By Dagmar Herzog (eds.)
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Extra resources for Brutality and Desire: War and Sexuality in Europe’s Twentieth Century
91 Sexual violence – means or end? , tactical or strategical, purpose. It is difﬁcult to state with certainty what the goal(s) were, as little is known of the overall, local, or individual motives for the sexual violence during the Armenian genocide. But considering the evidence at hand, and assuming that the executors were generally no different from executors of other mass crimes, the main purposes on a local and individual level are likely to have been sadism;93 gratiﬁcation by total domination; symbolic puriﬁcation (the exorcizing of ‘evil’ through rituals of degradation);94 ‘mutual demonstrations of masculinity’ in the cases of gang rape;95 and humiliation, intimidation, and dehumanization of the immediate victim, the victim’s male relatives, and of the Armenians as a group (the rape of women as the symbolic rape of a whole community),96 as most of the women and girls were killed after the abuse, committed suicide, died, or were at least expected to die during or after the deportations.
The poor women could not walk for shame, they were all bent forward. In this naked state they had found some ways to keep the little money they had. Some kept it in their hair, some in their mouths and some in their wombs. 79 Amidst the horrors and the humiliations, this shows that even though deportees were fair game, and escape or actual physical resistance was rarely possible, some still managed to be resourceful by hiding money in order to be able to buy means of survival for their children or themselves.
There is ample evidence that the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians was characterized by distinct gendered aspects, not least the particular timing and the methods of killing women and children, that females were subjected to massive, systematic sexual abuse, and that a number of women and children were allowed to survive as Muslim Turks. , all within the context of an exterminatory scheme carried out during a war – are of profoundly universal importance. The violence against Armenian women during WWI, as well as the immediate and long-term effects of this violence (subjects that fall outside the scope of this paper), is a phenomenon that deserves far more attention than it has already received, not least because it can in meaningful, illuminating ways be compared to other instances of large-scale, systematic sexual violence during war and genocide, and used in conceptual discussions aimed at analyzing causes, modes, and, ideally, prevention of such events.
Brutality and Desire: War and Sexuality in Europe’s Twentieth Century by Dagmar Herzog (eds.)