A few days ago, Boko Haram organized another raid in the northeastern part of Nigeria, this time kidnapping 97 men and boys and killing 28 other men. Additionally, 6 older men were also killed as the raid was ending, raising the total death toll to 34.
In the words of Halima Adamu, an eye-witness describing the raid to the press:
They left no men or boys in the place; only young children, girls and women.[…] They were shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ (God is greatest), shooting sporadically. There was confusion everywhere. They started parking our men and boys into their vehicles, threatening to shoot whoever disobey[sic] them. Everybody was scared.
And what is the opinion of the rest of the world? Crickets, more crickets and total silence. The article on CNN has zero comments (despite being roughly 72 hours old), the report from Al Jazeera has 50-something comments, mostly trolls, and other smaller sources barely get over 10 comments.
In other words, it’s fair to say that the rest of the world did not even find out that this monstrosity even occurred. Moreover, all the articles reporting on the event insist on mentioning the sole event in Boko Haram’s history when they kidnapped girls – presumably as a way for the few readers to even remember who or what Boko Haram is.
In comparison, the whole world reacted to the blatantly false news that ISIS (aka Islamic State/IS) issued a fatwa that mandates circumcision on all women in the area. Even after the piece of news was proven beyond all reasonable doubt to be false, the “event” could still been heard weeks after being quoted as a fact in various corners of European and North-American media.
Now, make no mistake, ISIS (just like Boko Haram) is truly the biggest threat to all the people in those areas and these movements should be crushed by all means in order to prevent even more fatalities and more oppression.
This time, the media did not commit the sin of omission nor the sin of pandering that Barbara Kay talked about on the International Conference on Men’s Issues – yet the news still was buried fairly quickly. How come?
Well, the answer really is that simple: gynocentrism.
And because of gynocentrism, stories like these will get little to no airtime and little to no analysis. When the terrorist group kidnapped (but did not kill) 234 girls (a lot of them being free now), the whole world talked about this for a few days. Talk shows were set up even in countries that have no connection whatsoever with the issue. And what’s even more interesting is that in those talk shows it was seldom mentioned that in the same raid 16 people (read: mostly men) were killed.
Being kidnapped by a bunch of religious extremists is a very bad situation. But being killed is far-worse. Yet merely pointing that out is now an act of misogyny or endorsement of female oppression. And no, those people who say such things are not joking.
Politics does not (and will not, anytime soon) help change this either. The anti-Islamic Right has very little interest in airing these kinds of stories because the victimization of men doesn’t bring them audience. No one cashes in on apathy. The pro-Islamic and/or pro-Feminist Left also has very little interest in these kinds of stories as well because the victimization of men has a similar lack of payoff.
This year alone, Boko Haram killed 2000 people – most of them civilian men. Since 2009, the figure goes as high as 5,000 fatalities. On top of that, Boko Haram kidnapped 161 men (97 now, 60 in June, one in July and three in May) just this year alone. Yet every single article about this group mentions only the incident where women were involved.
Is Boko Haram is a misandrist group? No, not really. Boko Haram is a fucked-in-the-head religious extremist group. Their motivation is not misandry – but religious supremacy, a worldview that affects men and women differently but essentially oppresses everyone.
However, Europe and North America’s elites are driven to a certain extent by a worldview that completely disregards male suffering at best or blames those very male victims for what happened to them at worst. Is there a “solution” to the Boko Haram problem? I don’t think so, and I don’t purport to have it. But it would be a very healthy first step towards a more honest discourse if we would at the very least come to a point where we view violence (Islamic or otherwise) as an issue affecting humans – not just women.