24 July 2011
The “Norwegian Massacre”: the media seem to have agreed on this term. Not a “rampage” such as occurred in Winnenden – the Norwegian killer proceeded with far too much premeditation and lengthy planning for that; through his diversionary tactic of the bomb near the seat of government he focused the attention of the entire police force on the center of Oslo – so that he could then, completely undisturbed for 90 minutes, gun down 68 young people on the holiday island.
I’m not aware of any massacre in which men were not the perpetrators (a virtually endless list of them can be found here). And I know of no massacre which has brought about any public reflection concerning this male role, except by feminists, who are then defamed as “femi-nazis” and accused of “outrageous generalizing.”
But Norway is a progressive country and rather advanced in feminist terms. Perhaps now, emanating from Norway, some thinking might finally begin about the “gender aspect” of this and all other massacres. If that were to happen we might not be left simply with the paralysis of shock, grief and revulsion, but perhaps even with hope for change.
The etymology of the German word Massaker (from French massacre) is explained in quite different ways by the various lexica. Some say the origin is unknown (Duden Etymological Dictionary). Others connect it to metzeln, Metzger (to slaughter, the butcher –Wiktionary English). Still others with mallet (hammer – dictionary.com). Since no one seems to know for sure, I’d like to offer a few feminist speculations as to the origin of the word.
Striking (but just as strikingly never considered in the etymological articles) is the morpheme -sacre (sacred, sanctified, sacrifice), as in sacrament, sacred music, sacrilege. We know it from Sacré Coeur, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Montmartre (the hill of martyrs!), from Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps (Rites of Spring). The ballet depicts the ritual sacrifice of a virgin (!) in pagan Russia. The Old Testament begins with a fratricide (Cain and Abel) and the New Testament with the massacre of all boys under two, the Bethlehem “massacre of the innocents.”
In “Christian” religious wars and crusades the followers of different faiths massacred each other with equal fanaticism. In the age of the witch persecutions the Christian Church spread fear and terror, sacrificing tens of thousands of innocent women and men on the altar of the “true faith.”* The Aztecs offered human sacrifices to their sun god. In a modern variety of so-called holy war (jihad) suicide-bombers sacrifice themselves and as many others as possible to the greater glory of Allah. The mass murderer of Oslo and Utøya presented himself on the Internet as a far-right radical and Christian fundamentalist.
An unholy alliance exists between religions with a male god at their center and massacres in “sacred” service to their imperious deity. This god demands sacrifice. Believers must die for him (as martyrs) – not to mention unbelievers. Yes, Jesus preached a gospel of love, but he didn’t prevail; rather, in the course of time his message was twisted into its opposite.
All these male religions leave an endless broad trail of blood through the millennia. It is time to reject them and follow either no religion or one with loving goddesses, in accordance with the old feminist sayings: “God is coming, and is she pissed!” and “I’ve seen God, and guess what - She’s black.“ Maybe that won’t help either, but they deserve a chance. Male self-deification with the help of patriarchal gods, at any rate, has proven again and again to lead directly into the inferno.
Postscript on 7/25/2011: See the article by Michelle Goldberg, “Norway Killer’s Hatred of Women,” The Daily Beast, July 24, 2011. Goldberg analyzes the killer’s 1500-page manifesto, in which he connects his hatred of women and in particular feminists to his right-wing anti-Islamic ideology.
Postscript on 7/27/2011: Important link: Amy Goodman of Democracy Now talking to Jeff Sharlet about Breivik’s right-wing extremism, xenophobia, and hatred of feminism.
Trans. Joey Horsley
*On the topic of witch persecutions FemBio recommends:
Joey Horsley. “Weise Frauen, Hebammen und die europäische Hexenverfolgung.” In Tönnies-Forum 3/92 1. Jg. (1992): 26-42 (PDF-Datei)
(updated and shortened version of:
• Ritta Jo Horsley and Richard A. Horsley. “On the Trail of the ‘Witches’: Wise Women, Midwives and the European Witch Craze.” Women in German Yearbook 3. Marianne Burkhard and Edith Waldstein, eds. University Press of America, 1986. 1-28.