chapter  14
The gendered subject of violence in African conflicts
ByMaria Eriksson Baaz, Maria Stern
Pages 11

Armed conflict in Africa, like elsewhere, reflects and reproduces gender discourses and gendered subjects. Indeed, the last decades of feminist theory and gender studies scholarship has convincingly argued that warring is both produced through, and is productive of gender (Enloe 1990; 1993). For instance, gendered language plays a pivotal role in efforts to fashion capable and willing soldiers and combatants, as reflected in the citation above from a soldier in the Congolese army. Paying attention to notions of ideal (and ‘failed’) militarized masculinities is important for understanding why soldiers and combatants commit gruesome acts of violence against civilian populations. Similarly, understanding notions of femininity and masculinity is crucial for comprehending why women and men are often exposed to different forms of violence in conflict settings. Relatedly, the use of gendered symbolism (such as gendered representations of the Enemy Other) is vital to the politics of warring in diverse contexts; gendered symbolism is integral in efforts to mobilize support and train soldiers and combatants to engage in violent acts against enemy men and women. In short, gendered codings enable warring.