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Article

Gender, Identity, and the Security State  

Ellie C. Schemenauer

Much of what goes on in the production of a security state is the over-zealous articulation of the other, which has the effect of reinforcing the myth of an essentialized, unambiguous collective identity called the nation-state. Indeed, the focus on securing a state (or any group) often suggests the need to define more explicitly those who do not belong, suggesting, not only those who do, but where and how they belong and under what conditions. Feminists are concerned with how highly political gender identities often defined by masculinism are implicated in marking these inclusions and exclusions, but also how gender identities get produced through the very practices of the security state. Feminists in the early years critiqued the inadequacy of realist, state-centric notions of security and made arguments for more reformative security perspectives, including those of human security or other nonstate-centric approaches. At the same time, feminist research moved to examine more rigorously the processes of militarism, war, and other security practices of the state and its reliance on specific ideas about women and men, femininity and masculinity. Feminist contributions from the mid-1990s through the first decade of the millennium reveal much about the relationships between gender identities, militarism, and the state. By paying attention to gendered relationships of power, they expose the nuances in the co-constitution of gender identities and the security state.

Article

Genders, Spaces, Places  

Lynne Phillips

The concepts of gender, space, and place have significant social and political implications for the kind of world that people inhabit and the kinds of lives we can lead. That there has been a transformation in thinking about these concepts is indicated in references today to pluralized (and polymorphic) spaces, to the waxing, and waning of distinctions between space and place, and to the idea that gender, space, and place are something produced rather than simply lived in, or ventured into. These subtle shifts hint at a complex history of ideas about what constitutes gender, space, and/or place and how we might understand the connections and disjunctures between and among them. The theoretical roots of space act as the starting point for discussion, since these have a longer historical record than work which also explicitly includes gender. Western conceptions of space have drawn primarily from early Greek philosophers and mathematicians, and these conceptions indicate an early distinction between a philosophy of space and a pre-scientific notion of space. From here, the development of feminist methods has become essential for revealing how spatial thinking informs ideas about gender. These methods include deconstructing canons, asking the profoundly spatial question of “Where are the women?” and “ungendering” space. These methodological strategies reveal the extent to which the central concerns of feminism today have spatial and place-based dimensions.

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Geographic Insights Into Political Identity  

Emily Gilbert and Connie Yang

Moving away from the conventional geopolitical analyses of territory, states, and nations, geographical research is now focused on the ways that political identities are constituted in and through spaces and places at various sites and scales. Many geographers attend to how power gets articulated, who gets marginalized, and what this means for social justice. Poststructuralist theory problematized the fundamental premise that the literal subject is resolutely individual, autonomous, transparent, and all knowing. Feminist and critical race scholars have also insisted that the self is socially embedded and intersubjective, but also that research needs to be embodied. There are four prominent and inherently political themes of analysis in contemporary geographical research that resonate with contemporary events: nation states and nationalism; mobility and global identities; citizenship and the public sphere; and war and security. Geographers have critically examined the production and reproduction of national identity, especially salient with the rise of authoritarianism. Geographers have also focused on the contemporary transnationalization of political identity as the mobility of people across borders becomes more intensive and extensive because of globalization. Consequently, globalization and global mobility have raised important questions around citizenship and belonging. Rethinking war and the political, as well as security, has also become a pressing task of geographers. Meanwhile, there has been a growing attention to the political identities of academics themselves that resonates with a concern about forms of knowledge production. This concern exists alongside a critique of the corporatization of the university. Questions are being raised about whether academics can use their status as scholars to push forward public debate and policy making.

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Gramscian International Political Economy from a Feminist Perspective  

Pooja Rishi

Feminist Gramscian international political economy (IPE) is an interdisciplinary intellectual project that has focused both on theoretical and empirical analysis of women and gender within the field. Feminist Gramscian IPE emerged from the confluence of an eclectic body of work over the last several years encompassing fields as disparate as international relations, IPE, feminist economics, the literature on gender and development, and feminist literature on globalization. As with feminist perspectives in other disciplinary fields, Gramscian feminists have largely embraced postpositivist, interpretivist, and relational analysis while trying to maintain the emancipatory potential of their work for women the world over. Current Gramscian feminist analyses are firmly grounded and draw from early Marxist/Socialist feminist interventions. They have also engaged with the three major categories of analysis in Gramscian thought—ideas, material capabilities, and institutions—in order to understand hegemonic processes that function to (re)construct and (re)produce both gendered categories of analysis and practice. Feminist revisions of Gramscian IPE have focused on international institutions, rules and norms, while simultaneously shedding light on contemporary states and how they are being transformed in this current phase of globalization. Three central tasks that feminist Gramscian scholars may consider in future research are: to be more engaged with the notion of hegemony, to revisit the political methodology employed by many feminist Gramscian analyses, and to devote more attention to non-mainstream perspectives.

Article

Labor and Gender  

Juanita Elias

Writings on women workers in the global economy have generally taken as their starting point the rise in female employment in industries in the light manufacturing for export sector. Another issue covered by the literature on gender and labor is migration, where the racialized as well as gendered nature of employment is thrown into sharp focus. Migration has been a major concern in much of the recent feminist literature on gender and employment is because one of the most significant features of contemporary processes of migration has been the feminization of these flows. But given the ways in which women workers both in export sector factories and as migrant domestic workers are subject to harsh workplace practices, social stigmatization, and systems of intense workplace control, the possibilities for resistance and change for some of these groups of workers are considered as well. Three intersecting literatures that focus on the topic of resistance to regimes of labor control in a variety of different workplaces (including the household) are discussed: first, those that focus on “everyday” forms of resistance; second, those that look more at resistance as an organized political strategy taking the form of trade union activism or involving nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); and third is a literature that considers the possibilities and limitations of a wider politics of resistance offered by things like corporate codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility.

Article

Gender, Women, and Representation in State Politics  

Mona Lena Krook and Sarah Childs

The main contribution of research on women, gender, and state-level politics has been the introduction of the concept of gender and an expansion of traditional definitions of politics. These studies have continued to expand over the years, opening up some major areas of research as well as introducing challenges to feminist research on women, gender, and state-level politics. Social movements are among the key topics of recent studies. This is due to the fact that women have been largely excluded from other arenas of political participation. Work on political parties links to another major area of study. Although wide-ranging, it can be separated into research on electing versus being elected. Furthermore, women’s voting behavior and the election of female candidates are often treated as important questions in themselves. Another line of work, however, seeks to go beyond political priorities and presence to examine concrete policy outcomes. This research can be divided into three sets of questions: the behavior of female policy actors, the gendered nature of public policies, and the creation and evolution of gender equality policies. A fifth major literature points to the relationship between women, gender, and the state. The state is a central actor and topic in political science. Focusing on state-society interactions, feminists have been interested in understanding how states influence gender relations and, conversely, how gendered norms and practices shape state policies.

Article

Women’s Rights as Human Rights  

Jutta Joachim

For centuries, women have been struggling for the recognition of their rights. Women’s rights are still being dismissed by United Nations (UN) human rights bodies and even governments, despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. It was not until the 1993 UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria that states began to recognize women’s rights as human rights. However, this institutional change cannot solely be credited to the UN, but more importantly to the work of international women’s organizations. According to the social movement theory, these organizations have been permeating intergovernmental structures and, with the help of their constituents and experienced leaders, framing women’s rights as human rights in different ways throughout time. It is through mobilizing resources and seizing political opportunities that women’s rights activists rationalize how discrimination and exclusion resulted from gendered traditions, and that societal change is crucial in accepting women’s rights as fully human. But seeing as there are still oppositions to the issue of women’s rights as human rights, further research still needs to be conducted. Some possible venues for research include how well women’s rights as human rights travel across different institutions, violence against women, how and in what way women’s rights enhance human rights, and the changes that have taken place in mainstream human rights and specialized women’s rights institutions since the late 1980s as well as their impact.

Article

International Law, Technology, and Gender-Based Violence  

Carlotta Rigotti

Although information and communication technologies (ICTs) and artificial intelligence (AI) offer a unique opportunity to help personal autonomy flourish and promote diversity in society, their deployment has increasingly proved to channel new harm. Generally speaking, online and technology-facilitated violence comes to mean any abusive act that is committed, facilitated, or amplified via ICTs and other AI-based technologies. Also, it appears that this abuse is gender-based and intersectional, is experienced as a continuum of offline violence, and negatively affects the individual, as well as society. Accordingly, because online and technology-facilitated violence is borderless, and the same rights that people have offline must likewise be respected online, the international community has started undertaking some joint action. This is the case, for example, of the Platform of Independent Expert Mechanisms on the Elimination of Discrimination and Violence Against Women, as well as the European Commission and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. At the same time, a growing body of diverse literature suggests several courses of action for the international response to online and technology-facilitated violence against women. More precisely, greater effort is considered to be necessary to fill the terminological and data gaps that counteract the effectiveness of legal, policy, and other measures addressing online and technology-facilitated violence against women. Furthermore, numerous scholars make concrete and/or original suggestions that could facilitate the prevention and support of victims of online and technology-facilitated violence, such as the engagement of pop feminism in social media campaigns and the adoption of bystander intervention models. In terms of legal reform, there is common agreement that it should keep up with the continuous development of technology and the personal experiences of the victims, while going beyond the mere criminalization of the wrongdoings. Special emphasis is also put on the necessary regulation and engagement with internet platforms, to strengthen the legal and policy responses, as well as to hold them accountable.

Article

Gender, Religion, and International Relations  

Amanda E. Donahoe

Gender, religion, and politics are closely intertwined, and both have a significant impact on international relations (IR). There is a large body of literature dedicated to the intersections between gender, religion, and IR, and they can be categorized into matters regarding female subordination, human rights and equality, and feminism and agency. Religion has been historically, traditionally, and androcentrically gendered both in practice and ideology. A good portion of the literature on the linkages between gender and religion in the IR context discusses the ways in which women have been subordinated within Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Their religious subordination can be linked to legal equality, and the different forms of subordinating women implicitly and often explicitly lead to the inequality of women. Scholars who address this issue vary widely between being critical of the religions that perpetuate inequality and a dearth of women’s rights, to arguing in support of religion but in critique of its application and cultural practice. In addition, as women’s rights are but one element of the international engagements of various forms of feminism, scholars also engage in a range of discussions on political agency and the critical analysis of gender from both within and without religious and secular feminisms.

Article

Feminist Security Theorizing  

Laura Sjoberg

Feminist Security Theorizing is in many ways what it sounds like—thinking about security in the global political arena through gender lenses. Since early work in feminist International Relations (IR), feminists have been exploring research questions about the ways that gender shapes and is shaped by war, conflict, and militarism. The field has developed to be labeled Feminist Security Studies (FSS). Debates about whether FSS is “feminist security” studies or feminist “security studies” have asked about the subfield’s focus—whether it is toward rethinking security in feminist ways or toward the mainstream field of security studies as such. With space in the field for both approaches, feminist security theorizing has looked at revealing the importance of gender in conceptualizing security, demonstrating that gender is key to understanding causes and predicting outcomes, and showing gender as a key part of solving security problems. FSS has several common theoretical commitments and concerns. These include a necessary commitment to intersectionality, a recognition of the importance of theorizing not only about gender but also about sexuality, a consciousness about framing, and an awareness of the politics of sociology of the academic disciplines in which it is situated. It is important to explore the past, present, and potential futures of feminist theorizing about security, concluding with an invitation to expand recognition of feminist work addressing security issues across an even wider variety of perspectives.

Article

Feminist Ontologies, Epistemologies, Methodologies, and Methods in International Relations  

Jennifer Heeg Maruska

Feminism operates on various feminist epistemologies, methodologies, and methods. While there is no consensus on how to organize or label these, there are a few generalities that can be drawn between these epistemologies, particularly in the international relations (IR) context. Classifying these epistemologies generally under the umbrella (or in the constellation) of postpositivism makes clear the contrasts between positivist social science and more critical approaches. Moreover, within the many critical approaches in feminist IR are many points of convergence and divergence. Feminist IR theory also focuses on the complexities of gender as a social and relational construction, in contrast to how nonfeminist ontologies focus on the rights of women, but including those of children and men as well. Hence, the postpositivist ontology takes on a more complex meaning. Rather than trying to uncover “how things really are,” postpositivists study how social realities (the Westphalian system, international migration or trafficking, or even modern war) came to be, and also how these realities came to be understood as norms, institutions, or social facts—often examining the gendered underpinnings of each. Most feminist IR theorists (and IR constructivists) share an “ontology of becoming” where the focus is on the intersubjective process of norm evolution.

Article

LGBTI Human Rights in Global Politics  

Phillip M. Ayoub

Transnational organizing by groups dedicated to promoting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people is not a particularly new phenomenon, though it remained rare in the early decades of the 20th century. It was not until the advent of the sexual liberation movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s that LGBTI issues became more prominent. Moreover, despite their diversity, these transnational groups and networks have been able to speak with an increasingly unified voice, setting out a relatively coherent vision for global LGBTI human rights organizing. Over the past three decades, transnational LGBTI human rights activists have become increasingly successful in getting their voices heard and demands met within prominent international organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations. This success, however, has varied dramatically across international organizations and among the states they represent. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the Western origins and biases of transnational LGBTI movements and human rights principles, as well as the greater levels of tolerance toward homosexuality in the region, LGBTI rights organizations have had their greatest successes in Europe. Generally speaking, however, there has been a significant expansion of LGBTI rights over the past 30 years, even if it has come with a notable backlash and resistance. Yet despite these dramatic developments, the study of LGBTI politics has remained peripheral to most fields within the discipline of political science. This is slowly changing thanks to a proliferation of scholarship, including bridge-building work and an empirical turn, that is moving LGBTI research slightly closer to the center of the field.

Article

Women and Development  

Valentine M. Moghadam

Economic development gained prominence as a field of economics after World War II in relation to the prospects of what came to be called underdeveloped, decolonizing, developing, or Third World countries. The period between the 1950s and 1980s saw the emergence of various theories of economic development and policy strategies, and the growth of “development studies” reflected cross-disciplinary interest in the subject. In the early decades, women received little or no attention. If women were discussed at all in policy circles, it was in relation to their role as mothers, an approach that came to be known as the welfare or motherhood approach. The field of women in development (WID) emerged in the 1970s. Since the 1990s, women’s participation and gender dynamics have evolved as central issues in the discourse and policies of international development. Along with changes in theories and policies of economic development, WID developed with distinct or overlapping fields known as women and development (WAD), gender and development (GAD), the efficiency approach, and the empowerment approach. Several basic themes can be identified from the literature on women and gender in development, including: all societies exhibit a division of labor by sex; economic development has had a differential impact on men and women, although the impact on women has tended to be conditioned by class and ethnicity; economic policy making and institutions have a gendered nature, and the ways in which macroeconomics and the social relations of gender influence each other.

Article

Organizing Strategies for Advancing Women in International Studies  

Mary K. Meyer McAleese and Susan S. Northcutt

The interdisciplinary field of international studies has traditionally been a male-dominated field. Indeed, the field of international relations, both theory and practice, has been argued to be gendered in highly masculinist ways. Whether as practitioners or as scholars, women have had a difficult time entering and advancing in such male-dominated fields, both in the United States and around the world. Their admittance and full acceptance in the profession has been hindered by laws and regulations, institutional practices and inertia, gendered stereotypes and customary expectations, overt discrimination and subtle biases, or benign neglect. As such, women have adopted a number of different strategies to make their ways into such male-dominated fields. These include working to expand the field to encompass questions of interest to women, developing new networks with other women for mentorship and resource development, and organizing themselves into distinct groups to promote women’s professional interests and advancement. One of these women’s organizations is Women’s Caucus for International Studies (WCIS), a formal section within the International Studies Association (ISA). Since its formal organization in 1996, the Women’s Caucus has worked hard to fulfill its mission of upgrading the status of women in the profession. Specifically, it seeks to promote equal opportunities for women in their professional lives, as well as women’s professional development. The Caucus fulfills its mission in numerous ways, including sponsoring scores of panels and roundtables focused on women’s professional development, and organizing mentoring networks, both inside the Caucus and beyond.

Article

UN, Gender, and Women  

Soumita Basu

After the end of World War II, women’s rights advocates at the United Nations vigorously campaigned for equality between the sexes. At the UN Charter Conference held in San Francisco in 1945, women delegates fought for the recognition of sex-based discrimination as a violation of human rights in Article 1 of the Charter. At the UN, issues relating to women were primarily placed under the purview of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), established in June 1946 with the mandate to “prepare recommendations and report to the Economic and Social Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields.” Three main perspectives underpin feminist International Relations (IR) literature on the UN, gender and women: promoting women’s participation and inclusion of women’s issues at the UN; gender critique of the UN, geared towards institutional transformation; and challenging the universality of the UN. Despite some fundamental differences between these three strands of thinking, their political significance is widely acknowledged in the literature. The co-existence of these contentious viewpoints resonates with the vibrant feminist politics at the UN, and offers a fruitful avenue for envisioning a better intergovernmental organization. This is particularly relevant in light of feminist scholars’ engagement with activism and policymaking at the UN from the very beginning. Nevertheless, there are issues that deserve further consideration, such as the workings of the UN, as reflected in its unique diplomatic characteristics and bureaucratic practices.