentence with in this comment like I can bold and italicize it!

    I like you. I like you a great deal. I like to hear what you have to say in your writing. I have been very pleased with your boldness even on occasions in which I have found myself in disagreement. I want to make this clear: I have the desire to continue visiting your blog.

    That being said, without seeming as though I overvalue my own presence in your traffic here (I don’t), I won’t be visiting if I’m suffering anxiety attacks and high blood pressure. I’m over here ready to go into freakin’ cardiac arrest looking at your material! Not everyone can stomach the torrent of violence, and I’ve made this request before.

    Unless you post warnings about graphic pictures, I’m not dropping in here anymore. And I don’t want to do that because, again, I re-emphasize, I value your blog. You’re a good writer. You’re someone with knowledge of Islamic culture that I, ignorant lilly-white gallivanting Western fool, don’t have and never will. I don’t want to miss out.

  9. ginmar says

    Shorter Gorbachev: More important things to worry about, bitchez, and blah blah blah anecdote anecdote anecdote anecdote without any sources at all evo pysch rape is totes natural so STFU.

    It’s in Gorbachev’s best interest to claim that rape is natural and that women are just as bad as men. If he can use all the derailing tactics in “Derailing for Dummies” he gets a gold star.

    • uncephalized says

      Never mind that you are the one misrepresenting his position, which is that rape is bad, and is one of many, many bad things that happen during war, some of which are (arguably; hard to put an objective value on human rights violations!) worse than rape such as mutilation and murder, and which happen to women, men, and children alike, and that the solution to all of these problems is to stop having wars. And that you can’t ignore the motivations of half of the species and blame every vile act on the other half and expect to arrive at a productive process for doing so.

      Nah, focusing on what he actually said would make him sound reasonable. Funny, that.

  10. Gorbachev says


    Women are not ruled by testosterone.

    Um, I hate to break it to you: In domestic violence situations, women initiate and are often the aggressor about 50% of the time. This is a little publicized but much documented fact. It’s not spurious research. Most DV experts agree that domestic violence is almost always a mutual event. Surprise: Men and women are more similar than different.

    The whole “Women are pure and good and light and men are nasty and dangerous and evil” thing has been thoroughly debunked.

    Bullying in school is as bad, if not actually worse, among girls than it is among boys. This is so heavily documented it’s almost a truism.

    I’m not just talking women in male hierarchies: women generally are forceful, pushy, and as arrogant as men. They are more often thieves; casual theft is dominated by women. There’s less direct violence because men are often used as violence proxies.

    Women drunk pushing men? I’ve actually seem Somali women cursing their men for being cowards, demanding that they go out and steal or kill more effectively. I’ve seen older Muslim women browbeating, scolding and abusing younger women not out of patriarchal competition but out of absolute contempt for the humanity of their peers, especially those not related to them.

    This is aggravated by clannish societies, where non-family-members are considered barely human.

    Women are among the most enthusiastic in public executions across the world.

    Don’t give me any “women are mothering and pure” business.

    Women and men are the same. Motherhood only works for a mother’s own children. Another mother’s children, or other mothers, for that matter, are fair game.

    Actually pay attention to actual history, not just the idealized tripe that passes for history. And then go and observe women around the world.

    Women are exactly as evil and warped and as good and wonderful as men.

    • XinXin says

      Oh Gorbachev, what to do about you?

      Where are you getting this crazy stat that women initiate violence 50% of the time. Is yelling violence? You see, a verbal encounter can stay a verbal encounter but in my view, men are the ones that take the verbal and make it physical.

      Also, please do not cite that tired old study that states that women are just as violent as men because they’re not. The flaw in that study was they operationally defined violence as throwing a toothbrush and its’ equivalent was punching someone in the face. Yep, those women sure were violent eh there? The fact is, they found it was men who beat the living daylights out of women whereas men usually got a box of kleenex thrown at them, and purposely missed them.

      “Women make excellent soldiers, especially when trained like men. They’re exactly as pliable, exactly as trainable to kill, exactly as murderous.”

      Exactly. Women are trained to be like men. Put some women in control of society and see the result after we rid the system of its patriarchy and then you can see the result.

      I think this goes to your nutball theories about how women are just as violent as men when you don’t have any real way to know that

  11. Gorbachev says


    And it’s SOMALIA, Einstein. I notice you don’t cite the behavior of women living in Montreal, Milan, Baton Rouge, or Oslo. Because that would give the lie to your claims of universal female savagery.

    Um, I also didn’t compare the men in Montreal., Baton Rouge, or Milan. They’re so much more peaceful than Somali men that it’s meaningless to compare.

    I didn’t say women were savages. I said they were the same as men. Only where they’re weak are they seen as victims. In almost every war in history, the victorious sides’ women are cheering on the soldiers, proud of their men, caring and tender – and merciless to the victims.

    One or two concerned moralists on the winning side do not change the trend.

    Humans are little more than apes: This is abundantly demonstrated whenever the food runs out or the other side has bigger toys.

    If you disbelieve this, crack open a history textbook.

    The roles of women in history are run down by male authors. But3 if you read them carefully, you can hear avid descriptions of countless fanatical mobs filled with vengeance-driven WOMEN and MEN, and the women are always just as savage as the men.

    Humans are shockingly similar.

    In Afghanistan, lots of people are killed – bodies torn apart – by women. Unsurprisingly, they appear to have

    – the same motivations as men
    – the same ethical structures
    – The same fears
    – the same political choices

    Shock of shocks: We are one species.

    Get off your high horse. Barring minor differences, women are

    fully human
    fully flawed

    as men.

    In every possible way.

  12. Ava, Oporornis maledetta says


    Yes, there is domestic violence, tho you lack evidence for your strange claim that women initiate half of it. Evidence such as this: “85% of domestic violence victims are women. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003)” (http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/domviol/facts.htm) Even if it were valid your claim would not refute my statement that women are not ruled by testosterone. A physical difference (among others) that helps drive normal behavior in ways you would like to paper over.

    You referred to bar fights in your first post. That is what I was responding to when I said the women goading men into fighting there were probably drunk. I was not referring to Somalia.

    “I didn’t say women were savages.” Not in so many words, but you described the savagery of men, cited a few anecdotes of women’s violence, and then said that women and men are exactly the same. You tried hard to attribute savagery to women as a whole.

    I never said women have no flaws or were all sweetness and light. Of course they share human nature with men. Nobody said we’re not the same species, either! But saying that they’re “the same in every way” is nonsensical and ignores culture, history, and yes, in part, biology. It also ignores the effects of patricharchy.

    “Don’t give me any ‘women are mothering and pure’ business.” Yet another straw man–that’s your quote, not mine. I didn’t say they were pure; some are not happy as mothers. But women aren’t mothering (i.e., nurturing)? Ha ha, good one. Now if anyone asks what kind of sense you make, I have a handy quote.

    “Another mother’s children, or other mothers, for that matter, are fair game.” Oh, sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster. That’s not just unsupported, it’s unhinged.

    Where’s the empirical anthropological evidence that, as you assert, women would rape if they could?

    I did not say all women were peaceful all the time, in fact, I gave examples of times some of them were not. That’s being on a “high horse”? Really?

    “And then go and observe women around the world.” LOL.

    “Crack open a history book.” Yep, it’s all there in black and white: women led the Crusades, were the architects of the Third Reich, filled the ranks of the Tontons Macoutes, conducted the rape of Nanking pictured in Taslima’s post, and necessitated the building of the Great Wall of China to thwart invasions by hordes of ravaging females. Sure, Gorbachev.

    You haven’t made your case; you’ve only built a case in your head, and it ignores significant differences between the sexes (broadly speaking–I’m at risk of overgeneralizing too, because there are obviously many men who work for peace; for convenience’s sake I’ve been referring to “women” and “men” as broad categories).

    Your refutations of my points are merely more unfounded, unsupported assertions–plus a lecture to me, a woman, to observe women. Give it up, Gorbachev.

    • Andrew G. says

      If you check the academic literature (e.g. in pubmed or google scholar – plain google is not really useful for this) about domestic violence you’ll find that there’s a wide variation in gender balance reported by different studies, and there’s a fair amount of research been done into why this variation exists. It seems to be the case that some types of domestic violence are primarily male perpetrators and other types are more or less equal for both genders, and some types are more likely than others to come to the attention of LEAs, resulting in a divergence between agency statistics and the results of population surveys.

      In short, both the “85% of victims are women” and “women initiate half of domestic violence” statistics are essentially wrong, and the true picture is less simple than either claim.

      (Most of this stuff is paywalled, unfortunately.)

  13. Taru Dutt says

    Gorbachev is a racist, apologist for patriarchy, and a pathological liar. I’ve observed that for a while. There are no limits to the lies he is willing to tell to bolster his warped “arguments.”

  14. Gorbachev says

    Taru Dutt:

    Patholigical liar: Please give me some evidence. Anything at all. Really, anything.

    Racist: Again, evidence. Anything. Don’t just shame me by calling me racist: Give me some evidence from what I’ve said.

    Apologist for patriarchy: I question that a co-ordinated strategy to keep women oppressed exists, not that there’s no patriarchal structures. I would suggest that CLASS has more to do with most female oppression than gender itself: Upper-class women and middle-class women oppress those below them as much as men oppress women, if not more.

    From what I can see, if you’re writing from a South Asian perspective, your views may not take into account life in, say, urban America, East Asia or Europe. In these places, wildly different social models exist.

    Simple shaming won’t work.

    Provide evidence and arguments. otherwise, you look like an ideological crusader without anything to support what you believe but “Believe me and follow me or die!” rhetoric.

    There’s a reason why hard ideologies resemble religion: The thought process that supports them both is irrational.

    I’m not ideological. I’ll concede any point if given sufficient evidence for it.

    You, as a commenter, rarely provide any.

    And insulting others is just a way to have them shut up so you don’t need to challenge your belief system by listening to what they have to say.

    If you base your feminism on this, you base it on castles in the sky.

  15. Gorbachev says

    There’s lots of evidence for women initiating violence in the home about 50% of the time.

    However, men are usually arrested regardless of who started it or who was injured; many Us states have default policies in which the men are always arrested, regardless, even if the man is seriously injured, and women are virtually never charged.

    What’s different is this: men are stronger, so in serious cases, women are bound to be more grievously injured than men.

    It’s a truism that most researchers into domestic violence in the West do not discover a holocaust of Male violence on women: In fact, given the gender rebalancing of the past 100 years, female-initiated violence has become quite common.

    There are lots of studies that show this.

    I would post links, but they kept being unposted because attached links look like spam.

    Like I said:

    Men and women are very similar. Where women have power, even in “matriarchies”, from the ancient world to today, there is as much violence as in male-dominated societies.

    Women as “nurturers”, the Yin, to the male “destroyer” Yang is all myth. 100%.

    I’ve actually seen both men and women acting hopelessly vile.

    In wartime situations, both men and women are as contemptible, self-interested, and brutal as each other.

    I’ve actually BEEN in wartime situations. Women make excellent soldiers, especially when trained like men. They’re exactly as pliable, exactly as trainable to kill, exactly as murderous.

    Almost all men and women in the West are peaceful and happy. This does not mean we’re not a violent, savage species of large ape.

    Stop belittling women by comparing them to little children:

    Men and women are equals.

    There’s virtually no evidence that this is not true.

  16. Gorbachev says


    Look, some perspective:

    Rape is bad. It’s always bad.

    On the scale of bad things, here’s bad.

    Mass slaughter

    All of these things are worse than rape. By far.

    If there was a campaign to stop rape in war, and all rape in war was gone, there would be virtually no iprovement.

    I guess then just SHOOTING the woman would be acceptable.



    The problem with war is WAR.

    The ideological blindness that lets you see that rape is somehow a cause to fight in times of war – um, …

    Why not get the war out entirely?


    In times of social chaos, I’m not a rape supporter if I say this:

    Ethnic survival, sheer ability to continue existing AT ALL pretty much makes all concerns – including the rape of men and women ( many men are raped in times of war too – it’s not as common but very common, in the Middle East)–

    Let me suggest that a campaign to prevent WAR is a damn sight more useful.

    I would make rape a punishable crime – a war crime – and have it treated thusly. It’s not irrelevant.

    I would have specific reparations made for rape after wars.

    I would make soldiers who rape anyone punishable, but if YOUR ENEMY doesn’t this, you’re completely out of luck unless you win.

    If you lose, you’re lucky to still exist.

    Some perspective, please. In times of war, actual survival, suddenly, becomes a rather serious concern.

    Or is rape a worse crime than pointless butchery, mass slaughter, murder and mayhem, theft of decades of economic development, and the stealing of whole generations?

    Please. Perspective, people.

    I’m not minimizing rape. I’m trying to point out that one relatively unshocking part of social chaos and warfare doesn’t make for a coherent social campaign.

    Child soldiers? Wandering bands of mop-up killers randomly shooting civilians and scavenging?

    Oh my God, people, talk about perspective.

    I’ve actually *been* in war situations. In Somalia, I guarantee you, while rape was a serious problem, pretty much everything was a nightmare of soul-destroying proportions.

    Rape? Most of the women and female refugees were happy for a bit of food, not being killed by random guys with guns, not being beaten to death by other women for intruding on another clan’s space, and being able to protect at least the older of their children from death.

    The cushy, comfortable lives we lead in the West allow us to dream of ideological dilemmas that make no real sense in the world as it is.

    It’s exactly like colonists arriving in a new country, Newly Minted Constitution in hand, but having no idea what actually awaits them – in a place where their grand ideals have no place.

    In the savage garden of the human night, such notions beggar belief.

  17. Gorbachev says

    One more thing:

    Yes, I do. To say otherwise would be to excuse them as human nature. We know there have been societies in which such crimes were rare or absent; they are not human nature. And even if they were, the most significant characteristic of humans — the one that allows our species to survive — is that we’re adaptable. Violence in the home normalizes violence in the street and in foreign policy. Because we genderize the study of childrearing as “feminine” and the study of conflict and foreign policy as “masculine,” we rarely see that the first causes the second. Of course, the goal is to stop war altogether. If we raised even one generation of children without violence and shaming, we have no idea what might be possible. But at least we can limit war to those who want to fight it.

    This is actually grotesque.

    It’s Pollyanna thinking. Consider:

    The best way to attack someone is to destroy things they love. Including the people they love, The places they live, the things they do. Their families.

    When a woman is raped in front of a husband, killed, and then the husband is tortured and killed – the point in killing the woman, if the husband is the target, is not actually to kill the woman.

    it’s to inflict maximum pain on the husband: Rape and despoil the wife, belittle his ability to protect his family. This is a man’s traditional role. You deny it.

    Then you torture and kill him.

    Target: The man. Not the woman. She’s collateral damage.

    • brettc1 says

      But does this no identify thinking that it itself innately sexist – that the important thing is to hurt the man, because he is more significant?

  18. says

    I have been gone for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thanks, I will try and check back more often. How often do you update your site?

  19. victim says

    Either the rape in war nor in ordinary life its make me sick.. death sentence for the rapist, then come peace in women life.

  20. brettc1 says

    Rape is always a crime, in war or anywhere else.

    It is difficult to reconcile Brownmiller’s opening statement, and a feeling in the discussion above that males with their higher testosterone count are inherently flawed, with the facts of this article.


    Parry Aftab says these are girls bullying girls? How can this be, if females are more evolved?

    Brownmiller’s statement “War provides men with the perfect psychological backdrop to give vent to their contempt for women.” may amount to a self fulfilling prophecy, since accusing the entire generally of having contempt for the female is likely, after prolonged exposure, to produce exactly that kind of reaction.

    I think the key to preventing this kind of discimination and violence against anyone is for all parties to work together. The real way to prevent rape in war is obvious – dont fight wars. Because in war horrendous acts will be perpetrated against anyone caught up in them, male or female. It is a horrible dehumanizing situation.

    Ultimately women and men must work together as equals in solving all these issues.

  21. john thames says

    I note that the women condemning rape as a war crime are the same women who endorse killing unborn babies. There is one difference between war and abortion, however: Enemy soldiers can kill you before you kill them. Unborn babies do not stand a chance against their murderous mothers.

    As to starting wars, there are literally dozens of examples. Zenobia of Palmyra attacking the Roman Empire in Syria, Boedica and her revolt against Rome, Queen Catherine of Russia partitioning Poland off the map and warring with the Turks, Queen Victoria launching an invasion of Afghanistan against the advice of her male advisors, this same Queen Victoria attacking the Dutch in South Africa, the Empress of China sparking the Boxer rebellion, Indira Gandhi attacking Pakistan to reincorporate it into India, Maggie Thatcher refusing to give the Malvina islands back to Argentina, etc., etc.

    Women, of course, start wars and fight them with men’s blood, not their own blood. That is a sex discrimination problem women generally ignore. As to domestic violence, anyone can watch old movies from the ’50’s and ’60’s and see women throwing glasses and other objects at men passed off as comedy. And, of course, false accusations concocted for divorce court advantage are never described as legal violence against men.

    As for rape in war, I propose a little cartoon. A judge in the Roman arena is explaining the rules to the male gladiator about to take on his pint size female rival. “It’s OK if you kill her but if you pinch her tits the emperor will crucify us for sexual harassment.” It is absurd to say that you can kill women by shooting them, stabbing them, blowing them up with bombs, burning them alive with flamethrowers but if you grab their ass it is a war crime. War is the principle that might makes right; rape is the principle that might makes right applied to sex. Since both war and sex operate on the same principle, how can rape be a war crime?

    Rape is actually rather trivial compared to what happens to men in war. After all, having a dick shoved in you is rather minor compared to having your eyes gouged out, your nose cut off and your dick sliced off by an Afghani female after a battle. And it isn’t nearly as bad as having your heart cut out by an Aztec obsidian knife or having your skull crushed by a pair of pliers in the womb. As for Korean pleasure women, they did not get buried or burned alive in caves, like Japanese soldiers.

    Therefore, I say unto the apostles of woman’s vagina as the center of the universe: Take it up the ass like Lawrence of Arabia. It isn’t the same thing as getting massacred by an Arab cavalry charge at the end of the movie, is it?

    • scarlett says

      I would be obliged to partion the rape of thee please, as you are of the opinion that rape is not significant. I hope and pray that they bugger you up the ass hard and fast, then proceed to rip you with of course no medical assistance.

    • Kat says

      I am aware that this post is very old. However, I felt compelled to respond to this comment. (Also: there may be triggers if that concerns you)

      John Thames,
      I don’t expect every internet commenter to tediously cite everything they say, but many of your statements are unsupported. You also present examples that do not take other details or historical events into account. I will acknowledge that I am biased as well, and I am not a perfect human being who can construct perfect arguments. But, I wanted to respond to a few points anyway.

      “I note that the women condemning rape as a war crime are the same women who endorse killing unborn babies. There is one difference between war and abortion, however: Enemy soldiers can kill you before you kill them. Unborn babies do not stand a chance against their murderous mothers.”
      This issue is entirely a matter of opinion. There is no medical method to prove whether a zygote/ blastocyst/ embryo/ fetus is a human being who can be murdered. Men and women alike can be against or supportive of abortion. Therefore, I don’t think that this is a valid point to compare to war or to condemn women (or feminists, if that’s what you were going for).

      “As to domestic violence, anyone can watch old movies from the ’50’s and ’60’s and see women throwing glasses and other objects at men passed off as comedy.”
      I don’t know where this came from, but I too have seen depictions of domestic violence (DV) from women in some old movies. However, let’s not pretend that this is proof that women abuse men just as much as men abuse women, or proof that women are more violent, or proof for whatever issue was being confronted with this statement (In case someone does think that DV is equal between the sexes, see this article: it may be a popular news article, but each statistic is linked with a study, most of which are from the CDC)

      “And, of course, false accusations concocted for divorce court advantage are never described as legal violence against men.”
      It is indeed unfair that men do not get treated equally to women in the court system. However, I would like to point out that false domestic violence (DV) accusations are not only rare, but that men are more likely to make false accusations in divorce cases.*

      -False allegations are no more common in divorce or custody disputes than at any other time.
      Brown, Frederico, Hewitt, & Sheehan, Revealing The Existence Of Child Abuse In The Context Of Marital Breakdown And Custody And Access Disputes, 24(6) Child Abuse & Neglect 849-85 (2000).

      -Among false allegations, fathers are far more likely than mothers to make intentionally false accusations (21% compared to 1.3%)
      Bala & Schuman, Allegations of Sexual Abuse When Parents Have Separated, 17 Canadian Family Law Quarterly 191-241 (2000).**

      So, this is not a prevalent issue. I have seen men comment in other locations about women making false DV or rape allegations as if it is a huge, pressing problem, which it is not. Again, I am aware that this is entirely unfair and would pose a major problem for a victim of a false accusation. Something like a rape or DV accusation can seriously mark someone’s reputation, and even affect that person’s entire life. Women who do make false allegations should be sanctioned for doing so.

      “Rape is actually rather trivial compared to what happens to men in war. After all, having a dick shoved in you is rather minor compared to having your eyes gouged out, your nose cut off and your dick sliced off by an Afghani female after a battle.”

      “Trivial?” Sure, there are cases where a person only suffers severe psychological damage when she is raped and not so much physical damage, but there are plenty more cases in which the woman is dealt serious physical injuries, and even death. No, it’s not having your “dick sliced off by an Afghani female” (evidence of this?) but I don’t think you can decide what is worse than rape. Judging by your response, I’m going to assume that you haven’t been raped.

      Let’s consider a story in lieu of the exaggerated roman gladiator cartoon:
      A woman is gang-raped by 6 people (so, by your logic, she “just had some dicks shoved in her”); had an iron rod shoved in her repeatedly, causing severe damage to her genitals, uterus, and intestines; and was severely beaten. She dies a few days later.
      This example is the 2012 Delhi rape case.*** I wonder if Awindra Pandey would rather have her nose cut off or her eyes gouged out instead of enduring that, but I don’t know. May she rest in peace.
      I don’t think rape can be called “minor” compared to other instances of violence that happen in war. Rape can obviously be very harmful and painful. Allow me to compare it to the “dick sliced off” example: Having your dick cut off would be harmful and painful, and would leave you with emotional and physical scars for life. It’s not the same thing as a woman being raped, but aren’t there similarities? What if a woman had her eyes gouged out, her nose cut off, and was gang raped by soldiers, (and don’t forget that she is beaten in the process, because, you know, ya gotta hold her down and get her to shut up)? That sounds like a pretty hellish experience.

      I would agree that not all problems are equivalent. I would view mass slaughter or dropping an atomic bomb as worse than the sexual violation of people.
      I think the reason I felt that I needed to reply was because some people appear to be diminishing the pain, physical or psychological, that results from rape. Too often do I see comments online from people giving the impression that women deserve to be raped in some cases, that women act like it’s worse than it actually is, or that women cry false rape all the time (which they don’t; depending on the study, between 2% and 10% of rape cases turn out to be false. There are several studies that are easy to look up. I should also mention that we cannot count the number of rape incidences that are not reported or taken to court.)

      I am not trying to say that rape is the worst possible thing that could happen in the world, and I am not saying that rape should be a war crime. Please don’t dismiss me as saying such. I mainly wanted to inform.

      I will say, though, that I am disgusted that in posts like this, with grotesque images of dead, violated people (I say “people” because the Afghanistan 1995 photo is of a man, taken by the award-winning photographer Tyler Hicks) that men and a few women jump in to essentially say that “rape isn’t that bad.” I’ve seen arguments here where people say that they acknowledge that rape is a terrible, terrible thing, but I feel that they don’t actually point out how awful it can be.

      Other stuff:
      Because the name that the user selected is “John,” I have naturally assumed that the user is male. I know that this has led to other assumptions and biases. My apologies if anyone took offense.

      *And hey, I have to say, it was also unfair that men have historically had many advantages in life as a whole that still are evident today, though they are diminishing….but I decided not to go into that. No, I don’t feel heavily oppressed. Don’t rail on me for being a feminist.

      **”False accusations” and “false accusations of domestic violence” are of course two different things, but look at the numbers. Women are far less likely to make ANY false accusations.
      **I know that the DV studies are from 15 years ago. I still think that they are valuable. The actions they represent probably have not skyrocketed or completely diminished since then, so I figure that they are a somewhat accurate representation.
      ***I am aware that the 2012 Delhi rape case is an extreme example, but acts of violence in war (like a nose cut off, dick sliced off……) tend to be extreme examples of pain and harm themselves. One should also note that forcing foreign objects into the vagina or anus is considered rape.

      Sorry about this comment being long and overflowing with stats.
      I may have ignored the overall message that there are far worse things than rape in war. I only chose to respond to the parts of the comment that are most important to me.
      Please, let me know if I make statements that are completely ludicrous, because I would honestly like to know if my logic is somehow flawed.

      My main objective was to educate, and I hope I succeeded.

  22. scarlett says

    Lieber Gorbachev,

    Du bist so liebe…..

    Well, well, well…

    I would warrant your arrest on your diagnose. I believe that you are a heartless object as I would not wish to adorn men with your person. I understand that you are an object with a low self esteem therefore to launch an attack upon the fairer gender is your self defence. hence forth, I would embark kindly upon thine response as to issue a rsponse with vigour if i suggested to you: Would you enjoy to be raped and violated of your rights? Would you feel malifious with the wonder of a foreign item placed inbetween your legs…

    Well i hope matters have been clarified, however only for your earnesty my dear absent fellow….

  23. RPM says

    I understand that rape is wrong , But Then Isn’t Dropping Atomic bombs on civilians ,dropping explosive bombs ,fire bombs dropped from planes ,machine gunning buildings in a city ,using flame throwers to end the lives of others ,using hand grenades into cellars , firing explosive shells from artillery into towns, firing shells from tanks into buildings , strafing from a plane , torturing someone for information, shooting someone so another talks , working civilians to death , working anyone to death, starving people, not giving medical treatment to those that need , burying people alive, sending people to dig their own graves before shooting them in the head ,putting people in front of the line of fire, torching homes and villages , stripping injured people of their possessions, family, homes and culture , religion , neighbors , blowing away people’s body parts with mines blowing up public transportation systems while people are using them, shelling a ship or boat and then while it sinks leaving?

  24. Diese.leute says

    Gorbachev have read his home work i can see.
    You sir sound that you read a lot and almost everything you write is the truth about humans true behaviour and the world.

    I studied science, history, social dynamics, evolutionary theory, evolutions physcology, pickup theory, politics and read all news papers and articles i can find and lots of other controversial subjects for more then 10 years and i think you nailed it in your posts how humans really work.

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