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Gender and International Relations 1

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1 Gender and International Relations 1
IR2501 Gender and International Relations 1

2 Overview of 2 lectures Lecture 1:
Some background to feminist scholarship in IR Discussion of gender: assumptions and definitions Gender as a lens on world politics – V. Spike Peterson and Anne Sisson-Runyan ‘Global Gender Issues’

3 Lecture 2: Different ways to study gender in IR
Ann Tickner - How gender biased is the discipline of IR? Cynthia Enloe – Where are the women? Carol Cohn – Where is gender in language and thought? Current state of feminist IR/gender and IR - and ‘summing up’ points

4 ‘History’ of feminism in/and IR
Feminist scholarship in the discipline of IR usually dated back to the mid to late 1980s. (Quite late compared to discipline of Sociology for example). Couple of major conferences marked the beginning of the ‘feminist IR project’ – one in the United States organised by V. Spike Peterson and J. Ann Tickner and one in London at the LSE organised by Fred Halliday and Margot Light

5 Enloe, Tickner – key writers
Also: Jean Bethke Elshtain ‘Women and War’ (1987) Also: Grant and Newland ‘Gender and IR’ (1991)

6 Why then? Feminist scholarship – or work on gender – entered into Sociology around 1960s - linked to social changes emergent in 1960s – civil rights movements, student protests in Britain, France and the US, women’s movements etc But the discipline of IR has been ‘immune’ to many of these changes until late 1980s (why?)

7 Late 1980s Part of ‘post-Cold War’ upheaval in study of International Politics Few (if any) predicted the end of the Cold War or the dismantling of the Soviet Bloc – so traditional theories were (perhaps temporarily) - made vulnerable. Opened up space for new theories to be considered. As such, feminist scholarship in IR is part of the ‘post-positivist’ revolution in IR But what kinds of problems or issues particularly inspired or instigated all this work at this point? INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS FROM GRANT & NEWLAND and ENLOE.

8 J. Ann Tickner (1992) As a scholar and teacher of international relations, I have frequently asked myself the following questions: Why are there so few women in my discipline? If I teach the field as conventionally defined, why are there so few readings by women to assign my students? Why is the subject matter of my discipline so distant from women’s lived experiences? Why have women been conspicuous only by their absence in the worlds of diplomacy and military and foreign policy making? (ix)

9 So – the problem with IR is …
Tickner: why so few women in IR? (And why does this matter?) Grant and Newland: IR is too narrow – women are excluded. Enloe: real landscape of International Politics is not exclusively male. IR not giving a FULL picture. So it is CLEARLY the exclusion of women that inspired scholarship on gender in International Relations) – but this leads to another problem

10 Massive assumption gets made which has three parts to it
The problem Massive assumption gets made which has three parts to it Assumption that feminist or gender scholarship is JUST about women (go to next slide) Linked assumption that this means feminist scholarship cannot be central to IR as it’s JUST about women – equal rights might be ok – but that’s not what IR is about – is it? Linked assumption that Gender is JUST about women All of these assumptions are WRONG But this means we have to start thinking quite deeply about what gender is and what gender does – as gender is not just about women or men – but rather about the construction of knowledge – epistemology … how we learn to understand the world


12 Metaphor: Jackson Pollock and Superman Comic strip (Cynthia Enloe)
What is gender? Start to think more deeply about gender - thinking conceptually first Metaphor: Jackson Pollock and Superman Comic strip (Cynthia Enloe) Conventionally (in IR and popularly) we think about the world of International Politics more like a Superman Comic Strip – clear cut values, clear sense of wrong and right, good and bad – truth will out – clear lines between good and evil – goodies and baddies – heroes and villains – (all you have to do is think about the war against terrorism and you can begin to see what Enloe is getting at …)


14 Jackson Pollock But – the world - and the practices of International Politics are much more likely to resemble a Jackson Pollock painting (1950s action painter – messy – very difficult to unravel where things start or finish – threw paint across the canvas – painting over-spilled the canvas – rode bike over the canvas – multi-layered, multi-textured …)


16 One of the reasons I use this metaphor is that it starts to help us begin to see how much more COMPLEX or MULTI-LAYERED the world of international politics are than we are conventionally given to understand Looking at how gender works helps us to begin to see that … so scholarship on gender and International Relations is very much part of the critical theory enterprise … And for Cynthia Enloe – this tells us that there is much more POWER at work in international politics than conventional theories would have us believe …

17 But still - what IS gender?
Gender seen as distinct from biological sex – if biological sex is related to being a male of female – then gender is generally understood to be the socially constructed roles and practices around masculinity and femininity. THIS IS JUST THE STARTING POINT FOR THINKING ABOUT GENDER So – gender is about masculinity and femininity and how ideas about what these things structure or influence the ways we can behave, the ways we can think – what gets counted as important and what gets seen as trivial or unimportant.

18 Masculinity and Femininity: 3 points
3 points to make about masculinity and femininity. Socially constructed and varies over time and culture No universal CONTENT – but oppositional That oppositional character is hierarchical Dualisms/binaries Good/bad Us/them White/black Man/woman Culture/nature Reason/emotion Truth/lies Inside/outside Masculine/feminine Heterosexual/homosexual

19 Enlightenment binary structure
Feminists argue that this binary structure is one of the reasons that not only women’s lives and traditional practices been generally ignored by International Relations scholars – but also practices and even regimes of thought which are ASSOCIATED with femininity – have been side-lined … (Carol Cohn – lecture 2) Hard part is to try and expose how ideas about femininity are actually embedded in our systems of thought as well as in practice What do we see – what don’t we see? Why do some things rise to the surface and other don’t?

20 Spike Peterson and Anne Sisson Runyan: gender as a lens
They use the idea of gender as a LENS – and lenses act to foreground some things, while putting others into the background. Neo(realist) lenses bring the conflictive behaviour of states to the fore, whereas neo(liberal)lenses focus attention on interstate cooperation and organization. Neo(Marxist) lenses direct our gaze to class inequalities and conflicts within and across states, whereas postcolonial lenses call attention to racial inequalities, nationalist identities and conflicts and imperialist practices within and across states (page 21).

21 What gender is NOT: 2 points
POINT ONE Gender is NOT about ADDING anything to the field or study of international relations or world politics. It is NOT about adding women, or feminism or gender or anything like that. What feminist scholars in Politics or IR primarily do – is expose how the field of politics IR is ALREADY and ALWAYS gendered.

22 Showing how gender works
So – if this is ‘the world’ (the globe) – and if you think feminists come along and add women – you’d be wrong – gender is all the way through this very sphere… our actions and behaviours are never OUTSIDE gender. So the idea is to SHOW HOW THIS WORKS. Think about the ubiquitous and deeply ingrained character of gender – adverts, clothes (male lecturers/Profs in dresses..), violence ... (Hindley, West, Suicide bombers) – The latest furore about the captured Marines – what captured a great deal of press attention?

23 Point 2 Gender is NOT about women.
POINT TWO Gender is NOT about women. Or to be a little more accurate – gender is not JUST about women. Many feminists might concentrate on women in some aspect of politics (examples – such as women politicians, women soldiers, women suicide bombers, diplomatic wives, women/wives/mothers caring for men returning from wars). BUT – in that process what feminists in IR are essentially doing is looking at how gender structures the way the world is run – or how it operates. (THEORY. EPISTEMOLOGY.)

24 3 writers – next lecture Ann Tickner
How gender biased is the discipline of IR? How can we convince the mainstream of the significance of gender/feminism? Cynthia Enloe Where are the women? What work are masculinity and femininity doing? Carol Cohn How does gender work in language? What can’t we say and does gender have anything to do with that?

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