On April 14 2014, the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped 200 school girls near Chibok, Nigeria. Motivated by the desire to impose Sharia upon Nigeria and claim the world for the global Caliphate, Boko Haram threatened to sell the girls into slavery if their (largely financial) demands were not met. The Western media response was swift. Every hour, every news channel featured in depth coverage, and even the then President and First Lady promoted the hashtag campaign #bringbackourgirls. Governments responded quickly as well, sending financial and military aid to Nigeria in order to counter the threat posed to women and girls by Boko Haram.
What happened to those young girls, and continues to happen to women and girls throughout the developing world, was and is atrocious. But what often gets overlooked is the 10,000+ boys who were either kidnapped or murdered by Boko Haram since 2009. Yes, 10,000+. Some of these boys were even locked in their homes and set alight or they had their throats slit as they slept, even with their sisters and mothers being set free. There was no hashtag campaign for them. In fact very few people even noticed because forcing boys into slavery in Africa is so common it hardly seems like news. Perhaps had we done something about the 10,000+ kidnapped or murdered boys prior to 2014, those 200 missing girls would still be studying in their dormitories.
But there is another reason why no one noticed. Men and boys are seen as disposable, and this isn’t simply a problem of third world barbarism. I think all men pray that they are never on a sinking ship with too few life rafts, lest the captain (in true Western tradition) shout “I’ll brain any man who touches a lifeboat. Women and children first!” Far from a trite patriarchal colloquialism, the “Birkenhead Drill” has been enforced famously several times, including on the RMS Titanic and more recently on the downed US Airways flight that landed in the Hudson River in 2009. Tom Brokaw gleefully reported that, thankfully, after all the women and children were evacuated, there were enough life jackets for the men. Oh, what luck. Every man reading this somehow knows exactly how the decision to evacuate was made on board. Every man looked at each other and resigned himself to his fate should the plane sink. If any of them stepped out of that sinking craft before all the women and children were evacuated, lifelong ridicule would certainly be their fate and they all knew it.
During the last election, it struck me painfully how easily Sec. Clinton was able to dismiss the question of whether or not women should be forced to sign up for the Selective Service without giving a moments thought to whether or not its morally appropriate to subject men to that system. Why would she? War is almost exclusively the domain of men whether they like it or not. Only a handful of women are combat veterans and more than 95% of all military casualties since the Korean war are male. Even among civilian deaths, men are as much as 10 times as likely to die or otherwise be victims of violence during war time as women. When talking about purely sexual violence, the numbers switch, but men are still around 40% of all rape victims.
I’m well over my 500 word mark here. Tomorrow I’m going to post about why I think men are seen as disposable and Wednesday I’m going to say a few words on how we might fix this.