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Old 10-05-2007, 05:53 PM   #31
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Originally posted by anitram


I'd absolutely disagree.

Because your lock-and-key concept completely ignores the women being raped by their husbands, and those numbers, in a society like Afghanistan, could be astounding.


impossible to know, i agree.

but the absolute silence that surrounds prepubescent boys sodomized by older men speaks volumes to me,
though much like homosexuality, i wonder if the concept of "rape" between married people is as foreign a western concept. there's an amazing amount of homosexual -- not gay -- activity that goes in nearly all societies that keep women under lock and key, and much of it isn't all that consensual, especially when you're talking about age differences.
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Old 10-05-2007, 05:55 PM   #32
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To be quite honest, I would be very VERY surprised to find any society on earth where more men are raped than women. I'd be shocked, in fact.
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Old 10-05-2007, 05:58 PM   #33
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Originally posted by anitram
To be quite honest, I would be very VERY surprised to find any society on earth where more men are raped than women. I'd be shocked, in fact.


considering Yolland pointed to the collection of boys as sex slaves for the Taliban, and not women, i bet you could probably find this in Afghanistan.

to me, this was the crux of the novel. male-on-male cruelty via sexual submission that's really very common.
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Old 10-05-2007, 06:45 PM   #34
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Originally posted by Irvine511
so, yes, i agree, it's about humiliation more than overt homophobia -- actually, it's more like pre-homophobia, which, again, is still sexism in drag -- but i would argue that, since women are under such lock-and-key in Afghanistan, more men/boys are raped than women.
But I'm not talking about how rape stats break down by gender, that's not the point. I'm saying that the incidence of 'honor killings' suggests that indeed it is just as 'taboo' for a girl or woman to be raped, that it doesn't make it any 'better' in the wronged family's/clan's/etc.'s eyes if the rape victim is female. It may well be the case that more men and boys are raped there than women--given its history as a means of reinforcing social hierarchies, that wouldn't necessarily be surprising--and obviously men are murdered for being gay (in our sense) as well, but the point is, either way such acts can be and often are seen as bringing shame on the entire family, clan, etc., with, perversely, further negative consequences for the victim.

Perhaps what you're suggesting is that when the womenfolk are 'locked up' to prevent them from becoming an accessory in the 'shaming' of their people, the menfolk effectively wind up picking up the slack, to the point where in chronically warring regions, male-on-male rape may even become 'normative' as a way of enforcing hierarchies. But I don't think "more taboo" is a very apt way to describe the effects of that, and certainly I don't see where it adds up to a case that family/clan agitation over such things is nothing more than homophobia. If a man murders his daughter for 'shaming' the family by having been raped by a (stronger) enemy, rather than seeking punishment for the rapist (which may not be socially feasible, and even when it is may require effectively agreeing that your daughter is a 'slut' by pleading for the offender to marry her instead), then of course the sexism involved in that is vile, but it doesn't make the intent to humiliate underlying the rape any less real or threatening. When the society you live in essentially operates along feudal lines and your group is at the bottom, how much 'justice' can you realistically expect to seek against a higher-up who uses rape to put you and yours in your place? Blaming the victim becomes a way of saving face.
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Old 10-05-2007, 07:10 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
to me, this was the crux of the novel. male-on-male cruelty via sexual submission that's really very common.
Are you suggesting that it is common in all societies to a roughly equal extent, or that it is more common in some societies than others?

We don't have to go to far back in history AT ALL to find examples in non-Islamist, Western societies.

Where does the British upper class boarding school tradition fit into all of this?


http://www.glbtq.com/literature/maugham_r.html

http://www.newstatesman.com/200610020050

Possibly the best conclusion we can draw is that these enclosed all male fraternities are not very healthy, regardless of what society they arise in.

I find the assumption that religion is an important factor in this pretty suspect (I'm not suggesting it's YOUR assumption)

In Britain, sexual exploitation of younger boys by older ones, and even by masters, was widely tolerated in boarding schools well into the 20th Century but the main religion practised was actually a fairly liberal branch of Christianity (Anglicanism), e.g. Anglican priests are allowed to marry. And the feudal aspect that Yolland mentioned wouldn't even have been a factor here - all of the boys came from upper class families, and most went on to high positions in business, the government, the army, etc.
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Old 10-05-2007, 07:23 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

But I'm not talking about how rape stats break down by gender, that's not the point. I'm saying that the incidence of 'honor killings' suggests that indeed it is just as 'taboo' for a girl or woman to be raped, that it doesn't make it any 'better' in the wronged family's/clan's/etc.'s eyes if the rape victim is female.


but even with an Honor Killing, the fact (of the rape) is allowed to be made public and the family has a means of redeeming itself. not so with male-on-male rape.
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Old 10-05-2007, 07:25 PM   #37
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Originally posted by financeguy
[B]

Are you suggesting that it is common in all societies to a roughly equal extent, or that it is more common in some societies than others?
i'd suggest that it's more common in clutres that are, for lack of a better word, pre-gay, or gay-denist.



[q]0Where does the British upper class boarding school tradition fit into all of this?[/q]


that's a very interesting thought -- i'm aware of this, but not at all familiar with it in a cultural manner.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:11 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
but even with an Honor Killing, the fact (of the rape) is allowed to be made public and the family has a means of redeeming itself. not so with male-on-male rape.
But by murdering their own victimized relative! You could just as easily argue that that points to a perception that men are more impervious to being used as a means to shame their families--that being male carries enough 'redemptive' credit in itself that such bringing of 'shame' upon the family can be tolerated (though not talked about), whereas a daughter is permanently 'spoiled' by rape (who'll want to marry her now? and what other value besides virginal marriageability does a daughter have?) and thus must be gotten rid of to save face, silence alone not being sufficient. I don't know that it gets any more 'taboo' than that. And honor killings aren't typically 'public' at all, on the contrary they usually happen at home and are committed by a father or brother.

Futhermore, I'm not at all sure it's the case that boys are never killed by their relatives or clansmen for having been raped. The local legal terms generally drawn upon by human rights activists in determining which reported killings qualify as 'honor killings' (karo kari, zina etc.) all by nature imply specifically heterosexual violations. And unless one's assuming from the get-go that this Hazara child actor's family, as well as all the other people Viacom's go-between spoke to ("Nearly everyone Mr. Kiriakou met said that the boys had to be removed from Afghanistan for their safety"), are simply making up the possibility of retribution against him from other Hazara, then that in itself would seem to suggest that there is indeed a risk of reprisal for 'shaming' other people besides himself.
Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
considering Yolland pointed to the collection of boys as sex slaves for the Taliban, and not women, i bet you could probably find this in Afghanistan.
There certainly were many reported rapes of women during all the fighting of that same period (late mujahideen-early Taliban years), as well as prostitution of women whose male relatives had been killed. I don't know that there was actual enslavement of Hazara women in that way, and some historians have suggested that those abuses of Hazara boys were more or less a malicious form of an existing, but not necessarily innately predatory, Pashtun custom of older men cultivating intimate relationships with (fellow Pashtun) early-teen boys (mehbub /ashna or haluk). But at any rate, in the case of the abducted Hazara boys, who were well below the Pashtun socially, it was definitely malicious.
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Old 10-06-2007, 11:54 AM   #39
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I hate that this is a movie....

It is absultely one of the best books I have read in recent time.
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Old 10-06-2007, 03:08 PM   #40
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I saw the preview last night

mind you I did enjoy the book

a lot!



but , watching the the big screen and seeing these little boys

it was almost like double whammy

the preview hit me harder than the book
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Old 10-06-2007, 08:19 PM   #41
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Dreadsox, unfortunately, we live in an era in which, if you are an author, the best honor you can hope for if you sit down to write a book, would be that you luck out in having it brought to the screen by a decent director. Which 95% of the time does NOT happen these days. JK Rowling fought the suits for creative control over the HP films, and with good reason. I wish we could all have miracles like Peter Jackson's adaptation of LOTR happen, (or, as is rumored, Upton Sinclair's "Oil!" with the new Paul Thomas Anderson film, "There Will Be Blood"--Variety and critics are already comparing it to Citizen Kane, calling it one of the greatest American films ever made, and it doesn't come out until December!) but in the rush to quick profit, such care is little taken these days.

Studios have always bought uncompleted manuscripts before they are hot off the galleys, but never to the extent it's done now. We live in an area when Hollywood suits, fearful of losing the confidence of shareholders, want to say as risk-free as possible, so writers who manage to get ambitious NEW material are a dying species. "High concept" is still pretty much everything, unless it's a book. For better (but I think for worse) we are living in the post-lit world.

It would also be interesting to know if there is some kind of shadowy "political" angle to this. Hollywood has so far pretty much kept out of the GWOT, but things like this, it can tricky--people might assign meanings and motives that may or may not be there. Look at "300" and what that became. The director didn't have neo-con motives but Frank Miller does and makes no bones about it. The film was a HUGE hit with Marines and was shown on bases. And now we've got Miller writing a sequel. Which (IF we attack Iran, IMO,we will) could become an entirely new lifeform of its own.

As to the controversy.....I have to admit I'm a bit ignorant of this. All I remember is a tibit from M.M. Kaye's novel "The Far Pavilions"--she quoted an Afghan folk song with these lyrics: "There's a boy across the river/with a bottom like a peach/but alas, I cannot swim." Kaye grew up in that area, the daughter of a British army officer, a real colonial upbringing, so I took that as truth.

I need some background too. I know about the Pashtun but who are the Hazira?
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Old 10-07-2007, 02:10 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally posted by Teta040
I know about the Pashtun but who are the Hazira?
The Hazara are a people of somewhat uncertain Persianized Turkic ancestry who live primarily in Hazarajat, a very poor and rugged region of central Afghanistan. While they have been dominated by the Pashtun since the days of the Sadozai dynasty, to which modern Afghanistan's roots are usually traced (mid 18th-early 19th cen.), it was the ruthless suppression of their aspirations to an independent state by Emir Abdur Rahman Khan (late 19th cen.), during the bloody twilight of the 'Great Game' era, that effectively broke their backs as major players in the region: tribal leaders were deposed, large numbers of Hazara enslaved, very heavy taxes imposed on the region, and most of the more powerful Hazara tribes driven out of the country altogether, with their lands being confiscated and redistributed to Pashtun invited to settle the region by Abdur Rahman as part of his program of 'Pashtunization' of the country. Abdur Rahman deliberately made an example of the Hazara to other ethnic groups of what might happen if they challenged his rule, famously (among Afghans at least) warning his subjects that they too might be 'worked like donkeys' were it not for having the 'donkey Hazara' to do their work for them.

Hazara slaves were freed when Afghanistan's independence was declared in 1919; however, the promotion of Hazara culture and history were suppressed, Hazara were forbidden positions above entry level in the military and civil services, and the aforementioned reduced status of Hazara chieftain families gave rise to a socioeconomic system in Hazarajat vaguely resembling the post-Civil War South's sharecropper system, with former tribal rulers capitalizing on what status they still retained to coerce and manipulate the peasantry into tenancy arrangements resulting in chronic debt. Many Hazara moved to the cities, especially Kabul, where they almost invariably joined descendants of Hazara slaves at the lowest-paying menial jobs, further 'confirming' the scornful perception of them as a terminally backward and brutish people.

Some Hazara did participate in armed resistance against the Soviets during the '80s; however, as socioeconomically and politically marginalized Shiites (most Afghans are Sunnis) they were not major players in that conflict--although an ill-advised decision to join hands with the budding Northern Alliance as the Taliban began to emerge resulted in both betrayal (Hazara were massacred and their homes and weapons looted by Ahmed Shah Masood's troops during the invasion of Kabul) and, later, even more brutal retaliatory persecution from the (Sunni Pashtun) Taliban than they probably would have experienced otherwise.

Today the Hazara have representation in Parliament and Hazarajat is peaceful by comparison to southern Afghanistan, but the region has received much less aid than those of other major ethnic groups despite being just about Afghanistan's poorest, and by most accounts considerable mutual hostility remains between the Hazara and other Afghan groups, especially the Pashtun.
Quote:
All I remember is a tibit from M.M. Kaye's novel "The Far Pavilions"--she quoted an Afghan folk song with these lyrics: "There's a boy across the river/with a bottom like a peach/but alas, I cannot swim." Kaye grew up in that area, the daughter of a British army officer, a real colonial upbringing, so I took that as truth.
I briefly touched on this (i.e. the custom of mehbub / ashna) in my last post--it's not something I know much about though, and in any case it's not adequately documented enough yet to point to any one source as authoritative. Another oft-cited Pashtun 'folk saying' originally reported by a Raj-era English writer, Richard Francis Burton, is "Women for breeding, boys for pleasure, but melons for sheer delight." It's probably best to take the attribution of 'folk saying' status to both of those with a prudent grain of salt, but yes, among the Pashtun at least (not necessarily other groups) there does historically seem to have been a kind of cultural 'safe space' granted to at least one form of what we might consider 'gay relationships,' namely that between adult men and early adolescent boys. Almost reminiscent of the classical Greek version, with the 'courting' of the boy through gifts and 'mentoring' from the older man being central to the ideal--though it's always dicey to draw analogies between cultures so far removed in time and space, especially when the evidence is so scant. According to some journalists' and anthropologists' accounts, under the Taliban this custom was clamped down on severely (since it obviously violates the letter of Islamic law); yet anecdotal evidence suggests that in at least some regions, the Taliban in practice gave a nudge and a wink to their own commanders who wished to engage in it, provided they kept things discreet. Again anecdotally, the custom is said to have re-emerged somewhat in recent years, but more 'underground' than before (not that it was ever necessarily openly discussed). As with the 'analogous' Greek custom, mehbub / ashna as described appears to fall into what by our culture's standards is an uncomfortably gray area morally--granted these are not small children, in fact they're near the age of marriage on their culture's terms, but the innate power differential seems obvious, and the consensuality therefore questionable.

However, human rights groups have also documented numerous accounts from the Taliban period of what is quite clearly outright sex slavery--the abduction and imprisonment of boys and young men, often from ethnic minority groups or very low-ranking Pashtun clans, who were then made to serve as prostitutes for multiple men, certainly with no 'courting' or 'mentoring' involved. The Hazara were one of the persecuted minorities to whom this apparently quite frequently happened. Above and beyond that, and more to the point given the thread topic, male-on-male rape (and I mean rape, not 'gay sex') in general seems to be more commonplace as a means of violently enforcing power hierarchies among men in Afghanistan than it is in our culture. As with raping women, this is seen as profoundly shaming not just to the individual victim involved, but also to their family/clan/tribe (and again as with women, for this reason human rights workers often find it very difficult to get victims to share their stories, even in settings e.g. refugee camp clinics where it's clear to everyone present that the victim has been raped, whether s/he likes it or not). For this reason, in tandem with the aforementioned volatile ethnic tensions and the general 'cinematic illiteracy' of the culture (for lack of a better phrase), I'm uncomfortable with writing off these child actors' concerns as nothing more than 'homophobia' that they need to 'just get over already'. I can grant that it's not fully possible to clearly distinguish the shame of rape from the 'shame' of being 'gay,' given the way 'gay' is typically defined in Central Asian culture (i.e., as being the 'passive' partner in specific forbidden acts, rather than more generally feeling sexual desire towards other men, as our culture defines it). But I'm not willing to endorse gambling someone's life to force a clarification of the distinction.
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Old 10-07-2007, 05:30 AM   #43
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WOW.

Yolland, THANK YOU

I had no idea the Sunni-Shiite split was evident even in Afghanistan....though it appears that that might be only the modern manifestation of truly ancient rivalries which surely predate the advent of Islam. Who knows.

As to the man/boy "customs"...a gray area indeed. This is all so INSANELY complicated, I might need to go through this thread one more time...but your info is a good start. Jeepers, if our troops and "leaders" are ignorant of Iraq, and Iran, how much more so they are of there. At least the Brits a century ago made some efforts to understand their subjects...if only for the purposes of pacification and subjugation. Though I imagine the historic (and grisly) defeat at the Khyber Pass must have instigated in them a newfound respect for the Afghans and a desire to know more about them.

Funny, another quote comes to mind...what was that line in "300" about the "boy-lovers" of Athens....lol.
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Old 10-07-2007, 01:50 PM   #44
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Originally posted by yolland
[B]
For this reason, in tandem with the aforementioned volatile ethnic tensions and the general 'cinematic illiteracy' of the culture (for lack of a better phrase), I'm uncomfortable with writing off these child actors' concerns as nothing more than 'homophobia' that they need to 'just get over already'.

it appears as if i haven't been clear enough and i'm a little surprised at the reduction of my posts to people just needing to "get over" "homophobia."

my understanding, based on the articles i've read, is that these concerns aren't outright homophobia in the manner in which we understand it. these concerns have more to do with the idea that their son is going to be "shamed" on a movie screen. it would be akin, i think, to Sharon Stone reportedly being upset at not knowing that a small glimpse of her pubic hair would make it into the final cut of "basic instinct." it's after the fact, when it has all settled in, when the actor is coming to terms with the impact of making a film, that some kind of "buyer's remorse" sets in, and the remorse here, seems to me, to becoming from the parents who feel as if a generally cinematically illiterate culture is going to view their son as actually having been raped. it seems to me that they are playing up the potential for ethnic clashes and looking for ways to either save face, or to get out of Kabul.

that's my opinion. you cannot read the story, or have any passing famililarity with the story, without knowing about the rape. so i don't buy the family's claims of "we didn't know any better." i really don't.

the "shame" is inextricably linked to homophobia, in that their son would be coded as such for having been the (unwilling, obviously) submissive partner in an anal rape. his weakness is what allowed him to be overpowered by a group of boys, and one boy in particular, and as such he's coded as feminine. or gay. whatever you want to call it. it's homophobia, which, again, is really sexism, the fear or unworthiness or vileness of an effeminate man. is this something the culture needs to "get over"? well, yes, obviously, but obviously it isn't that simple. is it too much to ask these cinematically illiterate audiences not to kill actors? well, yes, obviously, but i think it's also obvious that the parental concerns are widly overstated.

and we're ignoring the overarching question of what a filmmaker's responsibility is to the story, the culture, and the actors. it's a fine line, a balancing act, and it could be argued that authentic Afghani actors and not cute Hollywood-tykes (even 1st or 2nd generation Afghani kids) are going to lend the film a cutural credibility that can't be bought in the San Fernando Valley. secondly, it's damned if you do, damned if you don't. how many times have films been criticized for employing non-authentic actors? from "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves" to the original cast of "Miss Saigon" -- it seems as if *more* cultural offense is taken at Kevin Costner's half-assed English accent or white Brit Jonathan Pryce running a Saigon brothel. finally, what kind of offense would be taken in the literary community at large if one were to edit this rape scene that's so apparently offensive (note: i saw a preview for the movie last night and it's rated PG-13, so it seems to me that the rape has been very, very tastefully done, if not entirely implied, which is what will probably happen and which, if i am to be totally cynical about it, is all the parents probably wanted to begin with so they don't have to bear the shame of watching their son bottom on screen). again, i'll point to "The Color Purple." lots of lesbianism in the book, only (extraordinarily tastefully and superbly lit) implied lesbianism in the movie (not to mention a depiction of sharecropping that seems more inspired by "zip-a-dee-doo-dah" than any sort of reality).

what's a filmmaker to do? do you not tell the story? is the story -- which is *beloved* across the world and about a culture that is central to the time period in which we inhabit -- not to be told because some people in Kabul might get upset? could this have been handled better? probably. but i'm not sure i'd do anything different were i in the director's shoes.
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Old 10-07-2007, 01:54 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
I hate that this is a movie....

It is absultely one of the best books I have read in recent time.


interesting ... i'm optimistic that this will be a good movie since i loved the story, but found the writing a bit much. sometimes, the movie is better than the book. my examples:

The English Patient
The Godfather
Silence of the Lambs
Schindler's List

a heady list, no doubt, but just some examples.
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