The Militarization of Gender and Sexuality in the Iraq War



There is an intimate connection linking gender, sexuality, and war: calls to arms by men to defend women and children, intense camaraderie of men in arms, men’s sustained and vigorous resistance to military service by women and homosexuals, mass rape and sexual servitude in warfare, survival sex by refugees and non-combatants in war zones, sexual commerce surrounding military bases and in’ rest and recreation’ destinations (Mosse 1996; Johnson 2000; Moon 1997; Sturdevant/Stoltzfus 1992; Enloe 1990, 2007). There also are the sexualized depictions of both sides in armed conflicts: from ‘our’ men who are honorable and virile, to ‘their’ men who are perverted and/or impotent; from ‘our’ women who are virtuous and vulnerable, to ‘their’ women who are promiscuous and treacherous (Ducat 2004; Goldstein 2001); and there is the phallic discourse of ‘war talk’: from weaponry — guns, bullets, missiles, and bombs, to military campaigns — assaults, penetration, conquest, and surrender (Cohn 1993; Cooke/Wollacott 1993). Just as there is a military-industrial complex that depends on war for profits and growth, war-making depends on a military-sexual complex to recruit, motivate, and retain military personnel (Hartung 2001; Nagel 1998, 2003).


Sexual Assault Sexual Harassment Hegemonic Masculinity Woman Veteran Defense Department 
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© VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften | GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American Studies ProgramUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.University of KansasLawrenceUSA

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