Love and War

Love and War: How Militarism Shapes Sexuality and Romance

Tom Digby
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/digb16840
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Love and War
    Book Description:

    Ideas of masculinity and femininity become sharply defined in war-reliant societies, resulting in a presumed enmity between men and women. This so-called "battle of the sexes" is intensified by the use of misogyny to encourage men and boys to conform to the demands of masculinity. These are among Tom Digby's fascinating insights shared inLove and War, which describes the making and manipulation of gender in militaristic societies and the sweeping consequences for men and women in their personal, romantic, sexual, and professional lives.

    Drawing on cross-cultural comparisons and examples from popular media, including sports culture, the rise of "gonzo" and "bangbus" pornography, and "internet trolls," Digby describes how the hatred of women and the suppression of empathy are used to define masculinity, thereby undermining relations between women and men -- sometimes even to the extent of violence. Employing diverse philosophical methodologies, he identifies the cultural elements that contribute to heterosexual antagonism, such as an enduring faith in male force to solve problems, the glorification of violent men who suppress caring emotions, the devaluation of men's physical and emotional lives, an imaginary gender binary, male privilege premised on the subordination of women, and the use of misogyny to encourage masculine behavior. Digby tracks the "collateral damage" of this disabling misogyny in the lives of both men and women, but ends on a hopeful note. He ultimately finds the link between war and gender to be dissolving in many societies: war is becoming slowly de-gendered, and gender is becoming slowly de-militarized.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53840-4
    Subjects: Philosophy, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 BATTLE OF THE SEXES: WHY IS HETEROSEXUAL LOVE SO HARD?
    (pp. 1-30)

    Consider a paradox: In most cultures, heterosexual erotic relationships are favored over same-sex erotic relationships. Heterosexual love is idealized, while same-sex love is often deemed problematic or even reprehensible, primarily on religious grounds. To the extent that any sexual orientation is problematized, it is always anonheterosexual orientation. But how can heterosexuality be superior to homosexuality, when the former is commonly described as a “battle of the sexes”? That expression points to a widely shared understanding that heterosexuality is inherently adversarial, so that conflict in heterosexual erotic relationships is inevitable. Isn’t it paradoxical that having two persons of different sexes...

  5. 2 LET’S MAKE A DEAL: THE HETEROSEXUAL ECONOMY FALLS OFF A CLIFF
    (pp. 31-51)

    Popular culture, from Lifetime TV to gangsta rap and heavy metal, sends us the message that heterosexual love is inherently antagonistic, and even fraught with the danger of both emotional and physical violence. The accuracy of the picture provided by popular culture is confirmed by the wealth of statistics on domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and heterosexual homicide.¹

    Heterosexual antagonism is not hard to understand when one pays attention to how war-reliant societies tend to culturally program men and women into rigidly differentiated, even opposite, roles. The antagonism is greatly exacerbated by a further element: a notion of heterosexual...

  6. 3 HOW TO MAKE A WARRIOR: MISOGYNY AND EMOTIONAL TOUGHNESS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF MASCULINITY
    (pp. 52-74)

    When people are divided into two genders, with members of each gender culturally programmed to display attitudes, dispositions, and behavior altogether different from—and generally opposite to—the other gender, it is probably inevitable that there are going to be advantages and disadvantages specific to each gender. If cultural expectations call for one of those genders to be dominant over the other, presumably the advantages for that gender outweigh the disadvantages, but that does not mean that the disadvantages are not substantial. In this chapter I want to focus on what I consider, after more than a quarter century of...

  7. 4 KEEPING THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES ALIVE: FAITH AND FANTASY
    (pp. 75-95)

    Why is it that so many of the mistakes people make in their love lives are so incredibly familiar to us all? There are patterns of mistakes that are so common that it is hard not to think of them as just part of the human condition (a dubious phrase, for sure). For example, why are so many women attracted to jerks? When I raise that question in a public lecture, it always gets a lot of smiles of recognition and often a bit of nervous laughter. Everyone is familiar with this widespread pattern in human behavior, and they are...

  8. 5 CAN MEN RESCUE HETEROSEXUAL LOVE? MORE FAITH AND FANTASY
    (pp. 96-123)

    A traditional, culturally programmed fantasy about romantic love is the idea that if one can just find and fall in love with the right person, one will live happily ever after. In the previous chapter we took note of a slowly developing trend among women in the direction of losing faith in those fantasies, seeing them merely as fantasies, rather than as indicators of realistic aspirations for their actual lives. This trend is not surprising, given that it fits perfectly with developments in the material and social conditions of women’s lives in many parts of the world: the survival of...

  9. 6 GENDER TERRORISM, GENDER SACRIFICE: GETTING BEYOND ZERO-SUM HETEROSEXUALITY
    (pp. 124-151)

    The cultural programming that produces a gender binary, dividing human beings into two “opposite sexes,” results in antagonism between men and women. But the damage does not end there. There are also harms that are specific to each gender. There are harms men experience solely because they are men, such as the expectation that they be willing to sacrifice their lives, limbs, and minds in pursuit of masculinity defined by the warrior ideal. And there are harms women experience solely because they are women, such as discrimination, harassment, violence and subordination of their own needs to the needs of the...

  10. 7 THE DEGENDERING OF MILITARISM: WAR LOSES ITS SEX
    (pp. 152-175)

    War is gendered; it is something men do, and women suffer. That is not meant as a statement of fact; rather, it is a description of the cultural programming that has prevailed in almost all war-reliant societies. To engage in combat has been deemed masculine, and thus not feminine. This gendering of war has obscured the suffering of men in war and the ways that women have helped make war happen.

    However, the nature and material conditions of war are changing, with profound cultural implications, including the gradual degendering of militarism and war itself. It is too early to say...

  11. 8 THE DEMILITARIZING OF GENDER: A TRUCE IN THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES?
    (pp. 176-190)

    War-reliant cultures are masculine cultures, meaning that the values of warrior masculinity are culturally pervasive. Thus war-reliant societies view themselves as manly societies, even if a majority of the people are not men and even if that majority of not-men are culturally deemed to have unmasculine attributes. This cultural pervasiveness of masculinity is partly because war-reliant societies are typically governed by men and view men as generally dominant. Masculinity in militaristic societies is inherently, culturally hegemonic. Hence, when such a society is ruled or governed by a woman, there is generally an expectation that she will display characteristics associated with...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 191-214)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 215-226)