Gender

1 June 2001Feature

Drawing on his personal experience, Sergeiy Sandler examines the motivations and consequences of resisting military service as part of a masculine identity.

When Peace News asked me to write this essay, I found myself in a strange position. Here I am, a conscientious objector to military service, and a feminist, asked to write about the connection between conscientious objection and gender identity from my particular personal perspective, and not knowing where to begin. After all, strange as it may seem, I had never thought of this connection in this respect before.

I would like to begin by explaining why I never thought of my…

1 June 2001Feature

Militarism and war have in some ways changed their nature in the last two decades. Or is it our perception of them that's changed? As women in Europe involved in groups opposing militarism and war we have found ourselves having to re-organise our resistance and re-think the alternatives we are calling for.

These thoughts prompted twenty of us to get together for a weekend workshop in Amsterdam at the end of January, an opportunity for in-depth discussion of women's current and future anti-militarist and anti-war strategies.

Some of the women at the Amsterdam workshop came from women-only groups. Some were active, as feminists, in groups with men. While some of us were more “specialised” in one kind of activism or another, women were commonly doing a bit of several kinds of things: non-…

1 June 2001Review

Saqi Books, 2000. ISBN 0 86356 043. 294 pp

Over recent years, writings on gender in the Middle East have tended to focus on the status of women under Islam. The contributors to this volume, by contrast, explore the manner in which male identities are created and reproduced in different societies and settings within the Middle East.

What the contributors share is the basic assumption that masculinity is socially constructed, there is no fixed determinant of “male-ness”. What surprised me in reading some of the accounts of how…

1 June 2001Review

Zed Books, 1998, 247 pp. £14.95/$25.00 (paper)

Cynthia Cockburn's book draws on three case studies to examine how women of differing ethnicities, living in conflict zones, work together within an NGO setting, to achieve better conditions for women within their communities.

The three case studies she uses are: the Women's Support Network, Belfast, Northern Ireland; Bat Shalom of Megiddo, Nazareth and the Valleys, Israel and Palestine; and Medica Women's Therapy Centre, Zenica, central Bosnia.

In her introductory chapter “…

1 June 2001Review

University of California Press, 2000. 418 pp

Here's the short review – read this book! And just in case you need more persuasion, here are some reasons why.

Cynthia Enloe has probably been the most consistent analyst of gender and militarism over the past decade; the scope of her analysis is wide-ranging, yet her argument is focused and powerful; and unlike many other writers, she really does address gender, rather than merely documenting women's experience.

Though the subjects of each chapter – the mothers buying a can…

1 June 2001Review

Artificial Eye Film Co, France 1998, UK video release 2000. Running time 90 mins [French with English subtitles].

A dreamlike account of dysfunctional life in the modern French Foreign Legion. Stuck in Marseilles after being cast out from his beloved military “family”, Staff Sergeant Galoup recalls his time in Djibouti as a sun-baked idyll.

From Galoup's remembered perspective the East African landscape seems to be populated with happy, compliant locals and the eroticised bodies of legionnaires. But as Galoup himself says, “viewpoints count”, and this nostalgia-laden view of the post-colonial…