Cat Food and Clients: Gendering the Politics of Protection in Private Militarized Securitized Company


Higate, Paul. 2016. “Cat Food and Clients: Gendering the Politics of Protection in the Private Militarized Securitized Company.” In Handbook on Gender and War, edited by Simona Sharoni, Julia Welland, Linda Steiner, and Jennifer Pedersen, 86–104. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Author: Paul Higate


Drawing on Judith Hicks Stiehm’s article ‘The protected, the protected, the defender’ and based on ethnographic field-research, this chapter considers the gendered and classed aspects of bodyguard/client interactions in a private security company in Kabul, Afghanistan. Foregrounding the ‘cat food run’ which refers to the request by one female client that her bodyguard drive her across the city to buy cat food for malnourished cats living on the compound where she was based, the chapter reveals some of the ways in which the narrative of risk and danger was negotiated between the two parties. This process of negotiation troubles the protector/protected binary where the former exercises power over the latter in a straightforward manner. Here, security expertise is usurped by the superior class position of the client such that the former military status of the bodyguard is treated with relative disdain to the annoyance of these alleged security experts. In summary, the chapter highlights how class and gender can confer authority on those whose safety is entrusted to others who, while embodying knowledge about risk and danger, are in the final analysis service providers in one particular element of the market for force. (Summary from Elgar Online)

Topics: Gender, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Private Military & Security, Security

Year: 2016

© 2023 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