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Words Mean Things: The Beginnings of De-Gendering Democratic Citizenship

This is a guest post by Kyleanne Hunter, PhD Student and Research Fellow at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

Yesterday it was discovered that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has ordered the Marine Corps to both integrate their enlisted training and to create gender-neutral job titles.  This news comes on the heels of a passionate battle of words surrounding the integration of women into all Military Occupational Specialties (MOS).  This latest victory for those who recognize the value of women’s service is not limited to those in the service.  It is a large step forward for all women in America.

Democratic citizenship has long been tied to military service.[1]  Even as we have moved to an all-volunteer force, the rhetorical power of the citizen-solder has maintained its prominence in political debates.  This power has been instrumental in minority groups gaining full citizenship rights.  Yet there has been one group unable to harness this power – women.  Even as women have made great strides in military service, the hyper-masculinity of military culture and speech has made achieving parity very difficult for women.   While, on paper, in the USA women have equal rights as their male citizen counterparts, the reality is that women remain underrepresented economically, professionally, and politically.  In short, they aren’t able to realize the full benefits of citizenship in a liberal democracy.

While not a complete panacea, the move of opening all MOS’ to women, and requiring gender-neutral job titles is a big step in rectifying some of the challenges to complete citizenship women face.  One of the explanations for male-preference in citizenship can be traced to the positive association between masculinity and military service.[2]  If the best a citizen can be is a soldier, and the best a soldier can be is “manly,” clearly men are our best citizens.  This cognitive heuristic is reinforced by military language: infantry man, fly boy, armor man, “A Few Good Men.”  These words, so engrained in our sociopolitical lexicon that we hardly give them a second thought, have reinforced the patriarchal system of male-privileged citizenship.

It has been argued that removing the formal barriers to women’s service in all aspects of the military, including the Selective Service, is important for fulfilling the social contract between the citizen and the states.  Removing the informal ones is just as important. De-gendering the language of military service is a large step towards changing the culture that has created them.  Sociopolitical rhetoric doesn’t change overnight, but words means things.  By using gender-neutral terms we will begin to recognize the importance of all citizens contributions to our security.  The small act of removing “man” as a qualifier for military jobs as the power to change the citizenship dynamics for half the population.

[1] See: Krebs, Ronald R. Fighting for rights: military service and the politics of citizenship. Cornell University Press, 2006; Morgan, Matthew J. “The reconstruction of culture, citizenship, and military service.” Armed Forces & Society 29.3 (2003): 373-391; Salyer, Lucy E. “Baptism by Fire: Race, Military Service, and US Citizenship Policy, 1918–1935.” The Journal of American History 91.3 (2004): 847-876

[2] See: Arkin, William, and Lynne R. Dobrofsky. “Military socialization and masculinity.” Journal of Social Issues 34.1 (1978): 151-168; Hinojosa, Ramon. “Doing hegemony: Military, men, and constructing a hegemonic masculinity.” The Journal of Men’s Studies 18.2 (2010): 179-194; Snyder, R. Claire. Citizen-Soldiers and Manly Warriors: Military Service and Gender in the Civic Republican Tradition. Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

 

*Kyleanne Hunter is currently a PhD Student at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver.  She spent more than a decade as a United States Marine Corps Officer, serving as a AH-1W “Super Cobra” pilot on multiple combat deployments, and the Marine Corps’ Liaison Officer to the House of Representatives. 

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Duckies, nomination period extended

The new deadline is January 11th, so nominate away!

The Rule of Three

While it is hard to do and particularly hard to do while starting out, the general conventional wisdom (and wise it is) is that one should try to have three pieces under review at most/all times.  Why? Because academic review is a capricious enterprise that often takes much time.

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How stories matter: Thoughts on contextuality, temporality, reflexivity & certainty

In early September, the circulation of the now iconic picture of Alan Kurdi, the little Syrian Kurdish boy who drowned along with his mother and brother in the attempt to cross the Aegean Sea, prompted me to write a post reflecting on what ‘we’ as academics might do. I argued that we could, possibly, use “our knowledge of global affairs to connect the dots and lay bare how Alan’s story” is emblematic of so many themes we touch upon in our research – and indeed, the moment created by the (ethically difficult) circulation of the picture became an opening to provide depth and nuance for those willing to listen.

Screenshot 2015-12-29 16.25.39I suggested that, if academics wanted to do ‘something’ in response, this something might include telling “the stories of all the children who died crossing the Mediterranean – and their parents and grandparents, and aunts, and uncles.” Now, it would be presumptuous to think that Anne Barnard of the New York Times read my post (and she is not an academic either), but imagine my delight to see her piece on the Kurdi family’s journeys published yesterday.

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The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of High Tech War

 

In fall of 2014, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced his plan to maintain US superiority against rising powers (i.e. Russia and China). His claim was that the US cannot lose its technological edge – and thus superiority – against a modernizing Russia and a rapidly militarizing China. To ensure this edge, he called for the “third Offset Strategy.”

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Friday Nerd Blogging: Early But Sans Spoilers

We have not Friday Nerd Blogged in a while, and we are reluctant to do anything that might spoil the Force Awakens.  Yet, my grading is done and my enthusiasm is making the Kessel Run in record time, so here’s a non-spoilery bit of joy that is early and excessive.  May the Force Be With You as you grade and travel over the holidays.

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Duck, Duck, Nominate!

The Duckies have moved from here to the Online Media Caucus, but that does not mean that readers of the Duck should not participate.  Indeed, it means that the DoM is now eligible for nominations.  So, wander over to the OMC and nominate for a variety of categories, including best blog, best visual post, best podcast, best twitter account and more!

Men’s Unexpected Erections are a Liability on the Battlefield (and other ways men’s bodies put female soldiers at risk)


In the follow up to Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s  recent announcement that all combat jobs will be open to women, there have been several articles highlighting men’s fears about working with women on the frontline. In particular, a survey of Special Operations men found that the majority would prefer not to work with women, and that some held serious “fears” and “concerns”- especially in relation to women’s apparently unpredictable bodies. That’s right, the Special Forces-  the tip of the spear, the elite of the US military- are scared about the three P’s: periods, pregnancy and PMS. Most of these discussions pit women’s unpredictable, leaky, and fragile bodies against men’s stable, solid, and predictable ones. But is that true? Well, if folks want to take the debate to this level, its worth considering what science tells us about  men’s creaky, leaky, fluctuating and hormonal bodies and how this might impact their combat readiness.
So, I’ve compiles a list of 3 ways men’s bodies might be a liability in combat. It starts with- you guessed it- unexpected erections (bet you didn’t expect to see that arrangement of words in an IR blog post today).

1. Unexpected Erections: Did you know that men, on average, get 11 erections a day? That can be a serious physical liability in an intense combat situation. If we are going to talk about unexpected pregnancy or women’s PMS, we should talk about men’s boners too. Sounds silly? Well, it is actually a serious consideration. It should be noted that erections aren’t just about sexual arousal, many men experience “reflex erections, which can happen when a man is nervous, scared, angry, or under stress.” Sounds like a definite combat liability- particularly with younger male troops. Also, men can get unexpected erections due to the need to urinate, which can be a reality for soldiers travelling or in action in the field. All these fears about women ‘holding it’ and getting bladder infections in combat  might be nothing compared to the risk of men ‘holding it’ and getting an erection. I’ll spare you all the jokes about negligent discharge (ok I won’t), but in all seriousness, we need to ask if men’s unexpected erections put troops at risk.

2. Testosterone is unpredictable and fathers loose it rapidly: Continue reading

The Practice Turn in International Relations Theory

Thanks to PTJ, ISQ Online is running a debate about the scope and nature of the ‘practice turn’ in the study of world politics. The symposium centers around a recent International Studies Quarterly article by Christian Bueger and Frank Gadinger, “The Play of International Practice.”*

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An Anti-Trump Call to Arms

Building on Josh’s excellent post calling out Donald Trump as a vile racist, the popularity of Trump has been troubling me for some time. As a professor who takes seriously the job of educating students how to think as opposed to what to think, I strive in class not to be partisan or allow my students to know my personal political opinions, lest it affect what they believe or argue in an attempt to curry favor. I have been struggling for sometime to find ways to analyze the Trumpian rhetoric (and to  a lesser degree that of Ben Carson) to help students arrive at their own conclusions about the content of his speech.

But no more.

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Thoughts on DA-RT

For background on DA-RT, see Jarod Hayes’ post at the Duck of Minerva, as well as John Patty’s response to the petition to delay implementation (as well as its related website) and Jeffrey Isaac’s response to Patty and Isaac’s latest postRoundups and responses abound.

I drafted a longer piece on DA-RT, but now realize that I will probably never finish it. So, instead, some brief comments:

  • I have neither signed the DA-RT Journal Editors’ Statement (JETS), nor the acronym-challenged petition to delay it’s implementation. My basic reasons are straightforward. The journal that I edit, International Studies Quarterly,  is a publication of the International Studies Association (ISA). Given the structure of the ISA, I do not believe that I enjoy the authority to make this kind of decision—although I should note that my view is not universally shared among ISA journal editors. ISA does have a replication policy that ISQ follows, but it currently only extends to the archiving of statistical materials. ISQ will follow whatever transparency policy the ISA deems appropriate for its journals.
  • The dynamics of the DA-RT dispute share some similarity to those associated with “wedge issues.” That is, it “divide[s] [political scientists] through code words [and] labeling” in ways I find deeply troubling.

  • Participants in the debate over DA-RT need to make sure that they cultivate, or continue to display, intellectual empathy. In other words, opposition to DA-RT standards does not make you an opponent of social science understood correctly. Support for DA-RT standards does not make you a methodological puritan.
  • But the controversy does provide some people who hold these beliefs the opportunity to express them in unhelpful ways (cf. “wedge issue”).

  • This is particularly problematic, because there’s nothing wrong with agonistic and intense exchange on the issues.

Donald Trump Is a Racist (Part 100)

In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting and President Obama’s address to the nation, Donald Trump has called for banning Muslims from entering the United States.

This is counterproductive racist and awful. We need a credible candidate from the Republicans in 2016, not a reality television star who is a disgrace to the nation and its founding principles. Let’s leave aside the morality here, which on its face is terrible, but recall what ISIS wants us to do which is turn this a religious war between the West and Muslims.

ISIS wants us in our response to their provocations to eliminate the gray zone, making Muslims have to choose between their faith and where they live. A small fraction of Muslims have been radicalized, but ISIS wants us to treat the Muslims community with such disdain and hatred that the world they see — of Muslims being discriminated against — becomes a reality.

This is something George W. Bush resisted during his tenure as president, and Republicans and Americans of good will have to reject this cancer publicly and repeatedly, as Donald Trump’s populist xenophobia is a greater threat to the republic than ISIS.

Climate Change and Rhetorical Entrapment

Late last month the New York Times ran an interesting piece about the power of language and climate change. Central to the story is the concept of a carbon budget. On its face, the concept is simple. Drawing on complex models of the atmospheric and energy effects of carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases, climate scientists have proposed a global carbon budget: the amount of carbon dioxide (or, we should add, the equivalent in other gases which can be far more potent) that can be emitted into the atmosphere without breaking the two degree Celsius mark. Turns out the numbers are not pleasant (like just about everything else with respect to climate change). In the latest IPCC report (the fifth, 2013), climate modelers estimate that humans have a total carbon budget of about 800 billion tons, of which humans have used about 530 billion tons, which means we only have 270 billion tons left. Given the average emissions rate of 10 billion tons a year, looks like humans and the rest of the planet have a little less than 30 years left, and that assumes that carbon emissions stay constant. If they grow, of course, the time shrinks. Continue reading

Beyond “Rejection”

The following is a guest post by Jeffrey C. Isaac, who is James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science at Indiana University and editor in chief of Perspectives on Politics: A Political Science Public Sphere.

“I reject this paper.”

“I recommend that this paper be rejected.”

“I am sorry to inform you that your paper has been rejected for publication.”

Social practices are constituted in large part by the words we regularly use and the meanings these words typically convey. Political science is a social practice. And variations of the sentences above are commonly employed by political scientists in ways that shape what we do and who we are.

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Duckies Keep Quacking But In A Different Nest: Nominate

The new ISA caucus, the Online Media Caucus, has taken over the Duckies, and it is now nomination season (much safer than Duck Season).  So, head over to the new OMC blog and nominate your favorite blogs, posts, tweets, and other online media for the next round of the Duckies, to be awarded in Atlanta in March at the next ISA meeting.    As always, the Duckies will be sponsored by SAGE.  The big difference for Duck of Minerva fans is that now that the DoM is not running it, it will now be eligible for the competition (officers of the OMC are not eligible).

 

Rejection Is The Name of the Game

Much discussion lately about how much rejection is in this academic game.  I had a conversation yesterday with a pal who was finding it much harder, it seemed, to get work published after tenure than before. “I thought I knew how to do this.”

Folks have been calling for the true CVs of people–where rejections would be listed.  Not sure that is going to happen.  However, in this week where I received news of receiving a fellowship to supplement my sabbatical, I thought I would list many of the rejections of my work along the way (my spreadsheet for tracking my work is pretty good but incomplete, just like my training in the Force):*

*  I have already enumerated my many rejections in the academic job market.

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Playing Politics with Compassion after the Paris Attacks (and why humanitarianism is in trouble)

Photo Credit: ruimc77 on Flickr

In response to the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people President Obama stated:

Once again, we’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.  This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.

President Obama’s statement was a resounding call for universal compassion; the emphasis on “all of humanity” and “universal values” recalls the language of humanitarianism, enshrined in the foundational documents of the United Nations (UN) including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its related covenants. In the aftermath of the attacks, humanitarian values have been threatened by political posturing by the extreme right Front National party in France and by Republican (and one Democrat) governors and presidential hopefuls in the United States who are calling for either a suspension of Syrian refugee resettlement programs in the United States or limiting resettlement to only Christian refugees. Yesterday, France’s president François Hollande defied extreme right opposition and announced a commitment to accepting 30,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years.

The xenophobic and racist policies being advocated by US Republican governors and presidential candidates are an alarming affront to humanitarianism, threaten core humanitarian principles of humanity and impartiality and presage a backsliding of humanitarian policy to an unenlightened era. Continue reading

ISIS and the Future of Counter-Terrorism

[I’ve been debating whether to post this…it’s a “transcript” of a talk I gave yesterday here at the University of Puget Sound. It’s a bit basic as it was intended for a general audience of, primarily, undergraduate students. I wrote this up for friends who wanted to hear the talk but were unable to attend. It’s a bit disorganized too. So be warned it’s kind of ramble-y and general. Also, I haven’t provided source information or links. If you want any, please ask!]

It’s been a few days since the Paris bombings, and we have some more information about what happened, which has prompted me to reflect on what the attacks—along with those in Ankara, Beirut, and the Sinai—tell us about what ISIS is doing and why, and what these attacks mean for counter-terrorism efforts.

First, it’s important to note that these attacks are occurring in the context of an increase in mass casualty attacks (defined as terrorist attacks causing more than 100 deaths). Between 1978 and 2013, there was an average of 4.6 mass casualty attacks per year. In 2014, there were 26 while to date in 2015 there have been 15. While this is indeed a small n in terms of both number of events and time, it’s interesting to note that there might be a trend among terrorists towards soft target mass casualty attacks.

While we still don’t know for sure the degree to which the ISIS leadership in Syria was involved in any of these attacks, it’s looking increasingly likely that they played a role in at least three of the attacks (the Sinai bombing is the most likely to have been done by some other organization, with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula being the leading candidate). But, if we assume that ISIS is responsible for these attacks, it would represent a shift in their tactics and overturn many of the analytic assumptions about the group’s strategy.

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Get a Grip America: Stop the Anti-Refugee Hysteria

So, I started yesterday with news that Republican governors, including my own here in Texas, were seeking to deny Syrian refugees in to the state. By the end of the day, more than 25 governors, including one Democrat, had joined in the hysteria. I think a lot of us see this as a betrayal of American values and completely idiotic from the perspective of grand strategy.

We are basically telling millions of refugees, most of them Muslim, that we don’t care about them. ISIS thanks us for that recruitment message. If only we were Scotland and showed the Syrian refugees that we could be magnanimous. I hope some more Republicans and Christians of conscious like Michael Gerson emerge to repudiate the shameful farce that transpired yesterday. Here is my Storify day of tweets and retweets on this topic in reverse, from the most recent to the first ones of the day.

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Terrorism and the 2016 Campaign

The Paris terror attacks have brought the issue to the fore in awful, dramatic fashion. It’s inevitable that the topic will feature in tonight’s Democratic debate and the wider campaign. With world leaders set to convene in Paris in a few weeks time for the global climate negotiations, French vulnerability to terrorism has taken on added significance.

While ISIS does not pose an existential threat to the United States, attacks on civilians are a more tangible security threat than potential peer competitors that politicians ignore at their peril. The attacks, which claimed the lives of more than 100 people, could have been much worse. One attacker purportedly tried to enter the soccer game and was turned back when security discovered his suicide bomb. He was only able to exact limited damage when he detonated outside the gates.

Over-reaction and retribution are distinct possibilities going forward. The scale of the French attacks will likely change the political calculus in France and here at home in ways that the Charlie Hebdo ones did not. Continue reading

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