Checking Boris Johnson's stupid remark about peace-loving women
British prime minister Boris Johnson came out with a whopper. In a television interview, Johnson issued this broadside:
"If Putin was a woman ... I really don't think he would've embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has," Johnson told German broadcaster ZDF, adding that "if you want a perfect example of toxic masculinity, it's what he's [Putin] is doing in Ukraine."
Johnson obviously had ignored his history lessons.
Because one of the greatest expansions of modern Russia took place under Catherine the Great. During her rule in the 1700s, Russia colonized the territory of Novorossiya in southern Ukraine, and Crimea was crushed during the Russo-Turkish War. This is why Catherine was later granted the sobriquet "the Great." Indeed, one historian has credited Catherine herself for Putin's recent adventurism into Ukrainian.
Boris Johnson's facile ignorance of history becomes even more eyebrow-raising when you consider Margaret Thatcher's role in waging the Falkland Islands War in 1982. You may recall how Thatcher ordered the deployment of 38 warships; 77 auxiliary vessels; and 11,000 soldiers, sailors, and marines in a bid to protect the remote South Atlantic island. As a result, 649 Argentine military personnel and 255 British troops perished during the conflict.
Margaret Thatcher was not the first female English monarch to succumb to bouts of toxic femininity.
Beginning in 1553, Queen Mary I, also known as Bloody Mary, betrayed a fondness for burning hundreds of heretic Protestants at the stake. And Queen Anne was the first English monarch to have an entire war named in her honor — Queen Anne's War. Thanks to her support, that devastating conflict ravished North America and Europe for over a decade.
Moving on to Spain, the scheming Queen Isabella II sponsored a series of military sorties, including the pointless Chincha Islands War against Peru and Chile in 1864 to 1866.
No discussion of female leaders would be complete without mention of Israeli prime minister Golda Meir and her role in carrying out the Six Day War in 1967.
And what about the United States?
In September 2001, Islamic terrorists hijacked three airplanes, resulting in the destruction of the World Trade Center towers and a treacherous attack on the Pentagon. Days after the 9/11 attacks, an Authorization to Use Military Force was brought before Congress. All but one female member of Congress voted in favor of the authorization to "use all necessary and appropriate force" to wage the War on Terror.
Ten years later, Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi's security forces killed protesters in Tripoli, touching off a civil war. The American secretary of state was none other than Hillary Clinton, a woman. Clinton demanded that President Obama take military action. Within days, U.S. warplanes decimated Libya's air defenses. Gaddafi was eventually captured and brutally killed. Clinton later bragged, "We came, we saw, he died."
(Hilariously, a few months later, Hillary Clinton convinced President Obama to issue an executive order launching the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, heralding "the role of women in ending conflict and building lasting security." Yes, really.)
Bellicose proclivities are not limited to female political leaders. In his enlightening book, War and Gender, University of Massachusetts professor Joshua Goldstein documents how women throughout history have fomented military adventurism.
In the face of imminent conflict, Goldstein documents how women goad their men into combat. Among the Bedouin, frenzied Rwala women bared their breasts and urged their men to war. Before the 1973 coup in Chile, women threw kernels of corn at soldiers to taunt them as "chickens."
In the American Revolutionary War, women were known to withhold sexual favors from reluctant fighters. During the Civil War, Southern belles refused to accept suitors who did not take up arms.
Goldstein also highlights the White Feather Girls who roamed the cities of England during World War I. They sought to humiliate able-bodied men who had not enlisted to fight in the conflict, pinning white feathers to their lapels.
Based on his scholarly review, Goldstein reaches a simple conclusion: "Most women support most wars."
It's time to consign archaic phrases like "toxic masculinity" to the dustbin of history and cast doubt on gauzy claims that women are somehow more peace-loving than men.
Edward E. Bartlett is a former university professor and worked for 17 years for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Image via Pixnio.