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Viewing Peace Through Gender Lenses

  • Laura Sjoberg


The war in Iraq is over. U.S. troops have withdrawn. Saddam Hussein has been overthrown and replaced with a government perceived to be more democratic and more just to the Iraqi people. In late 2011, concurrent with the U.S. withdrawal, strategists suggested that there was “peace at last” in Iraq, a cause for celebration.



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1 Tom Hayden, “Peace at last,” Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2011;

2 Olivia Katrandjian, “Iraqi Woman Beaten to Death in California, Hate Crime Suspected,” ABCNews, March 25, 2012;

3 Ibid.

4 Nina Burleigh, “Shaima Alawadi's Murder: A Hate Crime Against Women?” Ideas, Time, April 10, 2012;

5 Enloe, Cynthia, Nimo's War, Emma's War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War (Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press, 2010).

6 Laura Sjoberg, “Introduction to Security Studies: Feminist Contributions,” Security Studies 18, no. 2 (2009), pp. 184–214.

7 It is not only the U.S. position that feminists interrogate, but this is the position I talk more about in this essay to engage both with David Hendrickson's essay and the Carnegie Council Centennial.

8 As cited in Chambers, John W. II, The Eagle and the Dove: The American Peace Movement and United States Foreign Policy, 1900–1922 (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1991).

9 Fitz-Gibbon, Andrew, ed., Positive Peace. Reflections on Peace Education, Nonviolence, and Social Change. (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010).

10 Wollstonecraft, Mary, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, ed. Markham, Miriam Brody (Markham, ON: Penguin Books, 1985 [1792]). See also Andrew, Barbara, “The Psychology of Tyranny: Wollstonecraft and Woolf on the Gendered Dimension of War,” Hypatia 9, no. 1 (May 1994), pp. 85101.

11 Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas (1938; repr., Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1967), p. 9. Page reference to the 1967 edition.

12 Work associating women with peacefulness does so for different reasons. Some work makes the association by virtue of women's place on the sex hierarchy, for example see Reardon, Betty, Sexism and the War System (New York: Teachers College Press, 1985). Other work relates women's peacefulness to their roles as mothers, such as Ruddick, Sara in Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace (New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1989). Still other work characterizes women as more peaceful because they are more vulnerable to violence (e.g., Stiehm, Judith, ed., Women and Men's Wars [Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1982]; Tickner, J. Ann, Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security [New York: Columbia University Press, 1992]).

13 For a discussion of Hull House, see, e.g. Sklar, Kathryn Kish, “Hull House in the 1890s: A Community of Women Reformers,” Signs 10, no. 4 (1985), pp. 658–77. For a discussion of Greenham Common, see Roseneil, Sasha, Disarming Patriarchy: Feminism and Political Action at Greenham (Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1995). For a discussion of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, see Confortini, Catia, Intelligent Compassion: Feminist Critical Methodology in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). For discussion of Women in Black, see, e.g., Helman, Sara and Rapoport, Tamar, “Women in Black: Challenging Israel's Gender and Socio-Political Orders,” British Journal of Sociology 48, no. 4 (1997), pp. 681700; Cockburn, Cynthia, From Where We Stand: War, Women's Activism, and Feminist Analysis (London: Zed Books, 2007). For a discussion of Mother Teresa, see Katzenstein, Mary Fainsod, “Protest Moves Inside Institutions,” in Krook, Mona Lena and Childs, Sara, eds., Women, Gender, and Politics: A Reader (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 4754. For a discussion of Code Pink, see Kutz-Flamenbaum, Rachel V., “Code Pink, Raging Grannies, and the Missile Dick Chicks: Feminist Performance Activism in the Contemporary Anti-War Movement,” NWSA Journal 19, no. 1 (2007), pp. 89105.

14 Cockburn, From Where We Stand.

15 Confortini, Intelligent Compassion.

16 Tickner, Gender in International Relations.

17 Peterson, V. Spike and Runyan, Anne Sisson, Global Gender Issues in the New Millennium (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2010).

18 Macfarland, Charles S., Pioneers for Peace Through Religion Based on the Records of the Church Peace Union (Founded by Andrew Carnegie), 1914–1945 (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1946), p. 22.

19 Hendrickson, David, “International Peace: One Hundred Years On,” Ethics & International Affairs 27, no. 2 (2013), pp. 129–46. All further references to Hendrickson in this essay are to the same work.

20 Ibid.

21 Cuomo, Chris, “War Is Not Just an Event: reflections on the significance of everyday violence,” Hypatia 11, no. 4 (November 1996), pp. 3045.

22 Moon, Katharine, Sex Among Allies: Militarized Prostitution in U.S.–South Korea Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997).

23 MacKenzie, Megan, “Securitization and Desecuritization: Female Soldiers and the Reconstruction of Women in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone,” Security Studies 18, no. 2 (2009), pp. 241–61.

24 Alexander, Ronni, “Confronting Militarization: Intersections of Gender(ed) Violence, Militarization, and Resistance in the Pacific,” in Sjoberg, Laura and Via, Sandra, eds., Gender, War, and Militarism: Feminist Perspectives (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger Security International, 2010), pp. 6980.

25 Cynthia Enloe, “Women and Children: Making Feminist Sense of the Persian Gulf Crisis,” The Village Voice, September 25, 1990.

26 See, for example, Elshtain, Jean Bethke, Women and War (New York: New York University Press, 1987).

27 Peterson, V. Spike, “Gender Identities, Ideologies, and Practices in the Context of Militarism,” in Gender, War, and Militarism, Sjoberg and Via, eds., pp. 1730.

28 See Cuomo, “War Is Not Just an Event.” For war as a system, see Reardon, Sexism and the War System, and for war as part of daily life, see Enloe, Cynthia, Does Khaki Become You? The Militarization of Women's Lives (London: Pandora Press, 1983).

29 Alexander, “Confronting Militarization.”

30 Parashar, Swati, “Aatish-e-Chinar: In Kashmir, Where Women Keep Resistance Alive,” in Sjoberg, Laura and Gentry, Caron, eds. Women, Gender, and Terrorism (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 2011), pp. 96119.

31 McEvoy, Sandra, “Loyalist Women Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland: Beginning a Feminist Conversation about Conflict Resolution,” Security Studies 18, no. 2 (2009), pp. 262–86.

32 Brock-Utne, Birgit, Feminist Perspectives on Peace and Peace Education (New York: Pergamon Press, 1989), citing Galtung, Johan, “A Structural Theory of Imperialism,” Journal of Peace Research 8, no.2 (1971), pp. 81117.

33 Brock-Utne, Feminist Perspectives on Peace and Peace Education, cited in Sjoberg, Laura and Martin, Jillian, “Feminist Security Theorizing,” in Denemark, Robert, ed., International Studies Encyclopedia (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 1371–402.

34 Pettman, Jan Jindy, Worlding Women: A Feminist International Politics (London: Routledge, 1996).

35 True, Jacqui, The Political Economy of Violence Against Women (London: Oxford University Press, 2012).

36 Sjoberg, Laura, “Gendered Realities of the Immunity Principle: Why Gender Analysis Needs Feminism,” International Studies Quarterly 50, no. 4 (2006), pp. 889910, at 895.

37 Sjoberg, Laura and Peet, Jessica, “A(nother) Dark Side of the Protection Racket: Targeting Women in War(s),” International Feminist Journal of Politics 13, no. 2 (2011), pp. 6382, at 67.

38 Peterson, Susan Rae, “Coercion and Rape: The State as a Male Protection Racket,” in Vetterling-Braggin, M., Elliston, F. A., and English, J., eds., Feminism and Philosophy (Totowa, N.J.: Littlefield, Adams, and Company, 1977), pp. 360–71.

39 McClintock, Anne, “Family Feuds: Gender, Nationalism, and the Family,” Feminist Review 44 (1993), pp. 6180.

40 Peterson, V. Spike, “Sexing Political Identities/Nationalism as Heterosexism,” International Feminist Journal of Politics 1, no. 1 (1999), pp. 3465.

41 Pettman, Worlding Women, p. 192.

42 Skjaelsbaek, Inger, “Sexual Violence and War: Mapping Out a Complex Relationship,” European Journal of International Relations 7, no. 2 (2001), pp. 211–37, at 225.

43 Hooper, Charlotte, Manly States: Masculinities, International Relations, and Gender Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001).

44 Spivak, Gayatri, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in Ashcroft, Bill, Griffiths, Gareth, and Tiffen, Helen, eds., The Postcolonial Studies Reader (New York: Taylor and Francis, 2006), pp. 2837, at 33.

45 See, e.g., Sjoberg, Laura, “Agency, Militarized Femininity, and Enemy Others,” International Feminist Journal of Politics 9, no. 3 (2007), pp. 82101.

46 Sarma, Saara, “Feminist Interdisciplinarity and Gendered Parodies of Nuclear Iran,” in Aalto, Pami, Harle, Vilho, and Moisio, Sami, eds., Global and Regional Problems: Towards an Interdisciplinary Study (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2012), pp. 151–70.

47 Philpott, Daniel and Powers, Gerard, eds., Strategies of Peace (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

48 Sylvester, Christine, “Empathic Cooperation: A Feminist Method for IR,” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 23, no. 2 (1994), pp. 315–34.

49 Cockburn, From Where We Stand.

50 Ackerly, Brooke, Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Confortini, Intelligent Compassion.

51 Ackerly, Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism.

52 Schott, Robin M., “Just War and the Problem of Evil,” Hypatia 28, no. 2 (2008), pp. 122–40.

53 Ibid., p. 133.

* Thanks to Catia Cecilia Confortini for conversations about this piece; any errors, of course, remain my own.

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