Hidden soldiers: Gender, militarism, and the discourse of defense

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Sari Knopp Biklen


Defense industry, Work-family studies, Feminism, Gender, Militarism

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Military and Veterans Studies | Work, Economy and Organizations


This study of women associated by work or by partnership to American defense industries, examines the ways that militarism works in and around the lives of those who live and work in proximity to highly militarized sites.

Militarism simultaneously imposes and is dependent upon certain constructions of gender for sustenance. Within these particular constructions, men should be strong, protective, and eager for war. Women on the other hand should be nurturing, in need of protection and peace-loving. The participants in this study adhere discursively to these particular constructions, their lived practices of gender however, are in tension and sometimes contradiction with the gender constructs on which militarism relies.

While militarism is popularly believed to be about men and male paradigms, in fact militarism could not exist without the labor, both paid and unpaid, and allegiance of women. Women's work both in the home and in the workplace makes the production of weapons possible. The narratives of the women included in this study make visible their unending toil, an ethic of secrecy, and aspirations towards patriotism that characterize their lives.


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