The Constitution of a Gendered Enemy

  • Valeria E. Russo

Abstract

Gender is being taken up as an analytical category towards the end of the twentieth century. In a famous 1986 article, the American historian Joan W. Scott defined it as a mode of referring to the social organization of the relation between the sexes, a notion introduced in order to ‘discover the range in sex roles and in sexual symbolism in different societies and periods, to find what meanings they had and how they functioned to maintain the social order or to promote its change’.1 Often the term ‘gender’ has been used to refer to the areas (whether structural or ideological) that concern women, children and the family, while areas like diplomacy, international relations, high politics and war have not yet been explicitly tested against the touchstone of the relation between the sexes: men, understood as ‘public men’ (J. Elshtain Bethke), seem in fact to exist ‘beyond gender relations to the same degree they dominate them. While the imperative that women’s history always be related to men’s has become commonplace, up to now the reverse has hardly been true. Military history and the history of warfare are a case in point. They have dealt exclusively with men — and for good reason, since in the Western world (at least within Europe) war has generally been a form of direct confrontation between groups of men. Nonetheless, explicitly male-specific issues have not been raised in this field, for example in its connection with the history of masculinity’.2

Keywords

Europe Amid Assimilation Milo Defend 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    J. Scott, ‘Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis’, American Historical Review, 91 (1986) p. 105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 1.
    See also N. Zemon Davis, ‘Women’s History in Transition: the European Case’, Feminist Studies, 3 (1975–6), p. 90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 2.
    G. Bock, ‘Women’s History and Gender History: Aspects of An International Debate’, Gender & History, (1989) p. 17.Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    On the dichotomy private/public see J. Elshtain Bethke, Public Man, Private Women (Princeton University Press, 1981).Google Scholar
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    J. Elshtain Bethke, Women and War (New York: Basic Books, 1987).Google Scholar
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    see also D. von Bothmer, Amazons in Greek Art (Oxford: Clarendon, 1957);Google Scholar
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    See also J. A. Salmonson (ed.) the two anthologies Amazons! (New York: DAW, 1979) and Amazons II (New York: DAW, 1982).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1994

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  • Valeria E. Russo

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