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Weapons /Arms

Unmanned? Gender Recalibrations and the Rise of Drone Warfare


Bayard de Volo, Lorraine. 2016. “Unmanned? Gender Recalibrations and the Rise of Drone Warfare.” Politics & Gender 12 (01): 50–77. doi:10.1017/S1743923X15000252.

Author: Lorraine Bayard de Volo


Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—drones—are increasingly prominent in U.S. military strategy (Shaw and Akhter 2012). The U.S. Air Force (USAF) trains more UAV pilots than fighter and bomber pilots combined (Parsons 2012). A 2011 Defense Department analysis predicted “a force made up almost entirely of [UAVs] by the middle of this century” (U.S. Department of Defense 2011). Some argue that drones and other robotics so alter the character and conduct of military operations as to constitute a revolution in military affairs (RMA) (Singer 2009).

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender Analysis, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Weapons /Arms

Year: 2016

Female Suicide Bombers - Male Suicide Bombing? Looking for Gender in Reporting the Suicide Bombings of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


Brunner, Claudia. 2005. “Female Suicide Bombers – Male Suicide Bombing? Looking for Gender in Reporting the Suicide Bombings of the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict.” Global Society 19 (1): 29–48.

Author: Claudia Brunner


The primary aim of this article is to bring together questions of both the gender representation (notions of femininity and masculinity) and the gender order (existing social relations and power structures) of Palestinian suicide bombing, and thereby to offer a rather unusual perspective on a sensitive topic within what is generally an overanalysed conflict. It is based on the way female suicide bombers have been represented in the media in the first half of 2002, supplemented by publications in 2003 and January 2004. Print and online articles constitute the main basis of interpretation that aims to bring gender as an analytical tool into the continuing debate on suicide bombing. 

Topics: Armed Conflict, Occupation, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Media, Violence, Weapons /Arms Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2005

Making Feminist Sense out of "Charlie Wilson’s War"


Larson, Janet. 2015. “Making Feminist Sense out of ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (1): 77–99. doi:10.1080/14616742.2013.835527.

Author: Janet Larson


Charlie Wilson's War (2007), Mike Nichols's film about the womanizing Congressman who engineered black funds for the CIA's proxy war in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, is historically misleading but highly instructive, because in packaging dominant American masculine identity and war politics as popular entertainment for post-9/11 audiences, it reveals the sexed and gendered ‘politics of the visual’ in global affairs. This intertextual study of ‘Charlie Wilson's war’ as movie, constructed history and legacy examines Wilson as a prime exhibit of a needy masculinity that, like the film's emasculated CIA, bulks itself up through surrogate military selves. It also analyses modes of the imaginary and specularity in brother-bonding with the mujahidin, tracks the proxy system's loops of masculine identity-and-war-making between Stateside and South Asia in the post-Vietnam 1980s and interrogates the dynamics of imperial ‘un-seeing’ in this campaign and its long aftermath. While US proxy wars proliferate worldwide, the lack of useable political memory about the ground truths of ‘Charlie's war’ continues to matter because America's second ‘good’ war in Afghanistan, bound to the first by gendered causal links, has re-empowered the forces that still menace women's rights and lives.

Keywords: Afghanistan, amnesia, bonding, Charlie Wilson, CIA, Cold War, film, image, imagination, imperial, intertext, masculinity, perform, proxy, Russians, visual, mujahidin

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Militarism, Rights, Women's Rights, Weapons /Arms Regions: Americas, North America, Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, United States of America

Year: 2015

Gendering a Warbot: Gender, Sex and the Implications for the Future of War


Roff, Heather M. 2016. “Gendering a Warbot: Gender, Sex and the Implications for the Future of War.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 18 (1): 1–18. doi:10.1080/14616742.2015.1094246.

Author: Heather M. Roff


Recently, the United States Defense Advanced Project Agency (DARPA) hosted its “Robotics Challenge.” The explicit goal of this challenge is to develop robots capable of “executing complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human engineered environments.” However, the competitors’ choice to build humanoid robots tells a different narrative. In particular, through the physical design choices, the giving of names and the tasking of roles, the competing teams perpetuated a gendered narrative. This narrative in turn reifies gendered norms of warfighting, and ultimately leads to an accretion of gendered practices in militaries, politics and society, despite contemporary attempts at minimizing these practices through policies of inclusion. I argue that though much work on gender and technology exists, the autonomous humanoid robot – the one currently sought by DARPA – is something entirely new, and must be addressed on its own terms. In particular, this machine exceeds even Haraway's conception of the post-human cyborg, and rather than emancipating human beings from gender hierarchy, further reifies its practices. Masculine humanoid robots will be deemed ideal warfighters, while feminine humanoid robots will be tasked with research or humanitarian efforts, thereby reinstituting gendered roles.

Keywords: robotics, DARPA, gender, autonomous weapons, masculinity

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

Year: 2016

Gender-Based Violence and the Arms Trade Treaty: Reflections from a Campaigning and Legal Perspective


Green, Caroline, Deepayan Basu Ray, Claire Mortimer, and Kate Stone. 2013. “Gender-Based Violence and the Arms Trade Treaty: Reflections from a Campaigning and Legal Perspective.” Gender & Development 21 (3): 551–62.

Authors: Caroline Green, Deepayan Basu Ray, Claire Mortimer, Kate Stone


The Arms Trade Treaty, the first treaty to regulate the international transfer of conventional arms and ammunition, was adopted in 2013 at the United Nations. It aims to regulate the flow of weapons around the world by requiring governments to assess all arms transfers against a set of criteria, before the transfer is authorised or denied. The agreed criteria include language on the risks of gender-based violence. This is a landmark provision, and shows that the issues of women, peace and security have successfully moved into the realm of mainstream security. This article explores how this happened, and the lessons campaigners can learn from this campaign success. The article also explores what the implications are for progress on reducing gender-based violence in conflict, and the areas of uncertainty as attention turns to the treaty's implementation.


Keywords: Arms Trade Treaty, gender-based violence, advocacy, campaigning, women's rights, United Nations

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Rights, Women's Rights, Security, Violence, Weapons /Arms

Year: 2013

Gender and the Subject of (Anti)Nuclear Politics: Revisiting Women’s Campaigning against the Bomb


Eschle, Catherine. “Gender and the Subject of (Anti)Nuclear Politics: Revisiting Women’s Campaigning against the Bomb.” International Studies Quarterly 57, no. 4 (December 1, 2013): 713–24. doi:10.1111/isqu.12019.

Author: Catherine Eschle


This article aims to rehabilitate women campaigners against nuclear weapons as a focus of study and interlocutor for feminist International Relations scholars. Highlighting the recent tendency in gender and security studies to ignore or stereotype these campaigners, I first show how their critical re-investigation has been facilitated by recent systematizations of poststructuralist-influenced feminist methodology. In this light, I then revisit the discourses circulating in women’s antinuclear activism in the 1980s before deconstructing in more detail the post-Cold War writings of Helen Caldicott and Angie Zelter. I argue that multiple, differently gendered constructions of the antinuclear campaigner were in play during the Cold War and have since been reconfigured in ways that reflect and reproduce the shift to a post-Cold War context and differences between the United States and UK. In such ways, then, women antinuclear campaigners continue to develop diverse oppositional subject positions in their efforts to challenge nuclear hegemony, in a discursive struggle worthy of attention from gender and security scholars as part of a broader, critical re-engagement with the gendered dimensions of nuclear politics.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Conflict Prevention, Gender, Women, Gendered Discourses, Security, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Regions: Americas, North America, Europe, Western Europe Countries: United Kingdom, United States of America

Year: 2013

Women and War


Elshtain, Jean Bethke. 1987. Women and War. New York: Basic Books.

Author: Jean Bethke Elshtain


"Jean Elshtain examines how the myths of Man as "Just Warrior" and Woman as "Beautiful Soul" serve to recreate and secure women's social position as noncombatants and men's identity as warriors. Elshtain demonstrates how these myths are undermined by the reality of female bellicosity and sacrificial male love, as well as the moral imperatives of just wars." (WorldCat)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Violence, Weapons /Arms

Year: 1987

Gender and Consociational Power-Sharing in Northern Ireland


Hayes, Bernadette C. and Ian McAllister. 2012. “Gender and Consociational Power-Sharing in Northern Ireland.” International Political Science Review 34 (2): 123-139.

Authors: Bernadette C. Hayes, Ian McAllister


Designing political arrangements is the most viable approach to resolving inter-communal divisions in post-conflict societies. Yet women are frequently ill-served by such peace settlements, since gender equality is often sacrificed in an effort to resolve conflicts over national identity. Northern Ireland is no exception to this trend. Although the 1998 Northern Ireland Agreement made specific provision for gender equality, it was primarily framed in terms of national identity. This article examines to what extent this focus on inter-communal ethnic division undermined support for the Agreement among women. Using data from the 2010 Northern Ireland Election Survey, we examine gender differences in attitudes towards the consociational institutions of government. The results show a significant gender gap in support for the institutional arrangements that were established by the Agreement. We propose and test three explanations to account for this gender gap. 

Keywords: post-conflict, consociationalism, gender, national identity, power-sharing

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Civil Society, Democracy / Democratization, Domestic Violence, Economies, Poverty, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Men, Girls, Boys, Governance, Constitutions, Elections, Post-conflict Governance, Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Paramilitaries, Nationalism, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Weapons /Arms Regions: Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland

Year: 2012

United States-India Nuclear Relations Post-9/11: Neo-Liberal Discourses, Masculinities and Orientalism in International Politics


Das, Runa. 2013. “United States-India Nuclear Relations Post-9/11: Neo-Liberal Discourses, Masculinities and Orientalism in International Politics.” Journal of Asian and African Studies. 

Author: Runa Das


In this article I explore how the post-9/11 neo-liberal climate of globalization has served as the context within which is articulated masculinist and orientalist forms of nuclear discourses between India and the United States (US). To this extent, I draw from feminist international relations (IR), that security is a gendered phenomenon, to explore the linkages between masculinities and nuclear weapons as underpinning the nuclear security discourses between India and the US. Yet considering issues of international hierarchy and power relations between India and the US, I also draw from Edward Said’s Orientalism to explore how assumptions of orientalism are also sustained in these masculinist nuclear discourses. My contribution lies in enriching feminist IR with a post-colonial angle by suggesting that feminist IR continue to engage with post-colonial feminist perspectives to comprehend the masculinist and orientalist forms of identity politics that underpin security relations/discourses between Western and post-colonial states.

Keywords: globalization, India, masculinity, nuclear security, orientalism, Pakistan, United States

Topics: Armed Conflict, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gender, Gendered Discourses, Globalization, Security, Violence, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Regions: Americas, North America, Asia, South Asia Countries: India, United States of America

Year: 2013

Americanness, Masculinity, and Whiteness: How Michigan Militia Men Navigate Evolving Social Norms


Cooter, Amy. 2013. "Americanness, Masculinity, and Whiteness: How Michigan Militia Men Navigate Evolving Social Norms." PhD. Diss. University of Michigan. 

Author: Amy Cooter


This dissertation is based on three years of ethnographic fieldwork and 40 indepth interviews with members of the Michigan militia. Militia members are mostly white men who believe in an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. Armed with rifles, they practice paramilitary exercises and protest various government actions. Militia members see themselves as "super citizens" who embody national ideals of freedom and equality even as they face public criticism as being violent, socially regressive, and racist. My dissertation examines how members respond to changing ideas about equality and inclusion while belonging to a group that lauds a mythic vision of the nation where white men had exclusive social power. I find that most militia members genuinely try to be egalitarian, and the ways in which they fail are instructive regarding white men's conceptualizations of other groups. I argue that an idealized national identity, strongly influenced by mythical stories of the country's founding, shapes members' responses to a variety of issues. Specifically, I find that members use the militia space to test and expand constructions of what it means to be a man in contemporary U.S. society even as they reference themes of a traditional, hegemonic masculinity when explaining their militia participation. Regarding race, militia members tend to be accepting of African Americans, but make very little effort to accept Muslim Americans. I argue that members have largely integrated anti-racist norms about African Americans, but they fear physical harm and change to an idealized national identity from Muslims as a result of past violence and attendant political change. Militia members' relationship to authority, primarily embodied by law enforcement actors is similarly complex. Members are likely to comply with authoritative actions they understand to be legitimate and in accordance with Constitutional principles and defy those actions they understand to be illegitimate. This work challenges current understandings of masculinity and whiteness, particularly among lower-middle class, American men as it shows that men who strongly value a mythical American identity that is premised on the social power of white men nonetheless consciously grapple with issues of gendered and raced equality.

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militias, Non-state Armed Groups, Race, Religion, Rights, Violence, Weapons /Arms Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2013


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