Unmaking Militarized Masculinity: Veterans and the Project of Military-to-Civilian Transition
Critical Military Studies
Taylor & Francis
Reason for embargo
Feminist scholarship on war and militarization has typically focussed on the making of militarized masculinity. However, in this article, we shed light on the process of ‘unmaking’ militarized masculinity through the experiences of veterans transitioning from military to civilian life. We argue that in the twenty-first century, veterans' successful re-integration into civilian society is integral to the legitimacy of armed force in Western polities and is therefore a central concern of policymakers, third sector service-providers and the media. But militarized masculinity is not easily unmade. Veterans often struggle with their transition to civilian life and the negotiation of military and civilian gender norms. They may have an ambivalent relationship towards the state and the military. Furthermore, militarized masculinity is embodied and experienced, and has a long and contradictory afterlife in veterans themselves. Attempts to unmake militarized masculinity in the figure of the veteran challenge some of the key concepts currently employed by feminist scholars of war and militarization. In practice, embodied veteran identities refuse a totalizing conception of what militarized masculinity might be, and demonstrate the limits of efforts to exceptionalize the military, as opposed to the civilian, aspects of veteran identity. In turn the very liminality of this ‘unmaking’ troubles and undoes neat categorizations of military/civilian and their implied masculine/feminine gendering. We suggest that an excessive focus on the making of militarized masculinity has limited our capacity to engage with the dynamic, co-constitutive, and contradictory processes which shape veterans’ post-military lives.
Maya Eichler gratefully acknowledges funding received through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant (435-2016-1242) and the Canada Research Chair Program of the Canadian federal government during the writing of this article.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Published online: 04 May 2017