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FEMINISM AND THE STUDY OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Introduction Feminism, defined as the belief in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes (The New Encyclopaedia Britannica vol. 19 Macropaedia, 2003:160), emerged not only as an ideological guide to action but also a copious critique of the socially constructed position of women. As a critique, it has yielded an impressive body of literature by women, with some even dating back to the 15th century a period predating the first wave of contemporary feminism which began in the 19th century. The roll list is long, from, among others; Laura Ceretas Epistolae Familiar (1488), Jane Angers Her Protection for Women (1589), to Olympe de Gougess Declaration of the Rights of the Woman and Citizen (1791), many Wollstonecrafts A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), Charlotte Perkins Gilmans Women and Economics (1898), to Kate Millets Sexual Politics (1970), Shulamith Firestones The Dialectic of Sex (1970), and Germaine Greers The Female Eunuch (1971). (The New Encyclopaedia Bratannica Vol. 19 Macropaedia, 2003:160-161) All these constituted a solid intellectual backbone to the feminist movement and would also later, from the late 1970s, form the background against which a new field of knowledge,Women Studies would spring in many Universities in different countries (Mama, 1996:3-32). The emergence of women studies was also helped by the declaration of the United Nations Decades for Women, 1975-1985, and 1985-1995 (Awe, 1996:4). The marking of these decades helped in pushing the womens agenda to the front burner of global attention. A combination of the womens movement and the sensitization of global consciousness through the United Nations efforts gingered many institutions (particularly, higher educational institutions) into action to address the plight of women. In higher educational institutions, this resulted in what has been described as a tremendous proliferation of institutional structures for the study of women (Awe, 1996:5) or an academic industry of research, publications and journals (Roberts, 1996:13). This was apart from the support readily provided by international sponsor agencies for research works and projects on women (Awe,1996:7). Women Studies or what became known as gender studies did not just stand as an academic discipline on its own as we have in some cases. It also made inroads into many established disciplines in the form of new topics, or new course units largely due to the efforts of feminist academics in those established disciplines (Roberts, 1996:13 & 14). It was against this general background that feminism emerged as a field of study in the international relations discipline.

Emergence of Feminism in International Relations What perhaps could be seen as a precursor to the introduction of feminism in international relations was the 1972 article of Borenice Carroll titled, Peace Research: The cult of power and published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution (Murphy, 1996). Though, it has been argued that Carol did not appear explicitly as feminist, her perspective nevertheless mirrored the issues found in much of todays burgeoning literature on gender in international relations (Murphy, 1996). She had, very significantly, argued for the need to revise key concepts in international relations: In order to capture the contributions of most women to the structuring of international society (Murphy, 1996). According to Murphy (1996) mainstream international relations ignored the trail that Carroll had blazed until the late 1980s. Therefore, feminism in international relations studies (or feminist International relations) emerged largely from the late 1980s, engendered by the decline of the Cold War and the consequent re-evaluation of traditional international relations theories. Feminist international relations has with its emergence, and by its arguments, challenged what the feminists see as the traditional masculinity inherent in international relations studies (Wikipedia, The free Encyclopedia), or, even the more subtle presumption that international studies is gender neutral, and therefore that international processes have similar effects upon women and men as workers and as citizens (Ship, 1994). Feminist writers in international relations have striven hard to meet the challenge thrown by Carroll (quoted earlier) to revise key concepts in the discipline in order to capture the contributions of women. The period from the 1990s to the present, has witnessed an impressive array of writings by feminists in the discipline energetically putting the womens perspective across. Works in this regard include, among others, those of Enloe (1990), Ship (1994), Sylvester (1994), Pettman (1996), Murphy,(1996) Keohane (1998), Steans (1998), Robinson (1999), Hoffman (2001), Sylvester (2002), and Blanchard (2003). The contributions women make to the international society have been highlighted variously, as: plantation sector workers, diplomatic wives, sex workers on military bases (Enloe 1990). It is also argued that through state manipulation and control of womens fertility and sexuality in societies, women also contribute in reproducing the members of ethnic or national groups, and circumscribing their boundaries, reproducing the labor force, replacing the aging population, and population control, integral to natural economic planning and forecasting, augmenting the accumulation of capital by the state through their (womens) unpaid domestic and cheap wage labor (Ship, 1994), e.t.c.

Forms of Feminist Traditions in International Relations Jaqui True (2005) identifies three overlapping forms of feminist International Relations that capture the varied contributions to the field. These are empirical feminism, analytical feminism and normative feminism. 1. Empirical feminism comprises works that focus on women and explores gender as an empirical dimension of international relations. This is based on the argument that womens lives and experiences are often excluded from the study of international relations. Empirical feminism, therefore, attempts to correct the denial or misrepresentation of women in world politics due to invalid assumptions that male experiences can account for both men and women and that women are either absent from international political processes or not relevant to global affairs (True, 2005). Prominent among empirical feminists is Cynthia Enloe (1990, 1994, 2000) whose works have contributed to punctuating the false assumptions about women in international relations. Basically, the concern of empirical feminists is to explore how global capitalism shapes and transforms local gender relations. 2. Analytical feminism engages the theoretical framework of International Relations with a view to unraveling the gender bias that is embedded in dominant concepts. The traditional conception of power and state conform to the hegemonic Western brand of masculinity which is associated with autonomy and sovereignty, whereas the popular notion of femininity is associated with the absence or lack of these attributes (True, 2005). The argument is that in International Relations, concepts are neither neutral nor gender-neutral because they originate from the socio-political contexts where masculine hegemony is the norm. Analytical feminists therefore embark on discursive separation of the ontology and epistemology of the key concepts of International Relations with a view to laying bare its gender biases. 3. Normative feminism contends that although empirical feminism and analytical feminism are important contributions to feminist scholarship, they are just starting points towards transforming global social hierarchies. It suggests that gender is transformative in nature not necessarily because once we understand it at work we can deconstruct it or do away with it, but because once we understand it we can transform how it functions at various levels of social and political contexts (True, 2005). Conclusion The emergence of feminism in International Relations studies is almost comparable in its effect on the discipline, to the emergence of behaviouralism in political science in the middle of the 20th century. It has profoundly challenged traditional concepts and theories in international relations and introduced radical perspectives that have served both to enrich and redefine the discipline. The contributions of women to international relations processes have been moved from

the margins to the center of international relations studies. All this stands to the eternal credit of feminist international relations.

References Awe, Bolanle (1996)A Brief Overview of Nigerian Womens Studies in Mama, Amina (ed.), An Agenda for Gender and Women Studies in Nigeria, Zaria: Tamaza Publishing Company. Blanchard-Signs, E. M. (2003) Gender, International Relations and the Developmemt of Feminist Security Theory, Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 55(1). Enloe, Cynthia, (1990) Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. Berkeley CA: University of California Press. ------------------- (1994) The Morning After: Sexual Politics at the End of Cold war, Berkeley. ------------------- (2005) Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Womens Lives, Berkeley. Hoffman, J. (2001) Gender and Sovereignty: Feminism, The State and International Relations, Boulder Co. Keohane, R. O. (1998) Beyond Dichotomy: Conversations Between International Relations and Feminist Theory, Palgrave Macmillan Mama, Amina (1996) Setting an Agenda for Gender and Womens Studies in Nigeria: Report of the Network for Womens Studies in Nigeria, Zaria: Tamaza Publishing Company. Murphy, C. N (1996) Seeing Women, Recognising Gender, Recasting International Relations International Organization, http://www.jstor.org/pss/2704034. Pettman, J. (1996) An International Political Economy of Sex in Pettman, J. (ed.), Worlding Women: A Feminist International Politics, New York. Robinson, F. (1999), Globalizing Care: Ethics, Feminist Theory, and International Relations, Boulder, Co.

Ship, J. Susan (1994) And what about Gender? Feminism and International Relations Theorys Third Debate in Sjolander, C. T. and Cox, W. S. (eds.) Beyond Positivism Critical Reflections on International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Steans, J. (1998) Gender and International Relations: An Introduction, Cambridge. Sylvester, C. (1994) Feminist Theory and International Relations Theory in a Postmodern Era. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Vol. 19 Macropaedia 15th edition (2003) Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. True, Jacqui (2005) Feminism in Scott Burchill, Andrew Linklater, Richard Devetak, Jack Donnelly, Mathew Paterson, Christian Reus-Smit and Jacqui True, Theories of International Relations, New York: Palgrave.