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Women and War: A Myth in the Making
April 29, 2003
by Carey Roberts

A new tale is being spun in the the never-ending saga of female victimology. This new chapter of feminist "herstory" advances the thesis that women are the primary victims of war.

The myth started back in 1998, when Hillary Clinton said this humdinger at the First Ladies' Conference on Domestic Violence :

Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat. Women often have to flee from the only homes they have ever known. Women are often the refugees from conflict and sometimes, more frequently in today's warfare, victims.

Two years later, this viewpoint reached the highest levels, when the UN Security Council passed Resolution Number 1325. This Resolution expressed the "concern that civilians, particularly women and children, account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict" .

And the United Nations Development Program now makes this claim about the situation in Iraq:

However, as is often the case in times of crisis, women are bearing the brunt of years of war and sanctions in Iraq.

These statements reek of terminal silliness.

First, almost all combatants in war are male. Therefore, military men (and sometimes boys) bear the direct health consequences of war -- death, dismemberment, and lingering psychological disability.

Second, innocent civilian men are often targeted by opposing forces for elimination, in order to prevent these men from later taking up arms to defend their womenfolk and children. Dr. Adam Jones has documented this recurring tragedy in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Rwanda . More recently, a Men's Health America report documented the selective brutalization of innocent civilian men in Afghanistan.

And third, men are the primary victims during reconstruction efforts before unexploded ordnance can be cleared out. For example, one Red Cross report documented that 93% of landmine victims in Afghanistan were male.

It's often true that among war refugees, women outnumber men. But amidst the haunting pictures of female misery and despair, persons often forget the reason for this gender imbalance is that so many civilian men already have been killed off. These men have lost what former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson once called "the most precious of rights" -- the right to life.

According to the recent WHO World Report on Violence and Health, 233,000 males died of war-related injuries in 2000, compared to 77,000 females . That's a 3:1 ratio that disadvantages males. This disparity is even more pronounced in the 30-44 year age group, the age when fathers are busy providing for and raising their families.

If civilian females really were the primary victims of war, then surely women would be taking to the streets, waving their placards and chanting their slogans, demanding that they be sent off to war. And Martha Burk would be protesting the Pentagon's misogynistic policy of excluding women from front-line combat roles.

The evolving myth that women are the primary victims of war illustrates how radical feminists work to construct a separate reality. They can't afford to let logic and common sense stand in the way of a rich opportunity to once again, depict women as unwitting victims of patriarchal oppression.

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