War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa / Edition 1

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Gender roles are nowhere more prominent than in war, yet our understanding of the relationship between gender and war is confused. Joshua Goldstein analyzes the near-total exclusion of women from combat forces, through history and across cultures. He concludes that killing in war does not come naturally for either gender, and that gender norms often mold men, women, and children to the needs of the war system.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Goldstein has amassed a huge array of research, literature and anecdote in this comprehensive, cohesive overview of dozens of subtopics, from myths of Amazon warriors to changes in the design of GI Joe dolls over the decades." Publishers Weekly

"...a fascinating book about an important issue. I thoroughly recommend it to everyone who has an interest in why we humans behave the way we do." Jane Goodall, primatologist, The Jane Goodall Institute

Publishers Weekly
The war between the sexes is not so different from war itself, according to this provocative and disturbing study of how gender is inextricably embedded into human conceptions of war and aggression. Pointing to consistent, cross-cultural gender arrangements throughout history most fighting soldiers have been male; patriarchies have traditionally used the ideal of the vulnerable female to encourage male violence during war Goldstein (Three Way Street) has amassed a huge array of research, literature and anecdote in this comprehensive, cohesive overview of dozens of subtopics, from myths of Amazon warriors to changes in the design and marketing of GI Joe dolls over the decades. He astutely evaluates studies of the effects of childhood sex segregation, drawing disconcerting conclusions that it prepares and preconditions children for adult wartime behavior. His analysis of female military imagery and women's frequent participation in revolutionary movements is imaginative and convincing: "The image of a woman holding a rifle and a baby is found in liberation movements across the third world." At times it seems like Goldstein, professor of international relations at the American University in Washington, D.C., has bitten off more than anyone could chew in a single volume. His inquiry into wartime rape and the feminization of the male enemy relies too heavily on Richard C. Trexler's fascinating but flawed Sex and Conquest, and his worthwhile critical use of Lionel Tiger's classic Men in Groups falls short of grappling with the book's problems. But overall, he has produced a remarkable compendium of information and analysis that moves toward a vital, ongoing cultural discussion. Photos andillus. (Oct. 17) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521807166
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 540
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Joshua Goldstein is Professor of International Relations at the American University, Washington DC. He is the author of several research works and textbooks, and has specialised in research into the management of regional conflicts.

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Table of Contents

1. A puzzle: the cross-cultural consistency of gender roles in war; 2. Women warriors: the historical record of female combatants; 3. Bodies: the biology of individual gender; 4. Groups: bonding, hierarchy, and social identity; 5. Heroes: the making of militarised masculinity; 6. Conquests: sex, rape, and exploitation in wartime; 7. Reflections: the mutuality of gender and war.

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