“Gadhafi was sodomized before executed.”

With a knife. That is what all the headlines say, but we know, my dear feminist sisters, that it’s really just code for ‘he was raped.’

I was (and still am) glad that Gadhafi is out of power. When he was executed, I didn’t even care much that there were celebrations; it made me uncomfortable to think people were celebrating someone’s death but I was in no position to judge considering I had endured none of his horrific crimes against humanity, unlike the Libyan people. My mother, who is much more soft-hearted than I, expressed her dismay in the words, “I am glad they are free. But how can any Muslim celebrate when someone dies?”

But not this. This is inexcusable. This is misogyny. Another, very violent, example of woman-hating. Gadhafi was raped to strip him of masculinity thereby demeaning him to the status of a woman, because that is how patriarchy works. (Male and Not Male model, from the previous post.) How very… Sodom.

Raping someone before execution has occurred at several points in history, with several different people, but of course it is a going to be told as a reflection of Muslims. (Which, by the way, is why I’m not linking you to any articles; they’re all Islamophobic… and for some reason homophobic, even though rape has as much to do with homosexuality as heterosexuality; not surprising, since they’re calling it sodomy.) And I don’t even care this time. Granted, I don’t have to care, because thanks to indulgence in global rape culture and making rape jokes and cheering when people are raped and believing that men can’t be raped, few will take this to discriminate against Muslims. This is a case of just sexism. I bet the person/people who raped him are the same assholes who refer to the story of Prophet Lut with questionable enthusiasm to “prove” being gay is against Islam. They aren’t willing to face the truth that the people of Prophet Lut were rapists and misogynists and that is why they were destroyed.

22 thoughts on ““Gadhafi was sodomized before executed.”

  1. some kind of guy

    this is a most-badass mind-expanding blog; please keep writing…and don’t let these comments get to your head…they may blur your brilliance…but i can’t help it…thanks!

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  2. I wanted to write a post about his death but have also been conflicted laying claim to respecting the dead given his crimes. However, somehow, the ethics of respect of humanity (regardless of the person in question’s disrespect) is how we prove our Islam. Not that we need to prove it but do you know what I mean? There is something deeply unsettling when we can hang a mans dead body in a butcher for everybody to come jeer and scorn. Darkness of human hurt?

    Anyway, loved the post. Love.

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  3. I’m not sure I see how this is misogyny or sexism. I saw the video of this (which I regret) and someone shoved something in his ass for about 2 seconds while he was walking. It looked like a stick to me, but it could have been a knife. Is all violence against men sexist? Reducing them to the level of women? Or only when it involves their asses? Can you connect the dots for me?

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    1. No, but THIS violence is rape. Penetrating into an orifice, without consent obviously. And the objective was to dehumanize him (as we do women in rape culture) which makes it misogynist in the context of patriarchy.

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  4. I’m not arguing that it isn’t rape. However, if it was a man raping him with his penis, it would make more sense to me to call it misogynist since many misogynists and homophobes associate being fucked by a man with women, but it seems like a jump to go from that to a claim that all penetrating into orifices or all dehumanizing makes something misogynist.

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    1. But he WAS raped by a man. It happened to be a knife, and not a penis. It doesn’t matter what the object is. Nonconsensual penetration (rape) and consequential dehumanization are misogynistic in the context of patriarchy, in which women are viewed as the consent-by-default sex class, and this type of violence is hugely gendered.

      Were he forced by a woman to penetrate, instead of being penetrated, then it would be rape but not misogynist (but possibly misandrist). It’s the fact that the rapist wanted to “take him down a notch” (as men do when they rape women) that makes it misogynist.

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      1. To me that’s a circular argument since EVERYTHING we know is in the context of patriarchy. There is no other context. How do we know the rapist wanted to take him down a notch? Wouldn’t any violence they perpetrated against him serve the same function?

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  5. jay

    The brutal end of Gadhafi is a black cloud over the birth of Libya’s democracy. The Libyan people deserve decades of peace and happiness after what they went through but I’m afraid more suffering is ahead.

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  6. Darque

    Nahida, look, I understand where you’re coming from on this one. I too am dismayed that a man, even one as violent and disgusting as gaddafhi, was sodomized and then murdered.

    However, it is disconcerting for me that you’re saying that this is a prime example of woman hating, when it is quite clearly a man who ended up paying the price here. Would you similarily call it “Misandry” when a woman is murdered for dressing too much like a man, or too androgynously?

    I know it is not intentional on your part, but it is hurtful whenever people say that it is misogny at work in these contexts. When people say this, it makes me believe that they are trying to minimize the harm that occurs to male victims through rape or violence. While not your intention, I would urge you to re-examine your beliefs and perhaps come to the realization that when a man is assaulted in this manner – it is more a reflection on the rigidity of masculinity and the ways that men are victimized through violence – than it has to do with hatred of women.

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    1. Well of course it is a reflection on the rigidity of masculinity! I didn’t mean to sound like misogyny and misandry were exclusive. I think that most times, actually, they go hand-in-hand. But I suppose I was writing primarily from a feminist perspective, not a masculinist one? I guess I would just see that as a different angle (and a more immediate one.) I would never want to minimize the harm inflicted on male victims of rape and violence.

      I don’t think your example of a woman murdered for dressing too much like a man is quite the same though, because patriarchy and the way men are privileged and these things don’t happen in a vacuum independently of each other. Sexism against women is institutionalized, and is essentially at the base.

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    2. Flint

      Okay so I actually agree with you here, and ‘misogyny’ is not the angle I would have taken with this news report. But I think there’s a communication gap here because these perspectives are not necessarily incongruent.

      A lot of dialogue about rape, especially the ones that discuss patriarchy, are erasing of male survivors, or at least feel that way because the focus is on women. Some of them are pretty explicit about only talking about/caring about women.

      But if a man is raped as a punishment to enforce masculinity, that has its root in patriarchy because masculinity is a patriarchal construct. Maybe a rape survivor in these circumstances doesn’t feel like talking about patriarchy, he needs to talk about rape culture instead, (and rape culture is definitely the larger concept because I don’t believe all rapes have a patriarchal component). But I don’t think Nahida would question that such a survivor had a right to talk about how patriarchy, so when SHE talks about patriarchy as the root of (certain kinds of) rape, she’s not trying to question the reality of mens’ victimization, she’s dissecting one of the reasons why the larger rape culture supports those actions.

      Like I said, I don’t believe all rapes are gendered in this way, and I’m not sure if this one was either. This is not the angle I would have written about it from, but I’m not the writer.

      I also don’t want to shut you down. I think it’s important when discussing rape to have a dialogue that doesn’t erase anyone’s experiences. Bearing in mind that this was the lens she was analyzing it from, is there something she could have said to make it a more inclusive conversation?

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  7. You know, one of the things that bothers me immensely about the use of the word ‘sodomy’ is that is refers equally to rape and consensual acts, and conflates the two. As if there is anything in common between rape and consensual sex.

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  8. some kind of guy

    for pete’s sake, stop splitting hairs. he was publicly hate-fucked with a knife…a category of rape usually directed toward women, from men, to rob them of humanity and turn them into powerless objects (what he did to his people for decades). understandable as it may be, it is still abhorrent

    i don’t blame those that did this to him, as i don’t blame lorena bobbit for what she did. but what i see nahida rightfully questioning is why this *particular* type of dehumanizing vengeance was selected above others…what does this symbolically say about *how* he was disarmed of his humanity? one interpretation is he was hate-fucked in the same way misogynistic men hate-fuck women and rob them of their humanity

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  9. almostclever

    “one interpretation is he was hate-fucked in the same way misogynistic men hate-fuck women and rob them of their humanity”

    I like that point…

    And a bit of a tangent, but most male survivor’s perpetrators are men…

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    1. Flint

      Yep, if we needed more proof that rape is about power, people tend to rape those who are beneath them in a kyriarchal sense. It’s a large part of why female rapists largely prey on children–it can’t just be about being able to randomly overpower someone when so many predators plan and repeat assault. If it were really about objects of sexual desire than a heterosexual female predator could just as easily drug adult men as find minors to prey on.

      Also, while I don’t have any figures to back this up, I am SURE that women in positions in nursing or psych ward staff assault at much higher rates than women in the general population.

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  10. almostclever

    Also,

    If we want to look at how misogyny functions among men, we should look at male prison culture. The way men express power over one another is through turning other men into “women.” How do they do this? Through rape.

    Once a man has been raped he has become “the bitch.” And the bitch inside a prison is the one who takes on “the woman’s role” by doing the other prisoner’s chores, becoming the slave of the man who raped him, and whose body is used to keep peace among differing gangs.
    SOME men go so far as to even start dressing in a way that would depict them as “women.”

    Is this misogyny? Hell yes! Do I think it is translatable to men worldwide? As long as there is patriarchy then I will be provocative and say YES.

    I totally agree that this man was raped in order to be turned into something at the very bottom of society. To become a woman in a male, misogynist patriarchal culture. What could be more dehumanizing to do to another man than that?

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  11. I understand those who are concerned that male survivors of rape are being erased by a focus on women. But Nahida is doing a service to both men and women by examining male rape from this angle. The fact is, so long as men continue to define their masculinity in opposition to being female, (that is, the idea that to be a man is to be ‘not-woman’), you cannot fully understand male roles (both social and sexual) without examining female roles.

    This idea that being a man means being the opposite of a woman begins young, in relatively benign ways. I remember when I was in high school, there were a number of boys who were good at singing or dancing, and enjoyed it, but as they grew older and began to form their identities as men, they dropped out of the school choir because singing and dancing were associated with girls, and they didn’t want their masculinity to be questioned.

    Those who can’t see that misogyny is at work here are ignoring the larger social context in which these sexual assaults happen. Currently, a number of Arabic-speaking countries have a culture of male rape being used as a psychological weapon. Men are raped for breaking the law, for belonging to a minority religious/social/racial group, for walking around late at night in the wrong part of town. The rapists for the most part are heterosexual. They rape men for the same reason they rape women: using sexual violence to degrade and humiliate people is how they display their dominance and control the behaviour of others.

    The rape takes on an added dimension when the victim is a man, because by using him as a sexual object, the rapists are sending him the message that he is a female, a member of the inferior sex. It’s not surprising that this pattern of sexual assault is more common in countries like Saudi Arabia where there is a huge gap between the rights and the worth society assigns to the two sexes. Being penetrated during sex is associated with being female, and in a misogynistic society, no one wants to be female. Just like my friends who gave up singing and dancing because they didn’t want to be seen as girls.

    Using rape to degrade and control other men seems to have been mostly eliminated in the modern West. This may be because our society has shifted towards greater equality between men and women. However, the attitude that men must not be associated with anything female is still prevalent, and many boys and men modify their behaviour because they don’t want to be seen as feminine. As almostclever pointed out, one place where this violent male rape is still commonplace is in the Western prison culture. Our language also reflects this: when something bad happens to us, we say “I got screwed,” “He screwed me over,” “You got fucked.”

    The idea that men should not be penetrated during sex because it turns them into a woman, an inferior being, is a very old one. It is found in many patriarchal cultures where women are worth less than men, and where male rape is used as a weapon to rob men of their masculinity. Nahida mentioned the story of Lot, which appears in the Torah and the Qur’an, and shows a tribe of men who violently gang-raped visitors to show their dominance. Another interesting story, from Ancient Egypt, is that of Horus and Set. The two gods were fighting each other, and at one point Set rapes Horus in order to humiliate him by impregnating him with Set’s sperm, essentially ‘making Horus his bitch’ (Horus outsmarts him, though, and escapes the insult of being feminised).

    I also want to briefly mention the story of Heracles (Hercules) from Ancient Greece. Ancient Greece was for the most part a highly patriarchal culture where most women, except priestesses and prostitutes, essentially belonged to their fathers or husbands (the heads of the household). Heracles is idealised as the perfect man and hero, the embodiment of male virtues (note that virtue, meaning ‘a noble quality or trait’, comes from Latin ‘vir’ meaning ‘man’, like the word virile. Compare with ‘hysteria’, which comes from the word for uterus, and that tells you something about Greco-Roman attitudes to the sexes) like courage, strength, leadership and determination.

    Heracles had a lot of casual sex on his travels, with some lovely young maids and with some nice boys too. Wait, hang on a minute. He had sex with dudes? Wouldn’t that make him effeminate, hardly the sort of hero a patriarchal society would revere? Ah, but Heracles was always the dominant partner, the ‘man in the relationship’, so he never lost his masculinity. He was never the receiving, penetrating partner, so he wasn’t considered feminised. In fact, it made him more bad-ass that he had such a strong sexual appetite that he could fuck anything that moved. However, if Heracles had been the partner who was penetrated during sex, making him ‘the woman’, he would never have been accepted by the strongly patriarchal Greek culture as the embodiment of the perfect male hero.

    (OK, so I lied about the ‘briefly’ part)

    In other words, this is a necessary post. Thanks for making it, Nahida. I also like your pointing out that the same men who commit these rapes would object to something like gay marriage… because it’s immoral for two people of the same sex to love each other, but using same-sex rape as a weapon to humiliate and degrade people is totally cool.

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    1. Flint

      Uh, we have definitely not “mostly eliminated” using rape to degrade and control other men in the West. Outside of rapes occurring in intimate partnerships, most men who rape men identify as straight. Have you never heard of queer men being raped to punish them for their sexuality, or to teach them not to like cock like a bitch? (Sorry for the triggery language, but I figure anyone who’s read this far…) I’m not sure we’ve even reached a point where this kind of behavior has decreased, especially as it’s something historically and presently very under-reported.

      For the record, though, given this is a microcosm of the way women’s sexuality is policed through rape, I think it makes perfect sense to discuss misogyny in the context of male rape since these attitudes spill over into making men victims. I just wanted to correct what I saw as the flaw in this attitude that that policing has been “mostly eliminated.”

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      1. Yeah, that was a very poor choice of words on my part. Thanks for pointing it out. When I said, ‘mostly eliminated’ I was referring only to those highly visible and public cases which still happen in many developing countries, e.g. a man and woman being raped for being out in public together, or the routine rape of male and female prisoners by police. Those kinds of blatant sexual assault seem to have decreased in developed countries, though as you say, it’s difficult to know whether it’s an actual decrease or due to underreporting.

        Yes, I am aware of sexual violence against queer men. I was personally on the receiving end of it sometimes in high school, especially in the changing rooms. There was a particular group of guys who got off on making others miserable. They would start with fairly innocuous stuff, by saying I had ‘nice legs’, and then it would get worse. They would joke about dragging me round the back of the school and doing things to me, saying I’d enjoy it because I was a girly boy. I was terrified of those guys because they’d roughed me up on my first day as a new student, and I’d seen them bash the shit out of guys who were much bigger and stronger than me.

        Luckily there were a lot of nice guys at my school who stood up for me, but they weren’t always around. It made me feel angry and powerless that I was too small and weak to protect myself, so I had to depend on others to help me. I would have violent fantasies about bringing a katana or a gun to school and killing all my tormentors. Sometimes I wonder how I made it through high school without having a breakdown.

        I’m still scared of large groups of men or boys. The other day I was on the platform waiting for a train, and a pack of high school boys moved close to me. I started to feel sick to my stomach, then I got up and walked away. Then I felt angry and ashamed with myself that after all these years, I was still scared. Scared of some kids who were five or ten years younger than me! Nowadays most of my friends are women, gay men and only a very few straight men, the ones whom I trust. I know it’s wrong to prejudge, but I’m scared of most straight men… which is a shame, because I know I’m missing out on some good friendships.

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      2. Flint

        I’m sorry for assuming you were straight in my previous reply–my question was rhetorical, but it was kind of a shitty way to make my point. I understand and empathize with your feelings about men, especially straight men–I feel much the same around men and occasionally boys.

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