MANEUVERS by Cynthia Enloe


The International Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives
Age Range: 0 - 520
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paper 0-520-22071-4 A wide-ranging look at the global militarization of women’s lives, whether they are soldiers or spouses of men serving in countries from Bosnia to Indonesia. Enloe (Government/Clark Univ.; The Morning After, 1993), a feminist who believes the military is a patriarchal entity intent on masculinizing society, often undercuts the point of her argument in scattershot attacks on her targets. And while she has a case to make, her bias shows. She assumes that the military, if not malign, is certainly suspect, and she never considers why wars are fought or whether any wars are just. Rather, she concentrates on describing the patriarchy at work fostering militarized masculine values, as it not only conducts wars but manages peace. She defines militarization as “a specific sort of transforming process but the list of what can be militarized is virtually endless: toys, jobs, the profession of psychology, fashion, faith, voting, local economies, condoms, and movie stars——the latter because they are co-opted to perform for troops and sustain morale. In her most persuasive chapter, she notes how various militaries have required medical examinations for prostitutes and condoned off-base prostitution or, more notoriously, as the Japanese army did with the “comfort women,— seized women from conquered countries to serve the army’s needs. Citing documents and examples from numerous countries, Enloe describes the evolving role of military wives, and the military’s handling of rape, which is, she contends, part of its strategy in Bosnia and Serbia. She believes that female soldiers, mothers of soldiers, and nurses, who are used to maintain “the patriarchal multilayered arrangements of masculinities and femininities,” too often accept a patriarchal agenda that keeps them powerless and alienated. Enloe’s graceless writing fuzzes all but her most telling points, and her assertions, though bold, are not always sufficiently discussed or convincingly demonstrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-520-22070-6
Page count: 428pp
Publisher: Univ. of California
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1999