What makes a feminist in 2020?
We asked feminists all over the world to share their views on what we think are some of the crucial questions that we should be debating right now. The feminist movement is broad, diverse and sometimes divided. Is that a good or a bad thing? Please, share your opinion with us and your fellow feminists.
CAN YOU BE A FEMINIST AND SUPPORT MILITARY PRACTICE?
I assume here that this entails support for established national armies? Yes. Even though military practice in most parts of the world is hypermasculine and reinforces exclusion of and oppression of women and nonbinaries, I think you can be a feminist and support reformed military practice.
No – The military is an industry structured on male hetero-normative violence and power.
Support military in general yes, but support any inequality between men and women in the military, no.
No, because it leads to violence and murder of women in the areas targeted by the military practice, also in “humanitarian” military actions. It is also tightly linked to sexual violence, both within and by the military.
The sad truth is that, without American imperialism in Asia, I would not exist. Seeing the effects of what occupation does, in spheres both personal and academic, to the cultures, societies and individual sense of self of people who have been colonised and/or occupied, I am absolutely against military practice.
American military practice abroad has devastated countless countries and propped up numerous dictatorships that force people to flee.
Speaking as an American, I can attest to the draining power that the military has had on the American economy and thus the country’s whole infrastructure. More money is given to the military than to education, health and maintaining modern, safe waterworks and strong physical infrastructures (to an extent here it is the same with Trident). The support for military in American culture has led to an acceptance of the militarisation of the domestic police force, which has led to a dramatic uptick in police violence, especially against people of colour. If feminism is for ensuring a fairer, non-violent society and working to undo harmful racial stereotypes that the police work upon, then it must be for demilitarising both domestically and internationally.
Yes, I’m not sure that military practice is in itself an issue that concerns feminism (though obviously there is much to be said about how female soldiers are treated in the army, and how armies treat women belonging to the groups they are fighting). If there is information to disprove me, I’d be interested in engaging with it.
Yes, definitely. Military practice has to become more approachable for women, more fair for them. If a woman wants to join the military, I can support that. In fact, it should be easier for them to do so. In Germany they are talking about bringing back military service as a mandatory thing (which I don’t like) for men and women (which I like!).
I don’t feel like I know enough about this to say one way or the other – I’m aware of the sexism, racism, homophobia, and transphobia in the military, and of the atrocities they have committed, but in that sense supporting military practice is questionable regardless of whether or not you call yourself a feminist. Then again, when Trump pulled American military forces from the Syria-Turkey boarder, the Kurdish people were massacred. We live in a wildly imperfect world and sometimes a military response or intervention is necessary.
No. Militarised violence and practices always play a fundamental role in upholding gendered oppression. How we decide who are targets, for what types of violence, and who is to be protected are all always gendered questions. Amongst other great scholars, Professor Laleh Khalili has done some excellent work on this. It seems antithetical to gendered liberation to support actual violently oppressive practices which are predicated on gendered categories.
I would be hesitant to declare this to be incompatible with feminism in all cultural contexts, but in my own Western one, no.
Illustration by Svenja Heutelbeck