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Feminist approaches to the study of international relations theory

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Introduction

Aqeel Hussain - P03171280 Ian Jackson - POLI 2004 - Themes & Debates in International Relations Theory Explain the relatively late arrival of feminist approaches to the study of international relations theory. What can we learn from feminist theories of world politics? In this essay, I will be attempting to explain the relatively late arrival of feminist approaches to the study of international relations theory. In addition I will be answering the question of what can be learnt from feminist theories. I believe that there is a lot to be learnt from feminist theories because in international relations, I have not come across another theory which has covered the issues which have been covered by feminism. This essay will not only consist of my thoughts as to what can be learnt but certain facts and thoughts from other people. I will be attempting to provide you with an insight into the history of feminist; outlining when it arrived in IR. In addition, I will be providing a brief summary of the several types of feminist approaches; Liberal feminism, Marxist feminism and Radical feminism. The history of feminism in accordance with actual events will be provided to explain the late arrival of feminist approaches and several reasons will be explained to help me provide an adequate answer as to what can be learnt from feminist approaches. It is perhaps necessary to begin this essay with an insight to the introduction of feminism to IR. International relations has been one of the last fields to open up to feminisms, which offer unique contributions to any field of research. Indeed, compared with other disciplines, the arrival of feminist perspectives in IR occurred relatively late. It was only in the late 1980's and early 1990's that several conferences and the published books created momentum for a feminist study of IR. Among the early books, now classics of the field, are Jean Bethke Eishtain's Women and War (1987) ...read more.

Middle

As the name implies the influence here is Marxism, with its insistence on the role of material, primarily economic, forces in determining the lives of women. For Marxist feminism, the cause of women's inequality is to be found in the capitalist system; overthrowing capitalism is the necessary route for the achievement of the equal treatment of women. For Marxist feminists, the focus of a theory of world politics would be on the patterns by which the world capitalist system and patriarchal system of power lead to women being systematically disadvantaged compared to men. Hierarchical class relations are seen as the source of coercive power and oppression, of all inequalities ultimately. Sexual oppression is seen as a dimension of class power.8 A third strand of feminist thought is radical feminism. Radical feminism, unlike Liberal and Marxist feminisms, is not drawn directly from previous bodies of 'malestream' thought. It offers a real challenge to and rejection of the liberal orientation towards the public world of men. Indeed it it gives a positive value to womanhood rather than supporting a notion of assimilating women into arenas of activity associated with men.9 Radical feminists argue that relations of subordination and domination between women and men constitute one of the most fundamental forms of oppression. Men seek to control women through controlling their sexuality, their roles in reproduction, and their roles in society more generally. Moreover, much of the way in which society is organised supports patriarchy, and this affects not only the ways in which the world actually operates, but even the ways in which we think about the world. In contrast to liberal feminists, then, radical feminists argue that all views are biased, and that the social sciences have been dominated by one particularly biased view, that of men. According to radical feminists, the social sciences cannot be 'cleaned up' simply by enlarging the categories of inquiry to include the activities of women, because the very norms and rules of social scientific inquiry used to construct even these expanded categories have been inspired by masculine thinking. ...read more.

Conclusion

In addition, this essay has looked at several different types of feminism and how feminism has helped to give a better understanding of world politics and contribute to the study of IR. Because there is not theory like feminism, it is hard to say that feminism as a theory is not beneficial. Giving a personal opinion, feminism as well as other IR theories, are just theories to help us make sense out of complex situations. As previously said no one theory can capture the complexity of world politics, but they all help. Reference Baylis, J., The Globalization of World Politics, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1997 Goldstein, J., International Relations, New York, Longman, 2003 Burchill, S., Theories of International Relations, London, Macmillan, 1996 Heywood, A., Political Ideologies: an introduction, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1998 Beasley, C., What is feminism?: an introduction to feminist theory, London, Sage, 1999 Whitworth, S., Feminism and international relations: towards a political economy of gender, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1994 Carter, A., The Politics of women's rights, London, Longman, 1988 Scruton, R., The Dictionary of Political Thought, London, Macmillan, 1983 Groom, A., Contemporary international relations: a guide to theory, London, Pinter Publishers, 1994 http://artsandscience.concordia.ca./poli205ah/lectures/lectures15_txt.html http://www.leeds.ac.uk/gender-studies/epapers/rodgers.htm http://www.watsoninstitute.org/bjwa/archive/10.2/Feminist%20Theory/Wibben.pdf http://www.cornercollege.edu/womens _studies/resources/theory/liberal.html Steans, J., (2003)Engaging from the margins: feminist encounters with the 'mainstream' of International Relations, British Journal of Politics and IR, 5 (3), pp. 428-454 Lecture notes from POLI 2004 1 www.watsoninstitute.org/bjwa/archive/10.2/Feminist%20Theory/Wibben.pdf 2 www.leeds.ac.uk/gender-studies/epaper/rodgers.htm 3 www.leeds.ac.uk/gender-studies/epaper/rodgers.htm 4 Baylis, J., The Globalization of World Politics, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1997, pg 174 5 Heywood, A., Political Ideologies: an introduction, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1998, 6 Carter, A., The Politics of women's rights, London, Longman, pg 52 7 Heywood, A., Political Ideologies: an introduction, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1998, pg 252 8 Baylis, J., The Globalization of World Politics, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1997, pg 174 9 Beasley, C., What is feminism?; an introduction to feminist theory, London, Sage, 1999, pg 54 10 Whitworth, S., Feminism and international relations: towards a political economy of gender, Basingstoke, Macmillan, pg 17 11 www.leeds.ac.uk/gender-studies/epaper/rodgers.htm 12 www.leeds.ac.uk/gender-studies/epaper/rodgers.htm 13 Burchill, S., Theories of International Relations, London, Macmillan, 1996 pg 243 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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