Ariella Cohen

What about the men?

I understand that women and children are generally known to be more vulnerable than big strong men, but I am not hearing any discussion at all about the release of our men being held hostage. (I know that Israel doesn’t necessarily have a say in who is released in this current deal, but even before this they’ve been saying that they are prioritizing the women and children.) Physical strength is not a factor when dealing with captors who have the desire and ability to kill at will. I’ve seen videos (which maybe I shouldn’t have watched) of men being led away by Hamas on October 7th. They weren’t attempting to break free because they probably knew that the other option was instant death. When surrounded by gun-wielding creatures who are bleeding violence, physical strength no longer has a role to play. It’s not a simple wrestling match.

The women and children are clearly taking precedence throughout this hostage exchange ordeal, but what about the men? There’s so much talk about the rape of our women which is certainly not to be discounted, but men can be raped and otherwise assaulted too. Just because it wasn’t shown or implied in Hamas’ grotesque videos, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

It feels disgusting to even think about making a comparison between the experiences of the men vs. the women vs. the children here because all of the options are bad. Really really bad. But obviously these comparisons are being made behind closed doors because we see who has been let out of captivity so far. It’s all been women and children. The most vulnerable.

But I really just don’t see how vulnerability can even play a role here. Every single one of the hostages is vulnerable. Hamas has shown us that they have the ability to do things more abhorrent than any of us could have even imagined, so “objective” levels of vulnerability no longer matter. Because all of the hostages are the underdogs. However old they are. However strong they are. And whatever gender they are. They are equally vulnerable at the hands of Hamas. Because Hamas breathes fire and lives to kill. So an additional 200 pounds of weight is not a factor.

This can obviously be debated, but I personally think that oftentimes women are more mentally tough than men. This not a blanket statement, but this is for the most part what I’ve seen in my experience. Which probably means that the idea of being held in captivity unable to defend themselves might actually be more difficult for the men than it is for the women. If I can even say such a thing. This is all speculation because I currently know little to nothing about what exactly continues to go on with the hostages and their physical and mental situations. But it’s something that I think about as I worry about what will be with them when they ultimately get out of Gaza with the help of God and some long-awaited miracles. Will the men need more help returning to life than the women? As unnatural as it sounds, maybe yes.

Human nature is to be more protective over women and children. Because men as a whole are stronger. Or maybe there’s some other subconscious reason. Seeing the picture that has been viral since October 7th of Shiri Bibas clutching her beautiful redheaded babies for dear life can pull on anyone’s heartstrings. We need them back. But I guess seeing a picture of a twenty-something or seventy-something year old man such as Hersh Goldberg-Polin or Alex Dancyg doesn’t elicit the same reaction globally? We need them back too. Just as badly.

Why is there a hierarchy over here? Just because there normally is, that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate in this very unique and very tenuous situation. Nothing about this is normal. It’s really difficult to understand. Which is likely related to the fact that this entire situation is impossible to understand.

We need every single hostage back because one’s life is not worth any more or less than the others’. Every man. Every child. Every woman. So without discounting the desperate need to get back our women and children, we must not forget about the men.

About the Author
Ariella Cohen grew up in Far Rockaway, NY and made Aliyah from Bala Cynwyd, PA in August 2023. She is an engineer and amateur musician with lots of other hobbies on the side.
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