Postwar Postwarrior Heroism

Sabine Frühstück

in Uneasy Warriors

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780520247949
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939646 | DOI:
Postwar Postwarrior Heroism

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This chapter analyzes the construction of masculinities in the military. Historically, war has enforced an extreme version of male behavior as the ideal model for all such behavior, by emphasizing the physical prowess of military men enhanced by machines, and by distilling national identity into the abrupt contrast between winning and losing. The more technologically advanced war has become, however, the less plausible battlefield action has been as a source of traditional military honor and masculine identity. The question then emerges of what might constitute heroism and how constructions of militarized masculinity work in a military that has not been involved in combat since its very foundation. For many male service members, joining the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) is marked by a sense of defeat in some area of their lives: a failed entrance exam at a regular university leaves some with no choice but to enter the National Defense Academy; a low-income background closes doors to costly formal technical training, which some hope to receive in the SDF; or a vague feeling of disappointment in their job situation or the lack of job alternatives in their community leads them to the SDF. In an effort to overcome this sense of defeat, the SDF uses gender politics to establish service members as “true men” and heroes of a new kind. Rather than privileging the combat soldier, however, it is argued that negotiations around militarized masculinities draw on a number of existing modes of masculinity.

Keywords: masculinity; military; male service members; military personnel; Self-Defense Forces; gender politics

Chapter.  14447 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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