Queering explanatory frameworks for wartime sexual violence against men


8 September
2020

, Volume
96, Number
5

Charles Bean to speak at Future of Work LIVE 2020

Philipp Schulz

Charles Bean to speak at Future of Work LIVE 2020

Heleen Touquet

In this article we argue that prevalent explanatory frameworks of sexual violence against men primarily pursue one line of inquiry, explaining its occurrence as exclusively strategic and systematic, based on heteronormative and homophobic assumptions about violence, gender and sexualities. Feminist IR scholarship has significantly complexified our understanding of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), documenting its multiple forms and causes across time and space—thereby moving beyond the persistent opportunism-strategy dichotomy and critically engaging with the dominant ‘rape as a weapon of war’ narrative. Drawing on empirical material from Sri Lanka and northern Uganda we queer the current explanatory frameworks, analyzing multiple instances of CRSV against men that both simultaneously seem to confirm and defy categorizations as opportunistic or strategic, while being situated in broader and systematic warfare dynamics and unequal power-relationships. Our empirical material shows that relying on crude categorizations such as the opportunism–strategy binary is unproductive and essentialist, as it tends to mask over the complexities and messiness of deeply gendered power relationships during times of war. Binary strategy/opportunism categorizations also imply broader unintended political consequences, including the further marginalization of sexual violence acts that fall outside the dominant scripts or binary frameworks—such as sexual violence against men with opportunistic underpinnings.

Source: International Law and Governance

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