“The Stigma of Nation”: Feminist Just War, Privilege, and Responsibility MARIAN EIDE If women are not yet accorded the full rights of citizenship internationally and especially in the military context, a feminist position on just war m a y hawe to be provisional. Drawing on Virginia Woolfs argument referenced in the title, Eide suggests in this essay that feminist theory develop its principles from women’s exclusion from national privileges and argues that jus post bellum or justice after war be central to feminist theories of just war. In 1935, Virginia Woolf received three letters that we would now describe as solicitations from nonprofit organizations of the kind many of us receive daily. The first letter posed the following question: “How in your opinion are we to prevent war?” While the letter responded to the terrors of the Spanish Civil War, by the time Woolf belatedly answered it in 1938 in her book-length essay Three Guineas, war threatened the entire European continent and many of Woolf‘s compatriots had begun to ask an entirely different question: How are we to wage just war against totalitarianism and fascism? British citizens were beginning to consider a military campaign that many still define as the exemplary just and justifiable war against occupation, aggression, and genocide. Woolf herself was never entirely convinced that war was the proper method for opposing Nazi and Fascist threats from the continent. Yet her tone in respond- ing to the pacifist solicitation is distinctly ironic: if women have been excluded from the rights and privileges of the nation, and if women are prevented from full participation in the government that wages war to protect a nation, then why would a specific woman be asked how in her opinion we are to prevent the wars waged by that nation? Hypatia vol. 2 3 , no. 2 (April-June 2008) 0 by Marian Eidc
Marian Eide 49 So long as women were excluded from the rights and privileges of a nation, Woolf‘s pacifism seems to me the only logical feminist position. However, seventy years later, the condition of women in political, social, and economic spheres in Western nations has changed dramatically and a feminist position on war might need to change accordingly. In the US. military, women still play a supporting role. Granted, it is a fine distinction. Women pilot military airplanes and helicopters, drive in supply convoys, clear bombs and land mines, and guard prisoner-of-war camps. All these women carry arms for self-protection, but none of them is assigned specifically to combat duty. Some feminists have argued that women’s equality depends in part on equal access to military combat roles and their attendant benefits (Stiehm 1989; Holm 1992). However, Jen- nifer Turpin (among others) contends: “This argument is based on a militarized notion of citizenship, wherein citizenship derives in part from one’s capacity to fight for one’s country” (1998, 10). A third position, emerging from Woolf‘s writing, would consider it
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