International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Simona Sharoni, Julia Welland, Linda Steiner and Jennifer Pedersen
Chapter 1: Gender and militaries: the importance of military masculinities for the conduct of state sanctioned violence
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.