Featured Article: From the Signs Archive


Iris Marion Young’s 2003 Signs article, “The Logic of Masculinist Protection: Reflections on the Current Security State” (vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 1-25), continues to call attention to academic feminism’s scholarly lacunae, particularly those regarding the gendered dimensions of organized violence, militarization, and poverty. In this article, Young revisits and augments the early feminist critique of the public/private split by extending its public/private :: male/female analogy to the U.S. nation-state. Young argues that, after the attacks on the World Trade Center of September 11, 2001, the federal government promised to protect its feminized citizenry from future terrorist attacks by offering its citizens a compelling patriarchal bargain: we will protect you as long as you cede certain highly valued civil liberties.

For Young, the federal government, in its desire to protect and control its feminized citizenry, plays a masculine role, much like the 1950s stereotype of the male head of (the middle-class, white) household protecting his wife and children at the expense of their freedom and full participation in the public sphere. Young is invested in discerning how it is that the imperialist head of household, the federal government, establishes this bargain through convincing forcefulness, persuasiveness, and a seemingly inexorable hold on the production of certain geopolitical truths.

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