Professor of Gender and War. University of Sydney

Enloe outlines women’s power to stop war

SUMMARY: Cynthia Enloe speaks to Marion Bowman at the Women’s International League For Peace & Freedom’s Centenary Conference on the topic ‘Women’s Power to Stop War.’ Cynthia Enloe is a leading researcher in gender and international politics, with a particular focus on militarized culture and feminism. Enloe speaks on a range of topics, and here are some standouts from the interview:

  • Enloe comments how historic binaries (e.g. women/men, us/them) are ‘important’ but feminist story-telling is much more engaging and interesting because it takes on board that there are not just grey areas in between, there are overlaps and contradictions and fluidities.’
  • When asked about the incorporation of women into militaries, Enloe says, ‘a lot of these women are fighting sexism inside a very sexist institution.’ She goes on to discuss the tensions of recruiting women and appealing to traditional ideas of ‘femininity’ while acknowledging that appealing to the ‘brotherhood’ requires downplaying this ‘femininity.’
  • Enloe characterises combat as ‘the last bastion of masculine privilege in most militaries.’
  • The final part of the interview examines masculinisation in peace movements, as men are still considered experts and leaders on war. As Enloe succinctly summarises, ‘you would think a peace movement would be the least patriarchal of all social movements but you can masculinise anything.’

SOURCE: Cynthia Enloe and Marion Bowman, May 1 2015, ‘The Masculinisation of Complexity,’ Open Democracy,

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