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Mean Girls: A Theory of Women's Violence and Gender Subordination in Global Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  traditional values. Gender norms serve as an evaluative framework for people trying to make sense of the world – people weigh individuals’ actions through expectations of gendered behavior, consciously or unconsciously. Once a person acts outside of the ‘typical’ gender role, that person is open to criticism not only for their behavior but for the gender transgression involved in its perpetration. Men who are not perceived as masculine enough suffer merciless teasing. Women in military and paramilitary forces face the threat of criticism for their behavior outside of their gender roles. In the military, women can have sexual relationships with their male counterparts and run the risk of becoming a “slut” or refuse and be labeled as a “lesbian.” 22 When women in Northern Ireland “abandon” their “primary role as mother” by becoming involved in paramilitary operations, they “forfeit” a sense of “innocence or purity.” 23 These women are “often seen as tainted” because they have “plunged into the unnatural.” 24 In International international relations, women seem to be filling ‘male’ roles with increasing frequency. Seeing women in roles traditionally reserved for men creates the perception that women are achieving equality in global politics. For example, in the 1991 Gulf War, the United States’ deployment of women soldiers was met with substantial celebration. 25 At that time, Cynthia Enloe observed that women soldiers received an incredible amount of media attention, which was disproportionate to the relatively small 22 As one “administratively dismissed” accused-lesbian WRAC said in an interview with Enloe: “‘Men soldier’s don’t respect WRACs [Women’s Royal Army Corps (UK)] at all. If you’re in it, you’re a lesbian or a slut. And there’s a real pressue to sleep with men.’” (Enloe, Cynthia. 1983 Does Khaki Become You? The Militarization of Women’s Lives. London: Pluto Press pp. 141-142) 23 Dowler, Lorraine “And They Think I’m Just a Nice Old Lady.” Women and War in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Gender, Place and Culture—A Journal of Feminist Geography 5(2), pp. 159-176. pp. 164 24 Ibid, 167-168. 25 Curphy, Shauna. 2003. “1 in 7 US Military Personnel in Iraq is Female.” Women’s ENews. Accessed 1 June 2006 at http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/1265/context/cover/ ; Women in the Military: Deployment in the Persian Gulf War. GAO/NSIAD 93-93, August 1992; Burelli, David. Women in the Armed Forces. Congressional Research Service, November 18, 1998. 8

Authors: Sjoberg, Laura.
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traditional values. Gender norms serve as an evaluative framework for people trying to
make sense of the world – people weigh individuals’ actions through expectations of
gendered behavior, consciously or unconsciously. Once a person acts outside of the
‘typical’ gender role, that person is open to criticism not only for their behavior but for
the gender transgression involved in its perpetration. Men who are not perceived as
masculine enough suffer merciless teasing. Women in military and paramilitary forces
face the threat of criticism for their behavior outside of their gender roles. In the military,
women can have sexual relationships with their male counterparts and run the risk of
becoming a “slut” or refuse and be labeled as a “lesbian.”
When women in Northern
Ireland “abandon” their “primary role as mother” by becoming involved in paramilitary
operations, they “forfeit” a sense of “innocence or purity.”
These women are “often
seen as tainted” because they have “plunged into the unnatural.”
In International international
relations, women seem to be filling ‘male’ roles with
increasing frequency. Seeing women in roles traditionally reserved for men creates the
perception that women are achieving equality in global politics. For example, in the 1991
Gulf War, the United States’ deployment of women soldiers was met with substantial
celebration.
At that time, Cynthia Enloe observed that women soldiers received an
incredible amount of media attention, which was disproportionate to the relatively small
22
As one “administratively dismissed” accused-lesbian WRAC said in an interview with Enloe: “‘Men
soldier’s don’t respect WRACs [Women’s Royal Army Corps (UK)] at all. If you’re in it, you’re a lesbian
or a slut. And there’s a real pressue to sleep with men.’” (Enloe, Cynthia. 1983 Does Khaki Become You?
The Militarization of Women’s Lives
. London: Pluto Press pp. 141-142)
23
Dowler, Lorraine “And They Think I’m Just a Nice Old Lady.” Women and War in Belfast, Northern
Ireland, Gender, Place and Culture—A Journal of Feminist Geography 5(2), pp. 159-176. pp. 164
24
Ibid, 167-168.
25
Curphy, Shauna. 2003. “1 in 7 US Military Personnel in Iraq is Female.” Women’s ENews. Accessed 1
June 2006 at
;
Women in the
Military: Deployment in the Persian Gulf War. GAO/NSIAD 93-93, August 1992; Burelli, David. Women
in the Armed Forces
. Congressional Research Service, November 18, 1998.
8


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