Caught between Femininity and Equality Demands. Civilianizing, Sexualizing and Victimizing Female Peackeepers

Monday, December 5th 2016 : Article presentation by Nina WILÉN, FNRS Postdoctoral Research Fellow - REPI

ULB-IEE Campus du Sobosch, 39 avenue F. D. Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles - Kant Room (12:00-2:00 pm)

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Abstract:This article explores the intersection between instrumentalist and equality arguments in the debate about female soldiers’ inclusion in peacekeeping operations. Based on extensive empirical research of the South African National Defence , we argue that female soldiers often get caught between the contrasting standpoints emphasizing on the one hand gender differences and on the other gender equality. This results in female soldiers often both underlining their equal capacity to that of their male counterparts, but more particularly highlighting their femininity to show their unique contribution to the military institution. In this study we examine how both male and female soldiers civilianize, sexualize and victimize female peacekeepers in their narratives. While the purpose of these narratives not necessarily are negative to female soldiers’ inclusion in peacekeeping operations, overall, they contribute to female soldiers’ civilian identities being perceived as superior to their military identities which undermines their inclusion in the military. Instead of challenging the militarised masculinity, leading to a changing and more accepting attitude of women in the military, the feminine, civilian identity becomes constitutive of the military masculine identity and reinforces it.

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