The Risks of Instrumentalizing the Narrative on Sexual Violence in the DRC: Neglected Needs and Unintended Consequences


Heaton, Laura. 2014. “The Risks of Instrumentalizing the Narrative on Sexual Violence in the DRC: Neglected Needs and Unintended Consequences.” International Review of the Red Cross 96 (894): 625–39.

Author: Laura Heaton


Public understanding of humanitarian emergencies tends to focus on one story and one type of victim. Examples are manifold: amputees in Sierra Leone, victims of kidnapping in Colombia, or victims of chemical weapons in Syria. At times, the aid community, and the media in turn, seizes upon a particular injustice – landmines, female genital mutilation and child soldiers are examples from recent decades – and directs resources and attention its way. Similarly, thematic trends tend to dominate aid discourse, with funding proposals to donors replete with references to the framework du jour. In a related phenomenon highlighted by author and aid worker Fiona Terry, “[w]ords are commandeered to give a new gloss to familiar themes: ‘capacity building’ became ‘empowerment’, which has now become ‘resilience’”. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the conflict has been largely defined by sexual violence, and raped women are its most prominent victims.

Keywords: Democratic Republic of the Congo, sexual violence, conflict, peacekeeping, advocacy, aid

Topics: Armed Conflict, Media, Humanitarian Assistance, Peacekeeping, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2014

Between the Home and the World in Violent Conflict


Pieris, Anoma. 2012. “Between the Home and the World in Violent Conflict.” Gender, Place & Culture 19 (6): 771–89.

Author: Anoma Pieris


Throughout Sri Lanka's civil war (1983–2009) official and international news media was dominated by ethnic politics while civilian voices remained silent. Similarly, at the end of the war, media manipulation of civilian traumas for a continuing political contest between the Sri Lankan Government and Tamil diasporic groups shut down other discursive frameworks. The more intimate stories of loss, bereavement, depression and grief were manipulated for a prolonged and bitter nationalist struggle. This article returns to a medium in which these stories were previously voiced, during the war years, in South Asian cinema. Due to government censorship of news media and limited access to the war zone, the local film industries proved to be the more cogent mediums for representing deep-rooted cultural anxieties to mainstream audiences. They conveyed everyday realities absent from news media in fictional interpretations of real events. Questions were raised regarding the affective memories and loyalties of the ethnic conflict and the role of women. The home, its destruction, displacement or re-inscription through violence became a central concern. This article focuses on three South Asian films that explored the subject of motherhood, homelessness and militarization of the ethno-cultural domestic sphere at the height of the ethnic conflict. Their shift from the urban public sites of military contest to private domestic spaces of civilian experience offered a cultural examination of political violence. By revisiting them as early conjectures of civilian trauma we ask how their interpretations of gender and place might be understood in the wake of the civil war.

Keywords: film, gender, civil war, homelessness, home, modernity

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Civil Society, Gender, Women, Media, Households, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2012

Race, Gender, and Communications in Natural Disasters


West, Darrell M., and Marion Orr. 2007. “Race, Gender, and Communications in Natural Disasters.” Policy Studies Journal 35 (4): 569–86.

Authors: Darrell M West, Marion Orr


We examine public attitudes toward vulnerability and evacuation in hurricane natural disasters. Using the results of an opinion survey in a coastal, New England state, we find important differences in how men and women, and Whites and minorities perceive natural disasters. Race, gender, and geographic proximity to the coast affect how vulnerable people believe their residence is to a major hurricane, while government officials and media reporting telling people to evacuate influence evacuation decisions. In order to avoid future breakdowns, governments need to understand the different information processing approaches of various groups of people.

Topics: Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Women, Media, Race Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2007

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, Media, 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

Women, Words and War: Explaining 9/11 and Justifying US Military Action in Afghanistan and Iraq


Jabbra, Nancy W. 2006. "Women, Words and War: Explaining 9/11 and Justifying US Military Action in Afghanistan and Iraq." Journal of International Women’s Studies 8:1, 236-55.

Author: Nancy W. Jabbra


Texts and images in the print media, outdoor advertisements, and on the Internet form the primary source material for this article. The Bush administration and the American media, drawing upon well-worn traditions of representation, contrasted American women and Muslim/Middle Eastern women, American and Middle Eastern male sexuality, and the moral qualities (good versus evil) of American and Middle Eastern people. They used those contrasts to explain 9/11 and legitimize war in Afghanistan and Iraq. 9/11 was simply explained through a contrast between American innocence and Muslim savagery. For Afghanistan, the predominant trope was liberating Afghan women from the Taliban, or white men rescuing brown women from brown men, a story at least as old as the British Raj. The Iraq representations were more complex; both pro-war and anti-war proponents used the same images of suffering Iraqi women and girls, but to different ends: Saddam Hussein was a demon who must be destroyed, or the suffering was caused by sanctions and Western military action. Saddam himself was conflated with Iraq, and images of deviant sexuality were employed. Throughout, American women and girls were portrayed as the right kind of woman: usually white and innocent, or heroic soldiers. In any case, they were free, not oppressed. 

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Media, Terrorism, Sexuality Regions: MENA, Americas, North America, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, United States of America

Year: 2006

Masculinity as Political Strategy: George W. Bush, the 'War on Terrorism,' and an Echoing Press


Coe, Kevin, David Domke, Meredith Bagley, Sheryl Cunningham, and Nancy Van Leuven. 2007. "Masculinity as Political Strategy: George W. Bush, the 'War on Terrorism,' and an Echoing Press. Journal of Women, Politics and Policy 29 (1): 31-55. 

Authors: Kevin Coe, David Domke, Meredith Bagley, Sheryl Cunningham , Nancy Van Leuven


Scholars have demonstrated the centrality of masculinity as an ideology in the American presidency, but have devoted insufficient attention to the manner in which political leaders can emphasize masculine themes to gain strategic advantage, and how media organizations can be encouraged to adopt such themes in news coverage. With this in mind, in this research we analyze President George W. Bush's public communications prior to and immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001, and NBC network television news coverage and New York Times and Washington Post editorials during the latter dates to elucidate the nature of masculinity as a political strategy. Findings indicate that in the aftermath of September 11 Bush enacted a highly masculine ideology through his treatment of the press and emphasis upon two masculine themes–strength and dominance–and that this approach facilitated wide circulation of his masculine discourse in the press.

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, "New Wars", Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Media, Governance, Terrorism Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2007

Power and Representation: The Case of South Korean Women Workers


Mee, K. H. 1998. “Power and Representation: The Case of South Korean Women Workers.” Asian Journal of Women's Studies 4 (3): 61–108.

Author: K. H. Mee


This article focuses on South Korean working class women's political and cultural negotiation in the contexts of the South Korean labor movement of the late 1980s and the ever-evolving international division of labor. Based on an in-depth case study of a labor dispute in a U.S.-owned multinational corporation, it raises issues about how women workers in the international circuit of global capitalism are represented. By looking at how a labor struggle, waged by women workers against a multinational company's (MNC) factory closure, is presented in the realm of media representation and other writings, this article attempts to show how their struggle became a ground of discourse formation, reflecting diverse political interests. This is done by looking at the process of their struggle in the national and transnational space. The workers' own narratives, the media's presentation of their struggle, and the workers' own perception of it, are examined. While this article shows how the Korean women worker's struggle becomes a ground of discourse formation, reflecting varied political interests, it also focuses on how the workers manipulate their own images in a sophisticated way in vying for support from a broader audience. I define this as a specific form of "subaltern" representation and argue that gender images operate as core symbols of labor activities and constitute an important symbolic framework for the international division of labor. Since this case highlights diverse aspects of the conditions of Korean women workers' struggle, cutting across divisions of gender, class, and nation, it offers an arena for understanding the female subject in the process of globalization, which involves a complicated nexus of power and representation.

Topics: Class, Economies, Gender, Women, Media, Globalization, Livelihoods, Nationalism, Multi-National Corporations, Political Participation Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: South Korea

Year: 1998

Unveiling Imperialism: Media, Gender and the War on Afghanistan


Stabile, Carol, and Deepa Kumar. 2005. “Unveiling Imperialism: Media, Gender and the War on Afghanistan.” Media, Culture and Society 27 (5): 765-82.

Authors: Carol Stabile, Deepa Kumar


The oppression of Afghan women by fundamentalist groups was barely addressed by the corporate media until it proved rhetorically useful for US elites to argue for military intervention as a means to liberate the women of that country. This article critically interrogates this claim, and analyzes media coverage of Afghan women before and after the US invasion on 7 October 2001. First, we present an overview of conflicts in Afghanistan, focusing on the US’s economic and strategic interests in the region, and its role in supporting and funding Islamic fundamentalism. Attention to this context, absent from media accounts, is essential to understanding the plight of Afghan women in all its complexity. Second, we examine news frameworks and the ways in which Afghan women figure in imperialist agendas in a thoroughly Orientalist manner. Finally, we turn to the outcome of the war and the situation for Afghan women today.

Keywords: imperialism, Afghanistan, Afghan women, media representation, war on terror

Topics: Armed Conflict, Economies, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Media, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Terrorism, Violence Regions: Americas, North America, Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, United States of America

Year: 2005

Gender and (Un)Sustainability - Can Communication Solve a Conflict of Norms?


Franz-Balsen, Angela. 2014. “Gender and (Un)Sustainability - Can Communication Solve a Conflict of Norms?” Sustainability 6: 1973-91. 

Author: Angela Franz-Balsen


In theory, and even more in the practice of sustainability communications, the gender dimension of sustainability has been neglected relative to other fields of the science. The aim of this paper is to show the relevance of gender as an analytical category for research and the importance of gender competence as an indispensable skill for professional sustainability communicators. Understanding how gender norms have contributed to inhibiting sustainable development is key to well-targeted means to communicate visions of sustainable ways of life. Traditional norms of masculinity are clearly in tension with the ethical, ecological and social implications of Sustainable Development, whereas the norms of femininity work against empowerment and participation of women. Current changes in gender relations and gender identities in the western world do not automatically solve this conflict of norms. Therefore, sustainability communication must and can contribute to shaping the social construction of gender towards new “sustainable” norms and ideals for the various gender identities in western societies. In order to achieve this, gender mainstreaming (GM) needs to be implemented in the field of sustainability communication, from capacity building for communicators to project design and research. Gender and diversity competence is to become a professional requirement, assuring that traditional “doing gender” is avoided, cultural diversity respected and structural inequalities are made visible. Visions of sustainable societies should include changes in gender relations. The argument is based on sociological studies, gender theories, gender policies, and environmental and sustainability communication studies, empirically supported by biographical studies and media analyses over the last twenty years in Western Europe, mainly Germany.

Topics: Environment, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Analysis, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Media, Infrastructure, Energy, Information & Communication Technologies Regions: Europe, Western Europe Countries: Germany

Year: 2014

Transnational Feminist Practices Against War


Bacchetta, Paola, Tina Campt, Inderpal Grewal, Caren Kaplan, Minoo Moallem, and Jennifer Terry. 2002. “Transnational Feminist Practices Against War.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 2 (2): 302-8.

Authors: Paola Bacchetta, Tina Campt, Inderpal Grewal, Caren Kaplan, Minoo Moallem, Jennifer Terry

Keywords: transnational feminisms, feminism, nationalism, terrorism, war, globalization, trauma, military, media representation, war on terror, war on terrorism

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Media, Globalization, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Nationalism, Terrorism, Violence

Year: 2002


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