Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

New Military Femininities: Humanitarian Violence and the Gendered Work of War Among US Servicewomen

October 10, 2017

Between 2003 and 2013, when women were technically banned from direct assignment to ground combat units, the U.S. military deployed all-female counterinsurgent teams in Iraq and Afghanistan. In various forms, these teams searched Iraqi women at checkpoints and in home raids, provided medical assistance to Afghan women and children, and participated in highly combative special operations missions alongside Army Rangers and Green Berets in Afghanistan. In new research, “New military femininities: humanitarian violence and the gendered work of war among U.S. servicewomen,” Postdoctoral Fellow Jennifer Greenburg examines new gendered forms of labor employed by the U.S. military in the post-September 11 wars. Based on field research on military bases and investigation of military and policy documents, Greenburg shows how women were integrated into ground combat through the promotion of certain gender essentialisms, such as feminine domesticity, alongside military violence.

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