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Understanding Global Politics: Feminist Approaches Good girls, bad girls in IR?

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding Global Politics: Feminist Approaches Good girls, bad girls in IR?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding Global Politics: Feminist Approaches Good girls, bad girls in IR?

2 Feminist International Relations Theory F eminist IR taking off in late 1980s F eminist IR taking off in late 1980s Influenced by postmodernist theories Influenced by postmodernist theories Note stronger longer links between feminism and postcolonial studies Note stronger longer links between feminism and postcolonial studies Feminist IR scholarship marked in Millennium special issues arising from Feminist IR conferences: 1988, 1998, 2008 Feminist IR scholarship marked in Millennium special issues arising from Feminist IR conferences: 1988, 1998, 2008

3 Key Feminist IR approaches Liberal feminism Liberal feminism Socialist/marxist/critical feminism Socialist/marxist/critical feminism Constructivist feminism Constructivist feminism Radical feminism Radical feminism Postmodernist/poststructuralist feminism Postmodernist/poststructuralist feminism Postcolonial feminism Postcolonial feminism

4 Key feminist IR texts Cynthia Enloe. Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. 1989. Cynthia Enloe. Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. 1989. Jean Bethke Elshtain. Women and War. 1987. Jean Bethke Elshtain. Women and War. 1987. Ann Tickner. Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security. 1992. Ann Tickner. Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security. 1992. V. Spike Peterson and Anne Sisson Runyan. Global Gender Issues: Dilemma in World Politics. 1993 V. Spike Peterson and Anne Sisson Runyan. Global Gender Issues: Dilemma in World Politics. 1993 Christine Sylvester. Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern Era. 1994. Christine Sylvester. Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern Era. 1994. Sandra Whitworth. Feminism and International Relations. 1994 Sandra Whitworth. Feminism and International Relations. 1994 Jill Steans. Gender and International Relations: An Introduction. 1998. Jill Steans. Gender and International Relations: An Introduction. 1998.

5 Women, War and Peace Women for war or for peaceWomen for war or for peace Aristophanes play LysistrataAristophanes play Lysistrata First feminist IR text?First feminist IR text?

6 Public man, private woman So it has been since the days of Hecuba, and of Hector, Tamer of horses: inside the gates, the women with streaming hair and uplifted hands offering prayers, watching the worlds combat from afar, filling their long, empty days with memories and fears; outside, the men in fierce struggle with things divine and human, quenching memory in the stronger light of purpose, losing the sense of dread and even of wounds in the hurrying ardour of action (Eliot, The Mill on the Floss 1996: 405).So it has been since the days of Hecuba, and of Hector, Tamer of horses: inside the gates, the women with streaming hair and uplifted hands offering prayers, watching the worlds combat from afar, filling their long, empty days with memories and fears; outside, the men in fierce struggle with things divine and human, quenching memory in the stronger light of purpose, losing the sense of dread and even of wounds in the hurrying ardour of action (Eliot, The Mill on the Floss 1996: 405). See Jean Elshtains Public Man, Private Woman, 1981 See Jean Elshtains Public Man, Private Woman, 1981

7 Feminist IR scholarship Not just academic approach? Not just academic approach? feminism, unlike non-feminist postmodernism, is not merely a contemporary development in the sociology of knowledge, but is embedded in a rich and varied history of womens struggle and women theorising from the experience of struggle (True 1996: 211) feminism, unlike non-feminist postmodernism, is not merely a contemporary development in the sociology of knowledge, but is embedded in a rich and varied history of womens struggle and women theorising from the experience of struggle (True 1996: 211)

8 Concept of gender gender refers to the asymmetrical social constructs of masculinity and femininity as opposed to ostensibly biological male-female differences...; the hegemonic western brand of masculinity is associated with autonomy, sovereignty, the capacity for reason and objectivity, universalism and men, whereas the dominant notion of femininity is associated with the absence or lack of these characteristics (True 2001: 236) gender refers to the asymmetrical social constructs of masculinity and femininity as opposed to ostensibly biological male-female differences...; the hegemonic western brand of masculinity is associated with autonomy, sovereignty, the capacity for reason and objectivity, universalism and men, whereas the dominant notion of femininity is associated with the absence or lack of these characteristics (True 2001: 236)

9 Concept of gender as challenge to traditional IR Empirical-ontological challenge of mainstream IR Empirical-ontological challenge of mainstream IR Mainstream IR approaches have excluded womens lives and experiences from their field of enquiry Mainstream IR approaches have excluded womens lives and experiences from their field of enquiry Feminist interest in womens place in IR Feminist interest in womens place in IR gendered structures of IOs – women marginal in international security or economic decision-making gendered structures of IOs – women marginal in international security or economic decision-making But women victims of war and IPE But women victims of war and IPE womens role in development;womens role in development; flexible female labour in IPEflexible female labour in IPE Women in forced prostitution & traffickingWomen in forced prostitution & trafficking through processes of commodificationthrough processes of commodification

10 Bringing women and their perspectives into IR Bringing womens lives into view through gender-sensitive research has policy- relevant and material effects. Indeed, feminists argue that only when women are recognised as fundamental players in economic and political processes will they share an equal role in societal decision making (True 2001: 247). Bringing womens lives into view through gender-sensitive research has policy- relevant and material effects. Indeed, feminists argue that only when women are recognised as fundamental players in economic and political processes will they share an equal role in societal decision making (True 2001: 247).

11 Gender as constitutive foundation of knowledge is exposed as stemming from the standpoint of men, not from objective, value-free and universal criteria foundation of knowledge is exposed as stemming from the standpoint of men, not from objective, value-free and universal criteria key IR concepts are related back to a male standpoint and then redefined with the help of a feminist standpoint:key IR concepts are related back to a male standpoint and then redefined with the help of a feminist standpoint: through a feminist lens, the traditional generic actors and units of analysis in IR, statesmen and nation- states in the context of an international system, are revealed as social constructions based on a gender- specific, masculine mode of being and knowing (True 2001)through a feminist lens, the traditional generic actors and units of analysis in IR, statesmen and nation- states in the context of an international system, are revealed as social constructions based on a gender- specific, masculine mode of being and knowing (True 2001)

12 Gendered constructs man is understood as competitive, rational, individualistic and violent, which leads to the conceptualisation of a war of all against all within international anarchy man is understood as competitive, rational, individualistic and violent, which leads to the conceptualisation of a war of all against all within international anarchy feminism needs to develop an alternative understanding to include production and reproduction and the importance of human relationships feminism needs to develop an alternative understanding to include production and reproduction and the importance of human relationships

13 Gendered state not a coherent actor, but idealised vision of Western manhoodnot a coherent actor, but idealised vision of Western manhood relates back to separation between private and public in Athenian state formrelates back to separation between private and public in Athenian state form private realm as the international realm is characterised by anarchy, which needs to be brought under controlprivate realm as the international realm is characterised by anarchy, which needs to be brought under control assumption that the state is an internal order masks the subjection and control of women by menassumption that the state is an internal order masks the subjection and control of women by men challenge of constructed boundaries between the domestic and international and the private and public spheres that distinguish legitimate from illegitimate forcechallenge of constructed boundaries between the domestic and international and the private and public spheres that distinguish legitimate from illegitimate force

14 Gender as Transformative Feminist epistemologyFeminist epistemology seeks to deconstruction of positivist social science as based on male-masculine epistemologies:seeks to deconstruction of positivist social science as based on male-masculine epistemologies: the positive pursuit of objectivity…is dependent upon particular masculine subjectivities (True 2001: 257)the positive pursuit of objectivity…is dependent upon particular masculine subjectivities (True 2001: 257) gender is concerned with the politics of knowledge and the related power dimensiongender is concerned with the politics of knowledge and the related power dimension the very existence of the category gender has marginalised females through putting women into a subordinate groupthe very existence of the category gender has marginalised females through putting women into a subordinate group a feminist perspective seeks to contextualise theoretical claims, theorise relationships, situate political struggles and homestead subjectivities (True, 2001: 262)a feminist perspective seeks to contextualise theoretical claims, theorise relationships, situate political struggles and homestead subjectivities (True, 2001: 262)

15 Robert Keohanes engagement with feminist IR theory Separation of feminist approaches into three groups: Separation of feminist approaches into three groups: feminist standpoint theories: positive contribution in that they highlight our masculine conceptualisation of key IR concepts and, with the help of a feminist redefinition of these concepts, further our understanding of world politics feminist standpoint theories: positive contribution in that they highlight our masculine conceptualisation of key IR concepts and, with the help of a feminist redefinition of these concepts, further our understanding of world politics feminist empiricism: good in that it focuses on womens role in IR, but theoretically naïve, because by taking IR concepts as their starting point of investigation without questioning them feminist empiricism: good in that it focuses on womens role in IR, but theoretically naïve, because by taking IR concepts as their starting point of investigation without questioning them

16 Robert Keohanes engagement with feminist IR theory Post-modern feminism: Post-modern feminism: dangerous, dead-end approach, which should not be pursued: problem that it rejects a scientific, positivist epistemologydangerous, dead-end approach, which should not be pursued: problem that it rejects a scientific, positivist epistemology agreement on epistemological essentials constitutes a valuable scientific asset that should not be discarded lightly (Keohane 1989: 249)agreement on epistemological essentials constitutes a valuable scientific asset that should not be discarded lightly (Keohane 1989: 249) We will only understand each other if IR scholars are open to the important questions that feminist theories raise, and if feminists are willing to formulate their hypotheses in ways that are testable – and falsifiable- with evidence (Keohane 1998: 197);We will only understand each other if IR scholars are open to the important questions that feminist theories raise, and if feminists are willing to formulate their hypotheses in ways that are testable – and falsifiable- with evidence (Keohane 1998: 197);

17 Cynthia Webers Good Girls, Little Girls, Bad Girls article Cynthia Webers Good Girls, Little Girls, Bad Girls article Cynthia Webers criticism of Keohane Cynthia Webers criticism of Keohane General point: General point: Keohane mutilates rich, feminist IR scholarship by cutting the body into several parts and erecting new boundaries: Keohane mutilates rich, feminist IR scholarship by cutting the body into several parts and erecting new boundaries: Keohanes text, having performed a textual mutilation of the feminist body, is in a sense criminal. It stands as evidence of its authors attempted murder of the feminist body (Weber 1994: 348) Keohanes text, having performed a textual mutilation of the feminist body, is in a sense criminal. It stands as evidence of its authors attempted murder of the feminist body (Weber 1994: 348)

18 Cynthia Webers Good Girls, Little Girls, Bad Girls article danger of exclusive emphasis on positivist epistemology, disregarding all approaches outside this understanding of social science: Keohanes authorial body textually disciplines the feminist body of literature through categorical mutilation made possible by singular scientific/disciplinary vision danger of exclusive emphasis on positivist epistemology, disregarding all approaches outside this understanding of social science: Keohanes authorial body textually disciplines the feminist body of literature through categorical mutilation made possible by singular scientific/disciplinary vision power implications: by drawing new boundaries, Keohane as academic eminence decides what type of scholarship is acceptable within IR power implications: by drawing new boundaries, Keohane as academic eminence decides what type of scholarship is acceptable within IR NB Position of women and ethnic minorities in discipline of IR? Only good girls welcomed! NB Position of women and ethnic minorities in discipline of IR? Only good girls welcomed!

19 Cynthia Webers Good Girls, Little Girls, Bad Girls article Three different strategies of discipling feminist IR: Three different strategies of discipling feminist IR: fetishisation of feminist standpoint theory: incorporation into main IR body as useful for further the positivist scientific projectfetishisation of feminist standpoint theory: incorporation into main IR body as useful for further the positivist scientific project temporal displacement of empirical feminism: considered to be less mature, but potentially useful, especially if combined with more mature feminist standpoint theorytemporal displacement of empirical feminism: considered to be less mature, but potentially useful, especially if combined with more mature feminist standpoint theory spatialisation of post-modern feminism: those parts of feminist IR theory, which cannot be incorporated in the ordered procedure of scientific investigation are expelled from the acceptable domains of the disciplinespatialisation of post-modern feminism: those parts of feminist IR theory, which cannot be incorporated in the ordered procedure of scientific investigation are expelled from the acceptable domains of the discipline

20 Cynthia Webers Good Girls, Little Girls, Bad Girls article Feminist, holistic perspective on multiple strands: Feminist, holistic perspective on multiple strands: looking through feminist lenses …means seeing modern science and/or international relations theory from at least three perspectives at once, no one of which is privileged over the others. While acknowledging the tensions and complications this creates, both feminist authors welcome rather than attempt to constrain the rich, transformative visions looking through feminist lenses enables. They utilise feminist lenses to analyse the social world and, as a result, transform their own worldviews (Weber 1994: 339)looking through feminist lenses …means seeing modern science and/or international relations theory from at least three perspectives at once, no one of which is privileged over the others. While acknowledging the tensions and complications this creates, both feminist authors welcome rather than attempt to constrain the rich, transformative visions looking through feminist lenses enables. They utilise feminist lenses to analyse the social world and, as a result, transform their own worldviews (Weber 1994: 339)

21 Place of feminist IR theories today incorporation of feminist theories into IR in 1990s, see e.g. IR textbooks incorporation of feminist theories into IR in 1990s, see e.g. IR textbooks feminist ontology v epistemology feminist ontology v epistemology feminist themes, slower acceptance of feminist methods and sources of knowledge feminist themes, slower acceptance of feminist methods and sources of knowledge

22 Women in International Relations Women as peacemakers, sustainable development actors, human rights advocates Women as peacemakers, sustainable development actors, human rights advocates Women in development (WID) Women in development (WID) Gender and development (GAD) Gender and development (GAD) Gender and peacebuilding Gender and peacebuilding http://www.international- alert.org/women/ http://www.international- alert.org/women/

23 Gender and Peacebuilding UN Security Council Resolution 2000 Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security October. (SCR) 1325 UN Security Council Resolution 2000 Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security October. (SCR) 1325 International Alert Gender and Peace Building (2003) Women Building Peace: Sharing Know-How International Alert Gender and Peace Building (2003) Women Building Peace: Sharing Know-How http://www.international- alert.org/pdfs/knowHowPaper.pdfhttp://www.international- alert.org/pdfs/knowHowPaper.pdfhttp://www.international- alert.org/pdfs/knowHowPaper.pdfhttp://www.international- alert.org/pdfs/knowHowPaper.pdf http://www.international-alert.org/women/http://www.international-alert.org/women/

24 Women and pacifism Long historical association of women and pacifism and feminist writing outside IR Long historical association of women and pacifism and feminist writing outside IR

25 Good girls or bad girls for peace? Greenham Common Womens Peace Camp 1981-2000Greenham Common Womens Peace Camp 1981-2000 Against Cruise missiles being sited at the RAF Greenham Common AirbaseAgainst Cruise missiles being sited at the RAF Greenham Common Airbase

26 Bad girls in IR? To what extent have feminist IR studies or global peace and development policies assumed good girls and marginalised role of bad girls in global politics? To what extent have feminist IR studies or global peace and development policies assumed good girls and marginalised role of bad girls in global politics? New attention to female combatantsNew attention to female combatants

27 Making bad girls good girls A sewing teacher, (L), trains a group of Liberian ex-combatants on Oct. 12, 2005. 2 years since the war's end, some 20,000 female fighters, fully 1/5 of all ex-combatants, have been demobilized and are being trained to reenter society. AP PhotoA sewing teacher, (L), trains a group of Liberian ex-combatants on Oct. 12, 2005. 2 years since the war's end, some 20,000 female fighters, fully 1/5 of all ex-combatants, have been demobilized and are being trained to reenter society. AP Photo http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publicatio n/19037/securitization_and_desecuritization.ht mlhttp://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publicatio n/19037/securitization_and_desecuritization.ht ml

28 Little Women sewing longing for action of war Im dying to go and fight with papa, and I can only stay at home and knit like a poky old woman and Jo shook the blue army-sock till the needles rattled like castanets, and her ball bounded across the room. Im dying to go and fight with papa, and I can only stay at home and knit like a poky old woman and Jo shook the blue army-sock till the needles rattled like castanets, and her ball bounded across the room. They adopted Jos plan of dividing the long seams into four parts, and calling the quarters Europe, Asia, Africa and America, and in that way got on capitally, especially when they talked about the different countries as they stitched their way through them. They adopted Jos plan of dividing the long seams into four parts, and calling the quarters Europe, Asia, Africa and America, and in that way got on capitally, especially when they talked about the different countries as they stitched their way through them. Jessie Willcox Smith Jessie Willcox Smith

29 Sewing in feminist thought Virtuous girls sewing Virtuous girls sewing Sewing and womens oppression Sewing and womens oppression Rebellious girls rebelling against sewing Rebellious girls rebelling against sewing Post-feminist knitting as hobby Post-feminist knitting as hobby Policy language of empowerment v emancipation Policy language of empowerment v emancipation Sewing as emancipatory occupation? Sewing as emancipatory occupation? Turn to gender and development Turn to gender and development

30 Gender and development Sens Missing Women article BMJ, March 1992 Sens Missing Women article BMJ, March 1992 Womens excess mortality as result of gender biasWomens excess mortality as result of gender bias Figures contested but agreement that women & girl child suffer worse from poverty e.g. malnutritionFigures contested but agreement that women & girl child suffer worse from poverty e.g. malnutrition Importance of womens agency and wellbeing Importance of womens agency and wellbeing Good thing in itself Good thing in itself Also role in development Also role in development Child survivalChild survival Population control & reducing fertility ratesPopulation control & reducing fertility rates

31 Kerala, India Female education & literacy Female education & literacy Female property rights Female property rights Higher child survival Higher child survival Lower fertility rates Lower fertility rates

32 Womens agency, work & gender equality working outside the home and earning an independent income tend to have a clear impact on enhancing the social standing of a woman in the household and society (Sen, 1999, p. 191) working outside the home and earning an independent income tend to have a clear impact on enhancing the social standing of a woman in the household and society (Sen, 1999, p. 191) Important issue for womens emancipation Important issue for womens emancipation Yet global development strategies since 1970s have advocated family non-wage labour rather than wage labour outside the home Yet global development strategies since 1970s have advocated family non-wage labour rather than wage labour outside the home

33 Women & microenterprise Grameen Bank or BRAC Bank microcredit approach for women Grameen Bank or BRAC Bank microcredit approach for women Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, Nobel Prize Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, Nobel Prize Extremely impressive repayment rates (almost 98%) Extremely impressive repayment rates (almost 98%) Link to other changes e.g. lower fertility rate Link to other changes e.g. lower fertility rate

34 Criticisms of microenterprise for women Economic empowerment? Ameliorates position of women in existing social positions & gender roles rather than transforming lives of poor Size of loans granted linked to social class of recipient Microcredit approach more organised – not chaotic & violent collection of monies owed of commercial But microcredit loan rates similar to commercial rates Microcredit loans may be too small for viable business so may be used towards existing family business, although formally loans for womens own business unpublished research by Tahera Choudrey, 2002unpublished research by Tahera Choudrey, 2002

35 Microenterprise socially empowering women? Disciplining poor critiqueDisciplining poor critique Microcredit extra-financial conditionality disciplining womenMicrocredit extra-financial conditionality disciplining women Conditionality of loans often include non- financial conditions e.g. related to fertilityConditionality of loans often include non- financial conditions e.g. related to fertility Discipline of group microcredit may reinforce communal discipline & conservativism against individualDiscipline of group microcredit may reinforce communal discipline & conservativism against individual Empowerment v emancipationEmpowerment v emancipation Making women responsible for family welfare in retreat of state employment, welfare & subsidiesMaking women responsible for family welfare in retreat of state employment, welfare & subsidies Rita Abrahamsen (2000) Disciplining Democracy: Development Discourse and Good Governance in Africa. London: Zed Books. Rita Abrahamsen (2000) Disciplining Democracy: Development Discourse and Good Governance in Africa. London: Zed Books. Mark Duffield (2007) Development, Security and Unending War. Cambridge: Polity. Mark Duffield (2007) Development, Security and Unending War. Cambridge: Polity.

36 International emancipation of women? How far have international peace and development policies gone beyond stereotypes of women? How far have international peace and development policies gone beyond stereotypes of women?


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