Complicity

This guest post is published as part of a series related to the American Sociological Association conference, which occurred from August 12 – 15 in Montreal, Quebec. #ASA17

By Cynthia Enloe, author of The Big Push: Exposing and Challenging the Persistence of Patriarchy

I grew up a Yankees fan. My mother, who couldn’t tell a home run from a quarterback sneak, gamely took 10 year old me and my pals to Yankee Stadium. Now I’m a Red Sox fan. I still love major league baseball. Today, though, I’m far more conscious of the insinuation of militarized patriotism into the game, and, more discomforting, the likelihood that as a fan, I am complicit in that risky process.

Last week I was among the 36,000 fans soaking up Fenway Park’s special beauty on a glorious July afternoon. The stands were full, the grass green, and the bases white. Red Sox fans are a boisterously friendly lot, so I felt I had to stand up with everyone else when a teenage girl sang the national anthem. I cringed when a mammoth stars and stripes was unfurled in the outfield down the beloved Green Monster wall. I kept my cringes to myself.

Around the 6th inning, during a lull in the action, the Fenway announcer drew our attention to the Jumbotron, where we saw a giant version of a middle-aged white man who, in human proportions, was with us in the stands. He was identified as a veteran of recent U.S. wars. Invited to give him a hero’s welcome, a wave of grateful applause erupted. I sat stingily on my hands, still saying nothing.

I love singing at Fenway. Joining thousands of other fans in “Take Me out to the Ball Game” and Boston’s own “Sweet Caroline” is to experience sheer joy. But when at the bottom of the 8th came “America the Beautiful” and everyone around me stood, I sat quietly. My friends smiled down at me sympathetically.

Patriotism, especially militarized, masculinity-heroicizing patriotism, is escalating at American sporting events. It may be most prominent at NFL games and NASCAR races, but it is in full bloom at most major league baseball games—not just the national anthem, but also the ubiquitous lauding of military personnel, and additional patriotic songs in the middle of the game.

Complicity. I have become more interested in complicity, and aware of its subtleties, but I’m not sure how to research it. Feminists in other countries might be our tutors. Japanese feminists today track the singing of their nation’s anthem and displays of the national flag. Bosnian feminists chart ethnicized patriotic symbols as they dominate masculinized soccer games in all parts of the now-rival states of the former Yugoslavia.

I think we need to explore how exactly ordinary women and men—and girls and boys—get personally drawn into militarized masculinized patriotism. To do that, we need to investigate the gendered responses of individuals to both pressures and the allures. I suspect that complicity in militarized masculinized patriotism is camouflaged as mere entertainment or sentimentalism, as well as collective appreciation and gratitude. Gratitude is so often feminized. It becomes an extension of dependency. Women, therefore, are popularly expected to be grateful to men and to the masculinized state for offering them militarized protection. In a militarized society, a woman who refuses to express that gratitude (staying seated when the male veteran is being cheered) risks being deemed unfeminine.

Appreciation can be either masculinized or feminized. In its militarized masculinized form, appreciation is imagined by many men to be an expression of their own special understanding of what it takes to be a manly soldier. By contrast, when feminized, that militarized appreciation is an expression of recognizing that an ordinary woman would be unable to perform these soldiering feats.

Sentimentality, entertainment, appreciation and gratitude—each are routinely gendered. To the extent that all four can be mobilized to serve masculinized militarized patriotism, patriarchy will be perpetuated. It will take researchers and analysts with patience, imagination, stamina and feminist curiosity to understand the myriad deep social processes being entrenched today at a baseball game on a sunny summertime afternoon.

Why did I sit during “God Bless America,” but say nothing?

Other titles from Cynthia Enloe:


Cynthia Enloe

Cynthia Enloe is Research Professor at Clark University specializing in critical studies of militarism and transnational feminism. She has appeared on the BBC, Al Jazeera, and NPR and has written for Ms. and the Village Voice. She is the author of more than fifteen books and was awarded the Howard Zinn Lifetime Achievement in Peace Studies Award from the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA).


Threats to Human Rights in Times of Fear

During his campaign, Donald Trump floated the idea of a Muslim registry and famously called for a complete ban of Muslims entering the United States. Now with recent comments from Reince Priebus and Carl Higbie, talk of a registry is back at the forefront of national discussion—with Japanese internment cited as grounds for how Muslims could be treated today.

Now more than ever it is crucial to look back at the days of internment, for which Congress formally apologized, along with a history of marginalized groups threatened by wartime hysteria and panic. We’ve compiled a selection of titles that look at these events and the lessons—and regrets—to be gleaned from them today.

After CampAfter Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics
Greg Robinson

In the years that followed WWII and the internment of Japanese Americans, former camp inmates struggled to remake their lives, excluded from the wartime economic boom and scarred psychologically by their wartime ordeal.

After Camp sheds light on various developments relating to Japanese Americans in the aftermath of their wartime confinement, including resettlement nationwide, mental and physical readjustment , and their political engagement, most notably in concert with other racialized and ethnic minority groups.

 

Justice at War

Justice at War: The Story of the Japanese-American Internment Cases
Peter Irons

Through exhaustive research of one of the most disturbing events in U.S. history, author Peter Irons uncovers a government campaign of suppression, alteration, and destruction of crucial evidence that could have persuaded the Supreme Court to strike down the internment order. Justice at War documents the debates that took place before the internment order and the legal response during and after the internment.

 

 

 

9780520098602National Insecurity  and Human Rights: Democracies Debate Counterterrorism
Alison Brysk & Gershon Shafir (Editors)

How can democracies cope with the threat of terror while protecting human rights? How do we prevent fears for our safety from turning into panic that put our rights at risk?

Human rights is all too often the first casualty of national insecurity. Comparing the lessons of the United States and Israel with the “best-case scenarios” of the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, and Germany, National Insecurity and Human Rights demonstrates the important options for threatened democracies and that democratic governance,  the rule of law, and international cooperation are crucial foundations for counterterror policy.

 

Atlas of Human RightsThe Atlas of Human Rights: Mapping Violations of Freedom Around the Globe
Andrew Fagan

In the post-9/11 world, governments use the threat of terrorism to justify tightening national security and restricting basic human rights. As intolerance threatens diversity nationally and on a global scale, The Atlas of Human Rights serves as a crucial intervention to preserving and extending freedom.

Inspired by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, author Andrew Fagan considers the nature of the state, national identity, and citizenship, charting both the progress and limitation of free expression and media censorship. Vividly illustrated with colorful maps and charts, The Atlas of Human Rights charts both the progress and limitation of free expression and media censorship. It displays the areas that are beset with wars, conflict, migration, and genocide; details the geographic status of sexual freedom, racism, religious freedom, and the rights of the disabled; focuses on women’s rights, sex slavery, and the rights of the child.

A timely read when thinking of today’s human rights inequities and the consequences of those inequities worldwide.


Let’s Get Serious: An Interview with Cynthia Enloe

To accompany Davita Silfen Glasberg’s review of Seriously!: Investigating Crashes and Crises as If Women Mattered in last month’s Gender & Society, author Cynthia Enloe sat down with SAGE’s Sarah Shinkle to speak about the makings of her book. While not herself an economist, Cynthia Enloe’s book applies feminist theories and concepts to crises such as the banking crash of 2008– how were the ideas of women taken (or not taken) seriously, and what effect does this have on contemorary dynamics of gender?

Read the full review and access the podcast on SAGE’s book reviews page, or listen to the podcast here.

Cynthia Enloe
Cynthia Enloe

“I think like so many of us, we’ve sat in meetings and we’ve watched some woman — if she’s lucky enough to get at the table — say something really smart or useful or thoughtful, and the guys around the table just move right along and never respond. And I think that’s about the politics of who’s taken seriously. So I got thinking about that— I thought, well, feminists can investigate everything… we should all investigate who’s taken seriously, and that means who gets to bestow the idea of seriousness on other people.

I really began thinking about that as a political dynamic that happens in all kinds of settings, and wanted to really pursue under what conditions are women’s analyses, particularly feminist analyses, of all kinds of events and trends and conditions . . . when are they treated by the listeners as if they mattered?”

Seriously!: Investigating Crashes and Crises as If Women Mattered (2013)
Seriously!: Investigating Crashes and Crises as If Women Mattered
(2013)

“There is something peculiar or at least distinctive going on within the culture of contemporary banking. Because one of the things that so many observers were saying — and these were non-feminist observers — was that the crash was brought on by irresponsible risk-taking. And feminists know that risk-taking is something that is very gendered. . . the celebration of the risk-taker tends to be the celebration of a certain kind of masculinity.”

“It was very interesting to realize that you could ask feminist questions about masculinities in order to reveal how a financial crisis had been created, and it also helped to do it cross-nationally.”


Cynthia Enloe Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Cynthia Enloe, a research professor in the Department of International Development, Community, and Environment at Clark University, has been honored with the Howard Zinn Lifetime Achievement in Peace Studies Award.

Granted by the Peace and Justice Studies Association, the award recognizes Enloe for her work as a “scholar-activist” in gender studies and international politics, which has been used widely in peace studies. As her website summarizes, Enloe’s scholarship “has focused on the interplay of women’s politics in the national and international arenas, with special attention to how women’s labor is made cheap in globalized factories. . . and how women’s emotional and physical labor has been used to support government’s war-waging policies.” Enloe’s most recent book, Nimo’s War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War (2010), elaborates on these themes by detailing the experiences of eight women—four Iraqis and four Americans—over the course of the Iraq war.

An accomplished author, Enloe’s published works include The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire (2004), Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives (2004), and Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics (2001).