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Gender for the Warfare State is the first scholarly investigation into the written works of U.S. women combat veterans in twenty-first century wars. Most recent studies quantify military participation, showing how many women participate in armed services and what their experiences are in a traditionally “male institution.” Many of these treatments regard women as victims solely of enemy fire, even as they are also often victims of their own military apparatus and of their own involvement in global aggression. By applying literary analysis to a sociological question, Gender for the Warfare State views women’s experiences through story and literary traditions that carry meaning into present practices. Goodman shows that women in combat are not just entering and being victimized in “male institutions,” but are also actively changing the story of gender and thus the structure of power that is constructed through gender. Moreover, this book unveils a new narrative of care that affects economic relations more broadly and the contemporary politics of the liberal social contract.
Women’s participation in combat is not just a U.S. event but global and therefore has a deeper historical range than current sociological accounts imply. The book compares the political contexts of women’s entry into war now with their prior, twentieth-century contributions to wars in other cultural settings and then uses this comparison to show a variety of meanings at play in the gender of war.