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Weapons /Arms

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

SLICK 'EMS, GLICK 'EMS, CHRISTMAS TREES, and COOKIE CUTTERS: NUCLEAR language and how we learned to pat the bomb


Cohn, Carol. 1987. “SLICK 'EMS, GLICK 'EMS, CHRISTMAS TREES, and COOKIE CUTTERS: NUCLEAR language and how we learned to pat the bomb.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 43 (5): 17-24.

Author: Carol Cohn


Listening to the language of defense intellectuals reveals the emotional currents in this emphatically male discourse. But learning the language shows how thinking can become abstract, focusing on the survival of weapons rather than the survival of human beings.

Topics: Gender, Weapons /Arms

Year: 1987

Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals


Cohn, Carol. 1987. "Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals." Signs 12 (4): 687-718.

Author: Carol Cohn

Topics: Gender, Weapons /Arms Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 1987

The Delta Creeks, Women’s Engagement and Nigeria’s Oil Insurgency


Oriola, T. 2012. “The Delta Creeks, Women’s Engagement and Nigeria’s Oil Insurgency.” British Journal of Criminology 52 (3): 534–55. doi:10.1093/bjc/azs009.

Author: T. Oriola


The on-going insurgency in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria continues to have serious consequences for oil workers, corporations and the global oil market. In spite of the growing interest in arguably the greatest existential threat to the Nigerian state since the Civil War of 1967–70, scant scholarly attention has been paid to the Delta creeks and the fundamental roles performed by women in the insurgency. This paper interrogates the space represented by the creeks as the home territory of insurgents in Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta. Using interview and focus group data garnered from 42 insurgents and five other sets of actors, I analyse the operational significance and symbolism of the creeks and its processual social sorting. In addition, I demonstrate the dichotomous relationship of women to the creeks. Women constitute a major source of reconnaissance, spiritual fortification, among other roles, but are concurrently considered eewo or abomination by male insurgents. Although academic analysis has been overwhelmingly concerned with the supportive roles and nonviolent protests of women, the Delta women are actively engaged in the on-going violent repertoires of protest.

Keywords: Niger Delta, insurgency, oil struggle, Nigerian women, Niger Delta creeks


  • Women mediate between insurgents, the state and TNOCs, exercise “sexual power” (see Turner and Brownhill), are sometimes employed as gunmen, act as emissaries for insurgents (seduce security guards for information, etc.), and provide spiritual fortification.


"I argue that, although scholarly attention has been overwhelmingly concerned with the supportive roles and non-violent protests of women, the Delta women are actively engaged in the on-going violent repertoires of protest in various capacities as gun-runners, combatants, mediators and emissaries of insurgents, amongst others.” (2)

“It is hardly surprising that the United States considers African oil—a major part of it Nigerian in origin—as a commodity of ‘strategic national interest’ (Klare and Volman 2004: 227). The continued provision of arms and ammunitions to the Nigerian state in its war against insurgents is part of the wider securitization of oil in Nigeria by the American and British governments (Lubeck et al. 2007) amid incursion into the Nigerian oil industry by countries like China (see Obi 2008).” (8)

“Focusing on the role of women in the domestic domain inadvertently feeds into the patriarchal ideological underpinnings of the Nigerian society. By establishing key areas in which women participate in the Delta insurgency, I aim to demonstrate that women are an essential part of the violent forms of protest just as they have been active participants in non-violent protest.” (10)

“Women benefit from the facticity of femininity and occupation of a socio-cultural space that construes (Delta) women as somehow less dangerous than men.” (11)

“In the case of the Delta insurgency, female insurgents perform influential roles that the society accords them. However, the young women are perceived as wayward and unsuitable as wives and mothers. Their participation is also largely marginalized. When the federal government of Nigeria granted amnesty to all interested insurgents, for instance, women were among the last set of participants to go through the process of rehabiliation because male insurgents received priority attention. Women’s participation in the insurgency and the rehabilitation exercise seems devalued and relegated to the fringes.” (18)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Development, Economies, Extractive Industries, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-state Armed Groups, Multi-national Corporations, Political Participation, Weapons /Arms Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Nigeria

Year: 2012

Good Guys with Guns: Hegemonic Masculinity and Concealed Handguns


Stroud, Angela. 2012. “Good Guys with Guns: Hegemonic Masculinity and Concealed Handguns.” Gender and Society 26 (2): 216-38.

Author: Angela Stroud


In most states in the U.S. it is legal to carry a concealed handgun in public, but little is known about why people want to do this. While the existing literature argues that guns symbolize masculinity, most research on the actual use of guns has focused on marginalized men. The issue of concealed handguns is interesting because they must remain concealed and because relatively privileged men are most likely to have a license to carry one. Using in-depth interviews with 20 men, this article explores how they draw on discourses of masculinity to explain their use of concealed handguns. These men claim that they are motivated by a desire to protect their wives and children, to compensate for lost strength as they age, and to defend themselves against people and places they perceive as dangerous, especially those involving racial/ethnic minority men. These findings suggest that part of the appeal of carrying a concealed firearm is that it allows men to identify with hegemonic masculinity through fantasies of violence and self-defense.

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Race, Violence, Weapons /Arms Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2012

Reconstructing Masculinities: The Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration of Former Combatants in Colombia


Theidon, Kimberly. 2009. "Reconstructing Masculinities: The Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration of Former Combatants in Colombia." Human Rights Quarterly 31 (1): 1-34.

Author: Kimberly Theidon


A key component of peace processes and post-conflict reconstruction is the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants. I argue that DDR programs imply multiple transitions: from the combatants who lay down their weapons, to the governments that seek an end to armed conflict, to the communities that receive—or reject—these demobilized fighters. At each level, these transitions imply a complex equation between the demands of peace and the clamor for justice. However, traditional approaches to DDR have focused on military and security objectives, which have resulted in these programs being developed in relative isolation from the field of transitional justice and its concerns with historical clarification, justice, reparations, and reconciliation. Drawing upon my research with former combatants in Colombia, I argue that successful reintegration not only requires fusing the processes and goals of DDR programs with transitional justice measures, but that both DDR and transitional justice require a gendered analysis that includes an examination of the salient links between weapons, masculinities, and violence. Constructing certain forms of masculinity is not incidental to militarism: rather, it is essential to its maintenance. What might it mean to “add gender” to DDR and transitional justice processes if one defined gender to include men and masculinities, thus making these forms of identity visible and a focus of research and intervention? I explore how one might “add gender” to the DDR program in Colombia as one step toward successful reintegration, peace-building, and sustainable social change.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, DDR, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Justice, Transitional Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Security, Violence, Weapons /Arms Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2009

Sexed Pistols: The Gendered Impacts of Small Arms & Light Weapons


Farr, Vanessa, Henri Myrttinen, and Albrecht Schnabel, eds. 2009. Sexed Pistols: The Gendered Impacts of Small Arms & Light Weapons. Tokyo: United Nations University Press.

Authors: Vanessa Farr, Henri Myrttinen, Albrecht Schnabel


Every day, small arms and light weapons (SALW) kill and maim, wound and threaten millions of adults and children, whether combatants and civilians in war zones or gangs and communities in degraded “peacetime” environments that are characterized by large-scale violence. Due to their widespread availability, mobility and ease of use prolific SALW have become central to maintaining social dislocation, destabilization, insecurity and crime in the build-up to war, in wartime and in the aftermath of violent conflict. Small arms are misused within domestic settings, as well as in public spaces, and they affect everyone in the community without regard to sex or age. Although the impacts of these weapons can be vastly different for women and men, girls and boys, a careful consideration of gender and age is rare in the formulation of small arms policy, of planning small arms collection or control, or even in small arms research. To counter the effects of prolific SALW, their role in reinforcing and maintaining gender- and age-specific violence must be more deeply analysed and the results applied at the policy and operational level. This work should be undertaken in war-afflicted contexts, in societies suffering from elevated levels of social violence and/or severe underdevelopment, and in those tolerant of the presence of individually owned firearms.

Contributors to the book draw on experience and research from around the world on the nexus of gender, age, violence and small arms in developing and developed countries. Their findings feed into a number of recommendations for future policy formulation, programme implementation and research designed to further illuminate and counteract the firing of the “sexed pistol.” (United Nations University Press)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Gendered Discourses, Governance, Violence, Weapons /Arms

Year: 2009

Becoming Abject: Rape as a Weapon of War


Diken, Bulent, and Carsten Laustsen. 2005. “Becoming Abject: Rape as a Weapon of War.” Body & Society 11 (1): 111–28.

Authors: Diken Bulent, Carsten Laustsen


Organized rape has been an integral aspect of warfare for a long time even though classics on warfare have predominantly focused on theorizing ‘regular’ warfare, that is, the situations in which one army encounters another in a battle to conquer or defend a territory. Recently, however, much attention has been paid to asymmetric warfare and, accordingly, to phenomena such as guerrilla tactics, terrorism, hostage taking and a range of identity-related aspects of war such as religious fundamentalism, holy war, ethnic cleansing and war rape. In fact, war rape can be taken as a perfect example of an asymmetric strategy. In war rape the soldier attacks a civilian (not a fellow combatant) and a woman (not another male soldier), and does this only indirectly with the aim of holding or taking a territory. The primary target here is to inflict trauma and through this to destroy family ties and group solidarity within the enemy camp. This article understands war rape as a fundamental way of abandoning subjects: rape is the mark of sovereignty stamped directly on the body, that is, it is essentially a bio-political strategy using (or better, abusing) the distinction between the self and the body. Through an analysis of the way rape was carried out by the predominantly paramilitary Serbian forces on Bosnian soil, this article theorizes a two-fold practice of abjection: through war rape an abject is introduced within the woman’s body (sperm or forced pregnancy), transforming her into an abject-self rejected by the family, excluded by the community and quite often also the object of a self-hate, sometimes to the point of suicide. This understanding of war rape is developed in the article through a synthesis of the literature on abandonment (Agamben, Schmitt) and abjection (Bataille, Douglas, Kristeva) and concomitantly it is argued that the penetration of the woman’s body works as a metaphor for the penetration of enemy lines. In addition it is argued that this bio-political strategy, like other forms of sovereignty, operates through the creation of an ‘inclusive exclusion’. The woman and the community in question are inscribed within the enemy realm of power as those excluded.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against women, Weapons /Arms Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia

Year: 2005

"Sisters in Arms": The Warrior Construct in Writings by Contemporary U.S. Women of Color


DeShazer, Mary K. 1990. “‘Sisters in Arms’: The Warrior Construct in Writings by Contemporary U.S. Women of Color.” NWSA Journal 2 (3): 349–73.

Author: Mary K. DeShazer

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Race, Violence, Weapons /Arms Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 1990


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