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Confronting TortureEssays on the Ethics, Legality, History, and Psychology of Torture Today$
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Scott A. Anderson and Martha C. Nussbaum

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226529387

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226529554.001.0001

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Gender Performance Requirements of the US Military in the War on Islamic Terrorism

Gender Performance Requirements of the US Military in the War on Islamic Terrorism

(p.87) Chapter 4 Gender Performance Requirements of the US Military in the War on Islamic Terrorism
Confronting Torture

Mary Anne Case

University of Chicago Press

Because few people are trained in the techniques of torture, US military soldiers and other personnel tasked with conducing “enhanced interrogation” in the War on Terror had to devise their own approaches, using what they knew already from prior experiences. This chapter argues that the techniques these soldiers often chose illustrate the way that gender norms are taught to young men and women in military academies, basic training, and society more generally. Military academies, boot camp, and institutions such as fraternities often use hazing that involves the threat of feminization and other challenges to masculinity as a means of motivating recruits and members, building camaraderie and enforcing conformity to gender norms. Many soldiers and interrogators turned toward techniques such as sexual abuse when called upon to torture or degrade captives in their charge. These techniques were chosen in part because of beliefs such soldiers held about Muslims’ gender attitudes, and their views of masculinity and sex. Some soldiers did not even believe these techniques counted as torture because, as one put it, “you’re telling me it’s wrong to do to a prisoner what the Army does to its own soldiers.”

Keywords:   feminization, gender, hazing, interrogation, masculinity, Muslims, sexual abuse, soldiers, torture, War on Terror

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