Chapter 10 of Social Problems

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Lorne Tepperman

Rape as a Weapon of War  Despite prohibitions outlined in the Geneva Conventions, rape, assault, and enforced prostitution of women have all continued during armed conflicts  Gendercide – genocidal acts committed against women as women and men as men – as human rights violations  Against men – selective separation of young civilian men ‘of military age’ from old men, children, and women of all ages for punishment, torture, and execution  Formerly, warriors have considered captive women to be part of the booty of warfare  Today, many believe that a systematic campaign of rape against civilian women is designed to humiliate and break the resolve of an enemy nation; it also destroys family  Finally, when rape results in pregnancy, a further source of humiliation and conflict that will continue for at least a generation Environmental Destruction  The wilful destruction of the environment as a strategy of war, as practice for war, or as punishment for the defeated occurred at least as early as Roman times and persists in modern day society o Roman armies routinely destroyed crops and salted the earth to ruin the land’s fertility o Russians burned their crops and homes twice to prevent the invading armies of Napoleon and Hitler o Allied navies in WWII used the whales of North Atlantic for target practice  Military operation also harm the environment during peacetime o US military is the largest producer of dangerous materials in the country and ‘decades of improper and unsafe handling, storage and disposal of hazardous materials while building and maintaining the world’s most powerful fighting force severely polluted America’s air, water and soil’ o Disposal is a major problem  Modern warfare and the innovative war technologies -> rise to nanopollution o These microscopic particles can enter the bloodstream of humans and disseminate throughout the body, developing new diseases with unusual symptoms and other yet to be studied health problems Theoretical Perspectives on War and Terrorism Theory Main points Structural Functionalism  All elements in society are interrelated  War and terrorism reinforce group identity and increase social cohesion as well as conformity  Increased employment and production of weapons lead to economic benefit Conflict Theory  Conflict and change are basic features of social life  War and terrorism reflect struggles between opposite groups over power, limited resources, or ideological domination  Only some groups benefit, namely corporations, politicians, intermediaries, and black marketers Symbolic Interactionism  Socialization and labelling shape attitudes and the roles people adopt towards war efforts and conflicts  In times of war, leaders use propaganda and euphemistic language to legitimize combat and to reduce the rational and emotional impact of death Feminist Theory  In Western culture, primarily men have fought in wards  War is seen as misguided protective chivalry or paternalistic sexism toward the ‘lesser’ sex  Consequences of war: women are raped, forced into prostitution Social Constructionism  Propaganda legitimizes war and reduces the rational and emotional impact of death  Political parties deflect criticism by focusing national attention on real or imagined enemies, on the valour of the nation’s fighting forces, and on the ‘good’ they are doing the country that has been invaded  People mobilize to form social movements and to influence public policy Structural Functionalism  Believe that most elements in society exist to serve some purpose  Conflict and violence are the results of a system malfunctioning o Wars may occur because groups or societies do not known how to resolve their conflicts peacefully  They lack shared values or institutions for lawfully resolving disagreement and the leadership and assets to bring peace o war results from the breakdown of peace; also because military institutions and activities hold great importance within the society and culture  A large scale conflict increases social cohesion and group identity o Entire nation bands together in a show of patriotism to defeat a common enemy o Only when this common enemy is no longer a threat do the internal conflicts resume o Sometimes the solidarity lasts for awhile even after the war is over Conflict Theory  State that wards are struggles between opposing groups over power, limited assets, or ideological domination taken to their logical, violent conclusions  War benefits some groups – corporations, politicians, and the military  The ‘military-industrial complex’ refers to the close relationship between the military and the private defence industry and their combined control of the political agenda  Industrialists, politicians, brokers and black-marketers, among others, make enormous fortunes from war and weapons of war  The Global Peace Index – developed by the Institute for Economics and Peace – measures the relative position of a nation’s ‘peacefulness’; composed of 23 separate indicators o Countries given a score based on these indicators that range from 1 being the most peaceful to 5 being the least peaceful o Countries that rank highest spend very little on the military and score highly on other measures of social development and quality of life Symbolic Interactionism  Examine the ways in which cultures socialize people to adopt certain attitudes towards war and conflict o Adult members of society encourage aggression and the resolution of conflicts through physical force as early as childhood, mostly in boys  Also studies the language and labels of war – propagandas  The media play an important role in the spin-doctoring of this message o Leaders use a special language to legitimize combat and reduce the rational and emotional impact of the deaths that will follow o Soldiers are not ‘murder victims’ but ‘casualties’ Feminist Theory  The association between masculinity and militarism begins in childhood socialization  With only a few exceptions through the history of Western cultures, it has been mainly men who have fought wars o This is due in part to women’s smaller physical stature, to the nature of warfare (face to face, physical combat) and to men’s greater tendency towards aggression and violence  Some authors argue that the perception of the role of women in war is limited, extending only to women’s strategies of survival, resistance, and efforts to protest war and counter its effects  Feminist studies argue that the participation and support of women in war-making simply have been neglected  Major wars have also allowed women greater entry into the workforce, to replace the men recruited for war  They later found opportunities working in ‘essential’ industries (engineering etc)  Today, women are still only a small minority of all military personnel and more numerous in the reserves  Israel is unique in that military service is compulsory for both males and females but the IDF grants general exemptions o Drafted at 18, men serve for 3 years and women serve for 21 months Social Constructionism  Stresses the role of moral entrepreneurs in mobilizing support for social causes o False propaganda and misinformation produced by the US admin were used to fain support from American citizens for the 2003 invasion of Iraq o Remarkably, once such a war has begun, public awareness of politically motivated lies – to the
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