Reading this horrifying story about a Syrian mother who had to choose between marrying off her young teenage daughters or exposing them to the persistent threat of rape, one thing we, in the U.S., never talk about in our numerous discussions to go to war is what happens to civilians, especially women and children, who always get it the worst. Leaving aside the breakdown of order and the ensuing rape and murder, in wartime, women suddenly become property: ‘our women.’ Even in relatively low-intensity conflicts such as Northern Ireland, Protestant and Catholic women were the exclusive property of their respective communities: to cross the religious and ethnic line would, at best result in a ‘punishment beating’, and, at worst, murder.
I raise this, since in the U.S., we’re already discussing a presidential campaign that won’t take place for two years (because we’ve solved all of the serious problems. Or something). On the Democratic side (the Republicans are the lost and the damned on this issue), there are several potential candidates who supposedly have serious feminist cred, but, when asked about questions of war and peace, tend to answer with “war.” The polite term is ‘hawk’, which is an insult to raptors. The less polite term is ‘blood thirsty warmonger.’
Just something to keep in mind as political appeals by various Democratic figures and pundits are made in the coming months.