Is War Gendered?

War is inherently gendered, as it constructs hegemonic gender ideals and has varying consequences for persons of different genders. DeLargy outlines a series of theories regarding the use of sexual violence in war. Through these, we can see how war is gendered, even beyond the use of sexual violence.

First, gender is socially constructed, and so new masculinities and femininities are developed during conflict. DeLargy writes about Militarization theory, which holds that war constructs militarized hyper-masculinities that, in essence, exaggerate traditional norms of masculinity. In this way, “wounding and killing is considered not only acceptable, but also sometimes admirable” (DeLargy 61). Violence is a key trope of manliness in these circumstances, as is male dominance over females. Working in tandem to this is the construction of militarized femininities; also an exaggeration of traditional femininity, these hold that women are weak, vulnerable, and in direct contradiction to manliness. In that it constructs and comments upon gender norms at all makes war inherently gendered.

Beyond this construction, DeLargy points out the many different consequences there are for women and men in wartime. In part because of hyper-masculinities, sexual violence is used by men as a strategy in war. This disproportionately affects women in healthcare consequences, causing STIs, HIV, unwanted pregnancies, fistulas, and various psychological disorders (DeLargy 65-67). Furthermore, the “level of stigma attached to rape inhibits its survivors from telling anyone that the rape occurred” and so they are not seeking or retrieving treatment for these problems (DeLargy 68).

Stigmatization is a ruthless outcome of sexual violence in many conflict zones, especially in Uganda. The victims of these crimes are not only ostracized from their communities, but re-victimized. According to an article by the news source, AllAfrica, “stigma and hardship have passed from mother to child, and sometimes even to grandchildren, in an intergenerational cycle of denial of rights and dignity, vulnerability, abuse, and marginalization” in Uganda (AllAfrica 2). This establishes long-term gendered consequences of gendered violence. Thus, through the construction of gender and the disproportionate affects of violence on women, war is gendered.


DeLargy, Pamela. “Sexual Violence and Women’s Health in War.” Women and Wars. Ed. Carol Cohn. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2013. 54-79. Print.

“Uganda: Mothers and Children Born From Wartime Sexual Violence Need Redress.” N.p., 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.