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Baaz, Maria Eriksson, and Maria Stern. 2011. “Whores, Men, and Other Misfits: Undoing ‘Feminization’ in the Armed Forces in the DRC.” African Affairs 110 (441): 563–85.
Authors: Maria Eriksson Baaz, Maria Stern
The global attention focused on sexual violence in the DRC has not only contributed to an image of the Congolese army as a vestige of pre-modern barbarism, populated by rapists, and bearing no resemblance to the world of modern armies; it has also shaped gender and defense reform initiatives. These initiatives have become synonymous with combating sexual violence, reflecting an assumption that the gendered dynamics of the army are already known. Crucial questions such as the ‘feminization’ of the armed forces are consequently neglected. Based on in-depth interviews with soldiers in the Congolese armed forces, this article analyses the discursive strategies male soldiers employ in relation to the feminization of the army. In the light of the need to reform the military and military masculinities, the article discusses how globalized discourses and practices render the Congolese military a highly globalized sphere. It also highlights the particular and local ways in which military identities are produced through gender, and concludes that a simple inclusion of women in the armed forces in order to render men less violent might not have the pacifying effect intended.
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