A blog post

Terror and gender equality

Posted on the 29 December, 2011 at 6:56 pm Written by in Comments, Research

I have been thinking, why is “terror” judged so much by words? Why not look at the actions, their actual consequences? Who is killed or wounded? The victims are mainly civilians. In Norway, at Utøya, youth and children.Civilians, women, men and children – these are the typical targets. I have called terrorists “fascists” in a former blog post. Whatever we call them, the victim is clear; civilians and civil society.

This is what terrorists don’t respect – whatever their words. This is what they try to strangle. Everything that is soft, human, vulnerable, trying. This is dangerous and must be eradicated. Society must be “cleansed”. Terrorists use words, to further the deception – it is done for or against capitalism or imperialism, against the wrong religion, and so on. But the real message is in the action itself – the killing of civilians. According to the Norway July 22 2011 terrorist, this deed is even “knightly”.

Besides the actual victims, two key processes are blocked by the typical terrorist actions. The first, most visible, is democracy. A good target in terrorist logic is voters. Another good target is women in public, or schools for girls (e g Afghanistan). The attack on democracy trend is accompanied, more or less visibly, by attacks on women and gender equality. In the Norway case, the terrorist wanted to target two groups, “cultural marxists” and “feminists”, and the misogynistic aspect is fairly clear (e g women described as birth machines).

In a paper written in 2004, called “A theory of gendercide” (see Texts / Publications in English, on the menu above), I discussed the role of sex/gender in the build-up processes of social aggression and war. I compared Nazi Germany, the Balkan wars in the 1990s, and other cases. I found that a trend towards misogyny (hatred of women) and anti-feminism is common, sometimes combined with an idealized “upgraded” role of women in the new state (or reich) created by the aggressors. I also discuss evidence pointing to sexist terror becoming more common, as a component of terror in general.

The Norwegian 2011 terrorist saw himself as knightly, although he did not exactly protect women and children. Terrorists generally appear on the lower end of the power scale in a conflict. They are not up to a meeting man to man, so to speak, they do not have a military able to meet the enemy on a battle front. Instead they operate a bit like thieves, through sneak attacks. This “lower class position” of terror in the hierarchy of forms of warfare, contributes to the anti-civilian, anti-women and anti-children character of typical terrorist attacks, although it is not the only reason for these trends. Terrorism, as a method, as acutely anti-democratic. Democracy is what we do not have time for, faced with terrorism. We must fight or flee. The terrorist act is not an invitation to democratic settlement, but the very antidote to such settlements. It is no wonder, therefore, that terrorism tends to go together with reduction of democracy, and renewed authoritarianism, on all sides.

I learned in school that democracy was a formal thing. It meant elections every four year and so on. This year, I have learned that it is a very real and lively and vulnerable thing. It is not just there, by itself, it is something we must fight for. Today’s “contempt for politicians” resembles the contempt for democracy in the 1930s. “Politicians” are not crooks, but people elected – by us. The enemies of democracy should be brought into the open.