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The Handbook of Global Security Policy by Mary Kaldor, Iavor Rangelov

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Chapter 3 Gender and Security

Natasha Marhia

A useful way to understand “gender” is as a lens or perspective that casts a different light on social phenomena. In this view, gender is not limited to socially constructed sex, but encapsulates the way in which social life is implicitly and explicitly patterned by meanings, knowledges, and power relations inflected by constructions of masculinities and femininities, sex/gender, and categories such as “men” and “women”. Such an understanding of gender has political implications: for many scholars of Gender Studies, the project of studying and researching gender is informed by the conviction that gender relations can and should be changed.1 Gender is not a peripheral or niche issue so much a holistic view that illuminates the whole landscape of security studies and policy. Gender can also be conceived as intersectional and mutually constitutive of other axes of power and difference, such that adopting a gender perspective need not necessarily mean treating gender as primary over other differences or identifications. Sexuality, race, class, nation/nationality, age/generation, and (dis)ability are among the multiple and various vectors of power, which, at times, become salient in Gender Studies.

This chapter provides an overview of how feminist and gender research has impinged on and intervened in security studies debates, and its relevance and implications for thinking about global security policy. While there is a substantial overlap ...

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