Relevance of Masculinity to War and Conflict

The arena of war is also an arena of idealized masculinity: “Standing conscript armies with permanent officer corps. Such corps…became repositories of gentry codes of masculinity” (Connell, 1999 p 192).Despite this apparent harmony, the field of battle is also a field of conflict, where Masculinity is created, protected, and threatened. Part of the reasons for this may be due to the sexual focus of militarized masculinity. Male sexual organs are associated with weapons. war memorials depict semi-naked males with prominent weapons. where women are depicted as war heroes, it is without arms. The history of masculinity or manhood revolves around the idea of the penis as a weapon, and sexual success as a ‘conquest’: “Women’s vaginas are ‘cities’ or ‘forts’ to be ‘assailed’, ‘besieged’, ‘breached’, and ‘occupied’ by penises which are ‘darts’, ‘lances’, ‘stakes’ and ‘swords’ (Foyster, 1999, p 73). This essay shall consider the complex interaction between war, masculinity, and sexuality, virility and the phallus. By understanding how historically masculinity has been linked both to war and to the male gender and how descriptions of the phallic organs are centered upon weapons and analogies of war, this essay will show how masculinity is conflicted and defined by concepts of war and conflict.The male image of the warrior has been closely associated with sex for hundreds of years. Medieval literature produces the idea of the phallus as directly linked to male power and authority: “Castration is the universal punishment for crimes against authority…the bishop does not know how to describe a Greek eunuch appointed to be the leader of an army”…a man without functioning genitalia is not a man” (Cohen, 1995). Castration is a reoccurring theme when discussing masculinity and wars: “If a soldier in a modern nation-state goes to war, he fights for his country, his sovereign and his family…".