Concepts and Context
Masculinity, Citizenship, and the Creation
of the All-Volunteer Force
This text examines the relationship between military recruiting and masculinity, so some discussion of the concept of masculinity (and hegemonic masculinity in particular), the relationship between masculinity and soldiering, and the so-called crisis of masculinity is in order. In the 1970s, the women’s movement shed new light on masculinity, and it began to get attention both from those who sought to reform it in the hopes of liberating men and those who sought to protect it from the threat of feminism. In the 1980s, in works such as The Making of Masculinities: The New Men’s Studies (Brod 1987), masculinity started to receive sustained scholarly attention in ways that went beyond previous psychological studies of sex roles and that built on women’s studies and feminist analyses of gender. Masculinity, very simply put, is the traits, behaviors, images, values, and interests associated with being a man within a given culture.1 It is not a natural consequence of male biology, but a set of socially constructed practices.
In the Western philosophical tradition, meaning is made through difference and contrast. A positive definition depends on the negation or repression of something represented as its antithesis. Binary oppositions pair terms relationally. Many feminist theorists have pointed out that “masculine” and “feminine” are defined against each other and linked with other oppositional pairs, like hard-soft, culture-nature, rational-emotional, mind-body, strong-weak, publicprivate, active-passive, subject-object, and independent-dependent. This way of