Gendering the Empire’s Soldiers: Gendered Ideologies, the United States Military, and the War on Terror

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter explores the constructed gender roles in ‘hero’ narratives about individual members of the United States military in the war on terror stylized by military press releases and the outlets that reported the stories. It reviews the stories that the military tells and the public consumes of stand-outs like Pat Tillman, Jessica Lynch, Chris Carter, and Paul Ray Smith. This analysis produces two results: first, tropes of militarized masculinity and femininity pervade the military; second, the stories crafted for public consumption are, like the empire they serve, hyper-gendered. The chapter concludes by arguing that the legitimation and valorization of both the empire and its war-making are reliant on these institutionalized ideologies of gender, which adapt to change over time and combine to present the empire as at once just (feminine) and all-powerful (masculine). It shows how these tropes are crucial to understand how gender ideologies shape the U.S. “war on terror,” as well as the national identity more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGender, War, and Militarism
Subtitle of host publicationFeminist Perspectives
EditorsLaura Sjoberg, Sandra Via
Place of PublicationSanta Barbara, CA
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-313-39144-6
ISBN (Print)978-0-313-39143-9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • gender
  • war
  • militarism
  • soldiers
  • empire
  • feminist IR

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