Through in-depth retrospective interviews with 25 women officers in the Israeli military, we discovered that their experiences with power are central to their military experience even years after their discharge. The interviewees conveyed a dialectical emotional experience of power, interpreting it as a source of pleasure and empowerment and a source of shame at the same time. The women are made to feel ashamed because, according to accepted gendered beliefs, they crossed gender boundaries and used military power preserved exclusively for masculine use. Shame is a disciplinary mechanism through which women learn to obey normative gender arrangements and thus should be understood as an invisible block preventing women’s promotion and mobility. These dual perceptions show the inherent gendered boundaries of military power and women's place in the military power hierarchy. The politics of emotion, in this case, should be analyzed as an intersubjective surveillance and self-regulatory mechanism, which could illuminate hidden corners of organizations wherein masculine authority is preserved and reproduced through indirect and murky methods. Hence, women's perceptions of power are a key tool for understanding gender dynamics and may contribute to identifying and deciphering unspoken practices as well as helping to change them.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 31, 2017
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