Manliness Wins Wars

Better Essays
Well, Manliness Wins Wars* or Who Needs These Heroes?*

Acknowledging the interconnectedness of gender and warfare is unavoidable in contemporary literature on the subject. War’s ability to enhance men’s authority and magnify the distance between femininity and masculinity (Cockburn 2010, pg. 144) has lead to the prominence of the subject in contemporary feminist studies. Understandably the majority of recent literature has been directed towards war’s impact on women and ‘the feminine’. This limitation, however, fails to take into account the way in which “men and their interests, their notions of manliness, and masculine micro and macro cultures” (Nagel 2006, pg. 243) impacts on politics and war. If we accept that nations and
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I attempt to look at the concept of heroism and how it was interwoven with the development of American nationalism through the rhetoric of George W. Bush following the attacks of 9/11. I also contrast the rhetoric of Jacques Chirac following 9/11 and that of François Hollande following the recent attacks in Paris. These would suggest, I argue, that when faced when with immediate and confronting violence hegemonic masculinity is used to legitimise violent international relations (or war). If correct, this perhaps provides an insight into how societies could seek to organise their affairs in a manner that would strive to avoid warfare altogether.

What is gender and masculinity?
I note here that when considering gender this essay accepts the notion put forward by Cohn that it is necessary to focus on gendered discourses, rather than gendered individuals (Cohn 1993, pg. 228). In other words rather than only looking at words and language it will consider
“a system of meanings, of ways of thinking, images and words that first shape how we experience, understand, and represent ourselves as men and women, but that also do more than that; they shape many other aspects of our lives and culture” (Cohn 1993, pg. 228).
It is to be understood as a “set of variable, but socially and culturally constructed relational characteristics” that determine “how we experience and understand ourselves as men and women, but that also interweaves with other discourses and shapes them” (Brunner 2008, pg.
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