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"How Can She Claim Equal Rights When She Doesn't Have to Do as Many Push-Ups as I Do?": The Framing of Men's Opposition to Women's Equality in the Military


Cohn, Carol. 2000. “‘How Can She Claim Equal Rights When She Doesn’t Have to Do as Many Push-Ups as I Do?’: The Framing of Men’s Opposition to Women’s Equality in the Military.” Men and Masculinities 3 (2): 131–51. doi:10.1177/1097184X00003002001.

Author: Carol Cohn


The public arguments for and against women in the military and in combat are numerous, well-worn, and readily accessible in congressional testimony, books, and articles. But the laundry list of arguments does not necessarily tell us much about how military men actually make sense to themselves of their own experiences and opinions, or the ways that they frame their feelings about the issue. Drawing on in-depth interviews with military officers, this article describes and analyzes a dominant form in which male officers frame their opposition to women in the military, the "PT (physical training) protest," a variance of "standards discourse." Having different physical training standards for men and women is seen as special treatment for women, lowering standards for women, and/or evidence that women cannot cut it in the military. Although standards discourse invokes an apparently "objective" and neutral ideology that links equal status with same standards, the author shows that the discursive context in which male officers utter the PT protest reveals strong feelings of loss and anger about changes in the way the organization is gendered.

Keywords: gender, military, physical training, sex differences, gendered organizations, standards, difference dilemma

Topics: Combatants, Feminisms, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries

Year: 2000

Women Breaking the Silence: Military Service, Gender, and Antiwar Protest


Sasson-Levy, Orna, Yagil Levy, and Edna Lomsky-Feder. 2011. "Women Breaking the Silence: Military Service, Gender, and Antiwar Protest." Gender & Society 25 (6): 740-63.

Authors: Orna Sasson-Levy, Yagil Levy, Edna Lomsky-Feder


This paper analyzes how military service can be a source of women’s antiwar voices, using the Israeli case of “Women Breaking the Silence” (WBS). WBS is a collection of testimonies from Israeli women ex-soldiers who have served in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The WBS testimonies change the nature of women’s antiwar protest by offering a new, paradoxical source of symbolic legitimacy for women’s antiwar discourse from the gendered marginalized position of “outsiders within” the military. From this contradictory standpoint, the women soldiers offer a critical gendered voice, which focuses on criticism of the combat masculinity and gendered identification with the Palestinian “other.” While they reaffirm the republican ethos that grants political dominance to male soldiers, they also deconstruct the image of hegemonic masculinity as the emblem of the nation and undermine gendered militarized norms.

Keywords: military, state, nationalism, politics, collective behavior, social movements

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Analysis, Gendered Discourses, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2011

Challenges and Opportunities for Women’s Land Rights in Post-Conflict Northern Uganda


Kindi, Fredrick Immanuel. 2010. “Challenges and Opportunities for Women’s Land Rights in Post-Conflict Northern Uganda.” Working Paper 26, MICROCON-A Micro Level Analysis of Violent Conflict, Brighton.

Author: Fredrick Immanuel Kindi


Since the late 1980s to 2006, the northern region of Uganda underwent an armed conflict between the government of Uganda and the rebel group led by Joseph Kony. The conflict displaced virtually the entire population in the region, and by 1990 people were living in internally displaced peoples’ camps. As the war winds up, many people have left the camps returning to their former villages. The journey back home has not been easy, however. For women in particular, many are facing a lot of challenges especially related to access, ownership and use of land. Using data that was qualitatively gathered in two IDP camps in Gulu district, northern Uganda, the paper examines these challenges. It argues however that despite the challenges, opportunities do exist that can be exploited, if there is commitment by various stakeholders, to ensure that women access, own and use land in the return process.



“In this paper I examine the challenges of women’s land rights in the return process in the region. I also assess the effectiveness of Peace, Recovery and Development Plan in addressing these challenges in the post conflict reconstruction. I conclude by noting the opportunities that can be exploited to address some of the challenges in the post conflict reconstruction.” (3)

“In situations of high mortality of men during the war, the women who have survived have found it difficult to secure access to land that was formerly owned or jointly owned by the husbands or with other male relatives. This is because such women might be denied access to land by their in-laws or by other surviving male relatives. This phenomenon has been widely reported in countries that have experienced armed conflicts. For instance, UNHCR (2001) noted that in the aftermath of the genocide and massacres of 1994 in Rwanda, many women who became widows met stiff resistance from in-laws or male members of their own family in accessing land. While in Kenya Mwagiru (2001: 19) reported that the conflicts of 1991-1993, including one of 1997 due to general elections, had serious consequences that adversely affected social patterns, including access to land and property rights.” (5)

“As Hetz, et al (2007) argued, the time span of displacement tends often to correlate with the incidences of disputes and conflicts over access to land and land rights. In such a context, women’s chances to own and access land are thinned as most of them flee from such conflicts.” (5)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Women, Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Non-state Armed Groups, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2010

The Female Soldier


King, Anthony C. 2013. “The Female Soldier.” Parameters 43 (2): 13-25.

Author: Anthony C. King


Since the 1970s, women have been increasingly integrated into the military; in Iraq and Afghanistan many women served on the frontline in combat. This article argues women's integration has been facilitated by the all-volunteer professional forces in which individuals are judged purely by competence. Female soldiers have been accepted in all military roles if they preform competently. There are serious limitations in the infantry, however, as only a small number of women pass the selection tests and it is likely no more than one percent of the infantry could be female at present. Moreover, masculine prejudices abound and women are still the victims of discrimination, harassment, and abuse.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries

Year: 2013

Masculinity and Femininity in the Corps


Morgan, Erin. 2007. “Masculinity and Femininity in the Corps.” Race, Gender & Class 14 (3-4): 117-30.

Author: Erin Morgan


Cadets at the United States Military Academy live within a very distinct microcosm of American society. With a culture all their own, members of the Corps of Cadets grow up in an Academy whose historical tradition and present mission of producing officers for the U.S. Army shapes cadet behaviors, norms and ideals. Among these is the conceptualization of masculinity and femininity and the relative place and value of gender notions within the Academy and military service. An in-depth investigation of cadet opinions, stereotypes, behaviors, and personal experiences highlights current conceptualizations of gender in the Corps and evinces why actual clear feminine ideal defining the mannerisms valued and expected of a woman in military service does not exist.

Topics: Education, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2007

Ambivalence at the Academies: Attitudes toward Women in the Military at the Federal Service Academies


Drake, Monica Jansen. 2006. “Ambivalence at the Academies: Attitudes toward Women in the Military at the Federal Service Academies.” Social Thought & Research 27 (Gender, War, and Politics): 43-68.

Author: Monica Jansen Drake


In this paper I analyze comparative data on attitudes toward women at the Federal Service Academies relative to Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students and active-duty officers using data from a 1998-1999 Triangle Institute for Security Studies survey. This paper serves as a pilot study for a more organizationally grounded analysis of masculine culture. I illustrate this approach by comparing patterns of gender related attitudes across a range of military institutions, while controlling for demographic and selection variables. I find that cadets at the academies are more ambivalent toward women than are senior officers or ROTC students, and that some of this effect can be attributed to socialization within the academy context. The relationship between culture, discrimination, and sexual harassment was evident at all of the academies. However, I also find that this relationship cannot be assumed by the existence of a masculine culture alone as patterns of gender attitudes vary across the services.

Topics: Education, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2006

Brotherhood: Homosociality, Totality and Military Subjectivity


Wadham, Ben. 2013. “Brotherhood: Homosociality, Totality and Military Subjectivity.” Australian Feminist Studies 28 (76): 212-35. doi:10.1080/08164649.2013.792440.

Author: Ben Wadham


In April 2011 a group of young male Australian Defence Force Academy Cadets conspired to prey upon an unsuspecting female colleague. Their plan was to broadcast one of their mates having consensual sex with an unsuspecting female cadet colleague for their viewing pleasure and fratriarchal bonding. The incident generated a strong and heated public debate about military culture and the ways soldiers behave. But it also marked a long end enduring history of such scandals that have developed into a reputation for the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) as obdurate and resistant to reform. Indeed, the ADF has consistently neutralised their responsibility for such practices by naming bad behaviour as merely the practices of a few bad apples. This paper unpacks the technologies of camouflage that the ADF and its military subjects' use to justify the role and place of militarism in contemporary Australian cultural relations. The paper focuses on the ideal of brotherhood and the way in which the Skype men, and the ADF as an institution, engage in forms of homosociality to naturalise the inherently violent disposition of the military. The practices and forms of fratriarchal bonding are implicated in the desire to generate and sustain a totalising masculinist economy that seeks wholeness and certainty at the expense of difference and otherness. These concerns are explored through the investigation of the sexual predation of six cadets and the manner in which the ADF accounts for its cultural practices.

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Militarism, Sexual Violence Regions: Oceania Countries: Australia

Year: 2013

Saving Private Sychev: Russian Masculinities, Army Hazing, and Social Norms


Lowry, Anna U. 2008. “Saving Private Sychev: Russian Masculinities, Army Hazing, and Social Norms.” Berkeley Journal of Sociology 52: 73-100.

Author: Anna U. Lowry


This paper examines the recent case of Andrei Sychev, a former soldier in the Russian army who lost his legs and genitals as a result of a violent hazing. Reviewing extensive media coverage of and debate over the significance of this incident, the author identifies the debate's main participants, including military officials, politicians, members of the Soldiers' Mothers movement, and medical experts. An analysis of their discourses (nationalist, liberal, medical-scientific) and premises, informed by Foucauldian theory and masculinity studies, is presented, revealing important discrepancies and occasionally surprising overlap among their interpretations of the incident. Ultimately, the paper seeks to understand the Sychev affair as a discursive knot in which conflicting notions of Russian masculinity and norms of citizenship are tied together. It concludes with a reflection on the challenges that the human rights group Soldiers ' Mothers face in their struggle to redefine the dominant norms.

Topics: Citizenship, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Nationalism, Violence Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Russian Federation

Year: 2008

The Military-Masculinity Complex: Hegemonic Masculinity and the United States Armed Forces, 1940-1963


Locke, Brandon T. 2013. “The Military-Masculinity Complex: Hegemonic Masculinity and the United States Armed Forces, 1940-1963.” Master's Thesis, University of Nebraska.

Author: Brandon T. Locke

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2013

Forces for Good? Military Masculinities and Peacebuilding in Afghanistan and Iraq


Duncanson, Claire. 2013. Forces for Good? Military Masculinities and Peacebuilding in Afghanistan and Iraq. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Author: Claire Duncanson


"Forces for Good?” explores British soldier 'herographies' to identify constructions of gender, race, class and nation and their consequences on complex, multi-dimensional operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This book aims to intervene in the debates within critical feminist scholarship over whether soldiers can ever be agents of peace. Many feminist analyses of military intervention point to the way in which interventions are legitimated by gendered narratives where representatives of civilization are tasked with addressing violent conflict in troubled lands, a story which distracts from the root causes of the violence and enables the furthering of a neoliberal agenda. This book advances this critique by adding the important but hitherto neglected case of the British Army, and challenges its determinism, which Duncanson argues to be normatively, empirically and theoretically problematic. Exploring the impact of identity and gender constructions on the prospects for successful peacebuilding, this book will appeal to a range of scholars in politics, international relations, peace studies, gender and women's studies, sociology and anthropology. (WorldCat)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Class, Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Peacebuilding, Race Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East, South Asia, Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, United Kingdom

Year: 2013


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