Although most Western militaries include women, the military remains a hyper-masculine organization where women’s service is threatened and unstable. Since the military is a citizenship-conferring institution, we ask, what civic subjectivity do women soldiers develop considering their enduring experience of inequality? Based on 141 retrospective accounts by Israeli women soldiers, we argue that women’s civic subjectivity is based on a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to participate in a central state institution. As a moral sentiment, gratitude ties women to the nation in bonds of commitment and belonging, but at the same time ensures their acceptance of and compliance with the gendered military hierarchy. Women’s ‘civic subjectivity of gratitude’ is a byproduct and expression of structural gendered inequality and at the same time reproduces it. Nonetheless, cracks begin to appear in the women’s sense of gratitude when they encounter gendered devaluation, sexual harassment, or military acts of arbitrary violence. In these cases, the women become more critical, and gradually develop what we term ‘suspicious civic subjectivity’, which can sometimes serve as a source and catalyzer for developing and promoting gender equity policies.
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- Gendered citizenship
- civic subjectivity of gratitude
- gendered and moral-political contracts
- military service
- suspicious civic subjectivity