Today’s session with Dr. Moorti was dynamic and informative, pertaining to cultural and societal understandings of gender and sex – what the differences are, and how one forms another. This was a good base from which to explore the role of Gender (as opposed to sex) in times of conflict and peace. I appreciated her explanation of how sex has been mapped onto gender, because being a student at a liberal arts college in the US, these phrases are thrown around a lot, without much explanation or discussion surrounding them. I thought these discussions highlighted some really interesting points, such as the fact that patriarchal societies would not survive without females who are complicit. Furthermore, I found the relationships Professor Moorti drew between patriarchy which is propped up by certain capitalist structures. Similarly, the point that Victorian gender norms were imposed via colonialism, on countries which traditionally had more fluid views on sexuality and gender is interesting (and depressing).

In the same way I appreciated the deconstruction of patriarchy, I also enjoyed the discussion about feminism not as an identity, but rather as a political process/activity. Also, the discussion of gender needs to be informed by other categories, such as class, caste, sexuality, economics and sex. This discussion led to the introduction of the effects that certain development programs have had on societal dynamics between different genders. While there were a number of issues with these programs (such as the fact that they viewed women in reference to their context as reproducing subjects), often the ‘issue of women’ was viewed in isolation, resulting in unintended consequences. Dr. Moorti raised the example of efforts in Bangladesh to empower women economically, which had a positive relationship with a rise in domestic violence. The main issue was that the development apparatus had completely ignored what the potential ramifications might on other elements of society.

I enjoyed the discussion surrounding the militarisation of women in conflict zones, particularly because this was a concept I was introduced to recently during a Critical Security Studies seminar.  The example of Laura Bush securitising the lives of Afghan women living under the control of the Taliban as a justification for US military intervention there, during a speech at the UN is the perfect example. Ironically, she is also behaving as an actor in relation to her husband and his administration, to help them achieve their military and political goals. She too, becomes complicit in the militarisation of female bodies in conflict.