Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2023


This research examines how patriarchal institutions weaponize the act of rape in times of conflict. Rape is understood and conceptualized through the language of masculinity, especially the dominance of the masculine recognized and practiced in various cultures. Postmodern feminists argued that a woman or femininity is regulated, constructed, and defined by men through gender roles and symbols. As such, a woman does not exist as her own individual, but follows a constructed identity given by patriarchal institutions. In the theater of war, when a man rapes a woman, she is not only a victim of this violation, but further, the rape is qualified as an attack against the masculinity of her society and the men with whom she is affiliated. In this case, when a soldier rapes an enemy woman, he violates the masculinity of enemy men, as the intended objective is not simply the defilement of the woman, but the humiliation of enemy soldiers and society. Because of this gendered identity attached to women, rape becomes an effective weapon of war. This paper uses case-studies in the conflicts of Sierra Leone in 1991, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992, and Darfur in 2003 to explore the relationship between the weaponization of rape and the patriarchal institutions that enable it. The expected outcome of this study is to demonstrate that rape becomes an effective and widespread weapon of war through the patriarchal understanding of rape.


postmodern feminism, wartime rape, women and girls, phallocentrism, conflict


International Relations | Political Science

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349 KB




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