Table of Contents

Handbook on Gender and War

Handbook on Gender and War

International Handbooks on Gender series

Edited by Simona Sharoni, Julia Welland, Linda Steiner and Jennifer Pedersen

Gender and war are in many ways inextricably linked, and this path-breaking Handbook systematically examines the major issues surrounding this relationship. Each of its four sections covers a distinct phase of war: gender and opposition to war; gender and the conduct of war; gender and the impact of war; and gender and the aftermath of war. Original contributions from an international group of leading experts make use of a range of historical and contemporary examples to interrogate the multi-faceted connection between gender and war.

Chapter 1: Gender and militaries: the importance of military masculinities for the conduct of state sanctioned violence

Victoria M. Basham

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics, terrorism and security


Feminists have long argued that gender has historically shaped and continues to shape who fights and dies, and in defence of whom. This chapter explores how state militaries continue to rely on gender constructs to motivate predominantly male soldiers to conduct acts of state sanctioned violence. It examines how gendered norms shape how militaries organize themselves and prepare for war, despite overwhelming evidence that the presence of women and sexual minorities has no discernible negative impact on military cohesion and performance and that soldiers do not need to bond socially in order to fight. It argues that militaries remain highly masculinized institutions because this is how militaries desire to see themselves and how most of their male members desire being seen. The masculinized character of military culture and identity thus remains significant; it facilitates war, even if it does not actually enable soldiers to kill and be killed.