Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Cynthia Enloe Student Roundtable: "What International Feminist Activists Have Contributed to Anti-Militarist Social Theorizing"

Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Cynthia Enloe Student Roundtable: "What International Feminist Activists Have Contributed to Anti-Militarist Social Theorizing"

Article excerpt

Taylor Crockett:

A New World: A Curious Feminist Reinterprets "Natural" Society

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, militarism is "1. Glorification of the ideals of a professional military class. 2. Predominance of the armed forces in the administration or policy of the state." (1) The American Heritage Dictionary's definition of militarization is "to imbue with militarism." (2) Therefore, it seems reasonable to deduce that militarism occurs through open militarization (i.e. the mobilization of troops, official declarations of war, etc.).

According to Dr. Cynthia Enloe, however, militarism is more than that. In her presentation at the University of Massachusetts Boston Social Theory Forum on April 6, 2006, she defined militarism as "a package of ideas" that work to inoculate us to the ideas that, first and foremost, the world is a dangerous place, that there are naturally those who must be protected ("feminine") and, conversely, those who must protect ("masculine"), and that every "mature" and "serious" government must have a military to secure the protection of its people. (3)

These ideas can be relevant to individual nations, but they can also be relevant internationally, as is the case between the United States and Japan. Article Nine of the post-World War II U.S.-drafted Japanese Constitution prohibits Japan from ever again amassing an offensive military. But today, American officials try to persuade those Japanese who have come to treasure and take pride in this anti-militaristic section of their constitution that Japan can never be "taken seriously" in a militaristic global society if it doesn't get rid of this Article Nine. (4) This is an instance of American efforts to reverse its own earlier de-militarizing goals.

Dr. Enloe cautions, however, that militarization is not always such an overt act; rather, it is "a sneaky sort of transformative process." (5) For example, "People who reject militarization may don a flag pin, unaware that doing so may convince those with a militarized view of the U.S. flag that their bias is universally shared ..." (6) She goes on to warn that militarization is not something that happens solely within military institutions or to people with military mentalities (like soldiers, for example, or their wives and families). "Whole cultures can be militarized," (7) she says, and "militarization can transform a family or a Congress or a school without the military ever appearing there." (8) This means a school not only becomes militarized when the ROTC shows up on campus to recruit new members, but also, as Katarina Tomasevski observes, because "inculcating obedience [in school] leads to children following orders without questioning them, especially when punishment accompanies failure to do so." (9) Such obedience in a militaristic society, then, will help to perpetuate the legitimacy of militaristic goals.

It is important to include militarism in discussions of human rights for several reasons, especially given Dr. Enloe's definition of militarism as viewed through the lens of "feminist curiosity." Employing a "feminist curiosity" entails an exploration of human rights in a specific direction, that of women's rights as human rights. It is a method of learning to complicate what is "natural" or "traditional" in terms of patriarchy so that knowledge can be parlayed into understanding how to challenge those concepts of "natural" and "traditional" on a larger scale. Curiosity, the quest for and amassing of knowledge, leads to empowerment, and if any obstacles present themselves in the path of a curious feminist, it is most likely because the possession and control of knowledge is masculine.

Today's global world order is, by and large, a patriarchal one, and "Patriarchal societies are notable for marginalizing the feminine." (10) To effectively marginalize the feminine, it must be universally understood. …

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