Forces for Good? Narratives of Military Masculinity in Peacekeeping Operations

TitleForces for Good? Narratives of Military Masculinity in Peacekeeping Operations
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsDuncanson, Claire
JournalInternational Feminist Journal of Politics
Date Published03/2009

Evidence of military involvement in sexual exploitation and aggression against civilians on peacekeeping operations has led many feminists to question the appropriateness of using soldiers to create peace. They argue that the problems stem from a particular form of military masculinity, hegemonic within western militaries, associated with practices of strength, toughness and aggressive heterosexuality. Masculinities, however, are multiple, dynamic and contradictory. As they are constructed in relation to the contexts men find themselves in, involvement in peacekeeping may itself play a role in the construction of alternative military masculinities. Examining autobiographical accounts of soldiers involved in peacekeeping in Bosnia in the 1990s, I argue that there is evidence of an alternative discourse of ‘peacekeeper masculinity’, but question whether it fully challenges the hegemony of the warrior model. I acknowledge that peacekeeper masculinity is also problematic because although it disrupts elements of the traditional linkages between militarism and masculinity, it still relies on a feminized and racialized ‘Other’. Yet, I suggest that this is not the only way in which peacekeeper masculinity can be viewed. It can alternatively be considered part of a ‘regendered military’, which may be a necessary component of successful conflict resolution.

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