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Disciplines

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

Although it will go without saying at least two paragraphs into this essay, the basis of my argument is both linguistic and social. In this paper I examine how the ways in which humans use language affects the way they conceive of war, particularly how their perception of war reinforces ideas about the male gender and how that gender communicates. Before I jump into analysis, historical precedent or theory, I feel it best to lay the linguistic groundwork.

Essentially, the linguistic basis of my argument purports that if there is even a grain of truth to the linguistic conditions of communication and understanding outlined in the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, then Western culture's (specifically the US) use of war rhetoric both reflects and reinforces ideas about the male gender's communication style; specifically that this communication style is characterized by action, and in the case of war, physical and armed conflict. What becomes particularly difficult about this communicative style is that, although war rhetoric may be reflect and be delivered as the communicative style of one gender, it eventually affects how all people come to understand war. I argue that, by changing the way we talk about war, we can make a giant leap towards changing the way we conceptualize war and eventually how we use war. This move away from a dependence on war as a mode of political response opens up new possibilities for political responses, specifically responses that do not rely on violence or destruction to communicate.

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