How Military Culture Impacts Women Topic of Conference

Release Date: September 7, 2005 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The effect of military culture on women's lives -- from the experiences of servicewomen in Iraq, to human rights violations against women, to the plight of homeless female veterans -- will be examined at a conference to be held Sept. 15 and 16 in the Center for the Arts Screening Room on the University at Buffalo North (Amherst) Campus.

Featuring internationally known scholars and advocates in the areas of military studies, gender relations and human rights, the "Conference on Military Culture and Gender," is being presented by the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy in the UB Law School. It will be free and open to the public.

Organizers are Brenda Moore, UB associate professor of sociology; Isabel Marcus, UB professor of law, and Lucinda Finley, UB professor of law and vice provost for faculty affairs.

"We hope to raise awareness and consciousness regarding some of the broader issues that may not receive the kind of public discussion and debate that we believe is necessary," says Marcus, an expert on international human rights.

"For instance, we know in other countries that there is a powerful connection between nationalism and militarization, and the roles assigned to men and women in the name of traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity. We believe it's important to discuss these roles in the U.S. and international context."

Cynthia Enloe, research professor of international development and women's studies at Clark University, will deliver the conference's keynote address, "Women in the Military and Cultures of Militarization," at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 15.

Enloe is a leading feminist scholar of international relations and author of many books, including "Does Khaki Become You?: The Militarization of Women's Lives" and "Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics." She serves on the advisory boards of the Women and the Military Project of the Women's Research and Education Institute, the Gender and Security Project of the National Council for Research on Women and the Boston Consortium for Gender, Security and Human Rights.

"Cynthia Enloe is a pioneer in analyzing the role of gender in international relations and, more specifically, has turned her attention to the ways in which militarism has a different impact on women and men," says Marcus.

"For example, within the U.S. military today there arise all kinds of questions about what the boundaries are for masculinity and femininity. What happens when you have a woman soldier who is balancing career, family and service to country? What does that do to the notion of femininity?"

Conference sessions on Sept. 16, described below, will explore the dramatically increasing role of women on active duty in the military in the U.S., as well as those in other western nations, over the past decade. The implications of militarism, militarization and nationalism on the status of women and women's international human rights also will be examined.

From 9-10:30 a.m., the panel presentation "Women in Active Duty" will feature commentary from Elizabeth Hillman, associate professor of law at Rutgers University, who will discuss "Guarding Women: Abu Ghraib and Military Sexual Culture."

Carole Burke, associate professor of English at the University at California-Irvine, will discuss "Images, Roles and Controversies: Military Women in Iraq;" Katia Sorin of the Laboratoire Georges Friedmann in France will discuss "The Participation of Women in Western Armed Forces: Between a Gender and Political Dimension," and Laura Miller, a social scientist at the Rand Foundation," will discuss "Investigating Sexual Harassment and Assault at the Military Academies."

From 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the panel presentation "Women Military Veterans" will feature commentary from Christine Hansen, executive director of the Miles Foundation, who will discuss "The Cost of Sexual Violence in the U.S. Armed Forces." Rani Desai, associate professor of psychiatry, epidemiology and public health at Yale University, will discuss: "Homeless Female Veterans: The VA Response;" Bevanne Bean-Mayberry, associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, will discuss "Assuring High Quality Care for Women Veterans: Predictors of Success," and UB's Moore and Ron Armstead, executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust, will discuss "Issues of African American Women Veterans."

From 1:30-3 p.m. a roundtable discussion on "Armed Conflict and the Human Rights of Women" will feature commentary from Lepa Mlajenovic, director of the Autonomous Women's Center in Serbia, who will discuss "The Role of Militarization in Women's Lives."

Ariane Brunet, women's rights coordinator at Rights and Democracy in Montreal, will discuss "A Pinch of Women's Rights: The Soup of Militarization, Humanitarian Aid and Fundamentalisms;" Judith Stiehm, professor of political science at Florida International University, will discuss "Women Winners of the Nobel Prize for Peace: What Can We Learn from Them?" and Rhonda Copelon, professor, CUNY School of Law, will discuss "International Women's Human Rights."

Seating at the conference is limited. To register, email your name and affiliation to Ellen Kausner, Baldy Center events coordinator, at ekausner@buffalo.eduor call 645-2102. For a complete list of activities and speaker biographies, go to

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