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Boko Haram butchers schoolboys en masse and abducts 200+ women. Boys are forgotten, girls get international intervention.

Note: please consider tweeting this article to #bringbackourgirls and/or a relevant hashtag, such as #stopkillingourboys.

The extremist Muslim group Boko Haram has a long history of attacking villages in Nigeria. The world has known about this for a long time.

And yet all of a sudden – seemingly without precedent – the media, the Obama administration, and online social justice crowd are eating up a recent story of Boko Haram abducting 200+ girls. Indeed, they are as frenzied about this as a school of starved piranhas tasting blood in the water. They weren’t really that animated before. But hey, they’ve been busy like everyone else.

The story is a tragedy, to be sure. But like so many stories we hear concerning the perpetual persecution of women by a pervasively pernicious Patriarchy, there is more to this than meets the eye. And, as you may have guessed, I will show you in this very article.

Change.org has a petition to bring back 200+ girls that were recently kidnapped by Boko Haram (which I support, don’t get me wrong). As of right now it has ~400,000 signatories. It says:

In Nigeria, over 200 girls were recently abducted from their boarding school and plans are reported of them being selling them as brides for $12 each. I am calling on the world to unite and save them.

The abducted young girls are being affected by a conflict they did not create, and their voices need to be heard. I can only imagine what these 200 girls have been through, and their government is not doing nearly enough to save them.

The group Boko Haram has repeatedly said girls should not be educated. I am a young Nigerian woman pursuing my education in Germany. I believe the Nigerian government must do more to ensure the safe return of these girls.

An interesting claim by Change.org in the last paragraph. Is it really true that Boko Haram believes that only girls should be denied an education? I belabor this because we’ll come back to it very soon.

Hence it’s name, Change.org is all about changing the status quo when it comes to social justice issues – sex/gender, in this case. They do this because – as we are told – the status quo is anti-woman. From this it would of course logically follow that mainstream media institutions would not report on the issue of girls being abducted thousands of miles away because they wouldn’t care.

And the male-dominated government also wouldn’t care. And so on, and so forth. That’s how it goes, right? Well, no. According to TIME magazine:

President Barack Obama said the U.S. has already sent a team to aid in efforts to recover more than 250 kidnapped girls in Nigeria, who were captured by the Boko Haram militant group. The team is ‘trying to identify where in fact these girls might be and provide them help,’ he said.

The United States is preparing to deploy a team of military, law enforcement and hostage negotiators to Nigeria, officials said Tuesday, to help with the ongoing effort to recover more than 250 kidnapped schoolgirls whose plight has captured global attention.

And here I thought our Patriarchal society really didn’t care about women. What have they been teaching me in school? More, this time according to CNN:

With a World Economic Forum gathering set to begin Wednesday in Abuja, the Nigerian government came under mounting pressure to save the girls abducted in the country’s remote northeast and threatened with being sold into slavery.

On a trip to Africa, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States “will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice.”

Looks like a lot of mobilization and rallying under the banner of saving the girls. Which is fine and dandy and all. Just one little question:

What happened to the schoolboys? I mean, if we take Change.org’s word for it and assume that Boko Haram only wanted women to be without an education, that would mean that they left the boys alone, right?

Actually, they’re all dead. They were butchered by Boko Haram like cattle, down to the least and the last. I reported on it almost two months ago (in March) before this media frenzy, but it was reported elsewhere in the online press as far back as February [1], and Boko Haram has been killing schoolboys en masse as far back as September of 2013.

But strangely, unlike the fight for girls, somehow these human rights abuses never made it near the top of the to-do list of your mainstream social justice warriors. Let’s review that Associated Press article from February of this year about the attack at Buni Yadi:

Islamic militants set fire to a locked dormitory at a school in northern Nigeria, then shot and slit the throats of students who tried to escape through windows during a pre-dawn attack Tuesday. At least 58 students were killed, including many who were burned alive.

They ‘slaughtered them like sheep’ with machetes, and gunned down those who ran away, said one teacher, Adamu Garba. Soldiers guarding a checkpoint near the coed government school were mysteriously withdrawn hours before it was targeted by the militants, said the spokesman for the governor of northeastern Yobe state.

Female students were spared in the attack, said the spokesman, Abdullahi Bego, though girls and women have been abducted in the past by militants of the Boko Haram movement, whose name means ‘Western education is forbidden.’

Ah, so Boko Haram isn’t just against girls’ education, like Change.org erroneously claimed. They are against western secular education in general. And unlike what seems to be the preferred narrative, it looks like the boys weren’t exactly partaking in the perpetual privilege proffered them by a pervasively pernicious Patriarchy when they were being gutted like fish.

I suppose having all your human guts intact only matters when those guts belong to girls.

Twitter was set on fire over this one. The hashtag #bringbackourgirls was the locus of so many Tweets that TIME Magazine created an animated map showing the explosion of Twitter activism over time and by geographic region.

The use of the hashtag #bringbackourgirls is an interesting one, and not just because it is being used as a rallying point for those who believe that women are oppressed in a Patriarchal world that regards their vulnerabilities as secondary, all the while oblivious (or apathetic) to the plight of boys.

It’s also ironic because, unfortunately, there can be no #bringbackourboys campaign. You can bring back the abducted, but you can’t bring back the dead. Death is one of those things that you can’t make up for, that you can’t “correct.” You can only try to prevent it.

So how might we prevent men and boys from being regarded as disposable, as they so often are in the workplace, in war, and so forth? Well, a good first step is finding the courage to care about them as much as we care about women and girls. If we start from there, good things are bound to follow.

Wouldn’t that be a great change?

Standing up to Boko Haram now won’t just help bring back our girls. It will also help prevent the deaths of boys in the future.  That is why the plight of boys deserves to be a part of our call to action.

A Voice for Male Students aims to create a community of writers on men’s and boys’ education issues. If you would like to submit a guest post to be published here, please read the submission guidelines.

Notes:

[1] ABC News also reported on the massacre but took down their link. The article is preserved via The Wayback Machine. Also, if AP isn’t your cup of tea, you can read a report by NBC News about the same attack.

Related:

About Jonathan Taylor (TCM)

JT/TCM is an advocate of educational equity for men and boys who believes that the world is in desperate need of more good-natured mischief. He is a former college instructor of composition and argumentation and the founder of avoiceformalestudents.com.

37 comments

  1. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for this article! Most of the time I try not to get too flustered about apparent cases of female privilege (because most of the time they’re related by idiots with a victim complex) but this one is making me FUCKING furious.

    The first i’d heard of Boko Haram was around the time of that dorm massacre (the one from september 2013 you’ve linked to) and ever since i’ve found it baffling how no one would do so much as bat an eye. A passing mention in the news, no condemnation from other nations… at the end of the day it was all forgotten.

    And now that they’ve committed a crime where their victims are mostly female it’s in everyone’s mind, it’s in the news everyday, and even THE U.S. IS GETTING INVOLVED. Why just now??!!

    I wish people would stop putting women on a pedestal…

    • While I agree to most of your views, the last comment of yours makes me realize what really is wrong with misandristic feminism and misogynistic MRAs, time and again. Why could it not have been “You wish people start seeing all genders on equal ground” instead of asking to stop putting women on pedestal escapes my mind. It’s like a cyclic phenomenon, one rotation it weighs heavily towards women the other towards men without the end of the horizon being in sight. Think over it.

  2. fathers4fairness

    Agreed. 58+ boys are macheted to death – no-one cares. 200+ girls kidnapped and held for ransom – POTUS sends in Delta Force and UN loses its shit.

  3. This was a very enlightening post. It’s a tragedy all around, and thanks for shedding light on it.

  4. And what have YOU done since February about this?

    • Hi there Feminist (I know you’re one because of your twitter feed). I’ve done as much as I can, which is better than 99% of the people out there.

      By the way, curious question: I can acknowledge that the girls need saving. Can you acknowledge, as a Feminist, that we need to be concerned for the future boys that will be killed by Boko Haram if we don’t stop them? You do acknowledge that the human rights of boys matter, right?

      Don’t worry, I fully expect you to not answer this question with a direct “yes,” unless of course you phrase it in the “yeah, but women matter more” way that is so popular among your political cohort.

  5. I posted this on my FB and you can’t even imagine the shit I am getting from, “you endorse the kidnapping of those girls”…”The girls are still alive – there is nothing more to do for the dead.”, “I remember there being coverage on CNN and BBC about several massacres involving male students. Very, very awful but I agree that there is more coverage of the kidnappings as the Nigerian president took so long to acknowledge them, there are almost 300 kids involved and there is a chance to save them. Don’t turn an awful situation into another piece of your ‘boys have it worse’ agenda.”

    Apparently this is, “just another ‘boys’ have it worse agendas?!? Humppp!!!

    • Yeah, there’s nothing more we can do for the dead – except learn from their suffering in order to prevent more of it in the future. There’s a lot we can do for the boys who might be dead in the future if Boko Haram is allowed to keep doing what they are doing.

      Ask your Facebook peeps if they can understand that!

      • Some are just…engaged in the popular and relevant “groupthink” unfortunately. What I always ‘love’ is when I post something like I did that calls out, “but what about…” and I’m attacked for (as in this case) supporting the kidnapping (are you really that STUPID, yes, yes you are) because I mention why we haven’t seen the same kinda outcry when boys are killed. I hastagged #StopKillingOurBoys AND #BringBackOurGirls and guess which one has more than one hit on FB…and I’m the only person on FB who has #StopKillingOurBoys and I’m attacked for making this “my” ‘boys have it worse agenda’! Apparently being killed is NOT worse than being kidnapped?!? WTF!

        • you “remember the coverage” and then you did what?

          • Is hashtagging #BringBackOurGirls really helping out you think? Jackass.

            • Yes. I look at it this way. This tragedy affects both sexes. But the only way the society can be moved to act is if we completely ignore boys and paint all the suffering with only a female face.

              This helps point that out. Sure, it will take people aback at times. But most of those people are the blue-pill masses who agree with ignoring boys anyway.

              Also, I suggested an alternative.

              And before we talk about “piggybacking,” let’s remember that if/when there is any military intervention, 99% of those soldiers killed to bring the girls back home are going to be men. The entire #bringbackourgirls campaign is piggybacking off of this kind of male sacrifice, without which any kind of rescue mission just wouldn’t happen.

              So I don’t feel the slightest bit in the wrong for piggybacking on them right back.

          • It’s the fact the majority are only reacting NOW that’s frustrating. NO ONE spoke up when they massacred the schoolboys. NO ONE went out in the streets. NOT ONE politican gave his disapprobal. Or even suggested they would act.

          • very good post, thanks for making me aware.

  6. I suspected there was more to this crisis than meets the eye and some sort of political agenda was involved and this seems to confirm it: As they say, “never let a crisis go to waste”. It’s a shame it could be treated for what it was, a crime against humanity, rather than spun as a gender specific crime.

    • I also wanted to add another phenomenon I find extremely annoying in these cases. You have these men who, for lack of a better term, are “whipped” into showing just guilty they feel about their male privilege and will go to any length necessary to liberate all the oppressed women on the planet.

  7. Miguel Zorchee

    Nicholas Kristof writes (NY Times, May 11, 2014) that “That’s what extremists do. They target educated girls, their worst nightmare.” Kristof simply ignores the scores of boys killed for being in a school other than a madrasa. I am deeply horrified by the kidnapping of the girls, but is it necessary to ignore the boys in order to bring attention the plight of girls?

  8. Thanks for this article — very enlightening. I am a bit confused by the sources provided for the claim that all the schoolboys in this specific attack (at the school from which the girls were kidnapped) were killed.

    When you write, “What happened to the schoolboys? [...] Actually, they’re all dead.”, the links below it seem to pre-date the attack and I’m not sure that they’re about the same school. Could you clarify? Is there a reliable third party site stating that all the boys in this specific attack were killed?

  9. Welcome to the double standard that is life! What IS angering me are the pics circulating blaming Hillary Clinton for the death of the boys, oh and throwing in where were “the left and celebrities?” My question for republicans-it’s obvious they put this out since this is an election year-where was THEIR outrage? For that matter, where was ANYBODY’S outrage?? It’s REAL EASY to point fingers and the only reason republicans released the pic is cuz Benghazi isn’t working. The problem? Hillary Clinton wasn’t SOS in Feb, John Kerry was…

    • I have a somewhat different view than the author. I believe that the primary reason the past atrocities in Nigeria did not get widely reported was because Nigeria is viewed by most Americans as a far away place where horrible stuff happens on a regular basis, and has for a long time, so therefore it’s not really news. So when the boys were murdered, I honestly don’t think it was because they were boys that it did not get much attention. However, what puzzles me is that the current story with the Nigerian girls is being reported as mostly a crime against women and when in fact it’s part of a much larger story involving many past atrocities against people of both sexes. Boko Haram’s mission is to eradicate all western influence in Nigeria, and they will use whatever means necessary and their victims are male, female, old, young, etc, etc.

      • The American media always has a political spin on things to fit an agenda which in this case is a spin toward the rights of women. Pointing out that boys were killed would not fit this agenda. Do not even get me started on the amount of censorship and spinning that the American and Western media practice on a regular basis. Let’s just say it is comparable to the amount of censorship and spinning that occurred behind the Iron Curtain.

        Welcome to life behind the Lace Curtain.

  10. Maybe the kidnapping got more attention because something can be done for them. While what happened to the boys was horrific and awful, it can’t be changed. These girls, on the other hand, can be rescued from being sold into lives of torture and rape. Moreover, the boys were not targeted simply for being boys. They were targeted for seeking an education. Again, I’m not saying that what happened was justified or in any way acceptable, because everyone deserves to have an education and no one deserves to die for it, but you’re ignoring the gender issues here. The kidnapped girls are suffering a very specific fate not only because they sought education, but because they are girls. It’s a symptom of a much larger problem all over the world, where girls are not valued as human beings and instead have their autonomy and basic rights stripped.

    • “Maybe the kidnapping got more attention because something can be done for them.”

      Very well then. Let’s be consistent with that logic. Once the girls are rescued, it doesn’t make sense to punish Boko Haram by disarming them further or destroying them. After all, even if they are very likely to kidnap girls in the future, it’s not like they would have any captive girls in their possession then. Agree or disagree?

      Also:

      “Moreover, the boys were not targeted simply for being boys. They were targeted for seeking an education.”

      You could say the same thing about girls, with that kind of adaptive moral reasoning that seems to change based on which sex suffers.

      “It’s a symptom of a much larger problem all over the world, where girls are not valued as human beings and instead have their autonomy and basic rights stripped.”

      No, women do not suffer more than men all across the world. The only symptom here is that your worldview is so premised on Feminism – an ideology where only female vulnerabilities matter – that you tend to ignore and marginalize the distinctive experiences of boys.

      In essence, your worldview is part of the problem. Stop trivializing the experiences of men and boys in an attempt to paint women as the “alpha victim.”

      • “No, women do not suffer more than men all across the world. The only symptom here is that your worldview is so premised on Feminism – an ideology where only female vulnerabilities matter – that you tend to ignore and marginalize the distinctive experiences of boys.”

        That’s an interesting point and even if you just isolate it to what’s happening to boys in Nigeria who are victims of Boko Haram. As I understand it, uneducated boys are forced to join their ranks and become “boy soliders”. That’s hardly an ideal way to spend your childhood, and beyond that, if they are eventually able to leave this terror group they will still be scarred for life with memories of what they were forced to do when they were kids. Whether that’s worse than being sold into slavery, raped, etc. is a moot point. In either case, irreparable harm is done, and the larger effect is a dysfunctional society as an end result.

        • “Whether that’s worse than being sold into slavery, raped, etc. is a moot point. In either case, irreparable harm is done, and the larger effect is a dysfunctional society as an end result.”

          I wholeheartedly agree.

          • This takes me back to a another discussion regarding the wage gap between men and women. Someone referenced a part of an article that showed that male workers on a coffee plantation earned $1.50/hr compared $1.00/hr for the female workers. First of all, maybe the work the men did was more physically demanding or dangerous, so that might explain the wage gap. But even if we were to assume that the gap was entirely due to sexism, would everything be swell if both male and female workers were making $1.50/hr? They missed the larger point entirely which was that everyone was being paid slave wages.

  11. Very enlightening post. Very sad for kidnapped girls but even more sad for the dead boys who had not caught the sympathy of the world audience because of their gender.

  12. Boko Haram is a horrible person or should i even call him a person. He killed people for having education, for having western beliefs, and for their christian beliefs. He did kill the boys because of Christianity and education, as well as kidnap them to be “kid soldiers”. And as for the girls they didn’t want them to have Christianity and education, and for them turned them into “sex slaves”.
    Boko Haram killed the boys thinking they aren’t useful they already have all this education and Christianity. As for the girls they also had education and Christianity, but the only thing Boko Haram thought was useful from them was their bodies. The girls would’ve died along with them if it weren’t for their bodies. But having to go through everyday and night through torture and rape, they probably would wish they could’ve died along with the boys. Having to go through rape on a daily basis is even worse than death.
    And with the next comment i make i know i might get awful responses but well here it goes…
    we can’t do anything more for the boys since they died, but we can support their families,help bring back the girls, and take down Boko Haram. I also hope at least many were saved.
    And i hope with their deaths as a reminder to everyone to stand up to people who put them down for their education and religion, they died not only because they were boys, but they also died because they were human beings who wanted to have a better future. If girls weren’t so overly sexualized they would’ve also died alongside the boys for wanting a better future. And i’m even surprised that this came out on the news, but it took 2 weeks.
    And they should’ve showed both the kidnapping and the massacre together.

    • Joseph Buchanan

      “they died not only because they were boys, but they also died because they were human beings who wanted to have a better future”

      But they also died BECAUSE they were boys. Boko Haram deliberately and purposefully targets BOYS for killing.

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