Gender theory in International Relations Essay

2475 Words Sep 30th, 2014 10 Pages
Federica Pala

Feminist theories in IR
This essay aims to to analyse the role that gender plays in International Relations through the analysis which feminist theories have developed in the field of war and terrorism. More specifically, after a presentation of this relatively new theoretical position and its main contributions in the domain of world politics, there will be examined armed conflict with a particular focus on how gender issues affect the attitude toward international conflict, and how the dichotomy between feminine and masculine is reflected variously in the way war is understood, organized and conducted. A particular attention will be payed to sexual violence in wars and to the gender dimension that nationalism and
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The authors argue that this particular feature of new wars is closely related to gender. This position is confirmed by many feminist scholars, and corroborated by other researches which take into account also other aspects of the gendered dimension of wars.

Cynthia Enloe, for instance, in her article All the Men Are in the Militias, All the Women Are Victims, analyses the politics of masculinity and femininity in nationalist wars focusing on the phenomenon of mass rapes and sexual torture of women. She does it by exploring the experience of Borislav Herak: ‘a factory worker who became a militarized rapist’ (Enloe 2004, p. 101), convicted for genocide on the basis of his own testimony. Via the analysis of this story through the feminist lens, Enloe shows ‘how ethnicity gets converted into nationalist consciousness, how consciousness becomes organized, and how organized nationalism becomes militarized’, turning into a violence force. Moreover, the story of Herak demonstrates that the the stereotype of men as militia fighters and women as victims is a misrepresentation of a far more complex situation, for in many societies the cultural idea of masculinity have been built not simply by celebrating men as soldiers, but also by simultaneously shaping the image of women

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