The Politics of Foot Powder: Depoliticizing Motherhood During the US War on Terrorism

Citation:

Christensen, Wendy M. 2018. “The Politics of Foot Powder: Depoliticizing Motherhood during the US War on Terrorism.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 20 (3): 315–30.

Author: Wendy M. Christensen

Abstract:

This article uses the example of mothers of service members during the US War on Terrorism (October 2001 to present) to show how gendered maternal ideology can disempower women to participate in the political process. When their children join the Armed Forces, mothers seek out online support groups where their experiences of war are validated by other mothers. In these groups, they draw on their maternal relationship to war to define what “support” and “politics” mean. Support is defined as unconditional backing of the troops and the war, and political viewpoints are considered unrelated to this maternal support. Adopting militarized motherhood, mothers describe speaking out against the war politically as dangerous to the troops. Doing so hurts their morale, thus jeopardizing their mission and safety. Collectively, mothers police the boundaries of support and politics, and are disempowered to question war, or to engage in the political process during wartime.

Keywords: war and militarism, political participation, motherhood

Topics: Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Political Participation, Terrorism Countries: United States of America

Year: 2018

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