Young Canadian Quakers on war & recruitment
The idea of tolerance and acceptance was discussed in the first workshop to tackle the issue of militarism in regard to gender and queers. In many countries there is a new ‘acceptance’ of women and gay people present in the military which can affectively confuse the issue and bring a more positive light to what the military is doing. It is called pinkwashing and is a device used to shape discourses of morality to express their ‘openness’ and ‘tolerance’, claiming “We’re accepting and progressive, unlike the _________ (insert enemy here);” an obvious contradiction. So when laws like ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ are repealed, or new ‘progressive’ legislation is passed, it can be easy to let our guards down because the oppression is less visible or explicit. That means even more of a challenge for war resistors and a call for our heightened awareness as it will require us to start exposing the less obvious aspects of our oppression and tackle the systems in place which maintain and propagate these harmful ideologies.
Our society is run by a male dominated, heteronormative mandate with institutions that support these forms of oppression. In trying to understand gender and queer liberation one must look at these institutions that help define the dominant narrative to see whether they perpetuate a state of oppression or relieve it. The military has always been an institution of force and domination both in regard to their internal functions and their outward display to the world. This force is exhibited through a state of hyper-masculinity which is portrayed as heroic and desirable. As our technology evolves these forms of masculinity will change with it and it is important for those resisting militarism to keep track of how this narrative is being depicted so as not to be mislead into believing a standing army could be anything but a show of domination and suppression.
Queers and feminists are a threat to the military, but increasingly armies are co-opting these movements. It is super important to remember that the military can only exist as a heterosexist, misogynistic, patriarchal, and racist institution:
“Militarism is an ideology rooted in the heterosexist system, which forms social norms for gender/sex and sexuality. Militarism, just as society in general, is based on the construction and assumption of two opposite genders; one that is in need of protection (feminine) and one that protects (masculine), and their mutual interdependence and attraction. Militarism defines masculinity as powerful and aggressive, and femininity as humble and passive, and thus reproduces the construction of gender/sex. _Heterosexism also includes the presumption that everyone (or at least most people) is heterosexual and that heterosexual relationships are ‘normal’ and therefore superior. These assumptions and prejudices about gender/sex and sexuality have been used, and are still used, to marginalize, discriminate and criminalize LGBT-people who challenge the legitimacy of these norms. When governments make war a priority and increase the dependence on the military they reinforce a heterosexist, patriarchal culture and intensify the stigmatization of those who challenge this culture.”
Reforming those aspects would mean abolishing the military completely – the military cannot be queer or feminist; it is simply a contradiction.
Sheehan Moore, Matthew Webb