Ulstermen and Loyalist Ladies on Parade: Gendering Unionism in Northern Ireland


Racioppi, Linda, and Katherine O'Sullivan See. 2000. "Ulstermen and Loyalist Ladies on Parade: Gendering Unionism in Northern Ireland." International Feminist Journal of Politics 2 (1): 1-29.

Authors: Linda Racioppi, Katherine O'Sullivan See


This article explores parades as central institutions in the construction and maintenance of unionist ethno-gender identities and a crucial part of politics in Northern Ireland. It presents a brief historical review of the origins of Protestant marches and the organizations which are key to sustaining this tradition. It then analyses the contemporary marches, including the highly contested Portadown parade and the tranquil ll-Ireland demonstration, held in Rossnowlagh in the Republic. These overwhelmingly male events are important to the maintenance of the gender order of unionism. The parades reveal the subordinated femininity within unionism: women participate in small numbers by invitation only. At the same time, they reveal competing masculinities: traditional, 'respectable' unionist masculinity is challenged by the more virile loyalism of 'Billy boy' and 'kick the pope' bands and marchers. This analysis explains why these competing masculinities are central, not only to the maintenance of male hegemony, but also to the ethno-national politics of parading, helping to set the boundaries of accommodation with nationalists and the state.

Keywords: ethnic conflict, gender, nationalism, Northern Ireland, parades, women

Topics: Ethnicity, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Governance, Nationalism Regions: Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland

Year: 2000

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