Straight as a Rule: Heteronormativity, Gendercide, and the Noncombatant Male


Jones, Adam. 2006. “Straight as a Rule: Heteronormativity, Gendercide, and the Noncombatant Male.” Men and Masculinities 8 (4): 451–69. doi:10.1177/1097184X04268797.

Author: Adam Jones


This article is an extension of the author's research into the vulnerability of noncombatant "battle-age" males in situations of war and genocide. It explores the role of heteronormativity–defined as culturally hegemonic heterosexuality–in shaping the victimization experiences of male noncombatants. An introductory section addresses definitional issues and frames the discussion in terms of the study of gendercide, or gender-selective mass killing. The link among noncombatant status, imputed violations of heteronormativity, and gendercide is then explored. A separate section considers the phenomenon of sexual violence against males in wartime and asks whether feminist theories of "genocidal rape" can usefully be deployed to assist understanding of this little studied phenomenon. The conclusion cites some remaining conceptual and conventional obstacles to research on male noncombatants, and suggests avenues for further investigation. (Sage Journals)



"One of the most intriguing elements of male-on-male rape and sexual violence is the gendered positioning of rapist and victim: the way in which victims are feminized while rapists are confirmed in their heterosexual, hegemonic masculinity." (459)

"The question is, Can sexual violence against noncombatant men also serve a genocidal purpose? I think it can. First, it must be noted that the rape of males in the context of war and genocide far less frequently involves actual intercourse between assailant and assailed. More common is one of two patterns: (1) forced rape of one “subordinate” male (especially an imprisoned one) by another; or (2) severe sexual torture, up to and including castration (sometimes also committed by one subordinate male against another on the command of a prison guard; reports of both variants surfaced in the Bosnian war-crimes trials)." (461)

"First, the coercion of one’s fellows to inflict the violence is a special feature of sexual violence against males and can be predicted to erode group cohesion in something of the same way that rapes and impregnations of subordinate-group women are expected to do. The ‘feminization’ of male victims certainly threatens the masculine group cohesion that is essential for military action. And, finally, the element of sexual torture and genital damage that figures so strongly in accounts of male rape and sexual violence in conflict situations can be seen as a counterpart to the forced impregnation and cultural humiliation of female victims." (461)

"We need to understand better the fluid, shifting, and contingent character of hegemonic masculinity through history." (462)

"The subject of the deployment of gendered language and propaganda before and during outbreaks of war and genocide deserves close attention for what it might teach us about how the masculine identities of perpetrators are shored up and how the Other is feminized as a prelude to victimization or extermination." (462)

"A significant difficulty is that we still lack a clear empirical picture of the character and scale of victimization inflicted on ‘outgroup’ males, including bearers of subordinate masculinities, throughout history and around the contemporary world."(463)

"One question that preoccupies me is the extent to which male victimization, including the abuse and atrocity meted out to noncombatant males, merits analysis within a ‘human-rights’ framework. We have grown accustomed to the (once-radical) statement that ‘women’s rights are human rights’: that is, gender-specific rights issues are an integral part of broader human-rights framings. Do ‘men’s rights’ deserve similar consideration?"(463)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Men, Boys, Genocide, Sexual Violence, SV against Men, Sexuality

Year: 2006

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