Gender and the Causes, Tactics and Consequences of War

Authored by: Debra L. DeLaet

The Ashgate Research Companion to War

Print publication date:  January  2012
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754678267
eBook ISBN: 9781315613741
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041115


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Most theories of international relations treat war as a gender neutral phenomenon. Mainstream international relations scholarship, while diverse in many respects, shares a basic assumption that gender is irrelevant to understanding the causes of war, the ways in which wars are fought, and the consequences of war. Despite this assumption of gender neutrality, war is, in fact, a highly gendered phenomenon. Socially constructed notions of masculinity and femininity play a critical role in shaping both why and how wars are fought by state and non-state actors alike. Similarly, gender norms lead to differential treatment of men and women in war and, thus, dramatically influence the ways in which wars are experienced by people in conflict zones. This chapter explores the gendered nature of war. To this end, it provides an overview of the complicated ways that gender shapes the causes, tactics and consequences of war.

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