Gender and the privatization of security: neoliberal transformation of the militarized gender order
The increasing reliance on private military and security companies (PMSCs) in contemporary military conflict marks a historic shift in the state’s organization of military violence. This transformation has gendered underpinnings and entails gender-specific outcomes, at the same time as it reveals a gendered continuum between public and private military and security organizations. As the US example illustrates, security privatization was facilitated by the broader neoliberal transformation of the militarized gender order and itself has had negative implications for gender equality in the military and security sphere. Based on original research, this article argues that PMSCs are deeply gendered organizations whose employment practices tends to intensify the gendered division of labour that is characteristic of public militaries. While business and operational needs may allow for temporary disruptions of gender norms, masculinism remains not only vital but is reinvigorated by privatization. Political goals such as gender equality are sidelined in a sector premised on de-regulation and free markets. In contrast to problem-solving approaches that view gender as a problem of accountability or operational effectiveness in regards to PMSCs, this article shows that gender is deeply implicated in the expansion and organization of private force at the turn of the twenty-first century.