Main The Women Are Safe With Us Discussion

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05:18:54 AM Apr 15th 2010
edited by TominAZ
The old description had paragraphs of simplistic Whig history—apparently before the Enlightenment not a single person disapproved of the rape of enemy women. I removed it, since it didn't really add anything to the article and read like a caricature of the Straw Feminist view of history.

See, this thing's complex. Not only have different civilizations had different standards about what can be done to enemies, female or otherwise, but they've also varied in how strictly they've enforced their rules—not just between eras in their history but between individuals. It's also not fair not to draw a distinction between soldiers who are following their people's rules and those who aren't—people commit atrocities in war, it's pretty much inescapable, but some cultures (and some armies, units, or commanders) punish them, some abhor them but don't do anything, and some tolerate them. A few encourage them. Not drawing a distinction is exactly like saying the mere existence of NAMBLA, without reference to its legality, means modern America practices pederasty.

The old version's blanket statements went beyond The Theme Park Version to making a Straw Dystopia of all human history.
02:37:17 PM Apr 27th 2010
Okayyy, I can grasp your discomfort with the blanket statements ... and I certianly agree that it'd be unfair to depict a Roman legion or a Viking longship as being populated with 100% rapists or would be rapists. I also agree with you that atrocities are a fact of war.

But I challenge your notion that "some cultures punish, some abhor but don't do anything and some tolerate", at least as it pertains to mideval times, and certianly as it pertains to ancient times.

Rape is a crime nowadays in practically all professional militaries. Tragically soldiers still do it on occasion, even though they know there'll be serious consequences if they're caught.

Is there any evidence
11:46:34 PM May 2nd 2010
edited by TominAZ
Wait, are you actually disputing that different cultures had different standards regarding this? Okay, well, hunker down.

Most Indo-European peoples considered it wrong to rape freewomen in war, but only the Romans acknowledged the free status of "barbarians"—their historians, for instance, don't generally deny that Boudica had a real grievance when her daughters were raped (they just deny that it justified raising a rebellion). The Greeks, though they considered all "barbarians" rapeable, considered it wrong to enslave fellow Greeks, in part because slave women were fair game. Hindus and Norsemen seem to have had a similar attitude—do what you like to outsiders, but one ought not to enslave members of one's own people, because slave women can be raped. Later (by the "medieval" period) not only did the Hindus start acknowledging the free status of (non-Hindu) enemy women, but they came to consider it cruel, all by itself, to enslave enemy women.

Jews were unusual in denying that men had sexual rights to their slaves, and Christianity (beginning as a sect of Judaism) followed the Jewish standard. In the Middle Ages, the Peace of God protected certain classes—religious, women, pilgrims, and farmers—from being killed, robbed of substantial property, and assaulted, including sexual assaults, on pain of excommunication. It's important to remember that Judeo-Christianity was one of the first ethical systems to say rape was always wrong no matter who the victim was, and the Middle Ages was (despite their reputation) when the West began to value women for anything other than sex or childbearing. Most examples of war-rape from the medieval period are either examples of discipline breaking down—when sieges broke, for instance—or are from before the Peace of God was firmly established (Foulque le Nerra, for example), or after it started to break down (the Hundred Years War). Even then, medieval war was usually milder than Renaissance wars, let alone those during the Reformation era—compare the Hundred Years' War to the Thirty Years' War.

Confucianism considered fighting beneath freemen; East Asian armies, made up of convicts, beggars, and other conscripts, were often paid in loot, and that included enemy women. The most the Confucian principles did was lament that fighting caused such misfortune—though rape wasn't approved of, Confucianism took a strictly pragmatic approach to warfare. Korea, however, had slightly different standards from the rest of the Sinosphere, because until the Joseon era their kingdom was devoutly Buddhist—that's also why the Goryeo kings abolished slavery. It's not really clear how well they enforced it, but they considered it wrong to rape enemy women; Buddhism was virtually outlawed by the Neo-Confucian Joseon regime but its effects seem to have partly stayed. It's hard to tell, though, because Korea's wars during the Joseon era were all defensive, so they didn't meet many enemy women. The quasi-Confucian ethics of Japanese war thought rape was beneath a samurai (though not exactly wrong), but didn't particularly attempt to curtail it from common soldiers.

In the Americas, attitudes were all over the map. Most of the Puebloans, and the Athabascans who came under their influence (Navajos, for instance) considered war-rape wrong, as did the Sioux and most of the Algonquians (instances of it by those peoples were due to a breakdown of discipline); it seems the Algonquians and at least some of the Sioux even forbade raping slaves. The Comanche and most of the western Plains Indians practiced war-rape as a matter of course, apparently sometimes even encouraging it as a terror tactic; the Aztecs seem to have had roughly the attitude of the Romans, that enemy freewomen shouldn't be raped but slave-women could be. The Tlingit and other "potlatch" cultures probably allowed the rape of slave-women, and I'm not sure what their attitude was vis-a-vis outsiders' free status.

Does that show adequately that there were different standards between cultures? How well any culture's rules were enforced varied more with individuals and particular conditions—morale, discipline, etc.—than with cultures or value-systems, just like today.
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