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Chapter 5: Gender Is gender a variable? © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Learning aims: Understand the myth that “gender is a variable”Be able to distinguish between different types of feminisms and what these imply Critically engage with the way that feminism has been “placed” in IR Question the neutrality of the classical tradition of IR © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Last week: ConstructivismMyth: “anarchy is what states make of it” Key concepts: Social construction, identities, practices By reifying the state, Wendtian constructivism misses an opportunity to analyze practices outside of the state © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Myth: Gender is a variableGender Flashcard Key concepts: Gender Placing feminism in IR Myth: Gender is a variable Key thinkers: V. Spike Peterson Adam Jones © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Gender as a variable What would it mean for gender to be a variable? (box 5.1) Gender could be placed and contained in some distinct thing called a variable This “gender variable” would itself be outside of gender. It would be free of gender © 2014 Cynthia Weber
How have feminists made use of the gender variable? (table 5.2) Topic/theme Feminist argument Contribution to IR? Opposed dualisms Male and masculine structures privilege men and exclude women. These structures must be supplemented by “incorporating the gender variable”, thereby creating more opportunities for women No, because it blames men and masculinities for how the world is Realist state The state as either masculinist or male (radical feminist argument) “The personal is political” (liberal feminist argument) No, because it is an extreme and essentialist view of the state Yes, and it should be added to the three other levels of analysis: individual, state and international Rational-actor model Labels of Western-style rationality as a peculiarly male/masculine phenomenon reflecting and perpetuating patriarchal power. Can be corrected with stereotypical “Mother Earth” essentialist ways of thinking about actors No, because the argument boils down to men and masculinity are essentially bad, and women and femininity are essentially good Realist conceptions of power and security Expand the range of power relationships that realism considers Redefine power Yes, because gendered power relationships should be included in realism No, because it sneaks in a feminist normative agenda by adding in prescriptions about what power should be rather than a description of what power is © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Jones’s vs. Peterson’s definitions of feminism (table 5.4)1. Feminist subjects are women and the feminine Feminism = normative program 3. Feminist normative agenda is to promote women’s equality and to blame men and masculinities for global injustices 2. Feminist epistemology is grounded in women’s experiences Characteristics of feminism: JONES: 2. The world is pervasively shaped by gendered meanings; therefore, we “know” the world as gendered beings 1. Gender is socially constructed, producing subjective identities through which we see and know the world Feminism = worldview PETERSON: © 2014 Cynthia Weber
The “wrong” questions feminism asks of traditional IR theory (box 5.3)5. Should normatively masculine understandings of the world be the only legitimate ways of seeing the world? 1. What makes traditional IR questions and approaches meaningful? 2. How are these meanings related to one another hierarchically? 3. How do these meanings enable us to make value judgments that help us to place people and things as legitimate or illegitimate? 4. What is traditional IR theory’s normative agenda, and how does it use gender to secure this agenda while appearing to be gender neutral and gender free? © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Theory activity: Feminism and the implications for IRAim: To understand different kinds of feminisms, questions they ask and the implications this has on IR What did you think about feminism BEFORE and AFTER reading this chapter and listening to the lectures. Note responses together and group under before and after (5 min.) In smaller groups discuss the following questions (10 min.): What are the difference between Jones’ and Peterson’s feminisms? What are the implications of these two understandings of feminism: For IR For women and men What are the implications for IR when feminists raise epistemological, ontological and methodological critiques and ask difficult questions? © 2014 Cynthia Weber
The place of women in Fatal AttractionThe place of women in Fatal Attraction (table 5.5) Legitimate women (Beth Gallager) Illegitimate women (Alex Forest) Place Within the heterosexual nuclear family Outside the heterosexual nuclear family Characteristics Good wife Good mother Independent personally and professionally. This independence is coded in the film as barrenness and failure Behavior Rational Irrational © 2014 Cynthia Weber
What is typical and what is deviant in the world of Fatal AttractionWhat is typical and what is deviant in the world of Fatal Attraction? (table 5.6) To respect the heterosexual nuclear family as the only legitimate and reasonable source of meaning Typical To disturb the heterosexual nuclear family through outside, irrational, and illegitimate influences Deviant © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Fatal Attraction and IRGendered perspectives in Fatal Attraction and traditional IR theory (table 5.7) Fatal Attraction Traditional IR theory Point of view Dan Gallager’s Adam Jones’s Perspective Traditional – legitimate meaning is based on the legitimacy of the heterosexual nuclear family Traditional – legitimate meaning is based on the legitimacy of the classic IR tradition’s treatment of questions of war and peace How feminine/ feminist “excesses” are managed Added through an illegitimate affair Ignored Killed Added through the “gender variable” Feminist work inconsistent with Jones’s characterization of the “gender variable” is ignored Feminine/feminist “gender variable” replaced by (killed off with) a more “balanced” gender variable that reemphasizes men and masculinities © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Film activity: Fatal Attraction and feminism in IR Aim: To read “gender as variable” myth through Fatal Attraction In groups, using lecture notes, slides and the book, discuss the following questions (7 min.): What is the relationship between the Fatal Attraction and the role of feminism in IR? How similar is Dan’s world to the world of traditional IR? Can we see similarities between Beth (reasonable) and Alex (unreasonable) and particular types of feminism in IR (Jones vs. Peterson)? Present your findings to the other groups Continue the discussion by considering the following questions (7 min.): What is the politics of Fatal Attraction? Could the film be made today? What would need to change/what could remain the same? © 2014 Cynthia Weber
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