Seeing (In)Security, Gender, and Silencing: Posters in and about the British Women's Suffrage Movement

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Feminist Security Studies has focused on expanding the referent object to individuals and non-state collectives, looking beyond the military sector to include questions of identity, and uncovering (in)security in unexpected places. An important part of this debate is over silence, particularly about how certain individuals are silenced and how they might be brought into view. This article looks at the ways images can be used to make gender-specific security problems visible. It holds that text, images, and practices interact to construct (in)security and it outlines a tripartite text-image-practice model for analysing these interactions. Through a case-study of the British women’s suffrage movement it illustrates the potential of the text-image-practice model. The suffrage movement leveraged visuals, militancy, and practices like hunger striking to resist attempted silencing by the government across textual, verbal and visual planes. Using the suffrage campaign, the article shows how posters were used to try to silence Suffragettes and how Suffragettes resisted that silencing. Thus, it demonstrates that images are important sites of feminist resistance and security politics that can also communicate a politics of the body. The article also offers an illustration of how historical cases of gender insecurity and resistance as well as their visualisation can be brought into Feminist Security Studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Feminist Journal of Politics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)383-408
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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