Indeed, one of the most under-acknowledged aspects of military masculinity in the First World War has been that of conscientious objection.Lois Bibbings has investigated the treatment of COs, Quakers and other pacifists.
(Palgrave, 2013), I encouraged cross-disciplinary dialogue between scholars working in masculinity studies, in conversation with feminist scholars Cynthia Enloe and Judith Butler, to articulate different ways in which gender fundamentally shapes war and vice versa, with essays on internment (Matthew Stibbe), civil defence (Susan Grayzel and Lucy Noakes), physical and emotional wounding (Hazel Croft; Jessica Meyer), and male pacifism (Lois Bibbings).
Military masculinity may be resilient but it encounters a significant degree of both disobedience and outright opposition.
The expectations of stoicism and heroism placed on individuals were no match for the scale and reach of industrialised slaughter.
Mark Micale subsequently expressed dissatisfaction with the ‘crisis’ thesis.
Doan provides the most fascinating account of the relationship between the women, and in a second case study provides the most fascinating study of the intriguing smear campaign against Violet Douglas-Pennant the head of the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF).
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This should become textbook reading for historians of women, gender, masculinity, but I fear it will be relegated to the enclave study of sexuality.Bulging biceps of men walking straight out military units and barracks into gymnasia seeking homosocial comfort and competition looked gay enough, but I tried to warn against interpreting them with presentist eyes.But, what Matt Houlbrook did with Dawson’s ‘solder heroes’ thesis was appealingly radical.Laura Doan, however, fully integrated ‘queer critical theory’ into her analysis of how ‘heterosex’ operated in military education regarding venereal disease, for instance, and in what should become a classic intervention, her recent monograph The book offers a substantial critique of the inappropriate use of sexual identities in discussions about women and sex in WW1, while also providing a historically sensitive account of the fluid ‘topsy-turvy’ character of gender constructs in the period.Using the example of female ambulance drivers and the formidable nursing team of Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisolm, Doan aims to ‘disturb’ the assumptions about, and conflations of, gender and sexuality, based on a genealogical project; the need to retrieve gay ancestors.In addition, a generation of historical studies of military masculinity have been explicitly or implicitly informed by the sociologist R. Connell’s concept of ‘hegemonic masculinity’, which has underpinned the way scholars have troubled the gendered concept of the wounded and disabled body. Comparing British, German and Dutch encounters between bodies and medical systems, the soldier is framed as hero, victim and perpetrator.A recent volume edited by the Senior Curator at the Imperial War Museum, Paul Cornish, and archaeologist Nicholas Saunders, provides a cross-disciplinary conversation about the body in war in terms of its corporeal experience and material affects, shaped by class, race and gender constructs, but also the body as a political tool and object of continual transformation under the conditions of war.Few social or cultural histories are published today without due debt to such classic works and, as this essay will explain, historians are habitually ‘intertwining’ gender through their studies of culture, disability, race and sexuality during the First World War.Though, arguably, gender history is still often equated with the study of women (and implicitly femininity), masculinity has been named as an explicit subject of historical investigation in relation to wartime and militarism.War (2009), a similar problem about gender and sexuality was seen in the sexualisation of men in the post-war period.Some readers wanted to project gay culture onto the past body-building industry.