Gender, Militarism, and Globalization: Soldiers for Hire and Hegemonic Masculinity


Via, Sandra. 2010. “Gender, Militarism, and Globalization: Soldiers for Hire and Hegemonic Masculinity.” In Gender, War, and Militarism: Feminist Perspectives, edited by Laura Sjoberg and Sandra Via, 42–56. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, LLC.

Author: Sandra Via


“In the study of gender, war and militarism, the increasing globalization of politics, in theory and in practice cannot be ignored. The gendered nature of militarism has been recognized in soldier training (Goldstein 2001), states’ understandings of the relationship between citizenship and military service (Elshtain 1987), stories of war criminals (Sjoberg and Gentry 2007), and stories of war heroes (Sjoberg, chapter 16, this volume). This chapter is interested in exploring those dynamics as they relate to globalization and the changing nature of militarism. As such, it uses as a starting point feminist work that frames gendered militarism in terms of the idealized or hegemonic masculinity in a given state or at a given time. Building on this analysis, this chapter argues that the atemporal and globalizing forces in current politics hybridize hegemonic masculinities, creating dissonance and conflict between gendered militarisms. It examines the interplay of economic globalization and globalized militarisms in contemporary international and intrastate conflicts, pointing out the complex evolution of the relationships between gender, war and militarism in an increasingly globalized world. It examines the neoliberal ideology that permeates many of the processes of political globalization, and the ways in which those processes reify the dominance of certain ideas about gender and conflict.
In these explorations, this chapter focuses on a particular aspect of militarism: the rise of private military corporations (PMCs), particularly the private security giant formerly known as Blackwater (first, Blackwater USA, then Blackwater World, now Xe). Focusing on Blackwater’s role as a contractor for the U.S. military and the Iraqi government in the ongoing conflict in Iraq and for the U.S. government in New Orleans, this chapter argues that, at the height of its involvement in Iraq, Blackwater and its contractors epitomized the hegemonic masculinities found in gendered militarisms, and their operations relied on the subordination of a feminized, racialized other. The chapter explores how Blackwater’s operations were based in hypermasculine ideas about security, both in Iraq and in New Orleans. It concludes by tracing the company’s purposeful change of face from its cowboy masculinity identity as “Blackwater” to its emphasis on a protective masculinity in its new identity as “Xe” (Via 2010, 42-3).

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Masculinism, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism

Year: 2010

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