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Masculinist actionism: gender and strategic change in US cyber strategy

Millar, Katharine M. and Shires, James (2024) Masculinist actionism: gender and strategic change in US cyber strategy. Security Studies. ISSN 0963-6412 (In Press)

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Identification Number: 10.1080/09636412.2024.2351918


How do gender hierarchies inform processes of strategic change? Drawing upon feminist institutionalism and security studies, we argue that gender hierarchies form the boundaries of acceptability for strategic change. We conduct a qualitative feminist analysis of cyberstrategy policy documents and expert commentary around a 2018 shift in US cyber strategy. We identify two ideal-typical modes of masculinity – military and “tech” – as influential in conditioning US cyber strategy. The interaction of these masculinities facilitated the emergence of “defending forward” and “persistent engagement” as proactive, dynamic, and suitably masculine new strategic concepts. The previously preferred strategic concept, deterrence, conversely, was constructed in line with feminised tropes as weak, passive, and reactive. Strategic change is facilitated by a change in the meaning of a specific gender norm – masculinised action – while still constrained by the continuation of a broader gender hierarchy of masculinities over femininities, and the associated valorisation of action over passivity.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author(s)
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences
J Political Science > JZ International relations
J Political Science
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2024 11:33
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 04:20

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