“Patriotism Is Neither Masculine nor Feminine”

Gender and the Work of War

Authored by: Charissa Threat

The Routledge History of Gender, War, and the U.S. Military

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138902985
eBook ISBN: 9781315697185
Adobe ISBN:


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A 1940 editorial on war work posits that “patriotism is neither masculine nor feminine. It is human emotion”; however, the work of war in the United States, as with many places throughout the world, has historically been gendered. 1 Gender, the socially constructed masculine and feminine traits that are associated with the biological sex of males and females, has determined the roles and responsibilities of men and women in relation to war. Historically, Americans concluded that patriotism meant that soldiering was the obligation of male citizens, while support roles were the concern of female citizens. Nevertheless, since colonial times, war in America, as in other places, often worked to undermine these gendered divisions of labor. By the late twentieth century, ideas about gender and war challenged historical assumptions about patriotism, and scholars increasingly examined how the nature of warfare and the work of war—or martial responsibilities in the broadest sense—consistently blurred the lines between feminine and masculine duties in defending and supporting the nation.

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