The Patriarchy or ISIS: Who Is Really To Blame for Manchester?

Printed from:

“I can empathize with the survivors of the Manchester bombing… When I was 13 I was groped on a train.”

Yes. You read that correctly.

Sexual harassment is now on par with terrorism, according to one woman’s column on NPR.

I am not trying to downplay this woman’s childhood trauma. I’m a petite woman who traveled alone in the Middle East — to say nothing of the occasional night out with friends in America — ergo I’m no stranger to grasping hands and threatening situations, and I recognize that my experiences are tame compared to others’.

But never, under any circumstance, would I dare say I could empathize with the women, or men, who survived this bombing attack — or those who are still hoping to find their loved ones among the rubble.

To be fair, the woman who penned that absurd line acknowledged that her experience was less dramatic than those who watched their fellow concert-goers being blown up before their eyes. However, her statement encapsulates everything that is wrong with how the Western media has chosen to address this week’s horrific attack at Manchester Arena.

Despite ISIS claiming responsibility for the attack, and despite the reported ties between the bomber and the terrorist organization, many are determined to turn this attack into another crime committed, not by Jihadists, but by “the patriarchy.”

In another opinion piece, featured by Slate, journalist Christina Cauterucci proclaims:  “These girls are survivors of an orchestrated attack on girls and girlhood, a massive act of gender-based violence.”

Apparently Ms. Cauterucci forgot about the male victims and survivors of this attack; but seeing as Ariana Grande’s fanbase, and thus the bulk of the audience at Manchester Arena, is female, we’ll play along and pretend that only girls suffered from this act of terrorism.

According to Ms. Cauterucci, Grande’s concert was targeted because she “… advanced a renegade, self-reflexive sexuality that’s threatening to the established heteropatriarchal order.”

Say that ten times fast. Then see if you can find what is wrong with these women’s incisive analysis. Besides the fact that they’re trying to offer insight into something in which they have zero expertise …

What happened at Manchester Arena was not some assault by a nebulous threat known as “the patriarchy.” It was a brutal attack carried out by a terrorist organization motivated by a twisted and bloodthirsty interpretation of Islam.

Ignoring that fact does nothing but distract from the mission to weaken and dismember this organization.

Yes, this attack’s death toll featured more girls and women than usual due to the targeted demographic of Ms. Grande’s music, but where have our authors been since the rise of violent Islamist extremism?

Perhaps they haven’t heard of the abuses by the Taliban, or the treatment of women under Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi regime.

Perhaps they did not turn on the news in time to learn about ISIS’s robust sex slave trade among the minority religions they conquer.

Because if they did know this, then they wouldn’t be able to prattle about gender-based violence after a bomb went off. They would have to point to a distinct ideology which has been perpetrating this violence for decades, and suddenly they would have a real enemy on their hands, not a vaguely articulated “social norm.”

This is all assuming, of course, that this particular attack was aimed specifically at women. Thus far no evidence has proven this, and no valid authority — outside of fever swamp opinion pages — has even speculated that it may have been the case.

What we do know is that this was a suicide attack carried out by a man whom authorities say had ties to ISIS and had spent time in Syria. As far as terrorist tactics go, it did not break new ground. The goal of terrorism is to take an everyday situation, like a concert hall in Paris, with maximum possibility for casualties, and turn it into a living nightmare — ensuring that the targets never feel safe.

The attacker at Manchester Arena achieved precisely that. What should have been a fun, carefree night was transformed into tragic and gruesome carnage.

But the horror of that is glossed over by these women and their incessant chatter against men. They are so obsessed by their desire to blame the “heteropatriarchal order” for all the world’s evil that they cannot spot the real demon standing directly in front of them.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how terrorists win.

ISIS radicalized Salman Abedi, they trained him how to make a bomb, they instilled in him a callous disregard for life in service of an ideology.

Abedi detonated the bomb, killing 22 (so far) people, and injuring dozens of others.

And yet, nowhere in these columns do the authors mention Abedi, or the Islamic State.

Amidst the cacophony of op-eds aimed at society, culture, and “the patriarchy,” ISIS slips away without penalty, living to radicalize hearts and minds and terrorize innocents another day.

The women — and men — who died this week were not killed by the patriarchy because they were dancing with abandon. They were murdered because a terrorist organization, driven by a bloody distortion of their religion, decided that these innocent people needed to die to serve their own ends. The target was not “girlhood” any more than the target of the London bombings in 2005 was “morning rush.”

This brand of thinking did not begin with the attack this week. Last year the Independent ran an article blaming men, and men alone, for terrorism. Let’s not even get into the factual fallacies there — like how many female terrorists have existed.

The author of that column neatly clumps together every terrorist attack in the last several years and labels them all “mass male violence.”

Terrorism is apparently not the fault of any one ideology or way of thinking. Rather, it is the fault of … wait for it… toxic masculinity.

Well, who knew?

Certainly not the myriad of scholars and military strategists who have spent their lives analyzing the waves of terrorism that have ebbed and flowed throughout history.

If only those foolish experts had known that the terrorists, whether driven by political or religious aims, were no different from run-of-the-mill domestic abusers, sex offenders, and serial killers. They could have saved a lot of library time if they had known to address the complex web of terrorism by treating each terrorist blowing himself up — because in this alternative reality there are no female suicide bombers — the same as the thug who hits his girlfriend, or the scumbag who peddles child pornography.

Oh, and don’t forget, the military is cut from the same murderous cloth as these miscreants. Yes, that’s right. As the author points out:

“The easiest way to think of [toxic masculinity] is to imagine the military. After all, soldiers are paid mass murderers. Different wars, same tactics.”

Same tactics?

Let’s stipulate that the military is not always blameless; but please, ma’am, jog my memory. Tell me the last time a member of a legitimate military walked into a crowded concert arena and
detonated himself.

But of course, accuracy and facts matter little to these women, fueled by their (self-proclaimed) righteous anger at everything with a Y-chromosome. (Or whatever is determining “maleness” these days.)

They are more focused on constructing their dream world. They paint with universal brushstrokes, compare apples to oranges and declare them all to be peaches, and voila, you have your story.

Unfortunately, this story is not harmless. It creates a world in which all crimes are all the same and motives — other than being male — have no bearing.

Sexual harassment becomes equivalent to domestic abuse which is equated to terrorism.

One of the aims of terrorism is to sow confusion, to send a society into chaos.

From a look at the delusional columns cited above, I’d say they don’t have much work ahead of them.


Kelly Thomas received her B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and her M.A. in Terrorism, Security, and Society from the War Studies Department at King’s College London. Read her past articles here.