Gender, Sexuality and Emotion in Visual Representations of Sweden Joining NATO


  • Emma Rosengren Stockholm University


NATO, Feminist theory, Visual media representations, Gender, feminist IR


This research note introduces gender and feminist theory as important tools for understanding international relations (IR), and uses snapshots from my ongoing research project on gender and disarmament in Swedish security policy during the post-Cold War period to exemplify what feminist contributions to the field can look like. Analyzing media visuals about Sweden’s relationship with NATO during 2022–2023, I argue that such sources draw on well-known societal stereotypes about, for example, gender to make sense to their audiences. The visuals included in this study contribute to destabilize associations between security policy, national identity and masculinity from Cold War Sweden by portraying Swedish politicians as female brides ready to marry male NATO representatives and thereby gain protection within what has previously been conceptualized as a gendered NATO family. Both human bodies and emotions related to fear contribute to make meaning about such representations.

Author Biography

Emma Rosengren, Stockholm University

Emma Rosengren (PhD) is a researcher in international relations at the Department of Economic History and International Relations at Stockholm University, Sweden. She is also an affiliated researcher at the Hans Blix Centre for the History of International Relations at Stockholm University. Her research interests include historical and contemporary disarmament, historical perspectives in IR, and feminist and intersectional theory.