Gender and Just War Theory

Ethical theorists tend to discuss fighters in war in apparently gender-neutral language such as “combatants.” This may (or may not) be an appropriate idealization for the purposes of clear-eyed ethical analysis. Still, the fact is that the combatant is culturally gendered masculine. Being a combatant is treated by actual people as occupying a gender role with a host of traits. The warrior is understood as more than a mere “combatant.” First and foremost, he is a “he.” In addition, he is tough, aggressive, unemotional, self-sacrificing, obedient to authority, and has authority over others, especially women.

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