Eight reasons why antimilitarism needs queer
1. Militarism is not just a war, an army or a fighter jet. Militarism is a system, a logic and a set of norms that perpetuates and recreates our societies and our daily lives. Queer analysis of power is a political tool that can help us to challenge these norms. Queer liberation isn’t about equality within a patriarchal and militarist system, it is about going beyond the politics of inclusion and creating future just societies that do not merely recreate systems of power under different names.
2. Militarism perpetuates rigid gender norms, and is rooted in heterosexist ideas of gender that define masculinity as physically powerful and aggressive and feminity as meek and passive. Queer and transgender people, and queer analysis and activism, challenge the legitimacy of these norms, and thus challenge the basis and ideas of militarism.
3. Militarism depends upon and recreates a racist and hierarchical world order that tells us whose life is worth defending and whose is not. The image of “the other” needs to exist as well as a united “we” (white, heterosexual, ablebodied, man.) whose life is worth defending. Queer analysis that foregrounds, cultivates and nurtures difference is a challenge to the existence of this homogenous “we”, and thus to the logic behind the existence of the military.
4. There’s a long-standing opposition to the military from queer communities and other marginalised groups. These groups have since long realised that the military is not acting in their interests. Now other parts of the antimilitarist movement needs to recognise this tremendous antimilitarist activism and join with all groups struggling for peace and justice.
5. Movements where queer and transgendered people – or any other group – feel excluded, not listened to and not taken seriously, of course fail drastically in accountability. Actively working to make our movements inclusive does not just make us a larger movement, it makes room for more perspectives and experiences and makes us more creative and effective in our work against militarism.
6. LGBTQ people remain under attack by militaries and governments all over the world. The state discriminates against and sanctions violence against LGBTQ people, hate crime rates rise in militarised communities, at the same time as the possibilities for norm breakers and other marginalised groups are restrained. Radical movements must stand in solidarity with those most affected by militarism, which include LGBTQ people.
7. The military is currently using LGBTQ communities to legitimise their activities. By creating a (false) public image of a “modern” and “open” military, they seek to create acceptance for militarism and military “solutions”. Queer people are organising against this “pinkwashing” of their struggles, and refuse to be used to legitimise death and destruction. Together we must show that an antimilitarist world is a really secure world for LGBTQ people and others.
8. Any change starts at home. A heterosexist, patriarchal culture promotes and legitimises war. A movement working against war must challenge these norms within their own movements and communities as well as in society as a whole. We must address all issues of structural, personal, and intimate violence wherever they exist, to create truly secure and sustainable cultures that promote peace and justice.
Alvine Andersson is active in the Swedish antimilitarist network Ofog.