Drones and Gender

Drones protest. San Diego. April 2013.

According to a Pew poll released in July, the United States is only one of three surveyed nations where majorities approve of President Obama’s drone strikes. It’s joined by Israel, likely due to the popularity of its own anti-terror policies, and Kenya, where Obama’s roots continue to buoy him to popularity. Curiously, there’s a gender divide  of approval in other countries, by at least double-digits. It sounds very 1960s. Gender theorists should have a field day debating the reasons why. Tellingly, the results are starkest in the countries where drone strikes are most hated.

Japan (25%) sees a 31 point difference between men and women. Spain (21%) reports a gap of 25 points between the sexes. The United States (61%) is interesting as for different reasons, because the 70% of men who support the strikes (arguably a mandate,) are tempered significantly by the only slight majority of women (53%) who agree with them.

Still, as the data shows, drone strikes are tremendously unpopular worldwide. They’re an issue that unifies a diverse number of populations in their disapproval, beyond simply where they happen in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. The Pew poll presents a list of strange bedfellows, from North Africa, to the former Soviet Bloc, to East Asia.

For those who argue that women are by their nature less tolerant of military violence than men, the American statistics are sobering. Most women in the US approve of the President’s program. Though not by as much as their male counterparts, their opinion is curious, especially in comparison to those countries polled, in which approval/disapproval tended to correspond, more perfunctorily, to gender.

Are American women more politically conservative than their foreign counterparts? Would they necessarily support anti-terror policies of this nature, if they were being led by a Republican President? I’m not so sure. Perhaps the answer is that the US is simply more conservative, on security matters, than other the outside world. The consensus is broadly shared enough to recommend that conclusion.


Photograph courtesy of Steve Rhodes. Published under a Creative Commons License.

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