Gender Integration in Israeli Officer Training: Degendering and Regendering the Military

Authored by: Orna Sasson‐Levy and Sarit Amram‐Katz

Categories: Peace Support Operations
Sub-Categories: National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Security Sector Reform (SSR)
Country: Israel
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Year: 2007
Citation: Sasson‐Levy, Orna and Sarit Amram‐Katz. "Gender Integration in Israeli Officer Training: Degendering and Regendering the Military." Signs 33, no. 1 (2007): 105-133.

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The paper examines the nature and meaning of gender integration in a staff (non-combatant) officer training course in the Israeli army, in light of the hegemonic status of combat masculinity. The military constructs the Jewish combat soldier as the prototype of hegemonic masculinity, which is identified with “good citizenship,” and hence marginalizes women to the periphery of citizenship. Gender integration can be seen as a step towards degendering the military and hence the structure of citizenship. However, our research shows that gender integration has led to a simultaneous process of degendering and regendering. Employing Sewell’s conceptualization of structure as comprising simultaneously resources and schemas, we argue that while resource allocation was restructured to degender officer training, there was no corresponding change in the dominating cultural schemas, which are biased towards men and glorify the masculine warrior. The overbearing centrality of the combat soldier model reified gender differences and recreated gendered hierarchies. Consequently, gender integration led to “over-gendering” of the course and its participants on the micro level, while on the macro level, it strengthened the republican perception of citizenship, which glorifies soldiering masculinity. Ironically, then, women’s integration and achievements in the officers’ course might work to legitimize the military’s gender regime.