discourse of social exclusion – focus on women in `all

Marijana Sivric, Ph.D.
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
University of Mostar
Different aspects of social exclusion, refering to
different social, minority, ethnic, gender groups.
Military/police – most ‘male’ of all
Position of women in these institutions –
discrimination and exclusion.
Definition of gender
Difference between sex and gender
 Sex – biological category
 Gender - gender refers to socially constructed roles,
ways of behaviour, skills, interests etc. that men and
women are expected to have because of their biological
 The conditioning into gender roles starts early in life
(learning how to be a boy or a girl).
 A person’s gender is learned through socialization and
is heavily influenced by the culture of the society
Military as a masculine institution
The traditional organizational culture of armed
the organizational structure of armies is heavily
gendered and armies put a lot of effort in
producing hegemonic masculinity.
important aspects of masculinity within the
military are: bravery, toughness, physical
endurance, aggressiveness and a special kind of
Many male officers signed up for a military that
did not allow women in their ranks
On the other hand, many female soldiers are
proud of the fact that they made it, they are
tough enough to succeed in a 'macho
institution'. (change of paradigm)
Critical discourse analysis:
 analysis on the lexical level (negative opinion
words) and (negative) rhetoric presenting
women in the mentioned occupational fields.
 what is explicitly said and what is implied in the
discourse (military discourse).
 stereotypes
Exclusion based on:
Ideology and power relations
Identity creation
Sexual harrassment and other types of physical
Language which is not gender inclusive is also
often termed sexist language.
Sexist language is language that discriminates
against women or men (though most often
women) by not adequately reflecting their role,
status and presence in society.
It is the most obvious and first indicator of
discrimination or exclusion policy.
The honorifics are indicators of "mutually
defining identities“, e.g. the use of "ma'am" or
"sir" clearly marks a mutually agreed
superior/subordinate relationship.
In addition to being markers of relative status,
"ma'am" and "sir" are also clearly marked for
There are indications that "ma'am" may be
rendered less frequently than "sir".
This could indicate that "ma'am" is pragmatically
less powerful than "sir", or it could indicate that
speakers are less familiar, or less comfortable,
with the notion of a female as superior.
Women labeled as :
‘slut’; ‘bitch’; ‘dyke’ (regarding their relations
with the male soldiers)
‘eye candy’ (regarding their looks)
‘crybaby’ (regarding their ability to respond to
given tasks)
Ideology and power
Contemporary ideological values subordinate women to
men in military and civilian contexts.
Ideology and power relations in discourse create two
groups: Us vs. Them.(in-group vs. out-group)
Military men have power which enables them to create
their own ideology.
In the military, power is objectively measured by a
combination of rank and position in the hierarchy.
Power and solidarity (band of brothers/band of sisters)
women's social subordinacy to men can be mitigated by
their participation in a system of rank and hierarchy
created by men, and which, therefore, men must respect
and abide by.
Creation of identity
Women may perform masculinity in the perceived
masculine environment as a method of forming a
military identity. (behaving as male soldiers)
Women may construct what they consider a less
gendered, or gender neutral, identity as officer, aircrew
member, or commander - positions which are gender
neutral in that they are not morphologically marked.
Women may exaggerate femininity in order to assert
their femaleness and perform heterosexuality in such an
overwhelmingly masculine environment.
Military stereotypes
Men are socially constructed breadwinners who protect
the family
Women are socially constructed to nurture and support
men in these pursuits.
Men and masculinity symbolize power, strength,
aggression, independence, and machismo.
Women and femininity symbolize fragility, weakness,
compassion, dependence, and kindness.
(Weinstein & D’Amico, 1999)
Stereotypes are used to measure the performance and
worth of military personnel: the closer one’s fit to the
stereotype, the better the soldier.
Military stereotypes themselves operate in a hierarchy
with the ‘warrior hero’ at the top.
The ‘warrior hero’ is described as independent,
disciplined, strong, sexually potent, and above all
masculine (definitely male).
The soldier stereotype is the antithesis of that which is
feminine “for the warrior hero, to falter is female”.
(Woodward, 2000)
The social frames of stereotypical gendering: “Because
men could kill, they were soldiers : because women
were not supposed to kill, they could never be
Feminine characteristics are second to masculine ones
yet are necessary for the warrior hero to exist.
the “woman as mother” stereotype places the woman
in the role of support and emotional protector of the
warrior hero.
In turn, the warrior hero must fight to protect
(physically) the woman who is his mother (or the mother
of his children).
E.g.: “Great, we’ve got females with us. We’re going to have to
take care of them.”
Boldry, Wood, and Kasby (2001) found that
gender stereotypes adversely impact perceptions
of women in military training programs as they
were consistently evaluated lower than men on
leadership skills and motivation.
the persistence of gender stereotypes in the
military is reinforced through the male
dominated history of the military.
Physical abuse
Sexual harassment refers to any unwelcome
sexual advance or conduct on the job (touching,
gestures, jokes, display of pornographic material,
disparaging remarks.)
It has an adverse effect on women's motivation
to pursue a military or police career.
“I am sick of hearing about ‘equality’ in the
military. Women and men are not equal, neither
in physical strength, thought processes, nor the
way they are perceived by others. In a perfect
world, we could all serve with no regards to
whether or not we have breasts, but IT’S
“I think if you stay in too long, you begin to act
and talk like a man.”
“They made it clear that I was not welcome to
be part of their fellowship, and that they felt I
did not “belong” there because I was a woman.”
“If I was forceful, I was a ‘bitch’. If I was soft, I
was not worthy of the uniform and if I didn’t
put out, I was a ‘bitch’ and ‘probably a lesbian’.
"There are only three kinds of female the men
let you be in the military: a bitch, a ho or a
"This guy out there, he told me he thinks the military
sends women over to give the guys eye candy to keep
them sane. He said in Vietnam they had prostitutes to
keep them from going crazy, but they don't have those
in Iraq. So they have women soldiers instead.“
"One was labeled a whore because she had a boyfriend,
and the other one was a bitch because she wouldn't
sleep around. And that's how they were still referred to
all these years later."
Instead of conclusions:
Constructing masculinity as a military
masculinity serves as the main source of gender
inequality in society.
Elements of military training/ socialization
provoking gender inequality:
- military language;
- devaluation of what is regarded as being
- male bonding;
- drilling;
- rituals of subjugation.
Military women are caught in an interesting inbetween state:
 they're members of an institution which abides
by a hierarchy which can afford them power;
 by virtue of their sex-class they cannot
necessarily participate fully in that institution whether due to combat restrictions, or by virtue
of the organization's definitively masculine
What can we do?
Rights of women are human rights
Education about gender relations:
- gender mainstreaming (NATO and national
- military discourse;
- military women antagonism – exclusion within the
same gender;
- media representation of military women.
Transformation of the masculine structure of the
Thank you!
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