Why do jihadists hate women but love pornography?

Published: March 6, 2015
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A recent report has indicated that ISIS fighters are engaging in some extreme sexual behaviour. PHOTO: TWITTER (@Navsteva)

A recent report has indicated that ISIS fighters are engaging in some extreme sexual behaviour. PHOTO: TWITTER (@Navsteva) A recent report has indicated that ISIS fighters are engaging in some extreme sexual behaviour. PHOTO: TWITTER (@Navsteva)

One of the defining aspects of our culture right now, though it is rarely acknowledged and discussed, is the problem of the young man. We often reflect as a society on the way in which our culture, especially as it is articulated in the media, has very strong and very negative consequences for our young women.

From the way in which our media is affecting our cultural understanding of normal body image, to the psychiatric disorders (including but not limited to eating disorders) that ravage a shocking proportion of our teenage daughters, to the ways in which this new culture is making it difficult for our young people to form long-lasting emotional connections built on trust with each other, these are aspects that receive a fair amount of attention.

What is less frequently discussed, and one feels is not taken quite as seriously, is the ways in which young men find themselves equally abused by the dominant mainstream cultural narrative. The ideal of “masculinity” that our media projects is not just equally mismatched to our biology as the ideal of “femininity” that is sold to young girls, but it is also completely incompatible with the way our society works. We live very interconnected, peaceful societies with little gender role-specialisations – and most of us agree that the vestiges of such specialisation should go away sooner rather than later – but young men are still told that to be a “man” you need to be a violent, emotionally retarded and socially inept alpha-male over whom women will swoon. And if they don’t, then obviously, they are seen as too willing targets of sexual conquest. Notice that it is still essential for the “man” to be acknowledged by “women.”

Skewed ideal of masculinity

So what is a young man to do when he has bought into the ideal of masculinity sold to him by the media, but has no outlet to express this masculinity.

He cannot be socially dominant through violence because violence is not tolerated and will get you in prison.

He cannot become a celebrity because there are only so many celebrities that even a culture like ours can sustain.

He cannot become wealthy because such opportunities are still limited to only a few lucky ones, often despite talent and hard work – the last few years since the financial crisis have put rest to the myth of economic meritocracy in our society. He will be lucky to get a normal job. But, as “luck” would have it, he can still be abusive towards women. That is still something that our society tolerates.

Enter the resurgence of misogyny that we have seen in recent years, from the Twitter trolls that hound women with death threats any time an intelligent woman has an opinion on the television to mass shootings. The logical conclusion of the problem of the young man left behind is the emergence of social phenomena like the ‘pick-up artist’ movement, which regards women as little more than a hunter would regard a fox, and attributes to half of the world’s population just as much agency and personhood. Women, in this frighteningly prevalent ideology, are nothing more than objects of sexual interest for “real men” and are the prize a man will inevitably gain if he “plays” the right game of psychological and emotional abuse on his victims, often complete strangers.

But nowhere is there more scope for a man to be “manly”, which also includes the abuse of women, than in a war. And there is no war like “holy” war. Pick-up artists everywhere must stand in awe of what the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “lads” have achieved. Forget silly one-liners in the hope of a one-night stand. Grab a Kalashnikov, move to Syria, and get yourself a bunch of underage sex slaves. This is not to dispute the complex entwining of causes, ideological, socio-economic or geopolitical that gave rise to the monstrosity that is ISIS. But nor can there be any doubt about the prevalence of the maladjusted young man among the ISIS ranks, and indeed the attitudes of these people towards women.

Extreme sexual behaviour

Exhibit A

A recent report has indicated that ISIS fighters are engaging in some extreme sexual behaviour. This should not come as a surprise as even pornography was even found in Bin Laden’s compound when he was captured by Navy Seals and we have all seen CCTV images of 9/11 hijackers in strip clubs days before the attack. More recently, Edward Snowden exposed how the National Security Agency (NSA) was fully aware of the hypocritical relationship between radical preachers’ public image and their private pornographic habits with at least two radical preachers grooming underage girls online.

Fighters are attracted to ISIS for a wide number of reasons. Some may be ideologically driven militants who want to establish an Islamic state. But many others are social outcasts who are not all religious but join for the same reason as young men join gangs in LA and commit horrible acts – they want to belong. Many from the UK and other Western countries fit this category and have a history of petty crime, drug dealing and broken families.

Exhibit B

I know from reliable journalist sources in Turkey that many foreign fighters are joining ISIS attracted by the entire sexual slaves fantasy. In fact, a lawyer friend of mine, who up until 2010 represented over 50% defendants in anti-terrorism cases, confirmed to me that those arrested in the UK in anti-terrorism raids had over 90% of their hard drives filled with pornography. These are social misfits who are sexually frustrated.

But deeper than that is a lack of empathy and understanding – for these men, “females” are an enigma, a strange animal, which they fail to understand and thus must control and subjugate brutally. This is perhaps why they engage in deviant sexual practices whilst at the same time forcing women to cover their faces and even hands in public.

Like in many other things, ISIS is the ugly symptom of some really rather ugly realities. And not just in the Muslim world – our young men have been seduced by this ideology. But the problem of the young man does not seem to be going anywhere any time soon, and it is imperative that we recognise it. There are no obvious or easy solutions to it, but we must start thinking about it, sooner rather than later. Until we do, there will always be some kind of ISIS fantasy somewhere in the world.

This post originally appeared here

Azeem.Ibrahim

Azeem Ibrahim

An International Security and Geopolitics Lecturer at the University of Chicago. Fellow and Member of the Board of Directors at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding and a former Research Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and World Fellow at Yale. He is the Strategic Policy Advisor to Imran Khan and he tweets as @AzeemIbrahim (twitter.com/AzeemIbrahim)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • نائلہ

    we SHOULD NOT be referring to these barbarians as “jihadis.” This is NOT jihad. Recommend

  • http://www.sepia-paper.deviantart.com Muhammed Waqar Younis

    You know they are bad so why do you expect them NOT to do bad stuff?
    Good brings good,
    Bad brings bad,
    Balance brings balance…Recommend

  • Haroon

    A person who performs jihad is actually Mujaheddin. Jihadi is just a western word used to call these people.Recommend

  • Critical

    Actually they refer themselves as “Jihadis” and they believe that they do is Jihad….
    They coined the term for themselves and others are just following itRecommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    how is it different from what pakistanis do .. after after pakistanis also have in many cases shot dead their daughters for going to school….. sprayed acid on women coz they were shopping … killed them for honour … and also raped the dead in pakistan…
    no wonder pakistan’s image is horribly bad in world… and that is y after afghanistan the worst passport … hmm…. lolRecommend

  • Rahul

    Problem with muslim society is that there is no natural sexual outlet for young people to express themselves. Most of these people will never hold a job in their life so no parent will willingly marry their daughter to these young men. They have found other ways to gratify their desires.Recommend

  • Amer

    I read and understood your blog but for Allah’s sake PLEASE stop calling them Jihadis! THEY ARE NOT!!Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    typical extremist idiots.Recommend

  • L.

    Daughters are killed in india aswell, also are women sprayed with acid; apparently the second biggest rape capital in the world with 30% of the population under the poverty line.

    And are u by any chance a human? The pain of others makes you “lol”? t. Recommend

  • نائلہ

    No sexual outlets? Haha. Ever heard of marriage? Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    muslim society allows a plethora of outlets lol. even going as far as to allow four marriages. As opposed to hindu society where the wife cannot remarry. This led to many wives having illicit relations with numerous men and murdering thier husbands , as Hindu society became almost a prostitution ring the swamis created the oft practiced ritual of sati so that a wife is burnt with her husband. So in Hindu society a wife cannot get an outlet but is burnt alive. (ALL of this information is from Wikipedia, where it was taken from reliable sources)Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    . acid attacks happen in india… they happen around the world … but what makes pakistan so special is that those accused are never convicted … even in britain pakistanis are notorious for throwing acid on their wive’s face and killing them for honour…. the rape rate is much lower in india …. now in pakistan if rape does not get reported then not my problem… u deal with it … u suppress … u silence the victims ….. there is no hope of rape victims getting justice in pak…… children are drugged and raped and thrown in the streets .. some get POLIO … some are taken over bt taliban…. u tell us about our poverty…. go check … ur FM said 60% of pakistan is living below poverty… and this is increasing coz pak gdp growth rate is slow and population growth rate is high .. pakistan’s per capita …nominal and ppp are much lower than india …. pakistan is alow HDI country … india comes under medium category…. remember the case where in u were spraying women with acid just because they werer shopping ?? remember the case when u raped a dead girl in punjab pakistan . and remember when a woman was killed for honour just coz she danced in rain….. are there any achievement’s of ur nation?? NO … nuclear power with 20 hour power shedding … how do u cope?? u talk about govt banning documentary in india… but in karachi …. even motorcycle and cellular services get blocked..Recommend

  • نائلہ
  • نائلہ

    Woah now that’s a lot of what I didn’t know Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    “acid attacks happen in india… they happen around the world”
    Quite wrong. You think just because your society is bigotted and intolerant towards women everyone is bad? try to visit Europe sometime, no women are attacked with acid on daily basis there. Lying on public forums like this will lead to egg on face situations, try to gain some knowledge before just rushing into blatant lies.
    What may I ask is the reason of this debate? That India has less percentage of rapes? What then?
    “the rape rate is much lower in india” but with higher population MORE women are raped in India.
    Everything that happens in Pakistan happens tenfold more in India. You throw women into fire. You kill women and then rape them,
    It is only in India that foreign women are raped daily, not in Pakistan.
    Only India has the “honour” of being so intolerant that women are not even allowed to live as widows, they must die.
    Read this about poverty in India
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_India
    India is the only country to degrade its population to this level
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_scavenging

    I can go on and on, but I won’t. Why should we debate this anyway? your country is bigotted, intolerant and overall bad, well so is mine. What good does this oneupmanship does? nothing. Admit that there are problems and go solve them, I will try to do the same. but if you do not even admit that there is something wrong then the reason your country is so pathetic stares at you in the mirror.Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi
  • Rebellious

    well i dont know were are going with your discussion but let me tell you something when there comes word “Rape” the other word is “India” …Recommend

  • Rebellious

    in the face ahahhaha thats what i call a reply … i always like your comments :DRecommend

  • Rebellious

    well cant resist i must write it… no sexual outlets??? can you define sexual outlet to me… and also tell me where can i find sexual outlets in india..Recommend

  • Prashant

    “as Hindu society became almost a prostitution ring the swamis created the oft practiced ritual of sati so that a wife is burnt with her husband. ”

    Go slow man, the entire Hindu society being a prostitution ring is breaking news for even those Hindus who have left the Hindu fold.

    Also, can you tell me who was India’s last Sati if it as rampant as you would like people to believe. Is every Hindu man’s life so short that upon his death, his wife has to resort to prostitution/ illicit affairs for not being able to remarry?

    I agree that the Sati tradition is a Hindu tradition and a regressive one at that, it has been banned by law as well. I hope you are not going to ask your Hindu friends if their mother has ever had an illicit affair or if their wife is going to turn a prostitute if and when they die.

    Look around and you will see many Hindu women remarrying, sometimes by getting divorced. There are all shades of India, some good and some bad. Hindus are not in the business of claiming to be the followers of perfect religion and hence change is relatively easier. Cheers.Recommend

  • islooboy

    The three reasons why jihadists watch porn are because
    1) All men watch porn
    2) All men watch porn
    3)All men watch pornRecommend

  • intelektual

    I thought this was an article about facing the ground realities and accepting the truth and coming up with solutions now I feel I have ran into an India Vs Pakistan battlefield Plz for Gods Sake stop? Y do we hate each other India has problems and God knows Pakistan has issues apart from each other, Y keep fueling this india vs Pakistan debate because we are sooo similar to each other??Recommend

  • Asy ma wail !

    lols…Girl ! show some respect to the Einsteins from the neighborhood.Recommend

  • Asy ma wail !

    woh,Thank you boy, thank you so much for enlightening world with your supreme knowledge – without you spreading the knowledge, I wonder what would the world be like.Recommend

  • Asfandyar Humayun

    Why are we always concerned about what is happening on the OTHER SIDE… An Indian commenting on Pakistan and a Pakistani sharing his statements on India… It is a universal issue and only like minded people can solve it… So if you feel this is bad you are in one group…Recommend

  • L.

    I’m not from those who say: “give me respect if you want any”; I respect everyone initially, but once you lose it, you’re not getting it back! These einsteins need to learn manners before they learn to type. Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    I s commenting on how the ritual started. Please read wiki you can read about it thereRecommend

  • نائلہ

    You are forgiven. Recommend

  • Asy ma wail !

    agree :)Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    dude ….PLZ… foreign women are not raped daily here …. foreign women are not raped in pakistan coz they don’t visit pakistan… ? …. u r talking about widows … but widows of vrindavan recently broke the tradition and played holi …. no one’s burning them… oh man … u r making mockery of urself now ……..its image internationally is very horrible …pakistan passport worldwide is 2 nd most horrible .everywhere and are frisked at every airport …come on now dude …… u shoot girls for going to school… kill polio workers … ahh u r country is still affected by polio …

    CONGRATS … 9 countries worse than u …. hehehehehehe….:) m/Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    nah….. it doesn’t ….. just like when someone says pakistan i don’t think about persecutions ,gangrapes ,acid attacks and polio and terrorist attacks and women being shot for seeking education and killed for honor just coz they danced in rain ..and men raping dead bodies … no i don’t think about all these …LOL … i just think pakistan is a nuclear superpower with some power shortages and loadshedding of only 20 hours everyday …lol …..Recommend

  • Prashant

    I can read a lot of stuff in wiki about many faiths and if I start commenting on them, some would respond by saying “how dare you, let me prove you wrong”.Recommend

  • LS

    lol – In case you did not realize he wasn’t seeking your apology but hey… Today is the day of being magnanimous by force and be a self professed ignorant?Recommend

  • LS

    Too generalized. Some men don’t and a lot of women do too.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    An apology doesnt suite ppl like him. But you know me, man, being extra nice to people like him is my own little thing ;) Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Sati is still practiced. Why do you not realize that lying is bad? All countries are taking their women to take extra care in India. They must all be wrong and you must be right. Because of course you know betterRecommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    sati isn’t practice…. give me a link that talks about women being burnt after being declared a “sati” after her husband’s death … see that’s what… u r ignorant .. … even female literacy in ur country is well below 40% ..LOL … yeah they have just asked female to be cautious … that they need to be in every country….see GOI started issuing visa on arrival… foreign arrivals have boomed … and no tourists in pak ?? awww .. u killed them anyway when they were climbing nanga parbat … y would they come?? … do u know scores of girl children being abused in islamic madrassahs and paki gangs targetting UK girls … read rotherham sex scandal by paki gang… disgusting … they even raped a maid in south africa… recently …. a woman in pakistan will never tell she is raped coz she fears being stoned to death in the name of honour …anyway thei punjabi police are themselves rapists …. lolRecommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    OK so if I link you stories that women were burnt as sati you will apologize and so this tirade? Please tell me what you will do so I can get you those linksRecommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    give me a link which states that woman was burnt after being declared sati after her husband died ……….remember 3 points … woman burnt ….after being declared sati … after her husband’s death……let’s c how many cases u come up with… would appreciate a lot if u come up with a recent case ….will apologize for lying too… will accept that there is no point in arguing and that both countries should work for the betterment of their women……..Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius
  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    all the above cases are suicide /self immolation due to sorrow and grief …. no one has forced /tortured her to death … i knew u would commit this mistake Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    police has been called and they declared it SATI. the newspapers (YOUR NEWSPAPERS) are calling it SATI. You should look at the definition of SATI before coming here to shamelessly comment.
    You yourself said that you will apologize, so better type it fast.
    I am shocked that you are showing such shamelessness that even after you yourself said you will apologize you are backing out.
    Oh btw just incase you “forgot” what Sati is here is a copy paste from wiki
    “Sati (Devanagari: सती, the feminine of sat “true”; also spelled suttee) refers to a funeral ritual within some Asian communities in which a recently widowed woman commits suicide by fire, typically on the husband’s funeral pyre.”

    SUICIDE, read it, it says SUICIDE.
    I have seen some really shameless people on the internet but you are very quickly going up the listsRecommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    police has been called and they declared it SATI. the newspapers (YOUR NEWSPAPERS) are calling it SATI. You should look at the definition of SATI before coming here to shamelessly comment.
    You yourself said that you will apologize, so better type it fast.
    I am shocked that you are showing such shamelessness that even after you yourself said you will apologize you are backing out.
    Oh btw just incase you “forgot” what Sati is here is a copy paste from wiki
    “Sati (Devanagari: सती, the feminine of sat “true”; also spelled suttee) refers to a funeral ritual within some Asian communities in which a recently widowed woman commits suicide by fire, typically on the husband’s funeral pyre.”

    SUICIDE, read it, it says SUICIDE.
    I have seen some really shameless people on the internet but you are very quickly going up the listsRecommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    if she committed suicide her problem … let her …how does that bother someone … it was not done by someone on her … she jumped on her own…. its no different from ordinary suicide … Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Look at the definition of SAti. Then see that newspapers call it SATI. means that she was pressurized into committing suicide. Again you continue with your shamelessness. You said if you were shows incidents of SATI you will apologize lol. Well I showed you incidents, start apologizing boyRecommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    she was not pressurized … she committed out of grief … there is no pressurizing ….. its not pakistan where u can stone women to death…apologize … Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    she committed SATI. look at the definition of SATI and then start apologizing. Who are you to say she did not commit sati? SATI is suicide. Wow, what a shameless person you are.
    Simple fact. You said if you were shown links that someone committed SATI you will grovel here, so I showed you the links, start grovelling.Recommend

  • Mishael Gola

    their women in pornography are women without a say
    that is the way they like their women in real life as well, without any say
    eyesonmishael.blogspot.comRecommend

  • Abdulla

    Do not call them barbarians as barbariasns is a word which is derived from barbar and barbaras were muslims! these people are khawarij.. !Recommend