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  • Author or Editor: Laura Lyddon x
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Gender is widely recognized as an important and useful lens for the study of International Relations. However, there are few books that specifically investigate masculinity/ies in relation to world politics.

Taking a feminist-inspired understanding of gender as its starting point, the book:

  • explains that gender is both an asymmetrical binary and a hierarchy;

  • shows how masculinization works via ‘nested hierarchies’ of domination and subordination;

  • explores the imbrication of masculinities with the nation-state and great-power politics;

  • develops an understanding of the arms trade with commercial processes of militarization.

Written in an accessible style, with suggestions for further reading, this book is an invaluable resource for students and teachers applying ‘the gender lens’ to global politics.

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This chapter explains that gender is not simply a binary. It is also a hierarchy of masculinity over femininity. Within that hierarchy there are ‘nested’ hierarchies of some men over others. This chapter also distinguishes between domination and hegemony, which is domination by consent. And it explains that masculinity and femininity are asymmetrical. Men can stand for generic, de-gendered humanity. When they are gendered as overtly male, that representation is moralised as good. Moral badness is then displaced into a generic human nature. Women have only the overtly gendered option. Men thus accumulate power within hierarchies of domination and subordination by mutual consent.

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This chapter genders the supposedly gender-neutral founding concepts of the study of international relations. The security dilemma arises in and through the ordered hierarchies of male-dominated institutions. The state is rightly conceived as masculine and masculinising. The great-power politics of the international system is thus coincident with the militarisation and weaponry through which nation-states compete. This international ‘normality’ is legitimated by the gender-order hierarchies of male dominance. That order of dominance is legitimated in turn by the nation-state in masculinising practices and weapons-displays. States without a military establishment are thus queer, yet normalised into the ordered hierarchies of militarism by other means, such as national sporting prowess.

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This chapter introduces and contextualises the international arms trade. It explores the links between the activities of state and corporate elites through the lens of warrior-protector and bourgeois-rational models of masculinity. The legitimate arms trade is defined and monitored, over and against illegitimate trading as a criminal activity, through ‘nested’ hierarchies of male-dominated elites. Visual analysis shows how the overtly gendered masculinity of moralised patriarchy interacts with covertly gendered humanness. In that way money-making in the national/international arms trade is sanitised as patriotic. Taking the UK as a particular state-agent, the chapter shows how legitimating strategies invisibilise policy contradictions and human rights-violations.

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This chapter takes readers to the very pinnacle of global power where nation-states, military establishments and commercial interests come together at international arms fairs. At those venues arms traders and weapons-manufacturers address their legitimacy-deficit. Their strategies are stabilised by reinscribing the heterosexual certainties of the gender-order hierarchy of masculinity over femininity. Gender-sensitive ethnography, informed by performativity, explicates this in detail, with particular attention to the role of women. In turn weapons-company promotional videos do this similarly with the race-class order to stabilise themselves politically. This conjuncture is dominated by American ‘defence’ spending and thus by ‘western-liberal’ norms. Legitimation then works against any idea of hypocrisy and subterfuge.

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This chapter considers the anti-militarism activisms which confront the imbrication of weaponry and masculinity that the preceding chapters have outlined. Those activisms include both men and women. However, they have a particular and often problematic relationship with feminisms and with feminist activists. Moreover those groups and movements include a variety of understandings of, and internal conflicts about, critical approaches to masculinity. Rather than typologising any masculinities therein as somehow ‘alternative’, the analytical focus here is on grassroots efforts to delegitimise weaponry and militarism. Some queer activists attempt to do this by destabilising the gender-order hierarchy directly. This chapter avoids descriptive typology and relates instead to great-power politics.

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