The Little Mermaid's Silent Security Dilemma and the Absence of Gender in the Copenhagen School

  • Citation: Hansen, Lene. "The Little Mermaid's Silent Security Dilemma and the Absence of Gender in the Copenhagen School." Millennium-Journal of International Studies 29 (2000): 285-306.
    • Topics:
    • IR Theories
    • Keywords:
    • security analysis
    • the silent subject
    • security dilemma
    • speech and security

This article points to the absence of gender in the Copenhagen School of security studies and argues that this is indicative of two problems stemming from the Copenhagen School’s ‘speech act’ framework: the ‘security as silence’ and the ‘subsuming security’ problems. ‘Security as silence’ occurs when insecurity cannot be voiced, when raising something as a security problem is impossible or might even aggravate the threat being faced. ‘Subsuming security’ arises because gendered security problems often involve an intimate inter-linkage between the subject’s gendered identity and other aspects of the subject’s identity, for example national and religious. Because gender rarely produces the kind of collective, self-contained referent objects required by the Copenhagen School it often gets defined as an individual-and less important-security problem. The article argues that a theory of gender and security demands a more thorough concern with how security discourses are produced than offered by the Copenhagen School. Drawing on Judith Butler’s work, two suggestions are presented: to examine the bodily performance taking place within the speech act, and to look at the individualising strategies employed in keeping security problems from appearing at the collective level.

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