The history of gender and American policy is one crafted and based on historical events and changes in the men’s and societies’ view of women, especially as regards their roles in influencing policy change’s and implementation. According to scholars women roles for the past two centuries have improved remarkably if current events are to go by. Apparently, the study of gender as regards American foreign policy is a completely new aspect which has metamorphosed over the ages to became a crucial and significant approach of analyzing America’s foreign policies as regards, contribution to war, politics, economics and culture.
In essence gender studies indicate the expectations, that the society holds to the different genders and the roles each group play. Dating back to the biblical times, the issue of gender and more so gender imbalance having been predominant in our society is, one coined on the society’s understanding and expectation of the male and female members of the society. It’s upon this that women over the ages have found themselves, marooned and dominated by men in major policies that have affected the society especially as regards warfare, diplomacy and violence.
From ancient Greek, Roman, Babylonian empires, women have often being regarded as a weak gender compared to men, this has quite often led to maltreatment and abuse of women by the dominant male specie Braudy states “certainly the tradition of allying weakness with women and strength with men is a long one” (328). Its upon this conceptual thought that women have been destined, to play if any, a minimal role in matters of war.
However it’s the statement of scholars and historians that though regarded as a marginalized group and less often actively involved in war, women “occupy a privileged place as an alternative source of national moral strength” (Braudy 328). In essence a good woman was always portrayed as pliant, submissive and subordinate. Thus the concept of gender imbalance has been with us for long, this was especially portrayed by the remarks and views held by male and society as regards women.
For instance some scholars portrayed them as a “savagery within civilization” and as Braudy, states a “source of both fascination and disgust” (328). This is vehemently expressed by the 19th century view of women menstruation as a wound. However scholars do agree that progress has been witnessed over the ages as regards women role in society as research show that women have tremendously established themselves as a dominant force in society though, they still lack behind in a world where war, politics, economics, diplomacy issues are dominated by male.
It’s thus upon this views that women remain less actively involved in war. According to scholars women have partly participated in wars and hence as history shows wars have been attributed to men. So is war a man’s affair. War and especially violence was, and still continues, to be a man’s affair in that men have always been attributed to intolerance and aggressive behavior, which is replicated in the art of war.
Barash, states “if we could eliminate or even significantly reduce male violence we would pretty much get rid of violence” (1). For ages the art of war has been and still is dominated by men. For instance looking back at past war events ,its difficult to find any war which might have been instigated by a woman, on the contrary men have been responsible for all major wars and even violence related incidents in the society including genocide and homicide.
Experts thus postulate that, war is a man’s affair in which men seek to dominate others, by the crudest of ways. It’s a concept that has been among the male species. The ancient warriors thus were taught to be strong and vicious, going contrally to that was risking ones sexuality in the sense that one would be braded as an “effeminate” a term often used to refer to men who were weak and coward. Thus it’s an agreed fact that a true warrior or man was identified on his possession of power attributed to ones manhood.
Thus in order to show the effect of gender as regards war the male dominated societies used the most atrocious and ridiculous way such as castrating, homosexuality, masturbation and circumcision to humiliate individuals , thought to be weak, a trait that was attributed and reminisce of the women. This was done to portray other men as having qualities akin to women as demonstrated by the act of penetration. For instance during the ancient times homosexuality was used to render punishment on the male enemies.
Sodomizing war captives was cogently used by Babylonians. Also studies indicate that war captives were treated on the basis of their gender in that women were raped, children enslaved while the males were subsequently killed and humiliated, in one incidence they were forced to masturbate while get the erect before being sodomized. This according to Trexler proofed to “show linkage between gender and humiliation in war fare” (20). By castrating the others scholars do ascertain that it was to be “a basic element in man’s fighting instincts. ”(Trexler 19).
To crowns it all, this acts were often instigated against other men in order to prove ones superiority over the others. Castrating and cutting the enemies manhood became a way of showing how the enemy had been subdued. This is depicted by the ancient Jewish society where warriors would cut their enemies private parts and foreskins to present to kings as a show of victory in war. In modern society violence and war is overwhelmingly dominated by male, for instance according to a researcher conducted in America, over 90% of homicide cases in America have been perpetrated by men.
Moreover a great number of men are enlisted in the national army. What makes it more interesting is how terrorist groups are predominantly male established . In essence any where there is violence and war man is. It has thus been concluded that war is the art of man, as depicted by the studies of ancient history of warfare and current affairs. Barash cogently states that “what can be called killing establishment, soldiers, executioners, hunters, even slaughters is overwhelmingly male”(1). he concept of war and gender can thus be summarized as follows; war is a mans affair, violence and war is something that men direct at each other, men are the instigators and subsequently victims of their acts of violence, women are the victims of men’s warfare but not partakers or instigators and finally when people are murdered and slaughtered as in case of genocides and war, men are always the culprits. Religion and war According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary religion refers to a personal set or institutionalized set of religious beliefs, attitudes and practices.
In that point, the debate over whether religion is responsible for the many wars witnessed in the history of mankind has continued to rage with both critics and proponents ascertaining their views and subsequently providing proofs to justify and authenticate their claims. Before understanding this issues it’s important thus to define war. According to Merriam –Webster online dictionary war is thus a state characterized by hostility, conflict, or antagonism Thus the concept of intermarriage between religion and war and especially its contribution to war, its one which has found favour in the ideologies of atheist and scientist as such.
So does religion cause wars? Religion has been the greatest threat to mankind and thus it’s been the cause of many bloody confrontations. Charles Kimball, states “It is somewhat trite, but nevertheless sadly true, to say that more wars have been waged, more people killed, and these days more evil perpetrated in the name of religion than by any other institutional force in human history. ”(1) This has often led to some critics of religion pointing that, if man is to live peacefully then religion should be scraped or rather the belief in God should be descanted.
Timothy Fitzgerald quips that; “religion should be regarded as a form of mystification and scrapped” (26). The contemporary attitude on religious contribution to war arises due to a number of factors or rather reason that is religious conflicts, religious wars, religious ideologies based on teachings of some religions and modern fundamentalism attributed to different religious groups. It’s the statement of scholars that the history of religions contribution to war in modern world and as regards organized religions is to be traced to the Roman Catholic which was responsible for some of the greatest conflicts in history of mankind.
During the dark reign of the Catholic Church in Europe many people were slaughtered and mercilessly killed due to their beliefs. According to Hitcher, the church has a history responsibility for the crusades, persecution of Catholics, Jews and deserters (17). Thus the Roman Catholic Church which represents Christianity is accountable for grave atrocities that culminated in the murder, persecution of millions of people based on its principle of heresy.
It’s been the overwhelming statement and consensus of scholars that the blood birth witnessed during the dark reign of the church by far surpassed the jihads. Also the pope at the time is believed to have contributed tremendously in influencing major wars at the time. On another point, historians ascertain that, the competition for support and the fundamental believe that one religion is superior than the other has fueled animosity between religious groups, often leading to bloody confrontations that have often led to war.
Moore in describing about this competition states “it had to be cruel in the general sense that any group identity is liable to be formed in hostile competition” (29). Its was this religious dreams of superiority that led to the Islamic conquest and expansion during the 18th century ,at that time, its estimated that millions of people were killed and others taken as slaves. This competition among religious groups has often led to war between the different opposing religions.
For instance according to Price most of the greatest conflicts such as the Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and even 9/11 attack are as a result of religious differences. These facts are clearly demonstrated in the crusades that were responsible for fighting the spread of Islam in Europe . during this time the pope coined what was termed as “just war”. Thus it was believed that some wars were justifiable especially if it entailed safeguarding the very cores of the religion.
On their part the Muslim desire for expansion was characterized by forced conversion through war commonly referred to as Jihad. What has come to be the greatest threat to mankind in this century it’s also attributed to religious fundamentalism . Following the aftermath of the 9/11, the world witnessed the rise of terrorism ,a new tool used by Muslim fanatics and which is based on Islamic fundamentalism though the 9/11 event has been regarded by some as not influenced by Islamic fundermentalism,the facts point to the contrary .
For instance the known mastermind of the attack and the leader of Alquieda, Osama Bin Laden ,in his speech calling for the murder of citizens in western countries attributed his action to Islam and more so the holy book Koran. These proofs to show that despite the denials by some Islamic leaders, the calls of Osama seek to justify the views held by majority of the Islamic community. The Muslim have also used the word “Crusade” to describe the policy of western countries especially America to occupy Islamic states.
This is a symbolic meaning to the crusades, organized to counter Islamic conquest during the 18th century. It’s thus the belief of scholars, that the Islamic fundamentalism is based on religious beliefs of Islamic faith though some Islamic scholars do oppose these beliefs. Scholars have thus argued that the terrorist attack on America that killed innocent civilians could not have happened if not for religious believes. The Palestinian and Jewish conflict has been continuing for long, this conflict has often led to bloody confrontation between the two groups.
According to scholars this conflicts is the brain child of religious fundamentalism based on Islam and Judaism. Thus critics do argue that the history of enmity between this two religious groups, bases its root on hard core ideologies attributed to the groups religious affiliations, thus as long as the groups seek to identify themselves on religious background, it will be hard to tackle has been their for long hence as long as each group seeks to identify the other in terms of religious background, it will be hard to tackle.
This conflict has led to the extend of isolating the Jewish state of Israel from the rest of Middle East countries with calls by some Muslim fanatics and religious leaders for the murder of Jewish citizens. It’s thus the statement of historians that the Yom Kippur war between Israel and other Arab countries was as result of religious differences.
Thus critic’s quip that religion has led to nations forming alliances on bases of religious believes, thus leading to conflicts which have led to emergence of hardcore ideologies and conflicts across the world. It has also been said that, religion has been instrumental in influencing wars in Europe. for instance the French religious wars are attributed to religion , Holt, says “the French civil wars which began with the massacre at vassy in 1562 and concluded with peace of the alass 1629 was a conflict of religion”(56)
Different religions also have been known to encourage war of such is the Buddhism religion in which the tales of Bhagavad-Gita are based on war and made to justify war as an act of self protection, in its case Judaism and especially the old testament depicted war as necessary in order to defend the convictions of their teaching, in the bible the Israelites who believe that they are Gods children and the chosen ones called on God to fight for their course According to some studies conducted it has further been established that some individuals use religion in order to advance their political ambitions ,for instance , having used Jews and Judaism as a ladder to ascend to political power Hitler gained the channel he so much needed to murder 6 million Jews, in our modern society prominent personalities and politician have been known to make grievous remarks based on religious conviction, the calling by Iranian president for complete annihilation of the state of Israel and calling of Muslims to unite against Judaism that stands for the Jewish state of Israel is a sure way of describing how religion has been used to sphere head murder of innocent civilians.
A true religious individual thus does not advocate for violence. Thus according to proponents of religion it has subsequently been ascertained that the absence of religion in the modern nations especially communist did not deter their leaders such as Stalin from leading any less violently. Despite the growing claims that religion causes war, proponents and researchers have criticized, this claims by ascertaining that religion and especially organized religions are peaceful the teachings of most religion call for peaceful existence of individuals, this is depicted by the teachings of individuals who have been ardent followers of their respective religions.
According to martin Luther king Jr, the knowledge of God brings inner peace, in his teaching also he advocated for tolerance and use of non violence. Also Gandhi one of the staunchest supporter and believer of Buddhism advocated for the use of non violence (ahisma) in his philosophies which have become instrumental in influencing the thoughts and ideas of modern leaders.