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date: 18 July 2019

Feminist Perspectives on Foreign Policy

Summary and Keywords

Foreign policy analysis (FPA) deals with the decision-making processes involved in foreign policy-making. As a field of study, FPA overlaps international relations (IR) theory and comparative politics. Studies that take into account either sex, women, or gender contribute to the development of knowledge on and about women in IR, which is in itself one of the goals of feminist scholarship. There are two main spheres of feminist inquiries when it comes to foreign policy: the role of women as sexed power holders involved in decision-making processes and power-sharing in the realm of foreign policy-making, and the role of gendered norms in the conduct and adoption of foreign policies. Many observers insist that feminism and foreign policy are linked only by a marriage of convenience, designed to either acknowledge the political accomplishments of women in the sphere of foreign policy such as Margaret Thatcher and Indira Ghandi, or bring attention to so-called “women’s issues,” such as reproduction rights and population control. Scholarship on women and/or gender in relation to foreign policy covers a wide range of themes, such as the role of women as political actors in decision-making processes and organizational structures; women’s human rights and gender mainstreaming; the impact of various foreign policies on women’s lives; and the concept of human security and the idea of women’s rights as a valid foreign policy objective. Three paradigms that have been explored as part of the study of women in comparative politics and IR are behavioralism, functionalism, and rational choice theory.

Keywords: foreign policy analysis, foreign policy-making, international relations, women, gender, foreign policy, feminism, comparative politics, behavioralism, functionalism


“Manly men have been running the world forever. But the Great Recession is changing all that, and it will alter the course of history. […] The great shift of power from males to females is likely to be dramatically accelerated by the economic crisis, as more people realize that the aggressive, risk-seeking behaviour that has enabled men to entrench their power – the cult of macho – has now proven destructive and unsustainable in a globalized world” (Salam 2009:65–6). This surprising assessment is the conclusion driving the cover story found in the August 2009 issue of Foreign Policy. While the article's claims and attempts to decipher the full consequences of the “death of macho ideology” supposedly resulting from the financial crisis and recession that hit the world in 2008 are open to debate, the article nonetheless points to the two main spheres of feminist inquiries when it comes to foreign policy, namely, the role of women as sexed power holders involved in decision-making processes and power-sharing in the realm of foreign policy-making, and the role of gendered norms in the conduct and adoption of foreign policies.

Feminism and foreign policy still appear to many to be linked only by a marriage of convenience, designed to either acknowledge the political accomplishments of women in the sphere of foreign policy, such as Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, Condoleezza Rice, Angela Merkel or Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, or bring attention to so-called “women's issues,” such as reproduction rights and population control. If these assumptions undoubtedly reflect the way feminist inputs to the study of foreign policy are generally perceived, they nonetheless only scratch the surface of a growing literature that has flourished in the past 30 years, as the recent creation of the journals that address foreign policy issues (though not being exclusively devoted to it) in a multidisciplinary fashion testify, such as Politics and Gender (2005), the International Feminist Journal of Politics (1999), Gender and Development (1995), and Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society (1994).

Yet, one should bear in mind that simple reference to “sex,” “women” or “gender” in relation to foreign policy does not entail a feminist perspective on it per se. Indeed, “sex” can be used as an independent variable among others to consider inside any formal theoretical framework while trying to account for phenomena such as voting behaviors. Also, as Terrell Carver succinctly summarized, “gender is not a synonym for women” (Carver 1996:4). Conflating both would entail that gender can be equated to (women's) “human nature” and therefore be exempt from the influence of political agency (True 2001:235). Gender is more than an empirical category that refers to sexual male and female bodies: it is an analytical and ontological category concerned with the (privileged) constructions of masculinity and femininity (devalorized) and their ideological effects (Peterson 2004:39). Broadly defined, gender studies encompasses investigations into the ways sex and sexuality become power relations in different spatio-temporal contexts, whereas the feminist theory that inspires it can be described as the theorization of women's oppression (Carver 1996:4). Conceptions of masculinity and femininity are not exclusives: they are culturally and historically bound and they are defined in relation to each other. “Including gender as a central category of analysis transforms knowledge in a way that goes beyond adding women,” as J. Ann Tickner recalls; “importantly, but frequently misunderstood, this means that women cannot be studied in isolation from men” (Tickner 1997:621). But as R. Charli Carpenter insists, some analyses that focus on the ways gendered norms, ideology, identity, and structures affect political practices could be done without necessarily being politically driven by a desire to end women's oppression or demand changes and thus be easily incorporated into mainstream scholarship (see Carpenter 2002 and Jones 1996). It is in this vein that she inscribes her work on the norms of civilians' protection, where gendered norms often automatically ascribe a norm of “innocence” to women and children, thus leaving men civilians more vulnerable in times of war (Carpenter 2006). Yet, despite debates about whether or not the use of gender can dispense with feminism in one of its many forms (see Carver, Cochran, and Squires 1998; Carpenter 2002; Carver 2003; Kinsella 2003; Zalewski 2003), there is no doubt that studies that include consideration of either sex, women, or gender contribute to the development of knowledge on and about women in international relations, which is in itself one of the goals of feminist scholarship. In that sense, the focus of this review essay will not be limited to studies that explicitly are self-identifying as offering a “feminist perspective,” though many do, but will rather encompass analyses that contributed to the development of a gendered, if not feminist, perspective on foreign policy.

The marginalization of the study of women and/or gender in relation to foreign policy is not necessarily the sole result of lack of sound theorization or of reliable data, as empirical studies detailing group dynamics inside forums such as the National Security Council when women become members have been limited. Rather, as the first part of this review illuminates, it should also be seen as the outcome of the way the study of foreign policy in both international relations and comparative politics has developed theoretically over time, and the sociology of the discipline of political science itself. This preliminary disciplinary recasting allows for a better understanding of the disciplinary limitations faced by feminist perspectives to the study of international relations and comparative politics. In the second part, the development of scholarship on the role of women in foreign policy (broadly defined) is emphasized, with a focus on women as political actors involved in decision-making processes and organizational structures. Issues of women's human rights and gender mainstreaming are also covered. The third section surveys various clusters of research on women, gender, and security, and the impact of various foreign policies on women's lives. Given the broadness of such a theme, rather than proposing an exhaustive review of policies affecting women, this section covers the increasing popularity of the concept of human security and the idea of women's rights as a valid foreign policy objective. Finally, examples of the instrumentalization of women's rights for foreign policy purposes, and discussions on the militarization of women's lives as being intertwined with foreign policy, are examined.

Feminist Perspectives and Foreign Policy: Recasting Disciplinary Developments in IR and Comparative Politics

Foreign Policy Analysis as a Field of Study

Strictly speaking, foreign policy analysis (FPA) is a field of study that overlaps international relations (IR) theory and comparative politics and is concerned with the decision-making processes involved in foreign policy-making. This bridge to comparative politics, with its focus on institutional processes, actors other than the states and bureaucracies, was the result of dominant IR theories' initial focus on the state as a unitary actor in a system that rendered any analysis of the state's decisional structures and processes irrelevant. As Valerie Hudson highlights, “decisions taken by human decisionmakers with reference to or having known consequences for entities external to their nation-state” is FPA's explanandum, whereas factors that influence foreign policy decision-making and decision-makers remain its explanans (Hudson 2007:4–5). The need for a diversity of methodological tools borrowed from history, sociology, and ethnography to better understand how and by whom foreign policy was conducted led to the need to go outside the field of IR. But despite this openness, there is no clearly defined feminist foreign policy theory that led to the creation of a distinct subfield inside FPA the same way that feminist theories developed and thrived inside IR for the past 25 years (see, e.g., Tickner 1992, 2001; Sylvester 1994, 2002; Steans 1998, 2006; Zalewski and Parpart 1998, 2008; Enloe 2000; Ackerly, Stern, and True 2006; Sjoberg and Gentry 2007; Shepherd 2008, 2009). As such, feminist perspectives on foreign policy have often been done at the crossroads of different subfields, like IR and comparative politics, but also experimental psychology, rather than constituted a coherent body of scholarship inside the subfield of FPA. This essay will thus go beyond FPA to examine feminist engagements with foreign policy issues and processes. To understand why feminist perspectives on foreign policies developed on the margins, two considerations linked to the discipline of political science's configuration must be considered: (1) who the primary actors in international politics are (statesmen, scholars, military leaders, etc.); and (2) how the discipline's topics have been traditionally studied in IR and comparative politics (formal mathematical modeling, rational choice theoretical frameworks, and a formal and rigid commitment to a strict positivist epistemology). Indeed, even King, Keohane, and Verba acknowledge that the validity of a topic studied hangs on some social recognition:

Though precise rules for choosing a topic do not exist, there are ways – beyond individual preferences – of determining the likely value of a research enterprise to the scholarly community. […] First, a research project should pose a question that is “important” in the real world. […] Second, a research project should make a specific contribution to an identifiable scholarly literature by increasing our collective ability to construct verified scientific explanations of some aspect of the world. […] Whether a research question meets this criterion is essentially a societal judgment.

(King, Keohane, and Verba 1994:15; emphasis added)

This judgment inside the scholarly community as to what is considered really important is closely linked to the development of feminist engagements with FPA. FPA's focus on the complexities of decision-making processes, be they group decision-making dynamics, bureaucratic politics, comparative foreign policy, psychological factors, and the influences of milieux, implies that humans in relation to the state and society at large are the main focus of analysis. While the mainstreaming of constructivist approaches in IR in the 1990s now makes this statement common sense, the early dominance in the 1950s of grand theories whose merit was based on their explicative capacity for generalization, especially functionalism, kept the analytical focus in both IR and comparative politics at a macro level. This resulted in the obscuring of the specific role individuals, let alone women or even gender, played in many foreign policy processes, such as state-building, democratization, and development. Key early works (Snyder, Bruck, and Sapin 1954; Sprout and Sprout 1956; Rosenau 1966; Allison 1971) allowed for some theorizing focusing on policy decision-making rather than policy outcomes (Hudson 2007:15). Though these key publications can be seen as the roots of the field, overall, the hegemony of behavioralism and rational choice theory put an abstract methodological individualism to the fore, an assumption that went mostly unchallenged. To be sure, the early field of FPA (not known as such then) resisted a full embrace of rational choice theory to account for dimensions such as emotions, individual assumptions, and cognitive processes and perceptions (e.g., Snyder et al. 1954; Verba 1961; Rosenau 1966, 1971; George 1969; Jervis 1976) in the study of decision-making and politics (for a brief history of the subfield of FPA, see Hudson and Vore 1995). Yet, the successive hegemony of behavioralism, functionalism, and rational choice theory as comparative politics' and IR's theoretical frameworks of choice to the study of politics was not, by definition, sympathetic to a feminist epistemology which “recognizes the political nature of our attempts to know and accepts the responsibility for carrying on a politics of knowledge of reality as well as a politics of reality itself” (Fowlkes 1987:2).

Not only did this contribute to neglecting the role women played in politics and foreign policy, but this theoretical dominance greatly influenced the way the field reproduced itself (a power/knowledge nexus) and what it considered to be “valuable” scholarship in the study of political phenomena. And though the presentation that follows is explicitly anchored in disciplinary developments occurring first and foremost in the United States, this does not imply that similar challenges were not or are still not experienced in other academic settings. For instance, even though the subfield foreign policy analysis did not develop in Canada the same way it did in the United States, similar challenges of recognition are experienced in both communities. Indeed, Heather Smith and Claire Turenne-Sjolander note that despite the fact that feminist approaches are increasingly “finding a home in the study of Canadian foreign policy analysis,” much work addressing policy issues is still dismissed as not being policy-relevant and being “unable to contribute to ongoing policy debates” (Smith and Turenne-Sjolander 2005:1. For more on Canadian perspectives to FPA and how they differ from American ones, see Keeble and Smith 1999 and Turenne-Sjolander, Smith, and Stienstra 2003).

Feminist Engagements with Behavioralism and Functionalism

Feminists like Karen Beckwith and Nancy Burns agree that work on women and electoral processes officially marked the official entry of women in the field of comparative politics in the early 1940s. One of the earliest works on women and comparative politics was in fact Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet's 1944 book on women and electoral campaigns in the United States (Lazarsfeld, Berelson, and Gaudet 1944). The study was the first one to point to a difference between political interest and political action where sex seemed to be the only variable explaining a differential in behavior. Such work was not explicitly feminist in orientation, though. One has to wait until 1955 to see Maurice Duverger borrow Simone de Beauvoir's feminist framework to frame the first elaborate comparative examination of gender and political action to explain difference between men and women in regard to political action, and this book could be said to signal the first engagement of feminist theory with foreign policy analysis before the subfield established itself in the 1960s. In The Political Role of Women (1955), Duverger focused on political differences at the elite and mass level and explicitly questioned assumptions about natural sexual differences when it came to politics. His work stands as an exception, however, as until 1972, focus on women and politics was mostly empirical, with gender being understood as an empirical category that simply referred to sexual male and female bodies. Women were often studied in contrast to men, the latter being used as the reference group. But if one could criticize the behavioral revolution for having restricted the acceptance in political science of the kind of qualitative analysis most feminists engage with, it should be noted that it is the same behavioral revolution that expanded the traditional meaning ascribed to the sphere of the political, a move that initially gave room for women's inclusion in the field of politics. With behavioralism, voluntary association activism, neighborhood organizing, civic engagement, and community-level involvement suddenly became matters of inquiries to answer questions about the nature of political participation and the influence of various groups in the framing of specific policies. Whereas behavioralism is now under sharp criticism, it is worth remembering that it is its initial criticism of a narrow focus on states and constitutions that expanded our understanding of politics to include spheres where women found themselves (Beckwith 2005:129).

Feminist Engagements with Rational Choice Theory

The rise of rational choice theory in the 1970s and 1980s as the new paradigm to replace functionalism was a two-sided progress in the study of women in comparative politics and IR. On the positive side, with its focus on the individual and on the micro level of analysis, rational choice theory allowed for the inclusion of women as persons. To be sure, early research on voting behavior included a divide between men and women. On the flip side, though, such inclusion remained limited at the variable level: it did not challenge or compromise the theoretical foundations of rational choice theory, namely, the separative rather than connective model of the self. In an influential sociology essay published in 1990, Paula England and Barbara Kilbourne maintained that the theoretical foundations of rational choice theory fell apart if one were to stop considering “the individual” and think in terms of embodied men and women (England and Kilbourne 1990; Friedman and Diem 1990). Assumptions about the prominence of selfishness to the detriment of emotional connections, the impossibility of interpersonal utility comparisons, the unchanging and exogenous tastes and the given rationality of individuals were put under attack by England and Kilbourne. However, both the fact that the essay was targeted at a limited sociology audience and the reality that those interested in women and gender were already making rational choice theory the straw man of work done in the humanities contributed to make the criticism ineffective in affecting the core of comparative politics, a subfield committed to social sciences. In the end, the only grand theory that seemed to allow room for work on women and that would be sympathetic to feminist understandings of power and oppression was Marxism (e.g., Cox 1981; Linklater 1982). However, the engagement remained limited on the theoretical level as “the woman question” became subordinated to class issues. What is more, the focus on macrostructures impeded any relevant engagement with the specific role of women in regard to foreign policy or how foreign policies affected them as women, rather than as workers.

The end result of these theoretical developments is that both IR and comparative politics journals have published little work on women and gender over the past years: a recent survey of the three main IR journals highlighted that only 1.2 percent of all articles published between 1995 and 2004 considered gender in their analysis (Breuning, Bredehoft, and Walton 2005:453), and that a lack of publications opportunities in major journals and other factors make comparative politics still resistant to “engendering” knowledge (Tripp 2006:251). Since FPA draws on both subfields and only saw its first official journal, Foreign Policy Analysis, created in 2005 despite the field's foundation in the 1960s, engagements with feminism have been limited. In fact, since its creation, the journal has only published one article dealing specifically with women as of January 2010. Many researchers still consider gender as a (normative) “woman thing” and as a “normal” concern for women faculty members and students only. This position has the tricky effect of discrediting both the scientific insights gained from feminist research pertaining to foreign policy and the researcher who uses gender analytically, since “[in] a wide variety of cultures and discourses, men tend to be seen as free from or not determined by gender […]. [Thus] women are left with the responsibility for thinking about gender, but because we do it, such work is devalued or segregated from the ‘mainstream’ of intellectual life” (Flax 1990:23–4). As Valerie Hudson concludes in her influential textbook, “FPA theory […] has not intersected very well with critical theory. […] For example, most theories of decisionmaking in FPA are gender-blind […] Certainly assumptions such as these are ripe for deconstruction within FPA, and we look forward to the time when FPA will experience such scrutiny” (Hudson 2007:191). But even if they have not made their way into the mainstream, feminist perspectives on foreign policy still draw on IR and comparative politics insights and can be found in multidisciplinary-friendly journals such as Third World Quarterly and Millennium.

Women in Politics/Feminist Perspectives on Foreign Policy

Women as Foreign Policy Leaders

Given these theoretical developments and the disciplining structures of the field, it is quite normal that one of the first feminist engagements with foreign policy focused on examining how “adding women” to existing approaches and frameworks could affect the policy outcomes. One major line of inquiry, drawing on traditional FPA approaches devoted to the political psychology of individual decision-makers, centered on women as decision-makers and tried to evaluate firsthand the basic assumption that women were more naturally peacemakers than their male counterparts (see, e.g., Brock-Utne 1985) and that it was because the political sphere was dominated by men, rather than women, that international relations were so prone to war and violence. Such research evaluated whether the fact of having women in positions of power as foreign policy decision-makers would in itself translate into a change in foreign policy, namely, a more sustained commitment to norms usually considered feminine, such as an emphasis on dialogue rather than the use of military force or state cooperation rather than unilateralism. Analyses of women's leadership also center on the ways in which perceptions of female electoral candidates' capacities for leadership might affect electoral outcomes: even today, it is not clear that women political leaders have broken from the tradition of having to “out-man the men.” Gwynn Thomas, for instance, documents how the 2005–6 presidential election in Chile centered on questioning candidate Michelle Bachelet's leadership qualities, and on Bachelet's attempts at presenting a distinctive form of feminine leadership in contrast to her masculine opponents (Thomas 2011).

Yet, by studying leaders such as Golda Meir, Isabel Perón, Benazir Bhutto, and their positions on foreign policy issues, authors have shown, sometimes with some disappointment, that these women leaders have not often been “transformational leaders” who pursued a feminist agenda (Genovese 1993; D'Amico and Beckman 1995) and were capable of engaging and leading in war just as much and as well as men. While some argue that this is the result of an institutional process of self-selection, where women closest in their political views to expected manly behavior were valorized in the process of selection for important office positions, others have argued that, at least in the Anglo-American sphere, women moved into cabinet “at a juncture in political development when both ideological and institutional trends have constrained their authority. Most women have occupied cabinet posts when and where neo-liberal restructuring cut their programs and restricted their resources […] [and when] the institutional integrity of cabinet eroded and the place of the bureaucracy in the political order changed” (Sykes and Fischer 2007:1). In any case, these findings showed that while an approach to the study of women and foreign policy can be one of “counting” and exploring the impacts of an “add women and stir” approach, it is still insufficient to understand how norms in decision-making processes and foreign policy decisions are engendered. Attention was thus paid not only to women but also to the gendered structures of leadership and governance (Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995), such as gender stereotypes, cultural norms, and overtly discriminatory practices of foreign policy institutions that not only result in a typical low representation of women in the foreign policy arena (McGlen and Sarkees 1995), but that also affected current women leaders' behaviors and possibilities in executive and legislative structures (McGlen and Sarkees 1993; Nelson and Chowdhury 1994; D'Amico and Beckman 1995; Rosenthal 1998, 2002; Sykes and Fischer 2007). In fact, Francine D'Amico's research on political leaders has shown that out of three potential paths to access to power (political surrogate, outsider/activist, and insider/climber), men tended to be insider/climbers whereas women were more likely to be political surrogates or outsiders (D'Amico 1995, 2007). We should nonetheless keep in mind that the relationship between women's leadership and their propensity to either peace or militarism is not straightforward. As the case studies of Michael Koch and Sarah A. Fulton highlight, differences in women's positions on national security might be linked to their position in the legislative or executive branches. They notably found that “[i]ncreases in the proportion of women in the legislature decrease defense spending and conflict behavior. At the same time, women in the executive branch […] oversee greater defense spending […] than when men hold the same positions” (Koch and Fulton 2011:13).

Gender Mainstreaming and Organizational Processes

These reflections about women's role as leaders and the political impacts of their representation inside national and international political institutions and structures such as the World Bank or the United Nations were not limited to world leaders. Inside academia, it is the recent neoinstitutionalist move of the 1990s (Evans, Rueschemeyer, and Skocpol 1985; Steinmo, Thelen, and Longstreth 1992; Koelble 1995) that brought back a renewed interest in institutions' normative and dynamics characteristics. While such literature does not directly address the concept of gender, the fact that it emerged as a response to dominant behavioralist approaches allowed the necessary theoretical openings enabling the questioning of the role of gender norms in institutional processes to take place using the qualitative methodology privileged by most feminist work. To be sure, the literature on women and the welfare state has been one of the earliest engagements of the women and institutions literature (see, e.g., Wilson 1977; Gordon 1990; Skocpol 1992; Evans and Wekerle 1997). However, the rise of neoinstitutionalism allowed feminists to go beyond this traditional specialized niche focused on policy outcomes (do women benefit from such policies?) and move toward a broader engagement with the way institutions have distinctively gendered cultures and processes that inevitably affect the outcomes themselves (do diverse assumptions about femininity and masculinity affect the bureaucratic procedures and, by extension, the policy results?). The implications of this are that “institutional norms prescribe (as well as proscribe) ‘acceptable’ masculine and feminine norms of behaviour, rules, and values for men and women within institutions. Moreover, political institutions also produce outcomes – policies, legislations, rulings – that are shaped by gender norms: outcomes which, in return, help to re/produce broader social and political gender expectation” (Chappell 2006:226; see also Hofstede 2001 on the role of gender, masculinity, and femininity in large organizations and bureaucracies).

The idea of “gender mainstreaming” in international institutions and policies thus became the focus of global attention in activist, academic, and policy circles through its adoption in the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action at the United Nations Women's Conference. As a political process, gender mainstreaming gained popularity because it captured the “discontent with feminist strategies that aimed for women's equality with men while holding in place existing gendered structures and in part from a realization that many aspects of the patriarchal state remained immune to feminist critique” (Prügl 2009:175). Today, more than 50 countries have quota laws that regulate the selection or election of women to political office (Krook 2008), and more than a hundred state bureaucracies have adopted institutional gender mainstreaming mechanisms. Though affecting national governments, this policy innovation pushed by non-state actors and feminist transnational networks is seen by some as having signaled a major power shift that has the potential to change “the nature and the locus of global politics and national policymaking” (True and Mintrom 2001:51). Indeed, many see gender mainstreaming as a feminist practice that has the potential for widely transforming not only the structure of the state's institutions, but also the framing and direction of its foreign policy. State bureaucracies became a rich field of inquiry and Camilla Stivers' Gender Image in Public Administration: Legitimacy and the Administrative State (1993) proved to be a methodological milestone in the study of women and bureaucracies as it moved away from typical studies of women inside bureaucracies and institutions to the often invisible gendered regulative processes and components of bureaucratic apparels, leading the way to other work that seeks to explain in national and cross-national perspectives how gender interests and governments are intertwined in a mutually defining and dynamic interaction and influence policy outcomes (e.g., Stetson and Mazur 1995; Chappell 2002; for more on this, see the “Institutions and Gender” and the “Gender and Government Administration” ISA Compendium entries).

Nevertheless, the concept of “gender mainstreaming” has been criticized for its vague meaning and is “an essentially contested concept and practice” (Walby 2005:321), as it can refer to the simple attainment of “women quotas” inside a given institution to the full re-evaluation and adjustment of the policies and institutional practices found in one setting by paying attention to their gendered aspects. In its broadest sense, the purpose of gender mainstreaming is to transform political structures – and, implicitly, the resulting policies – by integrating considerations of gender in governmental projects and policies at home and abroad. It involves a look at four levels of action and governance, namely: “1) the actors shaping employment and gender policies, 2) the gender problems to be solved, 3) [the] policy measures implemented to tackle these problems and 4) the meaning of the ultimate goal of these measures or gender equality” (Mósesdóttir and Erlingsdóttir 2005:514). Debates have thus been about whether gender mainstreaming has been mostly pursued through integration, which involves the technocratic introduction of a gender perspective into existing policy processes (Daly 2005) without challenging existing policy paradigms, or if it has been transformative (Squires 2005), leading to a fundamental change in policy formulations, structures, and outcomes. In her review of national and international institutions' commitment to gender mainstreaming, Elizabeth Prügl highlights this tension, showing how despite a willingness to integrate the gender mainstreaming vocabulary into policy texts and recommendations, there seems to be “a patriarchal state's refusal to allow tampering with one of its core projects, that is, the organization of the market. Feminists have observed this refusal in other contexts, such as the international financial institutions' commitment to neoliberal Agendas” (Prügl 2009:189). Cynthia Cockburn has also shown that resistance often comes from inside bureaucrats (Cockburn 1991). The World Bank, in particular, has tried to integrate gender mainstreaming in its policies, and these efforts have been the object of numerous studies emanating from the organization itself (e.g., Morgan 1998; Moser, Tornqvist, and van Bronkhorst 1999), as well as criticisms from activists and academics (e.g., Bergeron 2003; Bedford 2008). Other scholars have also pointed out that the adoption of “gender mainstreaming” policies has resulted in an institutional separation of “women's issues” in settings such as the United Nations, thus entrenching the specificity of “gender-related issues” and making fewer resources available for them as opposed to other broad issues such as “human rights” (Charlesworth 2005).

But beyond debates about the form of women's political participation and representation inside various political movements and governmental offices and structures (e.g., Tremblay 2008; Eto 2010; Henderson and Jeydel 2010; Bauer and Tremblay 2011), feminists from various allegiances agree that “the gender makeup” of key decisional circles and international summits is key to understanding the direction and adoption of foreign policies (Goldstein, Pevehouse, and Whitworth 2008:111). In the end, in its many forms, gender mainstreaming signals a concrete, though not unproblematic, feminist engagement with the state (see Prügl 2009:276–9), here seen as the main site of power for policy-making at the national as well as at the international level. Recent feminist research has thus shifted from an initial move to “add women” into organizational structures to influence the organizational environments and bureaucratic politics to one where considerations of race, class, and gender are incorporated, relying on the feminist concept of intersectionality (see Crenshaw 1991a, 1991b) to better understand and change organizational structures and policy outcomes in settings such as the European Union (see Koldinská 2009; Lombardo and Verloo 2009). In its broadest sense, “intersectionality” entails “the study of the simultaneous and interacting effects of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and national origin as categories of difference” (Bassel and Emejulu 2010). The use of intersectionality as a normative and empirical paradigm (Hancock 2009) has now become a focus of feminist approaches to FPA and is used to assess issues as varied as electoral politics (Junn 2009), development policies (Braun 2011) or the comparative studies of social policy processes (Bassel and Emejulu 2010). Such work can either seek to evaluate “the policy outcomes of recognizing intersectionality” or try to account for “the process of accommodating intersectional claim making” (Bassel and Emejulu 2010:520; emphasis in original).

Gender Demographics and Gender Norms as National Attributes Affecting Foreign Policy

Though foreign policy analysis now ranges from leaders' psychology to social and institutional settings influencing policy perception, it is worth remembering that traditionally, FPA has focused on a state's propensity to use force. In that regard, it also intersected with security studies, narrowly defined. As Steven Walt (1991:212) explains, security studies is “the study of the threat, use, and control of military force,” including exploring “the conditions that make the use of force more likely, the ways that the use of force affects individuals, states, and societies, and the specific politics that states adopt in order to prepare for, prevent, or engage in war.” Feminists insist that the current importance given to war and military force in the study of international relations is not an objective reality reflecting an inescapable log of relations between states, but rather a reflection of male domination as the main political actors in IR (Goldstein, Pevehouse, and Whitworth 2008:115) who tend to devaluate peace as being feminine and unmanly, either implicitly or explicitly: “A self-respecting realist can advance the proposition that the balance of power contributes something virile and vigorous like the protection of national interest, but would be embarrassed to state that it contributes to something as lacking in intellectual masculinity as peace” (Innes Claude, quoted in Steans 1998:52).

Feminists have consistently and successfully challenged realism's gendered assumptions (Tickner 1991; True 2009a, 2009b) and underscored the fallacies in accepting the man/state analogy, which implies “that rationality is equated with men's behavior and the state as a rational actor bears a male-masculine identity” (True 2009a:248). Feminists also theorize and empirically show that women's systemic insecurity is an internal as well as an external dimension of the state system (Peterson 1992:32), in other words, a “protection racket” rather than a neutral harbinger of security (see the ISA Compendium “Gender, Identity, and the Security State” and “Feminist Security Theorizing” definitions). But despite their theoretical prescience, such analytical challenges and deconstructions have remained on the margins of the core IR and security studies literature. Indeed, a recent survey of the main IR journals seems to support this reading, as results revealed that one of the articles' main topics of engagement was conflicts and security studies (14.2 percent of all research articles), rather than peace studies (0.7 percent of all research articles) or even feminist/gender studies (1.2 percent of all articles) (Breuning, Bredehoft, and Walton 2005:453, 458).

But despite such unpopularity, some feminists have sought to examine if gender could nonetheless be taken seriously inside a mainstream theoretical framework, and sought to find if gender, along with other variables such as military capacities or economic wealth, could determine a nation's propensity to go to war or comply with international norms (Regan and Paskeviciute 2003). The question of population and sex ratio in relation to security (“security demographic”) in particular has been raised in the work of Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea den Boer (see Hudson and den Boer 2004a, 2004b). With an empirical analysis of the long-term consequences of the gender ratio imbalances in countries such as China and India, where they claim that the ratio is respectively between 116 and 120 boys for every 100 girls in the former and up to 156 boys for 100 girls in some Indian states, they suggest that a link between population sex ratios and a peaceful foreign policy can be made, as “internal instability is heightened in nations displaying the high level of exaggerated gender inequality indicated by high sex ratios, leading to an altered security calculus for the state. Possibilities of meaningful democracy and peaceful foreign policy are diminished as a result” (Hudson and den Boer 2004b:28). This interest in the possible links between a state's behavior on the international level and the situation of women within it led to the creation in 2001 of the ambitious WomanStats Project (see, which seeks not only to develop “the most comprehensive database on the situation of women in the world” and increase empirical indices and measures of women's situation worldwide, but also to “perform empirical and spatial analysis of the relationship between the situation and status of women in the world with the behavior and security of states” ( As of 2011, the database includes over 300 variables for 174 nations, and allows for accurate testing of hypotheses regarding state behavior and women/gender to improve policy-making. With it, policy makers “could implement more effective and achievable initiatives based on this stronger empirical foundation and track the success of those initiatives using a chosen set of focused indicators of change.” In regard to foreign policy, the researchers of WomanStats have already noted that “states characterized by high levels of violence against women are also more likely to be involved in international conflicts with high levels of violence. Specifically, violence against women explains nearly 15% of the likelihood that a state will become involved in violent militarized interstate disputes” (Caprioli et al. 2007:20). The respective work of Mary Caprioli and Erik Melander, focused on the links between gender equality inside a state and a state's propensity for war or aggression, is also a good example of mainstream empirical research using quantitative methods to test hypotheses pertaining to the links between women, gender, and a state's foreign policy (see Caprioli and Boyer 2001; Caprioli 2003, 2005; Melander 2005).

Finally, the experimental findings of McDermott and Cowden (2001) and Boyer et al. (2009) also provide insights on the effects sex and gender can have on decision-making and the use of force.

Women, the State, and Security: The Gendered Impact of a Militarized Foreign Policy

Human Rights/Women's Rights as a Foreign Policy Issue

While being valuable and original feminist endeavors, the previous research still focuses on the state and national security. As such, some have noted that it represents a narrow understanding of foreign policy and/or security, one that has been challenged by many feminists and critical security studies scholars alike. There has been at least since the 1990s a rising interest in human security, yet there is no consensus on what the proper definition of “human security” is or should be (Paris 2001; Farer 2011); it is generally understood to refer broadly to individual safety and protection from chronic threats (UNDP 1994:22). Though different from human rights, the idea of human security is historically linked to that of human rights: “Human security helps identify the rights at stake in a particular situation. And human rights help answer the question: How should human security be promoted? The notion of duties and obligations complements the recognition of the ethical and political importance of human security” (UN Commission on Human Security 2003, quoted in Oberleither 2005:593).

Human rights have become a major area of study in international relations since the end of World War II (Donnelly 1998), and the promotion of human rights has also become a major foreign policy component or objective for countries of the European Union and the United States (Sikkink 1993; Risse, Ropp, and Sikkink 1999). Even more, some observers have noted that women's rights are becoming a “signature issue” for the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who has expressed her concerns for issues as varied as human trafficking, war rape, access to education, and maternal care. The passage of Resolution 1325 by the United Nations Security Council, which addresses the impacts of war on women, women's contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace, and the 2000 ruling by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague declaring mass rape and sexual enslavement in time of war as a crime against humanity reflect the fact that women's rights have gained traction in the foreign policy area. From international access to HIV/AIDS medication and treatment, to commitments against sex trafficking and access to reproductive healthcare, increased demands have been placed on governments to make human rights, if not specifically women's rights, a specific point of focus of foreign policy (see, e.g., Mattras and Lightman 1997). These major changes reflect, at the same time as they contribute to, what Nüket Kardam labeled an emerging global gender equality regime (2004), where the norms, principles, legal instruments and compliance mechanisms to it are progressively being upheld and promoted by various international political institutions and actors, activists, and epistemic communities. As Heidi Hudson forcefully argues, “Feminist critiques of so-called natural or depoliticized gender dichotomies within state-centric discourse delegitimize discriminatory practices and institutions as socio-historical constructions and ‘repoliticize’ orthodox views on security by challenging the role of the state as provider of security. Gender is intrinsic to the subject matter and politics of security” (Hudson 2005:156).

This interest in human security and human rights led to different research directions (on this, see the ISA Compendium “Gendering Human Security” entry). Some feminists, like Heidi Hudson, have pointed out that the idea of “human security” is itself gendered and contains generalizing claims about “humans” or “women” as unified groups that ultimately lead to universalism and exclusions of some women's experiences (Hudson 2005). Others have pointed out that even states that have officially endorsed the concept of human security often do so in ways that still threaten the very security of the people they claim to seek to protect (e.g., McKay 2004; Hoogensen 2005). Others adopt a mitigated position, highlighting how the turn to human security has enabled a gendering of the concept of security, while still questioning the potential negative impacts on women a broadening of the concept of security attuned to gender might have (e.g., Shepherd 2008; Hudson 2010). In their edited volume, Julia Peters and Andrea Wolper (1995) detail through various case studies ranging from female genital mutilation to sex trafficking and dressing codes how women's human rights are often neglected or seen as being less of a political priority precisely because they are women's human rights (Bunch 1990), and seek solutions for making women's rights human rights that can become political priorities. More quantitative methods-oriented feminists have also sought to empirically test, using a cross-national longitudinal model, the association between women's security and both democracy and human rights. Some feminist analyses have also highlighted the gendered assumptions of commonly used measures of both “democracy” and “human rights” and sought more inclusive and accurate measures so as to lead to new state-focused policy recommendations (Caprioli 2004b:505–6). Such work offers the advantage not only of bringing new light to empirical data on women, but also of working inside the traditional theoretical parameters of international relations and comparative politics, therefore challenging current scholarship on its own grounds. Yet, the price of translating “findings and assumptions into a language that will be understood” (Caprioli 2004b:507) by the broader academic and policy-making communities leaves unchallenged the very theoretical parameters and limits of the dominant frameworks and processes that prevented feminist insights being acknowledged in the first place.

While helping us gather new empirical knowledge on women, the “feminist empiricist” approach privileged by the above-mentioned scholars has come under criticism for endorsing an unquestioned statist approach and for failing to question the normative values encompassed in the concepts they more or less explicitly seek to promote, such as democracy exportation or human rights. As Pinar Bilgin notes, by not questioning what the concept of human rights entails, for instance, broader patriarchal structures of women's inequality are left unchallenged (Bilgin 2004:500), and the complex relationships and colonial legacy between democracy and human rights, and democracy and war, remain hidden and ignored (see also Barkawi and Laffey 1999). Though such empirical analyses might illustrate how current policies informed by an apparently gender-neutral ideal of “human rights” do not in fact always adequately provide for women's security despite their aim of doing so, Bilgin insists they prove limited in the end, as the focus on the “domestic sphere” of the state or on so-called “local cultures” impedes the critical gaze to focus on the global dynamics that engender insecurities for women, which themselves contribute to the narrow definitions and understandings of “human rights” that inform policy makers and their attitudes toward women's rights and the policies to adopt toward them (Bilgin 2004:501).

While this new focus on human rights also correlates with a new theoretical focus on gender and human security (Bunch 2003; Hoogensen and Stuvøy 2006) and an analytical one on the individual as its main subject, as opposed to the states, many feminists highlighted the fact that the politics of human rights, with its holist integrative assumptions (“we are all humans”) that are not unproblematically linked to a specific liberal tradition and idea of emancipation (Chandler and Hynek 2010), were often gender-blind and could even be detrimental to women's well-being, as women and men are equally, albeit differently, affected by organized violence (Hudson 2005:162). Some feminists thus distinguish between “women's rights – women-specific rights, such as the right to reproductive freedom – and ‘women's human rights’ – general human rights norms applicable to women in particular contexts” (Charlesworth 1994:77). Some feminists also highlight the fact that the protection of “human rights” that do not fall under the “Bill of Rights model of liberty are rarely recognized in international understandings or national asylum laws” (Binion 1995:509), and that many human rights violations affecting women in their daily life, such as labor, domestic violence, and property ownership issues, do not get the state's attention at the domestic level, and are thus not perceived and pursued as valid human rights issues at the international level (Thomas and Beasley 1993; Romany 1994). These analyses show that despite benefiting from the apparently neutral cloak of “the human,” international human rights still rests on the public/private division that informs traditional IR theory's conception of the state and Western political thought (Peterson 1992; Elshtain 1993; Radacic 2007) and obscures as well as downplays many of women's experiences. This tension between the willingness to work on and improve current international human rights law to help ameliorate women's lives, on the one hand, and the calls for a fundamental rejection of the “human rights” approach, on the other, has divided activists and academics alike (for an overview of the debates, see Byrnes 1992).

The Instrumentalization of Women's Rights for Foreign Policy Purposes

But beyond these theoretical debates, scholars and activists alike have been keen to point out that when not simply ignored, “women's rights” are often simply instrumentalized to support other converging specific foreign policy agendas. After all, as Nicholas Kristof laments, even though issues like sex trafficking signal the “rise of a new foreign policy agenda,” “[o]ne of the problems in the [US] State Department has been that the serious issues are perceived as those relating to nuclear warheads, trade or Middle East peace, and the rest is fluff” (Kristof 2009:1). Feminist takes on these foreign policies show that women and gender do matter in foreign policy, as gendered norms and hierarchies implicit in policy-making (which policies are a priority, which are not) affect women and men alike on the ground when such policies get implemented. The military interventions in the name of the “war on terror,” the control of sex trafficking, or the focus on abstinence and motherhood in the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief are examples among others of instances where foreign policies relied on an official discourse of improving women's rights and well-being. However, while doing so, as feminists point out, they were at the same time respectively justifying the US military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq (Hunt 2002; Agathangelou and Ling 2004; Shepherd 2006), promoting the sex industry for peacekeepers and sex tourism as an economic form of development (Pettman 1997; Agathangelou and Ling 2003), calling for a tightened visa and rights of residence system for victims of trafficking (Aradau 2008), and promoting motherhood, sexual abstinence, and absence of funding for organizations and groups that did not explicitly reject abortion as an option for women (Zivi 2005; D'Aoust 2006). Michaele Ferguson and Charlotte Bunch also note how the presidency of George W. Bush was marked by a security rhetoric that claimed to support women's rights in Iraq and Afghanistan to justify military interventions (Ferguson 2005; Ferguson and Marso 2007) and point to the tensions and difficulties in reconciling various foreign policy objectives and transnational feminist solidarity when objectives were conflicting, such as counterterrorist effects to protect national security and women's quest for human security (Bunch 2003).

There has been strong rhetoric about the need for “freeing the women of Afghanistan” (Marso 2007) and much publicity has been made around the alleviation of Afghan women's plights since the end of the rule of the Taliban and the NATO intervention in Afghanistan. Yet, as feminists point out, the US administration only supported the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) when time for a military intervention came, and ignored their multiple calls for improving women's lives beforehand (Steans 2006:53), as negotiating with the Taliban for control over pipelines was perceived to be a higher priority (Hunt and Rygiel 2006:7). And though the NATO coalition condemned the Taliban's treatment of women, NATO leaders still supported president Hamid Karzai for re-election after he passed a law in July 2009 affecting Afghan Shia women which “gives a husband the right to withdraw basic maintenance from his wife, including food, if she refuses to obey his sexual demands,” “requires women to get permission from their husbands to work,” and “allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying ‘blood money’ to a girl who was injured when he raped her” (Human Rights Watch 2009). This instrumentalization of women's rights is not limited to official circles either, as it can be used as a strategy by activist groups to curb a government's foreign policy. For example, in her work, Katharine Moon has detailed how activist groups in South Korea have not unproblematically used the symbol of Korean prostitutes (kijich'on women), the murder of Yun Kûmi in 1992, and the gang rape of an Okinawan girl by US Marines in 1995 to condemn the US presence and push the South Korean government to change its policy toward the US military presence on its soil (Moon 2007).

Foreign Policy as Militarization of Women's Lives

Despite engaging with issues of women and gender, all the sections above covered feminist perspectives on foreign policy where foreign policy was understood as involving states, political leaders, bureaucracies, and national and international institutions. While helping us gain much needed insights on women and gendered aspects of foreign policy, such analyses, warns Jacquie True, “can prevent us from seeing the multiple non-state actors who also play significant roles in foreign-policy making” (True 2009a:244). A feminist perspective of foreign policy can thus not only show the gendered aspects of foreign policy-making, but also lead us to reconsider who we consider relevant actors in foreign policy-making and what we consider proper objects of study in foreign policy. Indeed, even though leaders and policy makers can push forward issues such as gender mainstreaming or try to bring issues such as trafficking in women on the political agenda, non-state actors, grassroots movements, and feminist activists are often the enablers of institutional and political changes. As such, a feminist perspective on foreign policy should focus on actors usually dismissed as “irrelevant” in mainstream IR theory. For example, women activists were vocal in the 1980s in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; they are voicing their concern and get involved in the World Social Forum, do lobbying work in multilateral institutions, and are engaging on a daily basis in original and effective political strategies to voice their concerns, such as with the “Women in Black” movement, which opposes governments' militarist policies. The transnational nature of many of these activist movements involves complex alliances being forged with nongovernmental organizations (NGOS) and with national and international institutions that allow for concrete policy changes (Ackerly 2007). Yet, even beyond the discipline's traditional obscuring of non-state actors as valid and influential actors in foreign policy-making, there is still a critical lack of dialogue between feminist academics and activists that also contributes to cementing false boundaries between the political sphere, academia, and activist circles (Eschle and Maiguashca 2009).

In that sense, we see that a feminist perspective on foreign policy reaches and stretches well beyond the specific subfields of FPA or foreign policy decision-making's modes of foreign policy analyses by changing the focus on the actors studied and expanding the reach of what is meant by “foreign policy.” For example, no one better than Cynthia Enloe has been able to show how the success of a militarized foreign policy rests on the support of women that traditional foreign policy analyses render invisible, such as diplomats' wives and prostitutes (Enloe 1993, 2000). The need for the United States to officially establish so-called “Rest and Recreation” (R&R) sites in places such as Japan, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Thailand, Taiwan, and the Philippines during the Vietnam War (Sturdevant and Stoltzfus 1992) shows that ensuring the provision of sexual services on military bases “can be seen as a central factor in a foreign intervention” (True 2009a:245). Thailand, for example, established the “Entertainment Places Act of 1966” to circumvent its own ban on prostitution and legalize some sexual services and increase state revenue from the military personnel's activities. Political concerns over the sexual availability of women and/or their body regulations as key to the implementation of a militarized foreign policy are not new though, and various historians have shown that practices such as the control for venereal diseases, hygiene measures, and racial hierarchies of prostitutes were central in the imperial practices of the British and American empires as well (McClintock 1995; Stoler 2002, 2006; Levine 2003). Katharine Moon's own study of the US–Korean partnership after World War II (Moon 1997) shows that the constant availability of kijich'on women to US stationed troops was not only negotiated at the highest levels, but also central to the military alliance between the two countries and South Korea's economy. As Moon notes, in 1969, “two lawmakers urged the government to train a supply of prostitutes to meet what one called the ‘natural needs’ of allied soldiers and prevent them from spending their dollars in Japan instead of South Korea” (Moon 2009). Even more, pressure on kijich'on women increased as the Korean government feared an American pullout in 1969 to reduce the number of American troops. As such, to counter this possible consequence, “the deputy home minister at the time, Lee Sung-woo, replied that the government had made some improvements in the ‘supply of prostitutes’ and the ‘recreational system’ for American troops” (Moon 2009).

Peacekeeping support operations, understood as encompassing all varieties of peacekeeping operations, have also been a recent focus of feminist analyses. Criticized by some as being “foreign policy as social work” (Mandelbaum 1996), while hailed by others as promoting peace and humanitarian actions (Miller and Moskos 1995), peacekeeping operations are an important component of many countries' foreign policy, as they involve the international deployment of military troops for purposes other than war. And though peacekeepers are often distinguished from regular military personnel by the media emphasis put on their humanitarian actions, which involve tasks such as distributing food or protecting public spaces for civilians, feminists have highlighted the militarization of women's lives taking place with such operations, and questioned the assumed security for women such operations provide. UN peacekeepers' involvement in trafficking women and supporting prostitution has been widely documented (e.g., Olsson and Tryggestad 2001; Cockburn and Zarkov 2002; Higate 2004; Whitworth 2004; Duncanson 2009).

This connection between women's sexual work and foreign policy extends beyond sexual services to serve military personnel, as some countries like Thailand have become renowned as privileged destinations for sex tourism. In Bangkok, the female population in 1989 was only about 400,000 higher than its male counterpart, yet 89 percent of all tourists were men (Richter 1989:86). In 1999, more than 70 percent of tourists to Thailand were men traveling on their own (Bishop and Robinson 1999:36), a significant gender gap when compared to other countries, such as the Caribbean, where tourism is also a major industry and where the gap usually averages 3 to 4 percent (Renton 2005). Other countries, such as Russia and Ukraine, have been targeted as major sending countries for trafficked women, and the so-called “mail-order brides industry,” developed in countries such as the Philippines, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam, has now begun to come under closer immigration scrutiny by some governments for security reasons (D'Aoust 2010). Feminist analyses of foreign policy thus show not only the gendered nature of foreign policy processes, but also the ways in which issues such as sex trafficking and prostitution are intertwined with presumably “more important” issues, such as nation-building and trade. They show that the sexualization as well as the militarization of women's daily life in so-called “developing countries” are linked with their Western counterparts, rather than being problems proper to the former's own political and/or institutional instability and incapacity (Agathangelou and Ling 2009:40; see also Enloe 1983). Even more, feminists like Charlotte Hooper, Cynthia Weber, and Kristin Hoganson have shown that various ideologies and types of “masculinities” underpin state foreign policy practices (Hooper 2001), like the US stance toward Cuba (Weber 1999) and the Spanish–American and Philippine–American wars (Hoganson 1998). Others have documented how economic policies sustain masculine identities and rivalries among nations (Han and Ling 1998). “In East Asia's Confucian-based ‘miracle’ economies,” Lily Ling underlines,

hypermasculinity adopts the traditional rhetoric of the state taking manly revenge against the West's (and later Japan's) emasculating imperialism in the past. By inflating the mantle of classical Confucian paternalism, the state locks society into a hyperfeminized position of classical Confucian womanhood, that is, into a role involving subordination, self-sacrifice, discipline, and deference. In this way, the state assumes that society consents to the imposition of the burdens and responsibilities of economic development – without its receiving commensurate concessions to political representation or even a political voice.

(Ling 1999:283–4)

Feminism's own tendency for multidisciplinarity means that the future of feminist perspectives on foreign policy appears to be ever expanding. The crucial question remains, however, of whether such research will find itself a home inside the narrow field of FPA, where it shines by its current absence, or simply continue to burgeon at the crossroads of other subfields. From an empirical feminist perspective, recent years have seen a growing interest in issues of masculinities (Zalewski and Parpart 2008), in their various forms. This interest signals a fresh departure from apparently static binaries such as the masculine/feminine one. Calls have also been made to turn more to intersectional research, where the impacts of different intersectional positionalities influenced by gender, class, and race can be accounted for (Ackerly and True 2008). These calls also resonate with recent theoretical feminist developments in IR. Indeed, in their latest work, Agathangelou and Ling (2009) suggest a turn from the study of international politics to an approach focused on worldism. Their approach reminds us that even traditional “foreign policy concerns,” such as democratization processes, nation-building, and development, are in fact Western concepts that are situated and uncritically promote a neoliberal agenda. To favor a critical re-examination in the framing of and political answers to international issues, Agathangelou and Ling call for a turn to worldism. The latter is more than a simple acknowledgment of difference: it seeks to politicize the various worlds people live in, rather than simply take them for granted or try to alter them according to one model. Ling and Agathangelou's framework is one of disruption focused on the local possibilities for reconstructing people's lives. In the end, this process of disruption and reconstruction to improve our knowledge and understanding of world politics is precisely what feminist endeavors in IR, security studies, and FPA have tried to do, all in their own way and using various methodologies.


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