Minerva: Quarterly Report on Women and the Military

Quarterly Report on Women and the Military: Nationalism, militarism and gender politics: women in the military

Nationalism, militarism and gender politics: women in the military

Sule Toktas

There have been various explanations of different nationalisms (Feinberg, 1997) that focus on various dimensions and aspects (Breuilly, 1994; Gellner, 1983; Anderson, 1983; Connor, 1993; Kedourie, 1970). However, the task of putting forth the gender dimension of nationalism and national identity has been neglected by mainstream theories. Feminist scholars like Nira Yuval-Davis and Floya Anthias (1989: 7-8) have pointed out the roles of women in national state making processes as biological producers of the nation, reproducers of boundaries, transmitters of cultural values to children, symbolic signifiers of difference and active militants in nationalist struggles. The dialogue between modernization and nationalism in non-Western contexts has been addressed by some others. Women in developing countries are argued to be used as hallmarks of secular projects. Paradoxically, although these national projects are politically anti-Western, they are at the same time the mediums of civilizing Western projects by which the status of women has national importance (Kandiyoti, 1996).

Not only attaching a gendered vision of nation and nationalism, left-wing feminists have also developed a critical stance against the nation-state as a form of legitimized violence. Militarism which is considered to function as an imperative and a priority of the nation state enables internal integration and marks borders against the threatening outsiders. Therefore, gender ideology lying at the heart of nationalist and militarist thought has been central to discussions on the impact of assertive nation building processes (Saigol, 1998). However, literature on nationalism and militarism, despite its gendered framework, does not focus on the macro interconnection of patriarchy, nationalism and modernization sufficiently. Therefore, a close up to the impact of modernization on women and gender politics that is the organization and reorganization of gender roles as means of allocation of power, within the specificity of militarism is needed.

For this reason, this essay will problematize gender politics in processes of nationalism, militarism and modernization. It aims to bring in sight the complexity and disorderliness that the interconnections and crosscuts between gender and modernization imply. The article contracts out this task into four parts.

First, it investigates gendered explanations of nation, national identity and nationalism on which masculinity is centralized epistemologically via social discourse. Second, it explores militarism as an extension and manifestation of state sovereignty and national identity with its heterosexual and masculine substantiation. Third, it cross-questions closely the link between nationalism, militarism and patriarchy in the specificity of women’s inclusion to and exclusion from the military. Lastly, the article ends with a critical evaluation of the relationship between militarism, nationalism and patriarchy susceptible to modernization.

Gendered Nations, Nationalities and Nationalisms

Benedict Anderson (1983), in his provocative articulation, defines nation as an “imagined community” and Gellner (1983) describes nationalism as the intention that the political and the social unit should be congruent. Nationalism presumes internal unity and equality within the nation and overlooks the hierarchies along lines of gender, class, race, sexuality and ethnicity. In view of that, nation being about hierarchies that involve power relations has been the mere objective of the gendered explanations of nation and nationalism with their exclusive focus on gender.

Mayer (2000) points out that nation is comprised of sexed subjects hence nation is not sexless. Sexuality has a central role in the cultural, social and symbolic construction of gender and national identities. This intersection of nation, gender and sexuality, claims Mayer, is a discourse about a hegemonic moral code which privileges one nation, one gender and one sexuality over others. In a similar manner, Enloe (1989: 19) points out that national narrative represents not only sexualities but also heterosexualized familial embodiment of the nation. Nation constructed as hetero-male project articulates itself through nationalism, the language through which sexual control and suppression of women as well as homosexuals is expressed, exercised and justified (Mayer, 2000).

Modern forms of hegemonic masculinity go hand in hand with hegemonic nationalism in culture and ideology. The micro culture of masculinity in everyday forms of patriarchy articulates with the demands of nationalism as well. This functions by reinforcing the imagery of masculine power, strength, blood, death and war embedded in the heroic soldier and breeding masculine cultural themes like honor, adventure, patriotism, cowardice and bravery (Tamir, 1997; Anderson, 1983; Noakes, 1998; Hedetoff, 1990; Saigol, 1998; Nagel, 1998).

Although nationalism functions with masculine imperatives, what may sound paradoxical is that nation in nationalist discourses is feminized like the images of “volksmoeder” (mother of the nation) in the Dutch context (Vincent, 2000: 61) or “Ibu Pertiwi” (motherland) in the Indonesian context (Sunindyo, 1998: 4) represent. In the same discourses, women are defined through domesticity where women are reduced to reproducers of race, nation or ethnic group (Wilson, 1994; Griffin, 1998; Yuval Davis, 1997).

It has been argued that all nationalisms are conservative because nationalism is constrained by patriarchy (Yuval-Davis, 1981). It is also suggested that nationalists are re-traditionalizers and traditions whether invented or real are patriarchal (Nagel, 1998). In this regard, it can be argued that since nationalism is a modern project and modernization enables the recognition and reinvention of the tradition, patriarchy as a manifestation of tradition is under constant reformulation as nationalism is. This may explain why ethno-national projects in Afrikaner nationalism in South Africa (Vincent, 2000) or the former Yugoslavia (Korac, 1998) represented a revival and celebration of traditional gender codes.

In this framework, patriarchy can be considered to be part of the “othering” processes of nations and nationalisms. The state manipulates the link between patriarchy and nationalism. Control over reproduction by techniques of family planning, health policies that aim healthy offspring, development of statistics as managerial discipline turning subjects into national resources, appropriation of the mother language in schooling and administration, rhetoric of militarism and militarization, etc. all signal to the symbiosis of different practices and instruments exploited by the state. Citizenship, which is at the crossroad of state and society relationship, emerges as an important concept in the study of nationalism and patriarchy relationship.

Citizenship did not arrive at one instance for all the members of the collectivities. Thus, the struggle for citizenship has been a continuous democratic project in which different groups participated in different periods of time (Walby, 1996; Pateman, 1988). Citizenship has been a national project as well, by which the nation tried to achieve legitimacy as a project in the eyes of its inhabitants (Walby, 1996). Within the same domain of nation being a sexual construct, citizenship, as part of a democratic national project, has gender connotations as well. The feminist critiques regarding the exclusion of the women from the social contract in the development of Western nation states (Pateman, 1988) and the struggles for women’s emancipation as part of national movements in the Third World, all signify the importance of the women question for the nation question (Jayawardena, 1986). Sacrificing one’s life for the nation and contributing to the national defense being the ultimate citizenship duty that legitimizes the claim for full citizenship right shows in a way the essentiality of militarism for the nation-state. This may explain why women’s participatory roles in times of war legitimized women’s claim to citizenship and the debate of women’s entrance to the military is in fact the debate of full citizenship.

Military as a Patriarchal Institution and Militarism as a Patriarchal Ideology

The military is considered to be the guardian of national identity and state sovereignty condensed in the “national flag.” It plays an important role in defining national/nationalistic interests and can behave as the only institution capable of protecting the society (Sarvas, 1999; Daechsel, 1997; Cohen, 1995; Campeanu and Radzai, 1991; Saigol, 1998; Nikolic-Ristanovic, 1999). (1) Militarist and nationalist ideology functions on the myth of uniqueness: it is the specific national community, which has unique characters like courage, strength and capability which the “other” lacks. The uniqueness myth in military accompanies the visibility function of the uniforms. The military uniforms help distinguishing between civilians and military, between different national armies and different regiments within national armies. It has been argued that femininity and visibility are interrelated (Schneider, 1997). The colorful and stylish dresses, cosmetics or jewelry that women wear are all proofs of this visibility. Men, on the contrary, dress simpler and less variant than women do. Considering this argument, women wearing uniforms in the military reminds one the transformation of feminine visibility to an institutional visibility.

Although militarist discourse seems to present nation in an affirmative manner, actually, militarism is the precedence of military concerns to the social ones with values like hierarchy, discipline, obedience, control and centralization. These values emphasize the use of force and domination to solve problems even sometimes at the expense of the people constituting the nation (Andreski, 1968; Caufield, 1999; Saigol, 1998). (2)

Sigmund Freud professes that sex and aggression are the two universal instincts of the humankind that are controlled and regulated in all societies. Although this generalization may rationalize the natural existence of militaries, it is actually the national security ideology that serves the justification for militaries and militarization. National security, lying at the heart of nationalist ideology with parameters of inclusion and exclusion, builds itself upon perceptions of threat and enemy. Threat, perceived to be permanent, helps militarization and nationalism and is instrumentally manipulated sometimes against an external threat like communism sometimes against an internal “other” like separatist ethnicities. It also helps to mask violence, pain, human suffering that militarization causes (Saigol, 1998) and legitimates the greatest allocation of budgetary resources for defense (Zhao, 1997; Enloe, 1988). Civil defense even ascends the throne of private property, the cornerstone of capitalist societies. For example, in Turkey, all the car licenses carry the term “This vehicle can be appropriated for civil defense use in times of emergency and warfare” in their registration.

Military has been defined as a patriarchal institution, which reproduces and manipulates the myths of masculinity and femininity (Sunindyo, 1998; Enloe, 1989; Caufield, 1999; Beaumont, 2000). (3) Both in nationalism and militarism, men are portrayed as warrior, chauvinistic, striving for power, driven by bravery, domination, competition, aggression and honor and women are portrayed as emotional, domestic, committed, supportive and passive (Schneider, 1997; Saigol, 1998; Korac, 1998). Militarism exploits gender ideology but at the same time sets itself apart from women who perform the symbolic other (Enloe, 1988; Kimmel, 2000). Kimmel reports that commands like “You can do more push ups than sissies” are frequently used as a means of motivation in physical training in the U. S. military. In Turkey, this motivation carries the same sexual undertone: “You do push ups as if Mujde Ar (a sex symbol in the 1980s) is lying under you with her legs open.”

In this regard, the image of a woman holding a weapon can be considered to be an ironic one because although she carries an arm, a phallic instrument, she has not gotten a phallus herself. The image, however, serves to mobilize masses. It serves recruiting new fighters and to shame men who have not taken arms to protect the nation symbolized as women (Kesic, 1999; Stiehm, 1988). In a similar vein, militarist ideology rests on the dichotomy of the protector and the protected and on the gendered propaganda that men’s duty is to protect women and women need to be protected by men (Enloe, 1989; Nantais and Lee, 1999). (4) What seems striking is that in militarism, it is assumed that the protectors will claim their reward from the realm of the protected (Nantais and Lee, 1999). (5) Sex and sexuality are used as moral boosters for troops (Kesic, 1999). This was what Marlene Dietrich tried to do for the German Army individually and the Korean prostitutes in the brothels at Japanese military bases or the Japanese brothels at the Australian military bases during WWII institutionally. (6)

There is frequent use of sexual imagery in war like rape of a country that shows the superiority of one nation over another (Megoran, 1999; Nagel, 1998; Nantais and Lee, 1999). Furthermore, rape being an actual act of violence and manifestation of power imbalance is an institutionalized feature of warfare (Wilson, 1994; Nikolic-Ristanovic, 1999). (7) The desire to possess and protect territory is constructed as a masculine desire. Raped body, in this sense, is a medium of communication symbolizing the occupied territory victory and dishonor of race, nation and country (Nantais and Lee, 1999; Saigol, 1998; Korac, 1998). The defeated soldiers in the war also rape the women of the winners as revenge. Rape in war is also an evidence of women experiencing war differently than men. (8) It creates an increase in the violence directed against women.

Despite all the negative consequences of wars, it has to be acknowledged that wars politicize and mobilize women. Women appear more in the public sphere in times of war in replacement of men but they return back home once the war is over (Isaakson, 1988; Yuval-Davis, 1997). In times of war, history is reconstructed and rewritten to show that women can perform effectively in various positions. After war, the disastrous effects of warfare are forgotten and there comes “cultural amnesia” of contributions women made during war (Saigol, 1998; Nantais and Lee, 1999). While gender roles may change during war, they maintain their status in relativity. Women move into new fields primarily reserved for men (like occupations in heavy industry) in war but these occupations are still considered as subordinate to male occupations such as fighting at the battlefront. And when the war is over, women return back to their homes as men return back to their deposited positions. Women serving in the military not only during war times but as a profession in modern life is thought to be an important dimension of the relationship of militarism and patriarchy so needs to be discussed separately in the following section.

Women in the Military

The debate on women’s involvement in the military could not refrain itself from the famous feminist equality/difference problematique. (9) Some feminists argue that military profession is an occupation, which needs to open its ranks to both sexes as a requirement of gender equality (Herbert, 1994; Dunbar, 1992; Boss, 2000). Therefore, the gender discrimination ideology that promotes “Women are vulnerable by nature and need to be protected” should be refused. Since military is one of the largest employers in many countries, they argue, women benefit economically by becoming soldiers (Yuval-Davis, 1997: 102; Anderson, 1988:134). The counter position that rejects incorporation of women to the military sets forth that women are committed to international peace and cooperation rather than to militaristic nationalism because they are by nature caring and peaceful (Yuval-Davis, 1997; Walby, 1996). If military is supposed to make men from boys, they argue, incorporation of women to military would be epistemologically impossible (Yuval-Davis, 1997). There is also a middle position that mainly focuses on women’s recruitment to the combatant positions. Although the orthodox position that refuse women in both support and combatant positions insist on the incompatibility of military ethos resting on destruction and victory with that of ethics of care, the proponents of the recruitment of women to combatant positions rest their argument on the changing nature of warfare from battleground warfare that prioritizes muscle and body power to high-tech combat that prioritizes equipment and technology. Considering the relative easiness of promotion by way of combatant positions within the military, it is emphasized that women refrained from combatant position could not rise through ranks of military system (Dunbar, 1992).

In the debate of women’s recruitment to the military, certain issues need to be addressed. Firstly, to assume that women either by birth or by practice of motherhood are peaceful and caring does not reflect reality because the cases of Latin America, Israel, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Northern Ireland show that women can be as militaristic as men (Caufield, 1999; Griffin, 1998). Any universalistic argument about the nature of women or men cannot capture the class dimension between and among men and women. For example, the women of the military and state elite in Latin American dictatorships supported militarism for the interests of their dominant class position. Furthermore, despite the negative consequences of the hierarchy along lines of gender for women, they may be the defenders of patriarchal values themselves by internalizing and transmitting those values oppressing women. The surrogate motherhood institution called ibu asuh in Indonesian military where the wives of commanding officers play the role of mother to all the female members of the forces under their husbands’ authority is an example of how women are not exterior to patriarchal and militaristic hierarchy (Sunindyo, 1998: 12). Further example can be given from another developing country, Turkey, where the military defines the role of women in society through motherhood by which the wife of the chief commander represents the mother of the military family (Sen, 2000).

Secondly, it is not surprising why militaries emerge as the major employers within national economies. Militaries, establishing its priority through national security rhetoric and rationality, are the major recipients of the gross national product. In other words, in most countries, most of the resources are allocated to the military institution and defense investments. High levels of military spending refer at the same time to less spending in education, health, environment and etc. by which new spheres of employment for women automatically decrease. Furthermore, militarism makes female labor cheap (Enloe, 1989). Compartmentalization of women into generally devalued positions within the military reinforces the image of women as the “other”–nurturing, supportive and defenseless (Chapkis, 1988). Although Segal (1995), in her comparative study marks out the demand for military personnel determining women’s involvement in the military, this is generally the case under the shortage of qualified men during times of national emergency or the requirements of the militarist sectors. For example, in WWI, women in UK were employed in heavy industry sectors but in Australia women’s employment figures did not increase because there was no munitions industry on the island that needed women’s labor (Beaumont, 2000). In Turkey, the exploitation of the cheap female labor by the military in the preparation of uniforms and medical bandages was made possible in times of wars during the Ottoman period and during the national independence war of 1919-1920.

Thirdly, the changing nature of warfare does not correspond to any change in the mentality of warfare. Although missiles in wars objectify, mask and depersonalize the act of killing with the pushing of a button on the computer, those are the same missiles that target for fatal destruction. In this act of new technology violence, women may take part with their fingers when pushing the button for the missile. Even in this fingered participation, the sexuality of women needs to be suppressed. For example, in Gulf War, women in combat zones were encouraged to take contraceptive pills for six months without a break in order to suppress menstrual periods by army medical advisers (Noakes, 1998). Furthermore, there are many regions of the world that conventional warfare is dominant in which women take very active roles in combat. Therefore, the technology of warfare in the debate of whether women should be recruited to military or not, in a way, seems to escape the first world and the rest of the world dynamics of the global system.

Fourthly, women’s attainment of militaristic roles as a requirement of equality is not only pronounced in Anglo-Saxon and West European contexts (Kimmel, 2000; Segal, 1995) but also is part of the rhetoric of egalitasianism inherent in nation building procedures in the third world (Sunindyo, 1998; Jayawardena, 1986; Kandiyoti, 1996). In these processes, militaries are considered to be the reflections of the nations and furthermore women are recruited to military as a requirement of modernization ideal. This point also exemplifies nationalism inherent in nation building processes being a modern yet a political phenomenon. Women and men are seen as equal and cooperative citizens in these processes. Even people’s defense institutionalized by the military, as a concept rests on democratic notion-no elite ruling (Boss, 2000). Yuval Davis mentions about a double message of women’s incorporation into the military in non-Western contexts: men and women are equal in the national collectivity and symbolically all members of the national collectivity are incorporated into the military (Yuval-Davis, 1997: 98). This double message is also reflection of women in military as token women representing gender equality just for the sake of representation and visibility. This is gender politics is in power in the name of women where women are manipulated.

Deriving from the above points on women’s inclusion to the military, it has to be emphasized that the question of gender at the heart of the debate is actually a question of citizenship, which is tied to the equality/difference problematic. The proponents and opponents of the debate on women’s inclusion to military generally cannot refrain from designing a “nature” for each gender–male and female–which can easily be countered with various cases that question such universalization. Even the arguments that try to overcome essentialism seem to be ignoring the socio-economic dimensions such as class that makes the questions of which group of women are recruited to military and under which circumstances the recruitment was made possible relevant to be addressed. Moreover, the impact of the advancement of military technologies on the nature of warfare therefore on the removal of barriers in front of women to enter military forces needs to be deemed cautiously with a focus on whether such a change would entail at the same time a change in the raison d’etre of wars/states or not. The technological gap between states of the world system further makes the point vulnerable. Last but not least, women in military, who appear as mediums of nation building processes in national liberation struggles of 20th century can easily turn into token women which nullifies any counter argument that women are unequal citizens of the nation. In other words, women get emancipated but remain unliberated (Kandiyoti, 1987).

Critical Evaluation: Modernization, Militarism, Nationalism and Patriarchy

Relying on the presumption that history of modernity in fact is the history of nation-state; it can be argued that to trace the evolution of nation-state from its commencement in 17th century to the contemporary globalization would provide vital clues about modernity. By the same token, the question of whether modernity ended as claims for post-modernity or late-modernity or still surviving can be reflected onto the present debate of whether nation-state is obsolete or obstinate. Despite many opponents and proponents of each of the positions taken, within the matrix of patriarchy-militarism-nationalism, categorizing nation and gender as parts of the same “process of becoming” helps to illuminate the constant reformulation under modernization. This “process of becoming” embedded in the dynamic project of nation and gender construction contributes further to refrain from the mere addition of the gender issue to nation and nationalism but to construct a perspective that would be encompassing the totally gendered nature of the nation-state (Megoran, 1999; Nagel, 1998). Furthermore, it facilitates an analytical lucidity towards the patriarchal manipulation of both femininity and masculinity susceptible to transverse modernization.

Judith Butler (1990) sets forth that there is no gender identity prior to its performance and gender is not what we are but what we perform. She distinguishes two modes of gender: gender as “performativity”–the involuntary signification that constitutes gender–and gender as “theatricality”–the voluntary performance of gender. Contrary to the primordialist, perennialist and ethno-symbolist position and refuting any essence in nation or ethnicity, national identity, when using the simulation of Butler’s performativity can be reformulated as “there is no prior national identity prior to its performance.” However, it has to be pointed out that the transformation of the national identity as performativity into theatricality is executed by nationalism subject to politics and political maneuver. In this theatricality of identities, gender does not only serve national identities but also construct national identities themselves. This is why the multiple identities of people are negotiable within the domain of discourse and why those identities are complicated, amalgamated and ambivalent within the process of becoming.

Negotiation of identities is only possible by constant mediation within the ranges of power and hegemony. Public and private spaces like settlements, parliaments, schools, hospitals, prisons, militaries are the spaces of negotiation that articulate, suppress and reproduce identities. The modern state emerges as the supreme mediator, the mega power in the negotiation of identities within the complex web of power at the social, economic, political, and cultural levels. It is the same national state that replicates the partiality of sexualities, classes, languages, races, ethnicities, etc. hence the party that the discontented ones address to.

The exercise of statehood vis-a-vis citizens and other nation states requires the potentiality of use of force. That is to say, military is the backbone of the nation state and militarism the backbone of nationalism. If we correlate Max Weber’s analysis of the rationalization and bureaucratization of the modern state with that of the Hacker’s analysis of the similarities between the evolution of the military organization with that of the nation-state organization (Hacker, 1988), the interlink between the bureaucratic rationality of the state and that of professional rationality of the military becomes apparent.

In a similar line of thinking, since military is constitutive of masculinity, the changes witnessed in the militaries like the incorporation of women and in the nature of warfare like the replacement of muscle power with brainpower and high-technology, signal at the same time an erosion in traditional and conventional forms of masculinity and militarism yet reconstruction of new ones. This has become possible only with the transformation of patriarchy under the pressures of modernity that promotes equality as a goal and the dominancy of the professional ethos that the militaries cannot refrain from in modernization. This is also evidenced by the fact that the more the military is seen as a profession, the more the discussion of women’s involvement in the military as a requirement of gender equality becomes dense.

As Segal points out, the discussion on women in military has been two folded in the sense that either the military had to be perceived to be transforming so that women had become compatible to the military or the women had to be perceived as transforming so that they had become suitable to the military service (Segal, 1995: 757). In either case, this has become possible only with the transformation of patriarchy under the pressures of modernity that promotes equality as a goal and the dominancy of the professional ethos that the militaries cannot refrain from in modernization. It has to be added that the military, femininity and masculinity are under transformation. Not only that, nation-state is transforming as well with a similar process under the pressure of globalization and increasing interdependence. Nation-state is both obstinate and obsolete as are masculinity, femininity and state sovereignty. Such a configuration of transformations within modernity may resolve which seems at first glance an ambiguity: What is to be protected–the nation which is symbolically represented as a woman or the state which is the supreme phallocentric organization? Who is to protect the nation/state–heroized men or sexually appropriated women? What is to protect the nation/state–muscularly courage or fingerprint of technology? How can militaries remain independent as states become more interdependent? And where have all the borders gone which were to be protected?


Nations are gendered constructions through which partiality functions. Nationalism, with which nation articulates itself, enables the political imagination of the past appropriated for the project of the future that privileges certain groups. Patriarchy that has its backbone in traditions cooperates with nationalism. If modernity is not to be considered the mere opposite of the tradition, but as a mode of coexistence and interdependence, the space for the manipulation of patriarchy and nationalism becomes more obscure. The modern state mediates national, sexual and ethnic identities in the public sphere. Identities are to be considered not as pre-given but ascribed and recognized through performance. In this sense, it is clear that there are many similarities in the construction of national and gender identities. Military is the guardian of national identity. Militarist ideology lying at the heart of nationalist ideology reproduces the myths of masculinity and femininity that serve the oppression of women. The debate of women’s inclusion to or exclusion from the military seem to be the arena of the forced dialogue between militarism and feminism that had been made possible by the modern nation-state. Therefore, a broader perspective that focuses on modernity needs to be attached for a deeper understanding of the current transformations in the modern state, military and patriarchy. Not only men and women but also masculine institutions and constructions like military and nation-state are changing in the era of globalization. The rhetoric of professionalism and equality embedded in modernity pressurize these changes. This is why as militaries get more professional, women’s involvement in military as a requirement of gender becomes dense.

This article tried to problematize the gender issue in nationalism, militarism and modernization nexus. It questioned gender ideology lying at the heart of nationalist and militarist thought and brought forth the dynamics of changes within these ideologies. It argued that women’s inclusion to the military as a phenomenon could not be separated from other transitions taking place in other spheres like changes in the definition of gender roles, state sovereignty and national security. Setting forth this, it seems that the future will not be designed with “liberation” of women but “transition” in gender roles and values attributed to gender.


(1) It is argued that after the collapse of the Soviet Block, national character of the militaries reemerged as guardians of national sovereignty and national identity (Campeanu and Radzai, 1991; Sarvas, 1999).

(2) In times of peace, militaristic rhetoric is still alive in other civic spheres like economy, sports and politics (Hedetoff, 1990). Militaristic terminology is adopted by the everyday use of language such as strategy, discipline, command and target.

(3) Cynthia Enloe points to the difference of masculinity ideology within each branch of the military (1988). For example, in U.S.A., army bans men from carrying umbrellas and declares that it is an unfitting practice. However, air force scorns such policy and permits its men to carry umbrellas.

(4) It is interesting to note, however, that the perception of protection/threat is argued to be at the same time the most determining factor of women’s involvement in the military (Segal, 1995). For example, the involvement of women in the Swedish military has been supported with the general belief that the country was not under threat of a surprise attack (Boss, 2000). On the other hand, in the Israeli case, women’s recruitment had been a necessity because of the Israel-Palestine War (Yuval-Davis, 1981). Women’s lives are risked at fronts if the society is threatened but if the threat is “severe,” states and militaries fear from large number of women casualties and refrain women from combatant positions (Segal, 1995).

(5) Cynthia Nantais and Martha F. Lee (1999) argue that this may explain the higher rates of sexual harassment in the military than other professions.

(6) It is interesting to note that this form of masculine sexuality is unique to 20th century. The debate in Germany after unification whether masturbation and homosexuality threatened national military strength or Julius Caesar of the Roman Empire banning sexual intercourse before warfare are different examples of the bond between body, sexuality and masculine strength myth.

(7) Vesna Nikolic-Ristanovic argues that rape in war is motivated by power imbalance rather than sexual desire (1999). This argument though capturing the power dimension of rape seems to undermine the role of sexual desire. For example, the Aegean women in the Greek-Turkish War of 1920 painted their faces with ashes so that the Greek soldiers would not like them and therefore would not attempt to rape.

(8) For example, Bosnian women, reported Vesna Nikolic-Ristanovic (1999) and Maja Korac (1998), had experienced death, sexual abuse, torture, malnutrition, fear, rape, emotional trauma and extreme insecurity during the former Yugoslavian war.

(9) A similar discussion is the situation of homosexuals vis-a-vis the military.


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