Femininity/ies

‘Cocked and Loaded’: Trump and the Gendered Discourse of National Security

Citation:

Cohn, Carol. 2020. “‘Cocked and Loaded’: Trump and the Gendered Discourse of National Security.” In Language in the Trump Era: Scandals and Emergencies, edited by Janet McIntosh and Norma Mendoza-Denton, 179–90. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Author: Carol Cohn

Keywords: military language, North Korea, nuclear weapons, metaphor, euphemism, gender, masculinity, gender and language, national security, language and thought

Annotation:

Summary:

On Jan 2, 2018, President Trump tweeted a taunt to Kim Jong-un of North Korea: “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” This chapter connects Trump’s nuclear saber-rattling to broader patterns of militaristic language use among nuclear weapons scientists and strategists, as well as among past presidents. Professional and political discourse about nuclear weapons tends to be far removed from the human realities behind the weapons. Such dispassionate language is characterized by stunningly abstract and euphemistic language – and in part by a set of lively and misogynistic sexual metaphors. This linguistic framework seems to shape what can be said, or even thought, within the confines of these male-dominated discussions of war. Those who urge restraint in responding to a provocation or attack, for instance, are quickly impugned as sissies, and expressions of empathy denigrated as feminine. In this respect, Mr. Trump is not an exception. His fear of being perceived as unmanly may be closer to the surface, but gendered language that constrains our understanding of reality has long distorted the ways we think about international politics and national security. (Summary from publisher)

Topics: Gender, Femininity/ies, Gender Analysis, Gendered Discourses, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: North Korea, United States of America

Year: 2020

Australian Women’s Anti-Nuclear Leadership: The Framing of Peace and Social Change

Citation:

Maleta, Yulia. 2018. “Australian Women’s Anti-Nuclear Leadership: The Framing of Peace and Social Change.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 19 (6): 70–86.

Author: Yulia Maleta

Abstract:

This article addresses a gap on hegemonic masculinity/emphasized femininity and essentialism/constructivism within the Environmental New Social Movement (eNSM). Utilizing my interviews with Australian women members of environmentalist New Social Movement Organisations (eNSMOs), including eNGOs, academic institutions and the Greens party, I adopt a constructivist approach towards emphasized femininity, arguing that women-led strategies, strengthened through agentic competence contributes to global peace, whilst challenging the patriarchal control of environmental governance (Cockburn 1988, 2012). My feminist sociopolitical model is framed by resistance to ruling class masculinity, emphasizing participants’ gender performativity, advocating anti-nuclear agendas (Warren 1999, Gaard 2001, Butler 2013). Constructivism is relayed by the way women activists’ resist patriarchy as a barrier, in terms of ‘hierarchy’, ‘man-made decisions’ and ‘power…terrible nasty stuff’. Moreover, women accommodate emphasized femininity as an empowering enabler, framed by women-led strategies, described as ‘revolutionary’, ‘mother and child’, ‘social responsibility’ and ‘environmental protection’, whilst advocating sustainability (Leahy 2003, Connell 2005, Culley and Angelique 2010, Maleta 2012).

Keywords: emphasized femininity, women, constructivism, Anti-nuclear, sustainability

Topics: Environment, Feminisms, Gender, Femininity/ies, Gender Analysis, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Patriarchy, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: Australia, Guatemala

Year: 2018

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

‘Basically Feminist’: Women Strike for Peace, Maternal Peace Activism, and Memory of the Women’s Peace Movement

Citation:

Coburn, Jon. 2021. “‘Basically Feminist’: Women Strike for Peace, Maternal Peace Activism, and Memory of the Women’s Peace Movement.” Journal of Women’s History 33 (2): 136–62.

Author: Jon Coburn

Abstract:

This article examines the varying historical expressions of activists in Women Strike for Peace (WSP) to assess how changing gender ideology and feminist beliefs influenced the memory of the women's peace movement. A transformation in collective identity occurred among WSPers in the late 1960s, causing the group to engage with the women's movement in a way that had not previously occurred. Exploring how activists understood their past, this article reveals that leaders revised their group's historical narrative to craft a collective memory that gave WSP a history of feminist activism. This is shown most prominently in the reappraisal of Bella Abzug and the histories produced by activist Amy Swerdlow. The article argues that interpretations of the history and memory of the women's peace movement must acknowledge how gender politics change over time. It asserts the significance of this transformation for historicizing feminist beliefs among women's peace activists.

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

Year: 2021

More Bang for Your Buck: Nuclear Weapons and Their Enactment of Colonial and Gendered Power

Citation:

Urwin, Jessica A. 2016. “More Bang for Your Buck: Nuclear Weapons and Their Enactment of Colonial and Gendered Power.” ANU Undergraduate Research Journal, no. 8.

Author: Jessica A. Urwin

Abstract:

Analysing the nuclear weapons regime through both postcolonial and feminist frameworks demonstrates that the possession of nuclear weapons has incredibly important implications for the security agenda. While both postcolonial and feminist scholars have delved into the relationships between their respective disciplines and the dynamics of the nuclear weapons regime, gaps in the scholarship ensure that postcolonial feminist critiques of the regime are lacking. This article endeavours to combine postcolonial and feminist critiques to demonstrate how the nuclear weapons regime is underpinned by pertinent gendered and colonial assumptions. These assumptions ensure that certain states are prioritised over others; namely, the behaviour of nuclear weapons states is considered more legitimate than that of ‘rogue states’, their desire for nuclear weapons hinged upon racial, colonial and gendered assumptions of legitimacy. Closely analysing the gendered and colonial dynamics of the nuclear weapons regime sheds light upon how patriarchy and imperialism have shaped the security agenda in regard to nuclear weapons.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Femininity/ies, Gender Analysis, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Peace and Security, Security, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: India, Pakistan, United States of America

Year: 2016

A Feminist Perspective on the Nuclear Weapon Discourse and its Gendered Consequences

Citation:

Butale, Cheludo Tinaye. 2019. “A Feminist Perspective on the Nuclear Weapon Discourse and Its Gendered Consequences.” PhD diss., Cyprus International University.

Author: Cheludo Tinaye Butale

Abstract:

Nuclear weapons continue to be seen as a crucial aspect of international security. However, the international security discourse tends to overlook the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons which has led to various feminists questioning the importance and effectiveness of the nuclear weapon discourse. This paper explores the nuclear weapons discourse and the gendered consequences of the discourse. It examines the way in which the nuclear weapons discourse and practices favour ideas of masculinity over femininity which has created barriers towards ending nuclear weapons and bringing about effective disarmament. I argue that the gendered language used within nuclear discourses has resulted in a gendered masculine-coded language and values based on rationality or state interests that exclude feminist’s values of including a humanitarian perspective within the nuclear discourse. A feminist theory, mainly post-structural feminism shall be used to show how international security is a gendered phenomenon which articulates masculinity forms of nuclear discourses. Few if any studies use the post-structural feminism theory to critique the nuclear discourse. The paper concludes by suggesting ways the nuclear discourse can be improved and made effective.

Keywords: femininity, masculinity, nuclear discourse, nuclear weapons

Topics: Gender, Femininity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Masculinity/ies, Peace and Security, Security, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Year: 2019

Gendering Nuclear Disarmament: Identity and Disarmament in Sweden during the Cold War

Citation:

Rosengren, Emma. 2020. “Gendering Nuclear Disarmament: Identity and Disarmament in Sweden during the Cold War.” PhD diss., Stockholm University.

Author: Emma Rosengren

Abstract:

This dissertation provides new knowledge about gender, nuclear weapons and disarmament. Previous feminist research has shown that in contexts where positive associations are made between military strength, masculinity and nuclear weapon possession, it is hard to imagine nuclear renunciation and disarmament as anything other than potential emasculation or feminization. Meanwhile, empirically based feminist theorization about gender, nuclear renunciation and disarmament remains a blind spot. This dissertation uses Sweden as a case to analyze nuclear weapon renunciation and disarmament from a feminist angle. As one of the countries that had the opportunity to acquire nuclear weapons – and considered doing so for some time – before deciding to become engaged with international disarmament aims instead, Sweden is an interesting case to study. The empirical focus is on disarmament policymaking in relation to the Swedish nuclear weapon debate (1954–1968) and the submarine crisis (1981–1989). The study draws on a broad set of primary sources, ranging from government speeches and parliamentary records to media output including comics and personal correspondence and diaries. Approaching the nuclear weapon debate and the submarine crisis as arenas for debating disarmament policy, and understanding disarmament policymaking as historically situated and marked by gendered, nationalized and sexualized power structures in specific contexts, the dissertation contributes empirical and theoretical insights relevant to feminist IR theory, and to nuclear history and IR studies more broadly. Contrary to previous feminist theorizing about disarmament as associated with femininity and/or emasculation, my findings suggest that Swedish disarmament policy was co-constructed with certain forms of masculinity, and that alternative policy discourses and identity representations were feminized and sidelined to the margins. The dissertation suggests that rather than assuming preconceived linkages between nuclear weapons possession and masculinity on the one hand, and disarmament and femininity on the other, it is necessary to challenge such binary conceptualizations and investigate how masculinities and femininities, and nuclear weapon and disarmament policy, have been co-constructed in specific historical contexts. The opposite, to depart from preconceived conceptualizations about gender and policy not only contributes to the reconstruction of gender, but also rules out alternatives to nuclearized security strategies and nuclearized masculinity. The dissertation provides a methodological and theoretical framework for further research on the making of disarmament policy from a feminist perspective.

Keywords: feminist theory, nuclear disarmament, nuclear weapons, gender nation sexuality, dentity and policy, identity and policy

Topics: Gender, Femininity/ies, Gender Analysis, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Peace and Security, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: Sweden

Year: 2020

‘Maternal Thinking’ and the Concept of ‘Vulnerability’ in Security Paradigms, Policies, and Practices

Citation:

Cohn, Carol. 2014. “‘Maternal Thinking’ and the Concept of ‘Vulnerability’ in Security Paradigms, Policies, and Practices.” Journal of International Political Theory 10 (1): 46–69.

Author: Carol Cohn

Abstract:

This article takes as its starting point Sara Ruddick’s discussion of “vulnerability” in her 1989 groundbreaking book Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace. It examines the kind of thinking about vulnerability that Ruddick describes as developed through maternal practice and uses it as a heuristic device for rethinking the conceptions of and responses to vulnerability that permeate national and international security discourses. It explores the specific forms of practice and reason that are implicated by these different stances toward vulnerability and shows that the (often unexamined) assumptions underlying these stances are profoundly consequential for both policy and practice. Specifically, it takes both nuclear weapons and the so-called Global War on Terror as particular forms of response to perceived vulnerability and scrutinizes the practices associated with each in light of the forms of rationality arising from maternal practice. It also explores the assumptions underlying the concept of “vulnerable groups” commonly employed in international policy institutions, teasing out their implications for politics, policy, and action. Overall, it argues that Ruddick’s articulation of maternal thinking provides a valuable resource for reimagining transformed and transformative security practices.

Keywords: maternal thinking, nuclear weapons, security, vulnerability, war on terror

Topics: Gender, Femininity/ies, Masculinity/ies, International Organizations, Peace and Security, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Year: 2014

Women and Weapons: Redressing the Gender Gap: A Ukrainian Response

Citation:

Sinovets, Polina. 2014 “Women and Weapons: Redressing the Gender Gap: A Ukrainian Response.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 70 (5): 21–23.

Author: Polina Sinovets

Abstract:

In nuclear war, women would suffer at least as much as men. But women tend to be underrepresented in fields such as high-level politics, diplomacy, military affairs, and science and technology that bear on nuclear policy. Authors from four countries Salma Malik of Pakistan (2014), Polina Sinovets of Ukraine, Reshmi Kazi of India (2014), and Jenny Nielsen of Denmark (2014) discuss how women might gain greater influence on nuclear weapons policy and how their empowerment might affect disarmament and nonproliferation efforts.

Keywords: Carol Cohn, education, femininity, feminism, international organizations, masculinity, nuclear politics, nuclear weapons, soft power, women

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Femininity/ies, Masculinity/ies, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Year: 2014

Bikinis and Other S/Pacific N/Oceans

Citation:

Teaiwa, Teresia K. 2010. “Bikinis and Other S/Pacific N/Oceans.” In Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in Asia and the Pacific, edited by Setsu Shigematsu and Keith L. Camacho, 15–32. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Keywords: bikini, nuclear power, Pacific Islanders, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, feminization, sexualization, colonialism, female body, nuclear testing

Annotation:

Summary:

This chapter suggests that the bikini bathing suit manifests both a celebration and a forgetting of the nuclear power that strategically and materially marginalizes and erases the living history of Pacific Islanders. By analyzing militarist, nuclear, and touristic discourses on Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, it demonstrates the feminization and sexualization of nuclear colonialism while elaborating how empires have been engendered through the deformation and violation of Pacific Islander bodies. It describes the bikini bathing suit as a testament to the recurring tourist trivialization of Pacific Islanders’ experience and existence. By drawing attention to a sexualized and supposedly depoliticized female body, the bikini distracts from the colonial and highly political origins of its name. The sexist dynamic the bikini performs—objectification through excessive visibility—inverts the colonial dynamics that have occurred during nuclear testing in the Pacific, that is, objectification by rendering invisible. (Summary from Publisher)

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Femininity/ies, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Regions: Americas, North America, Oceania Countries: Marshall Islands, United States of America

Year: 2010

Pages

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