‘And They Think I’m Just a Nice Old Lady’: Women and War in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Citation:

Dowler, Lorraine. 1998. “‘And They Think I’m Just a Nice Old Lady’: Women and War in Belfast, Northern Ireland.” Gender, Place and Culture 5 (2): 159-76.

Author: Lorraine Dowler

Abstract:

This article examines the spatial construction of gender roles in a time of war. During a period of armed conflict both women and men are perceived as beings who exemplify gender-specific virtues. The relationship of gender and identity in this case is a paradoxical one: war-usually a catalyst of change-can often become an agent of conservatism as regards gender identities. This conservatism can be seen in the wartime spatial relegation of women to the private/domestic realm. When a society is in armed conflict there is a predisposition to perceive men as violent and action-oriented and women as compassionate and supportive to the male warrior. These gender tropes do not denote the actions of women and men in a time of war, but function instead to re-create and secure women's position as non-combatants and that of men as warriors. Thus, women have historically been marginalized in the consciousness of those who have researched the events of war. This article is largely based on interviews I conducted in the fall of 1993, in an Irish Catholic community in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I will offer both female and male interpretations of what women did and how they were affected by the upheavals of the Irish Nationalist struggle in Northern Ireland.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender Roles Regions: Europe, Northern Europe Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 1998

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.