In this blog post I will be discussing how Judith Stiehm’s article “Theses on the Military, Security, War, and Women,” Eric Blanchard’s “The Technoscience Question in Feminist International Relations: Unmanning the US War on Terror,” and Sandra Harding’s response to Blanchard’s article correlate and provide a powerful message.
In “Theses on the Military, Security, War, and Women,” Stiehm examines different perceptions and constructions regarding war. She makes claims about how we should view certain approaches to understanding war. For example, in her 22nd thesis, Stiehm claims that “instead of focusing on war’s cost and its horror, attention should be given to whether or not the outcome of a conflict fulfills its stated purpose.” Her point makes sense, and seems a little obvious-yet-unattainable, like most ideas of how the world ought to be. How could we ever only focus on the stated purpose of war when the purpose is usually pretty lost in translation? I feel like if that is what we focused on, there evidently would not be war, because we know that war is not the best solution in a given situation. Parenthetically, by ‘we’ I mean the rational population. Yet the nature of humankind at present can often be very irrational (according to my culturally relative ideas on morality, I suppose). Additionally, how much of the rational population really acts rational? I mean, there are rational people who play video games about killing prostitutes and stealing cars. There are rational people who watch Jersey Shore. There are rational people who flail their heads around to music by themselves in the library and then fail to stop when the guy across from them glares with that look of like well-clearly-YOU’RE-not-studying and then they come home and talk to their shoes…not that I know anyone like that. And there are even rational people — men and women — who justify war.
Stiehm’s 33rd thesis definitely goes against humans justifying war; she claims that when women “focus on issues like rape in war, a military tactic, their energy and thoughts are diverted from the larger issue, which is replacing strategies which select force as a legitimate means to achieving a goal.” She goes on to state that the “goal should not be to make war more humane, but to eliminate it.”
That makes sense, because I mean, instead of having rehab centres for all the side effects and intersecting issues concerning drug addicts, we should just eliminate drugs altogether right?!?!?!?!?!?! BOOM. Drug problem defeated. World 1 Drugs 0. Moving on! RIGHT? Right! Excuse my sass. Obviously this woman knows more than I do about the subject and her opinion is — of course — valid.
Stiehm’s point is that we should work to change the world, as it is interpreted in so many different ways. I never thought of that! Brb going to go change the world and bake a cake and hold hands with everybody. AND YOU GET A CAKE, AND YOU GET A CAKE… WE’RE ALLL GETTIN A CAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKEEEEE!!!~~!!!!~ Oh man, sorry, I just got possessed by Oprah. That was awkward. And precious.
I do understand that the article makes great points. I know it may seem like me and this article go together like Tyra Banks and sanity (not at all), but I really do respect the ideas presented. Obviously, if we take fragments of the whole away and examine them, we are almost in denial of the problem itself. But war is a big problem — the biggest problem. We live in a world fraught with tension over virtually every issue. Conflict will always exist (oh my god that observation was like, so deep Kathleen, Rousseau has NOTHIN’ on you). All we can do as a world wide community of people to mediate this conflict is study, analyze and work on how to make the world a more pleasant place in the most “human” way possible.
This is echoed largely in Eric M. Blanchard’s article “The technoscience question in feminist International Relations.” The article demonstrates the connections society places which show men as actors in war and women as facilitators of peace. Blanchard looks at how technology’s way of distancing people from reality is sucking the reality-factor out of something as serious as war. Machinery is dehumanizing war, and this sustains the ever-present stereotype as women being the victims in war and obviously men being fighters.
We have the power to create ourselves as human beings to a large extent, and when outside pressures are constantly telling us who we are, this kind of thing is bound to be reinforced. Blanchard’s article demonstrates this by talking about the functions of men regarding drones and other instenseley modernized machinery.
Machinery, he points out, should actually make it easier for women to participate in war, exercising their heroic “right to die.” Yet machinery is so powerful and prevalent that it is heading in the direction of replacing the soldier (as discussed formerly in my Cyborg blog post). Judith Steihm says that an effect of “unmaning” combat will frustrate the former efforts of women to struggle to transcend second-class citizenship and attempts to participate in the military. This is an important insight to consider, as the world becomes more and more modern.
Sandra Harding’s engagement with the article praises him for his modern approach, but more specifically his feminist use of International relations. She finds that other methods of studying war have become outdated — they are “epistemologically underdeveloped,” requiring modernization. She finds his analysis “exciting.” And it is exciting. Today’s thinkers should definitely apply feminist International Relations to more and more aspects of life…
Should. Women should be included in the framework of the United Nations as more than just victims. Likewise, women should be included in the negotiation process, as aforementioned in my last blog post. Women should be more fairly represented in the military. In the government. Society should ignore the evils of the world (like transfats, Tyra Banks, and you know..violence and junk).
…Does this entry seem especially bitter? I apologize for that. This time of year has got me busier than a Miley Cyrus hate-mail box — and consequently maybe a little extra cynical. I do truly believe that the world can be changed in a positive manner, and I am optimistic that there are many amazing individuals with all the energy necessary to achieve selfless goals that will change the face of politics, of feminism, of environmentalism, of war. Sometimes when I’m at parties, people ask me why I want to go into politics. “I know that I can make a difference one day,” I tell them, feeling a little more hopelessly honest as I look up at them over my red cup (of apple juice, duh). This happens once with a person I know; my guard is down, and his eyes are skeptical. “People in politics just say they want to change things, but they never change anything. They don’t do anything, or help anyone. Why do you really want to do it?”
"I actually believe that I can help people," I tell him, an uncharacteristically shy smile curving and collapsing on my face, "I know I’m going to change the world."
Maybe I will change the world….when I’m the person that I should be. For now, I’m going to go get out my baking utensils; I have this strange urge to go bake a cake…
Blanchard, Eric. “The Technoscience Question in Feminist International Relations: Unmanning the US War on Terror.” Feminism and International Relations: Conversations about the Past, Present, and Future. New York: Routledge, 2011. 146-163.
Steihm, Judtith Hicks. “Theses on the military, security, war and women.” In Gender and International Security: Feminist Perspectives, edited by Laura Sjoberg, 17-23. New York: Routledge, 2010.
Harding, Sandra. “Gender, technoscience, and militarism: An engagement with Eric M. Blanchard. 165-168. Great Britain: 2011.