‘Cocked and Loaded’: Trump and the Gendered Discourse of National Security


Cohn, Carol. 2020. “‘Cocked and Loaded’: Trump and the Gendered Discourse of National Security.” In Language in the Trump Era: Scandals and Emergencies, edited by Janet McIntosh and Norma Mendoza-Denton, 179–90. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Author: Carol Cohn

Keywords: military language, North Korea, nuclear weapons, metaphor, euphemism, gender, masculinity, gender and language, national security, language and thought



On Jan 2, 2018, President Trump tweeted a taunt to Kim Jong-un of North Korea: “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” This chapter connects Trump’s nuclear saber-rattling to broader patterns of militaristic language use among nuclear weapons scientists and strategists, as well as among past presidents. Professional and political discourse about nuclear weapons tends to be far removed from the human realities behind the weapons. Such dispassionate language is characterized by stunningly abstract and euphemistic language – and in part by a set of lively and misogynistic sexual metaphors. This linguistic framework seems to shape what can be said, or even thought, within the confines of these male-dominated discussions of war. Those who urge restraint in responding to a provocation or attack, for instance, are quickly impugned as sissies, and expressions of empathy denigrated as feminine. In this respect, Mr. Trump is not an exception. His fear of being perceived as unmanly may be closer to the surface, but gendered language that constrains our understanding of reality has long distorted the ways we think about international politics and national security. (Summary from publisher)

Topics: Gender, Femininity/ies, Gender Analysis, Gendered Discourses, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: North Korea, United States of America

Year: 2020

The United States–India Nuclear Relations after 9/11: Alternative Discourses


Das, Runa. 2012. “The United States–India Nuclear Relations after 9/11: Alternative Discourses.” Asian Journal of Political Science 20 (1): 86–107.

Author: Runa Das


In this article, I go beyond the conventional realist arguments of anarchy, national interest, and nuclear security to offer alternative discourses of the same as applied in the context of US–India nuclear relations after 9/11. To this extent, I draw from feminist International Relations, that security is a gendered phenomenon, to explore how the post-9/11 climate of globalization has served as the context within which are articulated masculinist forms of nuclear discourses between India and the United States. Furthermore, considering issues of international hierarchy and power relations between India and United States, I also draw from Edward Said's Orientalism to explore how assumptions of Orientalism are also sustained in these masculinist nuclear discourses. My contribution in this article lies in offering an alternative feminist and post-colonial perspective to comprehend that nuclear security discourses are not only about objective realist/neoliberal issues of insecurity and strategic interdependence but also contain subjective implications that sustain masculinist and orientalist forms of identity-making in international politics.

Keywords: United States, India, nuclear security, masculinity, orientalism, discourse

Topics: Gender, Gender Analysis, Gendered Discourses, Masculinity/ies, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: India, United States of America

Year: 2012

A Feminist Perspective on the Nuclear Weapon Discourse and its Gendered Consequences


Butale, Cheludo Tinaye. 2019. “A Feminist Perspective on the Nuclear Weapon Discourse and Its Gendered Consequences.” PhD diss., Cyprus International University.

Author: Cheludo Tinaye Butale


Nuclear weapons continue to be seen as a crucial aspect of international security. However, the international security discourse tends to overlook the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons which has led to various feminists questioning the importance and effectiveness of the nuclear weapon discourse. This paper explores the nuclear weapons discourse and the gendered consequences of the discourse. It examines the way in which the nuclear weapons discourse and practices favour ideas of masculinity over femininity which has created barriers towards ending nuclear weapons and bringing about effective disarmament. I argue that the gendered language used within nuclear discourses has resulted in a gendered masculine-coded language and values based on rationality or state interests that exclude feminist’s values of including a humanitarian perspective within the nuclear discourse. A feminist theory, mainly post-structural feminism shall be used to show how international security is a gendered phenomenon which articulates masculinity forms of nuclear discourses. Few if any studies use the post-structural feminism theory to critique the nuclear discourse. The paper concludes by suggesting ways the nuclear discourse can be improved and made effective.

Keywords: femininity, masculinity, nuclear discourse, nuclear weapons

Topics: Gender, Femininity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Masculinity/ies, Peace and Security, Security, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Year: 2019

Radioactive Masculinity: How the Anxious Postcolonial Learnt to Love and Live in Fear of the Nuclear Bomb


Roy, Dibyadyuti. 2016. “Radioactive Masculinity: How the Anxious Postcolonial Learnt to Love and Live in Fear of the Nuclear Bomb.” PhD diss., West Virginia University.

Author: Dibyadyuti Roy


Radioactive Masculinity explores how the Cold War legacy, of nuclear weapons finding resonance in images of white maleness and masculinity, results in anxious hypermasculine performances. These discursive and physical masculine acts contingent on the symbolic and material power of nuclear weapons, I argue, represent radioactive masculinity, a form of hegemonic militarized masculinity, which is intrinsically linked to the concept of nationhood and sovereignty. This idealized masculinity is fluid and cannot be tangibly or materially realized, much like the constantly decaying radioactive bomb on which it is modeled. Through analyzing a wide range of artifacts from America and India, I show that the anxieties of radioactive masculinity produce belligerent masculine performances, which are always volatile and unsuccessful. While existent scholarship has examined the gendered nature of nuclear technology, the cultural effect of unexploded nuclear weapons has been seldom researched. My project remedies this gap by locating physical and cultural sites in America and India, where the materiality of the bomb is made visible through its associations with male corporeality. This relationship, I argue, is indispensable toward understanding both the continued legacy of the Cold War within the Indian subcontinent, as well as its effects on postcolonial subjectivities.

The dissertation begins with an introductory chapter that chronicles the rise of radioactive masculinity within the American military-industrial complex. Here, I analyze official US government documents and related materials, which perform the equation of the bomb to the hardened white male body. I show that while nuclear technology is not inherently gendered, both the bomb and its production spaces were pre-discursively masculinized in order to counter dual insecurities: of post-Depression era American emasculation and a hypermasculine Nazi Germany. Next, I bring in a comparison to Indian governmental documents to further describe how the transference of American radioactive masculinity into postcolonial spaces creates postcolonial nuclear borderlands, which are co-extensive with all nuclear postcolonial spaces everywhere. Chapter 2 examines the formation of a (pseudo) nuclear public sphere in America— resulting from the crisis in official publicity about the bombin the period following the cessation of above ground testing. By juxtaposing canonical Anglo-American nuclear disaster fiction with postcolonial speculative fiction, Chapters 3 and 4 emphasize that the structures of radioactive masculinity are fluid and not bound to specific spatio-temporal contexts. In Chapter 5, a comparative analysis of Leslie Silko’s Ceremony with postcolonial Indian texts from the eco-conservationist Bishnoi community demonstrate how tactical storytelling challenges the strategic structures of radioactive colonization. My dissertation concludes with an examination of minority anti-nuclear cultural productions, which by challenging the ideology of nuclear nationalism implicit in radioactive masculinity, deconstructs dominant Anglo-American nuclear historiography. By challenging the symbiotic relationship between radioactive masculinity and nuclear nationalism these texts initiate Nucliteracya dynamic multimodal form of literacythat interrogates dominant and official publicity/secrecy about the bomb. (Abstract from original source)


Keywords: radioactive, postcolonial, nuclear bomb, masculinity, gender, post-apocalyptic

Topics: Gender, Gender Analysis, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: India, United States of America

Year: 2016

Women and Weapons: Redressing the Gender Gap: A Ukrainian Response


Sinovets, Polina. 2014 “Women and Weapons: Redressing the Gender Gap: A Ukrainian Response.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 70 (5): 21–23.

Author: Polina Sinovets


In nuclear war, women would suffer at least as much as men. But women tend to be underrepresented in fields such as high-level politics, diplomacy, military affairs, and science and technology that bear on nuclear policy. Authors from four countries Salma Malik of Pakistan (2014), Polina Sinovets of Ukraine, Reshmi Kazi of India (2014), and Jenny Nielsen of Denmark (2014) discuss how women might gain greater influence on nuclear weapons policy and how their empowerment might affect disarmament and nonproliferation efforts.

Keywords: Carol Cohn, education, femininity, feminism, international organizations, masculinity, nuclear politics, nuclear weapons, soft power, women

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Femininity/ies, Masculinity/ies, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Year: 2014

Masculinity on Unstable Ground: Young Refugee Men in Nairobi, Kenya


Jaji, Rosemary. 2009. “Masculinity on Unstable Ground: Young Refugee Men in Nairobi, Kenya.” Journal of Refugee Studies 22 (2): 177–94.

Author: Rosemary Jaji


A gender perspective in refugee studies usually conjures up images of refugee women. Such images are an outcome of the association of vulnerability with women and children. Yet, it is not only refugee women who face monumental challenges in the country of asylum; refugee men also encounter a wide range of problems. Exile comes with obstacles for refugee men's quest to conform to culturally defined masculinity. This paper presents the nature of the challenges young refugee men predominantly from the Great Lakes region face in exile and the struggles they engage in as they seek to maintain and live up to their pre-flight notions of masculinity. The paper also shows how the men create alternative masculinities that are sustainable in a context that is largely characterized by existential uncertainties.

Keywords: masculinity, refugee men, Great Lakes, Kenya

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Gender Roles, Masculinity/ies, Men Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2009

Gender, Marriage, and the Dynamic of (Im)Mobility in the Mid-Western Hills of Nepal


Zharkevich, Ina. 2019. “Gender, Marriage, and the Dynamic of (Im)Mobility in the Mid-Western Hills of Nepal.” Mobilities 14 (5): 681–95.

Author: Ina Zharkevich


This paper explores the relationship between gender, marriage, and (im)mobility in rural hilly areas of mid-Western Nepal, showing how (1) the mobility of men is predicated on the ‘immobility’ of women, with marriage being key to the gendered dynamic of (im)mobility, (2) how the construction of hegemonic masculinity, exemplified by a figure of a successful international migrant, is inseparable from an ideal of femininity vested in the figure of a virtuous domesticated housewife. Examining different scales of mobility, the paper cautions against posing a rigid dichotomy between ‘mobile men’ and ‘immobile’ women, illustrating that the ‘left behind’ wives experience an impressive degree of everyday mobility in contrast to their internationally mobile husbands.

Keywords: Nepal, gender, migration, marriage, mobility, immobility, masculinity, femininity

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Migration, Gender, Gender Roles, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 2019

Introducing Eco-Masculinities: How a Masculine Discursive Subject Approach to the Individual Differences Theory of Gender and IT Impacts an Environmental Informatics Project


Kreps, David. 2010. “Introducing Eco-Masculinities: How a Masculine Discursive Subject Approach to the Individual Differences Theory of Gender and IT Impacts an Environmental Informatics Project.” In Proceedings of the Sixteenth Americas Conference on Information Systems. Lima, Peru: Association for Information Systems.

Author: David Kreps


In this paper I introduce the concept of eco-masculinities as a philosophical and critical project to understand the links between gendered and pro-environmental behaviour. The background of the feminist project, the sociology of masculinity, and the post-gendered world to which they both aspire, alongside a brief history of the project of ecofeminism, occupy the bulk of the paper. In the last section I briefly consider how these philosophical approaches might impact upon analysis of an EU Project entitled Digital Environment Home Energy Management System.

Keywords: gender, masculinity, poststructuralism, feminism, environmental issues

Topics: Environment, Feminisms, Ecofeminism, Gender, Masculinity/ies

Year: 2010

Husbandry: A (Feminist) Reclamation of Masculine Responsibility for Care


Nelson, Julie A. 2016. “Husbandry: A (Feminist) Reclamation of Masculine Responsibility for Care.” Cambridge Journal of Economics 40 (1): 1–15

Author: Julie A. Nelson


While extremely important and revolutionary, much feminist work on the economics of care has risked reinforcing an association of care with only women and with only women’s traditional activities. This article revives the image of ‘husbandry’, understood as careful cultivation, tending and management, as a complement to the image of mothering. A rich masculine prototype of care may be helpful in reawakening male responsibility for care, and revitalising the recognition of the necessity of concern and carefulness in all of economic life. The ‘good husbandman’, in stark contrast to ‘economic man’, lives a fuller life, acting responsively and responsibly. This article lays out the need for such a rich image; suggests applications to the environment, carework and business management; and addresses some possible drawbacks.

Keywords: care, masculinity, gender, husbandry

Topics: Economies, Care Economies, Feminist Economics, Environment, Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies

Year: 2016

Working through Warfare in Ukraine: Rethinking Militarization in a Ukrainian Theme Café


Uehling, Greta Lynn. 2020. “Working through Warfare in Ukraine: Rethinking Militarization in a Ukrainian Theme Café.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 22 (3): 335–58.

Author: Greta Lynn Uehling


The conflict between Ukraine and Russia in the Donbas region has led both countries to strengthen their respective militaries. The literature on militarization emphasizes the subtle and largely unconscious ways in which militarization spreads through society. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2015 and 2017, I argue that attention to the intersubjective aspects of the process exposes the self-conscious working through of military realities. I make this argument using the case study of a restaurant run by demobilized fighters, Café Patriot. Specifically, I show how the café’s proprietors aimed to provide an anti-depressive atmosphere for fighters, and to provoke critical thinking among non-combatant patrons. The café challenged theorizing on militarization by effacing the separation between military and civilian as predicted, but doing so in the interest of reminding people of militarization rather than blinding them to it. These findings highlight veterans’ constructive efforts to re-inhabit a fractured world, and contrast with portrayals in critical studies of militarized masculinity. In sum, the café represented an effort to intervene in the process of militarization using, strangely enough, the trappings of militarization. At stake is the definition of militarization as an insidious process.

Keywords: militarization, masculinity, gender, emotions, veterans, feminism

Topics: Gender, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization Regions: Europe, Eastern Europe Countries: Ukraine

Year: 2020


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