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Female Combatants

Female Soldiers in Sierra Leone: Sex, Security, and Post-Conflict Development


MacKenzie, Megan H. 2012. Female Soldiers in Sierra Leone: Sex, Security, and Post-Conflict Development. New York: New York University Press.

Author: Megan H. MacKenzie


The eleven-year civil war in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002 was incomprehensibly brutal—it is estimated that half of all female refugees were raped and many thousands were killed. While the publicity surrounding sexual violence helped to create a general picture of women and girls as victims of the conflict, there has been little effort to understand female soldiers’ involvement in, and experience of, the conflict. Female Soldiers in Sierra Leone draws on interviews with 75 former female soldiers and over 20 local experts, providing a rare perspective on both the civil war and post-conflict development efforts in the country. Megan MacKenzie argues that post-conflict reconstruction is a highly gendered process, demonstrating that a clear recognition and understanding of the roles and experiences of female soldiers are central to both understanding the conflict and to crafting effective policy for the future. (New York University Press)

Topics: Civil Wars, Female Combatants, Development, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rape, SV against women Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2012

Waging Gendered Wars: U.S. Military Women in Afghanistan and Iraq


Eager, Paige Whaley. 2014. Waging Gendered Wars: U.S. Military Women in Afghanistan and Iraq. New York: Routledge.

Author: Paige Whaley Eager


Waging Gendered Wars examines, through the analytical lens of feminist international relations theory, how U.S. military women have impacted and been affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although women were barred from serving formally in ground combat positions within the U.S. armed forces during both wars, U.S. female soldiers are being killed in action. By examining how U.S. military women's agency as soldiers, veterans, and casualties of war affect the planning and execution of war, Whaley Eager assesses the ways in which the global world of international politics and warfare has become localized in the life and death narratives of female service personnel impacted by combat experience, homelessness, military sexual trauma, PTSD, and the deaths of fellow soldiers.

Keywords: politics & international relations, gender politics, political philosophy, U.S. politics, security studies, war & conflict studies

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Health, PTSD, Trauma, Militarized livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Security

Year: 2014

Drone Disorientations: How "Unmanned" Weapons Queer the Experience of Killing in War


Daggett, Cara. 2015. “Drone Disorientations: How ‘Unmanned’ Weapons Queer the Experience of Killing in War.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (3): 361–79. doi:10.1080/14616742.2015.1075317.

Author: Cara Daggett


Killing with drones produces queer moments of disorientation. Drawing on queer phenomenology, I show how militarized masculinities function as spatiotemporal landmarks that give killing in war its “orientation” and make it morally intelligible. These bearings no longer make sense for drone warfare, which radically deviates from two of its main axes: the home–combat and distance–intimacy binaries. Through a narrative methodology, I show how descriptions of drone warfare are rife with symptoms of an unresolved disorientation, often expressed as gender anxiety over the failure of the distance–intimacy and home–combat axes to orient killing with drones. The resulting vertigo sparks a frenzy of reorientation attempts, but disorientation can lead in multiple and sometimes surprising directions – including, but not exclusively, more violent ones. With drones, the point is that none have yet been reliably secured, and I conclude by arguing that, in the midst of this confusion, it is important not to lose sight of the possibility of new paths, and the “hope of new directions.”

Keywords: drones, militarized masculinities, queer phenomenology, robotic war, narrative

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, LGBTQ, Livelihoods, Militarized livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Violence

Year: 2015

Women and the Military in Europe: Comparing Public Cultures


Eulriet, Irène. 2012. Women and the Military in Europe: Comparing Public Cultures. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. t

Author: Irène Eulriet


This book explores how public cultures shape women's military participation within the European Union. It analyzes the way in which different policy options have been elaborated in the United Kingdom, France and Germany and examines patterns of women's military participation across societies.
(Palgrave Macmillan)

Keywords: international relations, gender studies, social policy, sociology of work, organizational studies, economic sociology, military and defence studies

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Society, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Livelihoods, Militarized livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries Regions: Europe, Central Europe, Western Europe Countries: France, Germany, United Kingdom

Year: 2012

Sexual Violence against Child Soldiers


Grey, Rosemary. 2014. “Sexual Violence against Child Soldiers.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 16 (4): 601–21. doi:10.1080/14616742.2014.955964.

Author: Rosemary Grey


In addition to participating in hostilities, girl soldiers are often raped, sexually enslaved and used as “bush wives” by their commanders and fellow soldiers. As this issue of sexual violence against girl soldiers has become increasingly visible in recent cases before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), attempts have been made to prosecute this conduct within the established framework of international criminal law. Most recently, this issue has been addressed in the case of The Prosecutor v Bosco Ntaganda, one of the six cases that have come before the ICC from the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On 9 June 2014, the Pre-Trial Chamber confirmed the charges in the Ntaganda case, and found that the rape and sexual slavery of girl soldiers in Ntaganda's armed group by other members of that group could constitute war crimes under Article 8(2)(e)(vi) of the Rome Statute. This article considers what the Ntaganda decision adds to the jurisprudence on sexual violence against child soldiers, and what it demonstrates about the limits of the law.

Keywords: sexual violence, child soldiers, war crimes, international criminal court, Ntaganda case

Topics: Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, International Criminal Law, International Organizations, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, War Crimes, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Rape, SV against men Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2014

Women as "Practitioners" and "Targets."


Dyvik, Synne Laastad. 2014. “Women as ‘Practitioners’ and ‘Targets.’” International Feminist Journal of Politics 16 (3): 410–29. doi:10.1080/14616742.2013.779139.

Author: Synne Laastad Dyvik


Feminist scholarship has shown how gender is integral to understanding war, and that the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was partly legitimated through a reference to Afghan women's ‘liberation’. Recognizing this, the article analyses how gender is crucial also to understanding the practice of ‘population-centric’ counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. Because this type of warfare aims at ‘winning hearts and minds’, it is in engaging the population that a notable gendered addition to the US military strategy surfaces, Female Engagement Teams (FETs). Citing ‘cultural sensitivity’ as a key justification, the US deploys all-female teams to engage with and access a previously untapped source of intelligence and information, namely Afghan women. Beyond this being seen as necessary to complete the task of population-centric counterinsurgency, it is also hailed as a progressive step that contributes to Afghan women's broader empowerment. Subjecting population-centric counterinsurgency to feminist analysis, this article finds that in constructing women both as ‘practitioners’ and ‘targets’, this type of warfare constitutes another chapter in the various ways that their bodies have been relied upon for its ‘success’.

Keywords: Afghanistan, counterinsurgency, cultural turn, empowerment, Female Engagement Teams, feminism, military masculinities

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Livelihoods, Militarized livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Terrorism Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2014

Female Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide


Brown, Sara E. 2014. “Female Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 16 (3): 448–69. doi:10.1080/14616742.2013.788806.

Author: Sara E. Brown


This article explores and analyzes the role of women who exercised agency as perpetrators during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Genocide narratives traditionally cast women as victims, and many women did suffer horrific abuses and become victims of torture in Rwanda. However, this gender-based characterization of women is inaccurate and incomplete. After presenting a multidisciplinary body of literature relevant to female agency during genocide, this article explores three core questions related to female agency during the Rwandan genocide. It discusses how women were mobilized before and during the genocide, the specific actions of women who exercised agency and finally what happened to these women in the aftermath of the genocide. This article is based upon research that was gathered by the author and includes interviews of female perpetrators as well as victims and witnesses of direct violence committed by women. The article asserts that women played an active role in the Rwandan genocide but are often excluded from the dominant narrative. This article also addresses the implications of ignoring female perpetrators of genocide. It suggests that such an oversight may have a detrimental impact on the long-term peace and stability in post-genocide Rwanda.

Keywords: gender studies, genocide, perpetrators, Rwanda, women

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Genocide, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, Torture, Sexual Torture, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2014

Explosive Bodies and Bounded States


Wilcox, Lauren. 2014. “Explosive Bodies and Bounded States.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 16 (1): 66–85. doi:10.1080/14616742.2012.750947.

Author: Lauren Wilcox


The bodies produced by the violent practice of suicide bombing are a source of horror and disgust. They are, in feminist psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva's concept, abject: that which defies borders and is expelled to create the self. As ‘abject bodies’, suicide bombers' bodies frustrate attempts at calculation and rational control of security risks, and, in their mutilated flesh, expose as unstable the idea of the body as a whole with clearly defined boundaries between inside and outside. Female suicide bombers, whose bodies are already considered ‘abject’, produce a politics of the body that exceeds narratives of victimhood, and whose very monstrosity symbolically threatens the foundations of the nation-state. Attempts at constructing subjects out of the mutilated bodily remains of victims and perpetrators of suicide bombings are key practices in the production of the state and gendered subjects. The practice of suicide bombing and efforts to recover and resignify bodies reveals how power molds and constitutes the border of the body and state simultaneously. The explosive body of the suicide bomber thus has destabilizing effects beyond the motivations of its perpetrators and exposes the political work necessary to maintain the illusion of secure, bounded bodies and states.

Keywords: abjection, bodies, nationalism, sovereignty, suicide bombing, territory

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Nationalism, Terrorism

Year: 2014

Women, Gender, and Terrorism


Gentry, Caron E., and Laura Sjoberg, eds. 2011. Women, Gender, and Terrorism. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Authors: Caron E. Gentry, Laura Sjoberg


"In the last decade the world has witnessed a rise in women’s participation in terrorism. Women, Gender, and Terrorism explores women’s relationship with terrorism, with a keen eye on the political, gender, racial, and cultural dynamics of the contemporary world. Throughout most of the twentieth century, it was rare to hear about women terrorists. In the new millennium, however, women have increas­ingly taken active roles in carrying out suicide bombings, hijacking air­planes, and taking hostages in such places as Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and Chechnya. These women terrorists have been the subject of a substantial amount of media and scholarly attention, but the analysis of women, gender, and terrorism has been sparse and riddled with stereotypical thinking about women’s capabilities and motivations. In the first section of this volume, contributors offer an overview of women’s participation in and relationships with contemporary terrorism, and a historical chapter traces their involvement in the politics and conflicts of Islamic societies. The next section includes empirical and theoretical analysis of terrorist movements in Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine, and Sri Lanka. The third section turns to women’s involvement in al Qaeda and includes critical interrogations of the gendered media and the scholarly presentations of those women. The conclusion offers ways to further explore the subject of gender and terrorism based on the contributions made to the volume. Contributors to Women, Gender, and Terrorism expand our understanding of terrorism, one of the most troubling and complicated facets of the modern world." (University of Georgia Press)




Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-state Armed Groups, Political Participation, Terrorism, Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, Sri Lanka

Year: 2011

Soldier Girl? Not Every Tamil Teen Wants to Be a Tiger


Mitchell, James. 2006. “Soldier Girl? Not Every Tamil Teen Wants to Be a Tiger.” The Humanist 66, no. 5: 16.


Author: James A. Mitchell


The most appropriate stamp might be "The Children's War," for both victim and combatant, because the civil war in Sri Lanka isn't being waged exclusively by adults, nor is it just a boys' club. The Tamil Tigers have two significantly negative reputations: masters of the suicide bomb attack and recruiters of child soldiers. In spite of a growing body of testimony-too many girls have described the training sessions, so their existence can't be denied-the LTTE still denies that their child-recruitment strategy includes weapons training and the solicitation of suicide bombers.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Gender, Girls, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-state Armed Groups, Peace Processes Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2006


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