Flat White

Ukraine’s ‘disposable’ men

11 March 2022

9:00 AM

11 March 2022

9:00 AM

The tragic video of the Ukrainian father breaking down when saying goodbye to his family was heart-wrenching. But even as it attracted attention across the world, no one seemed to be asking the obvious question:

How come the life of this young father is considered expendable whilst most fit, capable Ukrainian women are being hastily shipped off, out of harm’s way?

Where is feminism’s demand for the equal treatment of women when every male aged 18 to 60 are being forced to stay and ‘defend his country’?

One lone male voice on TikTok dared to call out the feminist silence. He attracted a wave of criticism and his video was removed. TikTok user @notpoliticalspeaking had the temerity to point out that the reported 32,000 women in the Ukrainian military weren’t all that many given that – according to his estimation – the country has 17 million women of age.

Social media ran hot with dozens of articles claiming the TikTok-er was being ‘called out for his ignorance and misogyny’. People piled on with comments pointing out how many courageous women were now enlisting, showing photographs of women soldiers and grandmothers with machine guns.

None of this refuted the point the TikTok-er was making. It is revealing that there has been so little intelligent commentary on the way the Ukraine crisis is exposing the glaring hypocrisy of feminism today, where feminists talk about equality but happily exploit old-fashioned chivalry, which demands only men are disposable in war.

‘Women are too valuable to be in combat,’ said Caspar Weinberger, when he was the US Secretary of Defence. It was said back in the 1980s at a time when military leaders were allowed to say such things. Now, feminists muzzle these comments and demand women have access to front-line combat roles – yet they sit in silence as Ukraine forces their entire adult male population to defend their country while the valuable women are safeguarded.

Traditionally, this has been justified using the evolutionary argument – that is, the size of the next generation is constrained by the number of fertile females. A species can tolerate the loss of males more easily than the loss of females.

No one dares point out that this reasoning hardly applies to all those forty-something single women past childbearing age that we watched scrambling to get on crowded trains leaving Ukraine.

The other arguments for offering women special protection don’t hold water anymore. The active role played by women in the military puts paid to traditional arguments about women’s lack of strength. Gender-based strength for civilian fighters is irrelevant when facing most modern weaponry.

Let’s face it – whilst no one would quarrel with the need to protect children and arguably their mothers, the view of women as a protected class is simply a legacy of traditional, chivalrous thinking which is far too useful for feminists to discard. So they have their cake and eat it, taking every possible opportunity to pretend that this isn’t all about exploiting men by claiming women suffer too – perhaps even more than men.

Here’s our very own Michael Flood, the Australian academic who has built his career on denigrating men.

Along the same lines, here’s an AP News story highlighting the travails of women and children forced to flee alone because their men weren’t allowed to leave – an entire article about how hard it was on the women that the men could only help them as far as the border before being made to turn around and face possible death on the battlefield.

The women-suffer-more tactic was made famous by Hillary Clinton who declared: ‘Women have always been the primary victims of war’ because they ‘lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat’ and because they are ‘often left with the responsibility, alone, of raising the children’.

Warren Farrell in The Myth of Male Power mentions an article in Parade magazine about the 40 million Russian/Soviet men who were killed between 1914-45. The article was entitled Short End of the Stick, referring – not to the men dying – but to the women stuck with factory and street-cleaner positions due to the loss of so many men.

As the horrific Ukraine situation unfolds, social media is running hot with messages talking about the plight of women, often barely mentioning men

Here’s a Guardian article that describes the uncertain future faced by ‘the women, children, and others who are being evacuated’. Others? Presumably, that includes pesky, unmentionable men – like men too old to fight.

But the main theme is a celebration of women’s courage. Social media posts are urging men to fight hard – echoes of the White Feather that women used to hand to young men in the first world war, shaming them into doing their duty to protect women. There’s a video of Ukrainian men being arrested trying to leave the country and being handed tulips, presumably a similar insult to their manhood.

A fascinating article has just been published in The Conversation from a Newcastle law professor claiming that banning men leaving Ukraine violates their human rights. Astonishingly, there’s not one word in the entire article about the discriminatory treatment of men, even though the author raises LGBTQI+ people’s fears that they might face discrimination if captured by Russians.

There have also been news stories claiming trans women in Ukraine are trapped. They can’t leave the country because their passports say they are male. Naturally, there’s not one word about the fact that their bodies are actually male – and hence their leaders have naturally decided they are expendable.

I’ve never got over the truth behind the coverage of the kidnapping of the 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist group. Remember all the glitterati lining up to protest this event? How come we were never told that two months earlier, Boko Haram set fire to a school dormitory killing 59 sleeping boys – the third tragedy of its kind in just eight months. And why weren’t we informed when the attacks on boys continued? Why is no ABC coverage when over 330 boys were kidnapped just over a year ago?

Boys’ lives are worth less – or are pretty ‘worthless’ in the eyes of Western media. In Ukraine, most of the media is turning a blind eye to the fact that boys are being taught to use assault weapons – in violation of human rights law. The International Criminal Court defines the use of ‘child soldiers’ (children below the age of 15) as a war crime.

One of the few feminist contributions to this discussion that I have come across was an article from Daily Mail columnist Amanda Platell, talking about the image of a Ukrainian father, Serhii, cradling the body of his dead 15-year-old son.

She writes:

‘In our demand for equality here in Britain, we women have, for decades, tried to emasculate men – to stamp out the warrior and demand they get in touch with their feminine side. Yet we have been so, so misguided.

‘What arrogance for us feminists to insist they should emote more. Try telling that to poor Serhii as he cradles his dead son. Let’s hope that one good to come from this terrible war will be that in the West we finally embrace the goodness, inherent decency, and courage in men.’

A rare and touching insight midst the blinkered coverage of men’s role in this dreadful unfolding tragedy. And I couldn’t resist a wry smile at this very telling meme. Doesn’t that say it all?

Read more of Bettina Arndt on Substack.

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