Gender and militarism is the theme of this issue of The Broken Rifle, coinciding not only with International Day on Conscientious Objection – 15 May 2010 – but also with the newest WRI publication "Women Conscientious Objectors – An Anthology", edited by Ellen Elster and Majken Jul Sørensen. Although the theme of gender and militarism is not new to WRI, and neither are women conscientious objectors, this is the first issue of The Broken Rifle dedicated to it – long overdue, it can be argued (and rightly so).
During the women's blockade at AWE Aldermaston on 15 February 2010. Photo: Cynthia Cockburn
On Monday 15 February, at the Big Blockade of the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston, Berkshire, one of the seven gates was blockaded uniquely by women. A planning group of around ten women had got together to organise the ‘women’s gate’.
War Resisters' International, International Conference Ahmedabad, India, 22 - 25 January, 2010
This was the third International Conference of War Resisters' International held in India, the previous two being in 1960 and 1985. The local hosts were organisations well rooted in the social movement history of India and with whom WRI has had a fruitful tradition of cooperation. They were:
Piecing It Together: Feminism and Nonviolence – a germinal pamphlet from 1983 – is now online at http://wri-irg.org/pubs/Feminism_and_Nonviolence. The Feminism and Nonviolence Study Group was a British affiliate of WRI, usually consisting of about eight women activists in a range of grass-roots movements. Some were mainly connected with feminist movements, others had pacifist roots.
Many women have been active in peace work, both in women-only and mixed groups. Very little attention has been given to the women who have become conscientious objectors as a protest against militarism. War Resisters’ International (WRI) decided to publish “Women Conscientious Objectors – An Anthology” to give the women who declare themselves conscientious objectors a voice. Most of the texts in this book are written by women from different places in the world, and who have made a public declaration of conscientious objection.
Connections and disconnections: antimilitarism, feminism, women, conscientious objection and contra-hegemonic sexualities – 10/11 May 2010
As part of the activities for 15 May 2010, an international seminar will take place in Asunción, Paraguay, on 10 and 11 May 2010, organised by La comuna de Emma, Chana Y Todas las Demas in cooperation with a range of other groups from Paraguay and Latin America.
Refusing militarism is not possible without refusing hegemonic masculinity
Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International
the militarist value system and its practices which are identified
with military service, one is also obliged to question the hegemonic
understanding of masculinity. In Turkey, military service is a
laboratory in which masculinity is reproduced. The patriarchal system
is solidified through military service.
Conscientious objectors are generally seen as male — as are soldiers. This book breaks with this assumption. Women conscientiously object to military service and militarism. Not only in countries which conscript women — such as Eritrea and Israel — but also in countries without conscription of women. In doing so, they redefine antimilitarism from a feminist perspective, opposing not only militarism, but also a form of antimilitarism that creates the male conscientious objector as the ‘hero’ of antimilitarist struggle.