"Drunken Tans": Representations of Sex and Violence in the Anglo-Irish War


Ryan, Louise. 2000. “‘Drunken Tans’: Representations of Sex and Violence in the Anglo-Irish War.” Feminist Review 66 (1): 73–94.

Author: Louise Ryan


War is a highly gendered experience which is both informed by and informs constructions of masculinity and femininity. The dominant depiction of masculine heroes and feminine victims simplifies the complex intersections of militarism, nationalism and gendered roles and identities. Focusing on a case study of the Anglo-Irish War or War of Independence (1919-1921), this paper examines how violence against women, especially sexual violence, was written about and reported in ways which framed representations of Irish and British masculinity and Irish femininity.

In addition, by analysing a range of varied sources including newspapers, autobiographical accounts and recorded testimonies, this paper attempts to assess the extent to which violence against women formed a key aspect of military practice in the war. In conclusion, [Ryan] engage[s] with some of the difficulties faced by researchers today in exploring evidence of gendered violence in specific historical, cultural and militarized contexts.


Keywords: sexual violence, militarism, Ireland, nationalism, masculinity, femininity

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Nationalism, Sexual Violence, SV against Women Regions: Europe, Northern Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland, United Kingdom

Year: 2000

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