men and masculinities in conflict and war prio lecture sept 08 l.
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Men and masculinities in conflict and war PRIO lecture Sept 08. Øystein Gullvåg Holter Center for gender research, University of Oslo. Introduction. Introducing men and masculinities research Background, gender and work research Victimization, gender devaluation as signal of violence

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men and masculinities in conflict and war prio lecture sept 08

Men and masculinities in conflict and warPRIO lecture Sept 08

Øystein Gullvåg Holter

Center for gender research, University of Oslo

  • Introducing men and masculinities research
    • Background, gender and work research
      • Victimization, gender devaluation as signal of violence
      • Gender mainstreaming method
      • Look for innovation, possibilities regarding gender equality
      • ”Lift” the peripheral gender agenda
      • Improve dialogue between studies of men and masculinities, and conflict and peace studies
main points
Main points
  • Overview men and masculinities studies
    • The hegemonic masculinity model
    • Critics, developments
  • Contributions to conflict studies
    • Gendercide and the use of sexist terror in war
    • Towards a new feminist agenda
introducing gender studies
Introducing gender studies
  • Main recent trends
    • Post-trends (poststructuralism, postfeminism, etc)
      • ”Do away with the Woman with large W”
    • Cultural-symbolic theory
    • Psychological theory
    • Structural and organizational theory
men and masculinities studies
Men and masculinities studies

Perspectives on men as gendered

  • Early research findings
    • Men as power holders
      • 1980s: ”The problem of men”
        • Better formulations in women’s studies, e g R Coward: Patriarchal precedents, 1983.
  • Research on men and masculinities
      • 1990s – establishing the subject
      • 2000s – impact of gender equality
        • E g world opinion surveys, small gender difference
        • Time use data, converging gender pattern (Gershuny: Changing times)
        • Men’s gender-equal roles more visible
        • Beginning ”de-naturalisation” of men
        • Men as hindrances / contributors to gender equality
reseach development
Reseach development
  • 1970s small fragmented beginnings
    • role theory – J Pleck etc
  • 1980s new developments
    • men and power, patriarchy theories
  • 1990s the research field takes form
    • hegemonic masculinity theory
  • 2000s integration with gender research
    • critiques of hegemonic masculinity theory
    • Still a small field
hegemonic masculinity theory
Hegemonic masculinity theory
  • Different masculinities, changing historically
    • Modern masculine gender hierarchy related to benefit system (”patriarchal dividend”)
  • Hegemonic masculinity dominates other masculinities - complicit, subordinated, protest masculinities
    • ”Hegemonic” – meta-power, a step up from simple dominance (Gramsci)
    • Sets the norm for other masculinity forms, becomes ”authorizer” of masculinity in general

See R. Connell: Masculinities, 1995

critics developments
Critics, developments

(Model presented especially in R Connell: Masculinities, 1995)

  • Masculinity as common emotional pattern
    • Shame, humiliation (Evelin Lindner) underestimated
    • More ”fear of falling” than striving for power (Claes Ekenstam)
    • Mainly cultural studies
  • Men can be more gender-equal, less power-oriented
    • Evidence on men in more gender-equal regions gives new picture
      • Nordic region – see e g Helene Aarseth, Ingolfur Gislason, Steen Baagøe Nielsen, Johanna Lammi
    • Mainly sociological studies
  • Other challenges
    • Where is femininity?
    • What about the ”patriarchal dividend”?
some recent studies
Some recent studies
  • Harry Ferguson etc: A call for global action to involve men. SIDA, Stockholm 2004
  • Parpart & Zalewski (eds): Rethinking the man question. Zed, London 2008

Main points so far

Men and masculinities studies show a hierarchy between men

Hegemonic masculinity, critique


A theory of gendercide

How to relate the two fields

Towards a new feminist military agenda

gender terror and gendercide
Gender terror and ”gendercide”
  • Adam Jones, ed: Gendercide and genocide. Vanderbilt, Nashville 2004
    • Includes Theory of gendercide (Holter)
    • Also, a critique of the gendercide concept (Stuart Stein)
a theory of gendercide background
A theory of gendercide – background

Paper uses Nazi aggression as main case

    • Involved gender in new ways, even if resulting in ethnic genocide rather than gendercide
    • Uses best-researched case approach to examine ”intermediate” context of possible long-term increase of gender terror and gendercide

Gender mechanisms in the build-up to the Holocaust

  • After WW1, many German men felt ”humiliated”
    • This created ”the Goldhagen syndrome” – any German could contribute to the Holocaust
      • Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler’s willing executioners, 1996
    • A tendency, not the full picture
      • Beaten into submission – more violence than recognized (cf Evans, Richard J. : The Coming of the Third Reich. Penguin, London 2004)
      • Many, but not everyone participated (cf Kristian Ottosen’s 8-volume study of the concentration camps)
the german context
The German context
  • German states ca 1850 - divided, romantic, liberal – yet with relatively little European influence
  • Bismarck – enforced industrialisation
  • Romantic-authoritarian cultural traits, early rise of racism, ’eugenetical’ thinking
  • WW1 settlement gives Germans a ’legitimate’ grudge
  • A major build-up of aggression follows
    • Social psychological research
      • Biographical study involving H. Himmler, main Holocaust architect - Dortmund, E. K.: Daniel Paul Schreber: A Case Study of Private Fate as Public Possibility. Research Studies; 1978, 46, 3, Sept, 141-155.
      • Argues that Himmler was brought up in an authoritarian-sadistic regime prescribed by Schreber.
      • See further Jessica Benjamin, Alice Miller, etc.
buildup to the holocaust
Buildup to the Holocaust
  • Gender ”purity” came early into the German debate as part of ”race superiority”
    • See e g Frank Sulloway: Freud - Biologist of the Mind
  • Gender important in the background of the Nazi buildup
    • See e g Klaus Theweleit Male fantasies
  • Early Nazi move – neutralize/dissolve women’s movements
    • See e g Richard Grunberger: A Social History of the Third Reich
    • Hitler and Stalin – same policy at this point
    • Dissolution and neutralization were common tendencies in the 1930s (partly as response to economic crisis)
      • For Norway see e g Gro Hagemann’s research
gender and core myths
Gender and ”core myths”
  • Fascism operates through ”core myths”
    • Roger Griffin, Fascism
      • Concept close to Connell’s hegemonic masculinity
    • Core myths of the Nazi party were heavily gendered and racialized
      • E g the male Jew raping the Arian daughter (favourite propaganda image to popularize the idea of foreigners standing on Germany)
        • Cf mobbing and victimization research: gender devaluation as immediate precondition of violence
a theory of gendercide 1
A theory of gendercide (1)
  • Four main elements common to genocide
      • Devaluation of politics and democracy
      • Reactive revaluation through gender, ”race” and other social mechanisms
      • Buildup of aggression
      • Antagonistic conflict and war
    • Additional preconditions of ethnic genocide
      • Race as main aggression object
    • Additional preconditions of gendercide
      • Gender as main aggression object or interface
a theory of gendercide 2
A theory of gendercide (2)
  • Paula Siber, Nazi feminist: ”A woman has a duty intrinsic to her gender of conserving her race”
  • Femininity as interface to race – dutiful means of reproduction
      • ”Racism can be a secondary projection, arising from an earlier sequence of regressive-political developments.” p 78
      • Elements: humiliation and shame, masculine hysteria and manly purification, victimization and scapegoating, creating a racialized gender.
a theory of gendercide 3
A theory of gendercide (3)
  • Nazi warfare was mainly political / racist, not gendered
    • Left-wingers were the first subjected to violence, then ethnical, Jews especially
      • German communists were the original inmates of the concentration camps
      • The Nazis slaughtered perhaps three times more ”bolsheviks” than ”jews”
    • The Nazi regime included gender in the political core, but did not ”evolve” to include systematic gender terror
      • Target groups were mostly killed without regard to gender
a theory of gendercide 4
A theory of gendercide (4)
  • After WW2, more systematical gender terror
    • Mass rapes and systematic killing of able-bodied boys and men in the Balkan wars of the 1990s
    • Sexualized violence and torture in Iraq
    • Gender a more independent issue, women stronger, potential ’free sex’, etc
  • Possible general war tendency towards

(1) more civilian losses

(2) more gender terror

(3) greater chance of genocide and gendercide

new masculinity studies results
New masculinity studies results
  • Masculine organizations
    • Example, men and catastrophies
      • Social-psychological patterns in four cases (including Titanic, large fire, Srebrenica massacre)
      • ”Binary tendency” splitting men and women
      • Authoritarian relationships between men
        • Per Folkesson 2005: Män och katastrofer. Doctoral dissertation, University of Gothenburg, Social work.
    • Example, work research
      • In times of restructuring / downsizing, the organization needs a strong male leader. ”When restructuring comes in, gender equality goes out”
        • Norwegian restructuring study, Omstillinger i arbeidslivet, 1996
cross disciplinary impact of masculinity studies
Cross-disciplinary impact of masculinity studies

Example, recent historical studies

  • ”Males shouting” type of command lines, male territory conflict, etc
    • New studies of 20th century conflict (e.g. Beevor: Stalingrad, Berlin; Montefiore: Stalin)
      • Leader to be seen as wholly devoted to the cause
        • Cf ”Hitler as pure abstraction”, Alfred Sohn-Rethel (1941)
      • Leaders as workaholics, demand total sacrifice
      • Manipulation of democracy - basic ingredient
      • Torturers and sadists allowed into leadership
      • Male territorial in-fighting often decisive (cf Beevor: Berlin)
  • Masculinity and gender increasingly thematized in research
    • Common tendency in Nazi/Stalinist studies
      • Cf Ann Applebaum, Gulag – Stalin’s policy for prisoners changing from ”faulty citizens” to ”vermin to be eradicated”
      • Stalin, when his son tried to shoot himself: ”he cannot even shoot well” (Montefiore)
the image of the enemy
The image of the enemy
  • Construction of enemy images – the Muslim taking over for the Communist
      • See Rune Ottosen: Media strategies and enemy images in international conflicts – Norwegian media in the shadow of Pentagon (in Norwegian, 1994)
    • Young muslim men vs. gender-equal western society
      • Thematized in recent masculinity studies (in Norway e g Thomas Walle)
    • The west’s ’manly’ warfare in the Middle East and its neo-patriarchal answers
      • Robert Fisk: The great war for civilization, 2006
        • Thematizes fathering, observes gender terror, but lacks analysis of the patriarchal character of the conflict
      • Edward Said: Culture and imperialism, 1993
        • A classic study of ”Western” power views and misconceptions
      • Gøran Therborn: Between sex and power, 2004
        • Important work showing the uneven deconstruction of patriarchy in the 20th century
conclusion rethinking the man question
ConclusionRethinking the man question
  • How can armies become peace keepers?
  • How can professionalism contribute to better conflict solutions?
    • Primary goal, reduce violence, civilians especially
    • Professional military – can be less sexist than amateurs, mobs – historical military studies, e g Henrik Syse, Prio
    • The conditions and the role of the military must be changed, to serve the interests of civilian women and men
    • Women in the military must be supported by wider gender mainstreaming efforts
    • Political, economic, cultural etc. changes needed to give armies a workable context
towards a new feminist military agenda
Towards a new feminist military agenda
  • Beyond ”man” as a normative condition of conflict studies
  • Gender mainstreaming of the military can only be achieved by changing the norm regarding men
    • Changing the role of women is not enough
  • Recognizing the losses and costs among men
    • Deconstruction of the taken-for-granted ”able-bodied” status of men
    • Better research on how violence against men is connected to violence against women
redefining conflict
Redefining conflict
  • The historical perspective
    • For perhaps 994.000 years, human ”armies” fought mainly symbolically, with limited damage
    • The last 4000 years, conflicts have become increasingly costly
    • ”Let the heroes fight it out, the rest looks on” - sociological trend
      • Modern version (especially): let the underclass do the job
        • Peter Englund: Poltava
      • The internal logic of the army is to be obeyed with minimal violence and risk
      • Even in modern disciplined armies and ”righteous” wars - in close combat situations, many soldiers avoid violence
        • Joanna Bourke: An Intimate History of Killing, 1999
  • Conflict needs to be detached from the ”reflex” of violence
  • Normative role of masculinity to be interrogated

Starting at the solutions end…

  • ”Men cannot care for babies”
    • Give men a good context, they will do it
  • ”Armies cannot find good peaceful solutions”
    • Other possibilities - ?
  • Develop gender mainstreaming methods
    • Build on potentials in the local context to increase gender equality (eg men’s caring potential, peace potential)
    • Use gender deconstruction and gender-equal cooperation as methods
further information
Further information
  • Recent research
    • Gargi Bhattacharyya: Dangerous Brown men. Exploiting Sex, Violence and Feminism in the 'War on Terror’. 2008
    • Adam Jones: Genocide: A Complete Introduction, 2006
  • Cultural material
    • Film: Elem Klimov, Come and see, 1985
    • Fiction: Jonathan Littel, The Kindly Ones / Les Bienveillantes, 2006