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Understanding Global Politics: Feminist Approaches

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

2 Feminist International Relations Theory
Feminist IR taking off in late 1980s Influenced by postmodernist theories 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

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

4 Key feminist IR texts Cynthia Enloe. Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics Jean Bethke Elshtain. Women and War Ann Tickner. Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security 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 Sandra Whitworth. Feminism and International Relations. 1994 Jill Steans. Gender and International Relations: An Introduction Cynthia Enloe. Does Khaki Become You? The Militarization of Women’s Lives Betty Reardon. Sexism and the War System Birgit Brock–Utne. Educating for Peace: A Feminist Perspective Jean Bethke Elshtain. Women and War Ruth Roach Pierson, ed. Women and Peace: Theoretical, Historical and Practical Perspectives Cynthia Enloe. Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics Judith Hicks Stiehm. Arms and the Enlisted Woman Adrienne Harris and Ynestra King, eds. Rocking the Ship of State: Toward a Feminist Peace Politics Birgit Brock–Utne. Feminist Perspective on Peace and Peace Education Sara Ruddick. Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace Jean Bethke Elshtain and Sheila Tobias, eds. Women, Militarism, and War: Essays in History, Politics, and Social Theory Rebecca Grant and Kathleen Newland, eds. Gender and International Relations. [1989 journal issue] 1991. V. Spike Peterson, ed. Gendered States: Feminist (Re) Visions of International Relations Theory Ann Tickner. Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security Cynthia Enloe. The Morning After: Sexual Politics at the End of the Cold War V. Spike Peterson and Anne Sisson Runyan. Global Gender Issues: Dilemma in World Politics Betty Reardon. Women and Peace: Feminist Visions of Global Security Christine Sylvester. Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern Era Sandra Whitworth. Feminism and International Relations Peter Beckman and Francine D’Amico, eds. Women, Gender, and World Politics Francine D’Amico and Peter Beckman, eds. Women in World Politics Jan Pettman. Worlding Women: A Feminist International Politics Judith Hicks Stiehm, ed. It’s Our Military, Too! 1996. Jill Steans. Gender and International Relations: An Introduction Lois Ann Lorentzen and Jennifer Turpin, eds. The Women and War Reader

5 Women, War and Peace Women for war or for peace
Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata 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 world’s 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 Elshtain’s Public Man, Private Woman, 1981 

7 Feminist IR scholarship
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 women’s 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)

9 Concept of gender as challenge to traditional IR
Empirical-ontological challenge of mainstream IR Mainstream IR approaches have excluded women’s lives and experiences from their field of enquiry Feminist interest in women’s place in IR gendered structures of IOs – women marginal in international security or economic decision-making But women victims of war and IPE women’s role in development; flexible female labour in IPE Women in forced prostitution & trafficking through processes of commodification ·        mainstream IR approaches have excluded women’s lives and experiences from their field of enquiry; ·        focus on women’s place in IR: e.g. role of women in development; role of flexible female labour in states’ strategy to remain competitive in the global economy; ·        focus on gendered structures of International Organisations: “IOs more so even than national decision-making institutions are dominated by elite men. They privilege priorities such as global economic growth, competition and enterprise over domestic societal wellbeing and human development” (True 2001: 242); ·        extension of liberal capitalism towards Central and Eastern Europe has intensified employment discrimination against women and also included the spread of forced prostitution through processes of commodification; ·        uncovering of women’s work and role in history through tracing back dominant male approaches to their origins and analysing which feminist approaches were pushed aside when and why;

10 Bringing women and their perspectives into IR
“Bringing women’s 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 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)

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 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 manhood relates 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 control assumption 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 force

14 Gender as Transformative
Feminist epistemology 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) gender 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 group a feminist perspective seeks to contextualise theoretical claims, theorise relationships, situate political struggles and homestead subjectivities (True, 2001: 262) Further notes attempt to deconstruct, historicise gender as an analytical device, considered to have strengthened masculine dominance through its dichotomy between masculinity and femininity; consequently, women’s movements must be open to internal diversity and differences, rather than emphasising a common identity as females; ·        different feminist epistemology, which rejects “knowing” from fixed ontological positions and objective, positivist epistemologies: “rather, a feminist perspective seeks to contextualise theoretical claims, theorise relationships, situate political struggles and homestead subjectivities on personal, local, national, transnational, regional, and global levels, with the knowledge that these are interconnected” (True 2001: 262);

15 Robert Keohane’s engagement with feminist IR theory
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 empiricism: good in that it focuses on women’s role in IR, but theoretically naïve, because by taking IR concepts as their starting point of investigation without questioning them 

16 Robert Keohane’s engagement with feminist IR theory
Post-modern feminism: dangerous, 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) “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 Weber’s ‘Good Girls, Little Girls, Bad Girls’ article
 Cynthia Weber’s criticism of Keohane General point: Keohane mutilates rich, feminist IR scholarship by cutting the body into several parts and erecting new boundaries: “Keohane’s text, having performed a textual mutilation of the feminist body, is in a sense ‘criminal’. It stands as evidence of its author’s attempted murder of the feminist body” (Weber 1994: 348)        

18 Cynthia Weber’s ‘Good Girls, Little Girls, Bad Girls’ article
 danger of exclusive emphasis on positivist epistemology, disregarding all approaches outside this understanding of social science: “Keohane’s 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 NB Position of women and ethnic minorities in discipline of IR? Only good girls welcomed! NB BISA Newsletter 2008 reports on women in the profession.

19 Cynthia Weber’s ‘Good Girls, Little Girls, Bad Girls’ article
Three different strategies of discipling feminist IR: fetishisation 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 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 discipline

20 Cynthia Weber’s ‘Good Girls, Little Girls, Bad Girls’ article
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)

21 Place of feminist IR theories today
incorporation of feminist theories into IR in 1990s, see e.g. IR textbooks feminist ontology v epistemology 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 in development (WID) Gender and development (GAD) Gender and peacebuilding

23 Gender and Peacebuilding
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 The peace-weaver, according to old English primers, refers to a woman whose marriage sought to bond enemy tribes (Herbert, 1997). Peace-weaver is a popular name for spiritual or handicraft organisations. The idea of women’s peacemaking role goes back to the ancients from Aristophanes’ Lysistrata to the biblical Ester and Ruth. Women have played a prominent role in the modern peace movement and the development of the modern aid sector. The pacifist Eglantyne Jebb, who served as a nurse in the Balkan Wars, founded Save the Children in 1919, while women like Joan Ruddock led the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).   During the Cold War women peace protesters set up a camp against Greenham Common military base women. Following the end of the Cold War the earlier peace movement was overlaid with official conflict management approaches informed by social psychology, which revolved around the idea of promoters of peace versus spoilers of peace. At a simple level international approaches follow gendered representations with women on the side of the angels: women are deemed peace promoters and men peace spoilers, therefore fostering women’s voice in society will support peace. International post-conflict reconstruction projects are keen to empower women in peace processes, whom they see as playing a crucial role in building a sustainable peace. International conflict management NGOs such as International Alert have gender and peacebuilding programmes and lobbied governments and international governmental organisation to incorporate women into peace processes. Major donor states and governmental organisations such as the G8, the European Union, and the OSCE now highlight the women’s role in peacebuilding. The 2000 UN Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was a major international statement affirming women’s role in peacebuilding. Major international donors like DFID, CIDA, and OECD want gender equality programmes towards creating sustainable peace and development. The earlier simple association with women as peacemakers has modified in policy analysis, which has been adopting more sophisticated social constructivist gender theories in recent years (see International Alert, 2003). But policy practice nevertheless continues to emphasise projects directed towards women.  International Alert, Gender and Peacebuilding Web site  http://www.international-alert.org/women/ International Alert Gender and Peace Building (2003) Women Building Peace: Sharing Know-How UN Security Council Resolution 2000 Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security October. (SCR) 1325 

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

25 Good girls or bad girls for peace?
Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp Against 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? New attention to female combatants

27 Making ‘bad girls’ ‘good girls’
A sewing teacher, (L), trains a group of Liberian ex-combatants on Oct. 12, 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

28 Little Women sewing longing for action of war
‘I’m 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 Jo’s 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

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

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

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

32 Women’s 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) Important issue for women’s emancipation 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 Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, Nobel Prize Extremely impressive repayment rates (almost 98%) 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 women’s own business unpublished research by Tahera Choudrey, 2002

35 Microenterprise socially empowering women?
Disciplining poor critique Microcredit extra-financial conditionality disciplining women Conditionality of loans often include non-financial conditions e.g. related to fertility Discipline of group microcredit may reinforce communal discipline & conservativism against individual Empowerment v emancipation Making 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. Mark Duffield (2007) Development, Security and Unending War. Cambridge: Polity. See also Pupavac, Vanessa (2005) ‘Empowering Women? An Assessment of International Gender Policies in Bosnia.’ International Peacekeeping, Vol. 12(3), pp

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


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