Explain how feminist theories criticise international relations for Marginalising women and gender

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Explain how feminist theories criticise international relations for Marginalising women and gender.

When exploring feminism there are many different arguments put forward for the marginalisation of women and gender. Feminism in international relations aims to challenge the gendered nature of the field and in this essay I will explore some of the key arguments used by feminists to criticise the field. International relations is male dominated with women significantly underrepresented in terms of their opinions and their very presence. I will attempt to explore why it is women are seemingly unequal in international relations both in terms of participation, representation and the value placed on a female viewpoint as well as the value place on the stereotypical characteristics of the male gender.

Perhaps the most visible instance of the marginalisation of women in International relations comes in the form of female representation. With Baylis and Smith providing a perfect illustration in stating that under ten per cent of the worlds heads of state are women (Baylis: 2008 49).  If we look back in history, and indeed at the present, we are left with only a handful of female leaders - Margret Thatcher and the german chancellor Angela Merkel to cite the most obvious examples. In contrast, the list of male leaders is incredibly long. This significant under representation excludes, quite substantially, women from the international relations sphere, pushing them to the fringes of the process. The result is an international system which is severely lacking both women and a female viewpoint.

Therefore, an international system that is overwhelmingly dominated by men can be seen to result in a system which does not take care of, or promote, the interests of gender. Jill Steans questions just how well a supposed national policy can represent the views of women when it is in fact a policy that is composed by men and, more than this, the male elite (steans: 1998 49). It is Liberal feminism which explores the implications of a limited number of women in international institutions.  Whilst international policy is made by males and enacted by males, it is fundamentally unrepresentative of women or their views. It fails to account for women and instead further supports the male ideal. With women not involved in policy making it is very hard for them to make their voices heard or opinions known. Consequently, what is perhaps often seen as a national policy or a policy reflective of the population is perhaps wholly inadequate in its representative function.

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Furthermore, difference feminism suggests that women and men are simply not the same. Men cannot represent women or their views because both have differences. Carol Cohn argues that this is evident in the language used in international relations. Cohn argues that international relations language used by men is awash with gender. (Cohn:1987 690). Cohn states of the language, “The words are fun to say; they are racy, sexy, snappy”. The key issue here is the difference in the nature of women as more peaceful individuals. Uneasy with the use of weapons and the dressing up of military language, women ...

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