Preemptive Strikes: Women Strike for Peace, Antinuclear Pacifism, and the Movement for a Biological Democracy, 1961–1963.

Citation:

Ross, Andrew J. 2021. “Preemptive Strikes: Women Strike for Peace, Antinuclear Pacifism, and the Movement for a Biological Democracy, 1961–1963.” Peace & Change 46 (2): 164–82.

 

Author: Andrew Ross

Abstract:

This article examines the social, political, and environmental features of the Women Strike for Peace (WSP) movement from its inception in 1961 to the passage of the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) in 1963. I offer the analytical framework of “biological democracy” as a conceptual bridge between environmental and sociopolitical approaches to WSP. The movement’s gendered critiques of US foreign policymaking, its organizational structure, and its participation in the production and distribution of scientific knowledge demonstrate how progressive women used maternalist discourse to oppose US Cold War policies in the early-1960s. WSP participants leveraged their social proximity to the biological condition of the family as “givers and guardians” of life to dissent against the nuclear arms race, heighten female voices within Cold War geopolitics, and increase public awareness of the hazards of radioactive fallout caused by ongoing atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. By coopting conventions of maternalism and domesticity as justification for their cause, WSP women effectively mollified patriarchal and anti-communist attacks as they organized against Cold War militarism and nuclear irradiation. In so doing, they offered a vision of US democracy that responded to individualized, feminine activism and prioritized public health over nuclear armament.

Topics: Gender, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Political Participation, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: United States of America

Year: 2021

© 2022 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 info@genderandsecurity.org.