Gendercide and Mass Killings of Men

Gendercide and Mass Killings of Men
The phenomenon of gendercidal killings of males has attracted no formal attention in the international relations or peace studies literatures, my own tentative efforts aside; but the I.R. literature does, perhaps, provide a paradigmatic case of gendercide against men. It is the ‘Melian Dialogue’ that closes Book Five of Thucydides’ The Peloponnesian War. After the various learned discussions that compose the ‘Dialogue’ have concluded, negotiations are broken off, and the Athenian siege is commenced. At its conclusion, Thucydides reports dispassionately, ‘The Melians surrendered unconditionally to the Athenians, who put to death all the men of military age whom they took, and sold the women and children as slaves.’…
The variables underlying this overwhelmingly gendered concentration of direct state repression are straightforward enough. There is a military logic to the destruction of the ‘battle-age’ portion of a targeted community’s males, whether as a sufficient measure in itself or as a prelude to ‘root-and-branch’ extermination of the community as a whole. In many societies, cultural taboos prohibit or limit the killing of groups defined as inherently ‘non-combatant,’ notably women, the elderly, and children. Correspondingly, the sole remaining demographic (and militarily the most ‘threatening’ one) is deemed ‘fair game’ for slaughter. Many acts of mass killing also contain strong overtones of ‘elitocide’ — the ‘decapitation’ of prominent members of the community, an area in which there is a strong correlation with gender (masculinity). If elites are mostly male, it is not a great leap to the proposition that male equals elite — just as men’s ‘potential’ as combatants may leave them vulnerable to mass slaughter in military sweeps, such as those conducted by Serb forces throughout the Balkans wars of the 1990s.
The conclusion, though, seems inescapable: the most vulnerable and consistently targeted population group in conflicts, through time and around the world today, is non-combatant men of ‘battle-age,’ roughly 15 to 55 years old. They are nearly universally perceived as the group posing the greatest danger to the conquering force, and are the group most likely to have the repressive ‘security’ apparatus of the state directed against them. The ‘non-combatant’ distinction is also critical. Unlike their armed brethren, these men cannot defend themselves, and thus can be rounded up and exterminated by the hundreds, thousands, or millions. If the Balkans wars of the 1990s have not reached the levels of earlier twentieth-century gendercides, such as the Congo ‘rubber terror,’ the Nazi extermination of Soviet prisoners-of-war in 1941-42, and the genocides in Indonesia and Bangladesh, they have nonetheless provided one of the most vivid and consistent examples of the phenomenon. The remainder of this article will examine gendercide as it has featured in the Balkans wars of the last decade, and the extent to which the pattern is also evident in the Kosovo war of 1999.
Taken from “Gendercide in Kosovo” an article by Adam Jones appearing on
frightening stuff if you’re unlucky enough to be a “battle age male” don’t you think?
8:19 pm

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