Lack of transparency around armed drone operations makes it difficult to know what standards are used to determine how individuals come to constitute a legal target in the eyes of armed drone users. However, there are some indications that the United States uses maleness as a signifier of militancy.
This paper argues that the apparent practice of using sex as a signifier in targeting attacks and/or in conducting post-strike analysis violates human rights and is highly corrosive to
existing protection for civilians; undermines accurate analysis of such attacks; constitutes a form of gender-based violence that also serves to reinforce problematic gender essentialisms
and violent masculinities; and carries grave implications for the development and deployment of weapons systems that have greater autonomy in the identification of targets.