chapter  7
22 Pages

Security Discourses: A Gender Perspective

ByMichele W. Milner

The concept of security has become ever more prevalent in the media and the public imagination since the attacks of 9/11 and the start of the ensuing ‘war on terror’. However, there are many defi nitions and understandings of the word ‘security’, making it an essentially contested term across a variety of disciplines and in the popular discourse of the media. Within the fi eld of international relations, it has been associated with the idea of national security, and conceptualized as the ability of the nation state as a sovereign entity, to protect and secure itself from outside or foreign threats. This traditional view of national security, derived from the realist paradigm of Hobbes, developed coherency and legitimacy after World War II and during the Cold War period. It focuses on state interests by promoting military defence, government stability and economic development and as such, represents the interests of power-holders in society, which, feminist researchers note, are embedded within a patriarchal system.