Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Weapons /Arms

Sex and Drone Strikes: Gender and Identity in Targeting and Casualty Analysis


Acheson, Ray, Richard Moyes, and Thomas Nash. 2014. Sex and Drone Strikes: Gender and identity in targeting and casualty analysis. London: Article 36; New York: Reaching Critical Will.

Authors: Ray Acheson, Richard Moyes, Thomas Nash


This paper addresses concerns that the sex of individuals is being used as a signifier to designate people as militants in drone strike targeting decisions and post-strike analysis of casualties. Lack of transparency around armed drone operations makes it difficult to know what standards are used to determine how individuals come to constitute a legal target in the eyes of armed drone users. However, there are some indications that the United States uses maleness as a signifier of militancy. The blanket categorisation of adult men as militants raises moral, legal, social, and policy concerns in a number of areas:

• It erodes the protection that civilians should be afforded in armed conflict and violates many human rights, including the rights to life and due process;

• It undermines accurate casualty recording, which is a crucial basis for military, legal, and political analysis of attacks and for evaluating the use of force more generally;

• It suggests that sex can be taken as a key signifier of identity, which constitutes a form of gender-based violence and has broader implications in the reinforcement of gender essentialisms and problematic associations of masculinity with violence; and

• It sets a precedent for blanket categorisations of people, which may have problematic implications as certain states move to develop and deploy weapons systems operating with greater autonomy in the identification of targets.

The identification of people as objects for attack will always be fraught with challenges and difficulties, but using sex or gender to systematically remove a person’s claim to protection as a civilian is unacceptable.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Rights, Human Rights, Violence, Weapons /Arms

Year: 2014

Real Men Use Nonlethals: Appeals to Masculinity in Marketing Police Weaponry


Wozniak, Jesse, and Christopher Uggen. 2009. “Real Men Use Nonlethals: Appeals to Masculinity in Marketing Police Weaponry.” Feminist Criminology 4 (3): 275–93. doi:10.1177/1557085109332676.

Authors: Jesse Wozniak, Christopher Uggen


In recent years, a range of new nonlethal weapons have been introduced for use by police officers, military personnel, and other consumers. This article examines how manufacturers are employing ideals of masculinity as both physical dominance and technical expertise in marketing these weapons to police officials. Based on a case study of a major weapons manufacturer’s educational and sales conference, the authors explore how marketing appeals are adapted to suit a hypermasculine police subculture. Connell’s theory of masculinities is employed to understand how such a tightly defined subculture absorbs challenges to its core values of hegemonic hypermasculinity and reimagines itself to keep those core values intact.

Keywords: weapons, policing, masculinity, Connell, justice, stun guns, conducted energy device, police habitus, gender and policing

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

Year: 2009

Women Without Arms: Gendered Fighter Constructions in Eritrea and Southern Sudan


Weber, Annette. 2011. “Women Without Arms: Gendered Fighter Constructions in Eritrea and Southern Sudan.” International Journal of Conflict and Violence 5 (2): 357–70.

Author: Annette Weber


An analysis of gendered fighter constructions in the liberation movements in Eritrea and southern Sudan (EPLF and SPLA/M), examining the question of female access to the sphere of masculine fighter constructs and the relevance of this for influence in peacetime affairs. Empirical research in both countries, in particular interviews with participants, reveals that what keeps women out of the sphere of legitimized violence is not some “inherent peacefulness,” but the exclusivist construct of the masculine fighter, which is supported by society. This makes it hard for women to participate in war, and especially to gain full fighter status. An intrinsic link is found between fighter status and access to power in post-conflict state-building from which women, being unable to gain full fighter status, are largely excluded.

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, Post-Conflict, Violence, Weapons /Arms Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Eritrea, South Sudan

Year: 2011

Destruction and Delight: World War II Combat Photography and the Aesthetic Inscription of Masculine Identity


Vettel-Becker, Patricia. 2002. “Destruction and Delight: World War II Combat Photography and the Aesthetic Inscription of Masculine Identity.” Men and Masculinities 5 (1): 80–102.

Author: Patricia Vettel-Becker


During World War II, the American public was inundated with photographs of war. This article examines the iconography of war as revealed in photographs from the Pacific arena, identifying four primary motifs: the transformation of boys into warrior men, the fetishization of weaponry, the spectacle of death, and the quest to penetrate and dominate nature. War is a territorial game played by men to enact dominance, a social performance that inscribes gender identities on human bodies. War, like masculinity, is predicated on the subjugation of the feminine, which is encoded in the body and territory of the enemy, an inscription even more extreme when the enemy is of another race. These photographs enact the play of domination and subjugation through the imagery of impenetrability and rapability, thus contributing to the propagandistic construction of the enemy and extending the voyeuristic pleasures of domination to those not able to experience it firsthand.

Keywords: masculinity, combat photography, World War II, Edward Steichen, violence, atomic bomb

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Race, Sexual Violence, Rape, Weapons /Arms Regions: Americas, North America, Asia Countries: United States of America

Year: 2002

Putting ‘Mercenary Masculinities’ on the Research Agenda


Higate, Paul. 2009. “Putting ‘Mercenary Masculinities’ on the Research Agenda.” SPAIS Working Paper 03-09, School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.

Author: Paul Higate


Private Military Security Companies (PMSC) have come increasingly to supplant the activities of regular, national militaries - most notably in such contexts as Iraq and Afghanistan. Though a wide scholarship has addressed questions of legitimacy, regulation and control of PMSCs, critical commentators on gender have almost entirely overlooked the masculinised cultures of these private firms, the majority of which employ former military personnel. This is surprising since masculine norms, values and cultures shape private contractors security practices and can be used to explain human rights abuses, as well as the everyday ways in which these men imagine security. In these terms, the key critical issue concerns what is missed when masculinity is ignored in analyses of PMSCs, a question that is taken up in this working paper within the context of a potential research agenda for this topic of research.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Private Military & Security, Rights, Human Rights, Security, Violence, Weapons /Arms

Year: 2009

Posthuman Soldiers in Postmodern War


Gray, Chris Hables. 2003. “Posthuman Soldiers in Postmodern War.” Body & Society 9 (4): 215–26. doi:10.1177/135703403773684739.

Author: Chris Hables Gray


The centrality of human-machine weapon systems is a key aspect of postmodern war. Since 1939 such systems have proliferated while improved interfaces have led to several types of actual cyborg soldiers. As the crisis of postmodern war deepens it is producing a series of quite different militarized bodies. Cyborgs proliferate in type so it is no surprise that we have pilot-cyborgs and tele-operators, info-cyborgs (from political operatives to clerks and including all the servants of the computers and weapons systems), and various fighting cyborg soldiers and sailors. There has also been a resurgence of a type of irregular warrior that many commentators describe as bestial. It is not a coincidence that while humanity is on the verge of producing real posthumans (quite possibly for military applications) so-called “prehuman” types of war have broken out across the globe. War is based on bodies and its skewed logics have driven many cyborgian developments. Now, both war and our cyborg society are involved in a linked crisis fueled by the relentless march of technoscience that has made modern war impossible and posthumans probable. The future of the human, and of a multitude of potential posthumanities, will largely be determined by how this crisis is resolved.

Topics: Armed Conflict, "New Wars", Gender, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Violence, Weapons /Arms

Year: 2003

Hitting the Target: Men and Guns


Buchanan, Cate, Gary Barker, and Mireille Widmer. 2006. "Hitting the Target: Men and Guns." In RevCon Policy Brief. New York: HD Centre Publications.

Authors: Mireille Widmer, Gary Barker, Cate Buchanan


This policy paper explores the diverse roles that men and boys play in relation to guns - as perpetrators, victims, survivors and agents of change - and suggests the need to encourage more positive and peaceful expressions of masculinity. The focus of this brief on men and boys does not minimize the particular impacts of the uncontrolled arms trade and armed violence on women and girls. Rather, it challenges the common view that women and girls are always the victims of gun-related and other forms of gender-based violence, and that boys and men are always the perpetrators. (The International Relations and Security Network)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Men, Boys, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Violence, Weapons /Arms

Year: 2006

Small Arms, Violence and Gender in Papua New Guinea: Towards a Research Agenda


Capie, David. 2011. "Small Arms, Violence and Gender in Papua New Guinea: Towards a Research Agenda." Asia Pacific Viewpoint 52 (1): 42-55.

Author: David Capie


Among Pacific states, Papua New Guinea (PNG) has attracted the most attention from researchers looking at problems caused by small arms and light weapons. There is now a substantive body of work cataloguing different aspects of the country's problems with firearms and gun violence. This research sits alongside a large scholarly literature on violence in PNG and the connection between violence, gender and masculine identities. There has, however, been strikingly little research bringing these literatures together and looking directly at the gendered dimensions of PNG's gun violence. This paper explores some connections between small arms, violence and gender in PNG. After providing a general overview of small arms issues in PNG, it examines the misuse of firearms in urban crime and inter-communal fighting in the Highlands, specifically noting the limited evidence that is available about the differently gendered consequences of gun violence. It identifies three potential areas for further research: exploring the relationship between changing notions of masculinity and demand for firearms; gender and PNG's growing private security industry; and fragile signs of change in the role of women in the PNG Defence Force.


Keywords: gender, Papua New Guinea, small arms, violence

Topics: Gender, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Private Military & Security, Violence, Weapons /Arms Regions: Oceania Countries: Papua New Guinea

Year: 2011

The Relevance of Gender for Eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction


Cohn, Carol, Felicity Hill, and Sara Ruddick. 2005. "The Relevance of Gender for Eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction". Disarmament Diplomacy 80: online.

Authors: Carol Cohn, Felicity Hill, Sara Ruddick

Topics: Gender, Gendered Discourses, Weapons /Arms

Year: 2005


© 2019 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at

Subscribe to RSS - Weapons /Arms