The Question of Gender Equality in the Armed Forces:

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I would like to Thank my Tutors at the University of Sussex, Particularly Prof. Barbara Einhorn for her guidance and inspiration;

My good friends Samantha, Ben, Fiona and Joe for their discerning comments, provoking insights and my dear parents for their ongoing encouragement;

My housemate Fran for pretending not to have a social life for the last two months!

A Special Thank You
to all the women who took part in my study.
You all put so much thought into our discussions, and were very patient with me, and my tape recorder!


This study draws on qualitative data and secondary research to analyse the themes of gender, militarism, violence and war. Paying particular attention to women’s experiences in the British Military throughout the study, the ideologies of gender within the armed forces are examined with examples from history. The effect of women’s increased integration into militaries is analysed for both ideological and policy changes to the armed forces, and the effects on the women’s own identities. Focusing on the military as a labour market and as a means to citizenship rights allows for discussions of equality for women within militaries, finally leading to theoretical discussion of the ethics and impact of violence and militarism, exploring the subjectivity of knowledge and the possibility of imaging alternative orders.


Rationale and Literature Review

That we have to talk about ‘women and the armed forces,’ shows the deeply gendered nature of our understandings of militaries and war. The fact that it is necessary to specify ‘female combatants’ indicates their historical rarity, and symbolic position as unconventional figures. Traditionally, war has been perceived as a masculine endeavour for which women may serve as victim, spectator, or prize. Perhaps, as Francine D'Amico suggests, the abundance of...
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