Is feminist IR theory an integral challenge Essay Example
Is feminist IR theory an integral challenge Essay Example

Is feminist IR theory an integral challenge Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1539 words)
  • Published: August 21, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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According to a prominent women's rights advocate and University of Oregon professor, feminism is the belief that women have equal rights as men. Although this term did not gain popularity until after the Cold War, human rights have always been equal for both genders. However, events in the 1980s and 1990s brought about changes to international politics and challenged mainstream theories dominant since World War I.Therefore, this essay examines whether feminist theory poses a necessary challenge to mainstream International Relations by analyzing its discourse throughout history.This analysis includes looking at various perspectives on inequality, achieving equality, and critiquing gender-based identities.Furthermore, this essay uses the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York as an example of how feminist theory analyzes global issues from a feminist perspective.The recognition of feminism in academia emphasizes the importance of multi-disciplinary approaches in mainstream international relations.Pete


rson (2004) argues that gender biases stem from human nature which reveals a hierarchy within society where men tend to be skeptical and realistic while women are idealistic and broad-minded.Peterson warns that ignoring the potential contributions of feminists to mainstream international relations theories may result in unstable gendered international political relationships, rather than lawless societies ruled by ambitious men. Feminist theory explores the interrelatedness of masculinity and femininity, the importance of sex in shaping gender, and why adding feminist scholarship to mainstream IR is necessary for analytical rethinking and theory reassessment. Therefore, an analysis of masculine biases, societal reconstruction, and domination in theoretical approaches to mainstream international relations must examine gender and feminist political relationships within human nature. Witworth (2003) argues that societal scientific ideas regarding fact and value, capable and objectivity, reason and unreason ar

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constructs of male thinking which need to be surpassed by feminist ideology. Mainstream analysts propagate a masculine perspective on international relations by prioritizing national interest and power but overlooking broader issues such as environment and health; however radical feminists view power and security as embracing the well-being of nations as a whole. As women tend to have a more natural inclination towards peacebuilding efforts focused on development goals they are seen as key actors in overcoming this current age dominated by nuclear armament (Witworth 2003).Sara Ruddick argues that women's nurturing nature is learned from their mothers, who instill in them a pro-life attitude derived from familial relationships. This challenges the belief that aggressive behaviors such as nuclear weapons and armed conflict are inherent in female nature, suggesting they are instead products of masculine thinking. Even if some believe adult females are weak and not suited for decision-making, mothers shape their children's emotions even when rejecting traditional roles, allowing both women and young boys to grow up caring and gentle. Feminists advocate for women's inclusion in peace and development efforts due to past exclusion and poor decision-making. However, Betsy Thom argues that the gap between male and female workers at the United Nations cannot be justified, with some suggesting that women may be less ambitious than men. Adult women face a double burden of choosing between career advancement or family responsibilities, limiting opportunities for growth. Despite these observations challenging 'IR theory', they have yet to transform it into reality.Although empirical data may be accurate, it may not always apply to the topic of feminism. Feminist scholars and their actions are often disregarded in a mainstream perspective,

as they are not seen as significant players in global politics. This is due to the fact that women's perspectives provide a less biased and more precise view of the world than men's perspectives. The feminist viewpoint challenges the model of 'human nature' being egoistic, competitive and greedy. These views are based on a particular subset of elite males within society during a specific historical period like European colonization; therefore, they don't represent universal moral values that apply to all humans at all times. Women's rights theories go beyond advancing one group of women but include critiquing political agendas, human rights activists, conservationists, and anyone who supports such theories. Feminist international relations theory can contribute significantly to understanding patriotism, war and peace, identity struggles and religious fundamentalisms. Since 1980s feminist IR theorists have questioned where women stand in relation to mainstream IR topics (Tickner, 1992).Feminist theories seek to comprehensively analyze the world and promote gender equality for a more just society. Women's rights movements initially aimed to secure voting and broader human rights for a peaceful world, but there is still work to be done in achieving equality with men in all areas of life. The author highlights the pivotal role of women's rights in enabling women to speak out and asserts that feminist theory must be integrated into political science to promote gender equality. Despite increased employment opportunities over the past two decades, poverty disproportionately affects women who lead households due to their being considered "unskilled" workers and first to be laid off. However, feminist theory has gained visibility in international relations since the 1980s, making it more acceptable for intervention on behalf of

women. The essay explores whether feminist theory inherently challenges international relations by highlighting that gender is socially constructed while sex is biologically determined, thus rendering nearly all aspects of social life as gendered. It further argues that feminism and masculinity are interdependent aspects of gender rather than merely marginalized women being excluded from political participation.Feminist theory presents an alternative perspective to mainstream male-dominated international relations theories. Rather than treating gender as a mere empirical variable, feminists view it as an analytical category and explore the interdependence of masculine and feminine perspectives. The 9/11 terrorist attack is a significant event in international politics that poses several challenges for feminists: achieving modest goals, forging new directions, navigating globalization and new technologies, and anticipating potential impacts on feminist futures (Kaplan, 2003).

While historically men have primarily engaged in combat while women have generally been against war and supportive of peace movements, socially constructed gender reinforces the notion of militarized manliness. Despite this, men are often called upon to protect women and children during times of war. International relations has struggled with the gendered discourse that associates men with war and women with peace. This issue is exemplified by extreme views like those of Osama Bin Laden who teach young Muslim boys to hate feminized Westerners and uphold the belief that men are superior to women. George Patton believed that war provides purpose for life which both men and women share; however, feminist theory offers a different perspective on such notions.Young women are often taught to believe that men are superior to their own gender. Ann Tickner delved into the relationship between feminist analysis and the September 11 terrorist attack,

examining gender, identity, violence, and war. She applied feminist insights to Afghanistan and post-September 11 situations. Joshua Goldstein highlighted cultural inequality rather than biological sex as the determining factor in who can promote peace or wage war. Tickner's article proposed that the US was shifting away from traditional masculinity towards less militarized forms of security such as energy security and economic development. This means contemporary heroes are those in business rather than armed forces protecting perceived vulnerable dependents. Feminist perspectives argue that true comprehensive security requires eradicating gender relations of dominance and submission (Tickner, 2002). However, historically men have held power over women shaping their political lives and perspectives.According to Nancy Hirschman, women have been burdened by religious and cultural stereotypes imposed on them through the supposed will of God. Both Christians and Muslims blame the feminization of Europe and America for the negative consequences of the September 11th crisis. This is due to historical evidence that suggests males in positions of military intervention have controlled most religions, causing chaos rather than defending feminism. Muslim fundamentalists advocate for Islam as the only religion or belief system, with all humans praying solely to Allah as the one true God. However, if men show no mercy towards women and children in their own communities, why should they expect their prayers for mercy to be heard? It is premature to assume that feminism is a sole solution to international relations issues; theory provides essential background knowledge for any action taken. Feminist theory gained attention from mainstream theoreticians after RAWA's establishment in 1977 aimed at increasing female involvement in social and political activities at government levels. Currently, RAWA operates

within Afghanistan and refugee camps located in Pakistan while promoting women's human rights through education and healthcare services.According to Henry Kissinger, the Battle of the Sexes cannot be won. This means that if feminist theory is not embraced in international relations, tragedies like September 11 will not be the only devastating results of war. As women gain more influence, it strengthens society and leads to economic growth, democracy, and progress in human rights. The United Nations Human Development Program study shows that poor nations like Afghanistan and Pakistan have the lowest gender development index. Achieving gender equality requires above-average income levels as well as civil society, political engagement of women, and basic human rights for women at all levels. Even the terrorist attack on September 11 did not suppress feminism or multinational female movements because feminist theory exists alongside mainstream IR in a world where both men and women coexist.

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