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Updated references, reflection on changing discourse of feminist IR.

Updated on 30 July 2020. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 08 August 2020

Feminist Security Theorizing

Summary and Keywords

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.

Keywords: feminism, gender, international relations theory (IR), international security, security studies, feminist security studies (FSS), war, conflict, peace

There is a gulf between those who take gender seriously when they think about security and those who do not. When asked about the role of gender in security, a prominent (white, male) scholar of security quipped that he liked sex, not gender (appearing to expect a laugh at what he intended as a dirty joke from an audience of feminist scholars).1 We will call him Mr. Y. Met with silence, Mr. Y continued to talk about the importance of matching the body-sex of fighter plane pilots to the cockpit design of airplanes, noting the dangers of using the (presumably smaller and therefore less fit) bodies of women in places designed for the (presumably larger and therefore more fit) bodies of men. As I listened to his explanation, I almost needed to translate it into a different language to be able to engage. Mr. Y’s discussion was in theory about international security, but he was implicitly and explicitly limiting his comments to the United States military—the sorts of planes it buys, the sorts of soldiers it recruits, and the sorts of battle situations in which it finds itself. Mr. Y limited security to states, limited states’ security to their militaries, and limited militaries to the fighting of wars. He also limited gender to sex, limited sex to male bodies and female bodies, and limited bodies’ relevance to their fitness to fight. I see security as about people not states, as about hunger and sickness as much as it is about guns and bombs, and as much about combating poverty and environmental damage as it is about military combat. I see both sex and gender as multiple, reaching far beyond (and complicating) the (presumed) biological constitution of bodies. I see sex, gender, class, race, ethnicity, nationality, and dis/ability as intrinsically interlinked in theory and in practice. As J. Ann Tickner (1997) noted, conversations across differences that wide are difficult, and may well be impossible (Tickner, 2010).This is because international relations also are gender relations and therefore feminisms challenge what it means to be “doing” IR (Shepherd, 2009, pp. 211, 216).

I wrote an entry on “Feminist Security Theorizing” with a former student of more than a decade before working on this update (Sjoberg & Martin, 2010). Doubtless that entry is still available to you. This piece will take that entry as a starting point, but ultimately, it looks very different. The first section of this article looks back at how we mapped the field then, with the references that we used then and with the updates from work from the second decade of the 21st century.

A “First Look” at Feminist Security Theorizing

In 2010, at the original publishing of the International Studies Encyclopedia, we reflected on a recently published special issue of the journal Security Studies.2 That special issue was the first time in the journal’s history that the words women and gender had been published on its pages, even incidentally. At the time, we noted that Security Studies is an area where feminist scholarship and the mainstream in the United States have largely failed to engage in productive conversation until very recently (Sjoberg & Martin, 2010, p. 2208). In describing work in Feminist Security Studies (hereafter FSS), we looked backwards at the marginalization of work on gender and security as that work had been published largely in gender studies and peace studies journals3 and had been left out of most influential, mainstream definitions of security.4 Despite these omissions, we noted that there was a significant body of literature that could be characterized as Feminist Security Studies (FSS) even when it was ignored by mainstream Security Studies, addressing topics including, but not limited to, gender mainstreaming, peacekeeping, the movement of people, non-combatant immunity, terrorism, women’s violence, human security, environmental security, genocide, transitional justice and post-conflict reconstruction, peace advocacy, wartime rape, militaries and militarism, and the theory and practice of security more generally.5

We provided a history of thinking about gender and security before the advent of FSS, focusing on work that discussed the relationships between men and women, war and peace. This research included some of the canon of feminist theorizing that discusses war and peace.6 Some work focused on feminism and pacifism from women’s peace movements;7 and some work went beyond “adding women” to thinking about gender dynamics.8 We also credited feminist work in the philosophy of science as an inspiration for feminist work in International Relations (IR) generally and security studies specifically.9 We went over how some of the early explicit contributions of feminisms to the study of security included looking critically at the kinds of peace that feminisms endorse (e.g., Brock-Utne, 1989), critiquing the war/peace dichotomy (e.g., Elshtain, 1988), recognizing the co-constitution of gender and nation (e.g., Yuval-Davis, 1997), and making links between gender, war, and militarism (e.g., Enloe, 1983; Reardon, 1985). We noted that security research starts with the ideas, perspectives, and subjects security researchers find meaningful—in feminist theorizing, that is gender and gender subordination.10 We highlighted work that used gender and gender subordination as tools for rethinking the state as the center of security theorizing (e.g., Peterson, 1992), redefining security (e.g., Tickner, 1992, 2001), looking at the insecurity of women in secure states (e.g. Enloe, 1993; Pettman, 1996).

We organized our original essay around my understanding at the time of the ways that gender matters to the theory and practice of security: it is necessary, conceptually, for understanding international security; it is important for analyzing causes and predicting outcomes; and it is essential to thinking about solutions and promoting positive change in the security realm (Sjoberg, 2009a; Sjoberg & Martin, 2010). We made the argument that gender is conceptually necessary to understanding security by first showing the ways that gender lenses can make women visible in the security arena (Cooke & Wollacott, 1993; Moser & Clark, 2001); by looking at security where women are likely to be found (Enloe, 1993; Moon, 1997), and by looking at women’s vulnerabilities in war and security (Tickner, 1992), we showed how everyday and international violence lie along a continuum of violence instead of in separate realms or categories (Cuomo, 1996). We used three illustrations to show how gender is important to understanding security. Gender analysis shows how the civilian is constituted in a way that a gender-blind approach cannot, as demonstrated by the feminist literature on civilian immunity.11 Gender analysis about wartime rape provides an illustration of the multiple levels on which a complex, political, and power-conscious understanding of gender is crucial to understanding the theory and practice of security.12 Gendered ideas shape contemporary security discourse and practice.13

We then made a case that feminist theory matters to analyzing causes and predicting outcomes in international security, where feminist theories … distinguish reality from the world as men know it (Peterson & True, 1998). We also used three illustrations here. First, we discussed the way that Katherine Moon’s (1997) Sex Among Allies builds on Enloe’s (1983, 1989) interest in military prostitution to demonstrate that military prostitution affected traditional power politics negotiations in international security in U.S.-Korean relations during the Cold War and was also shaped by the security arena. Second, we talked about the ways that Heidi Hudson (2009) demonstrated that peace agreements that ignored or misinterpreted the sex-differential impact of conflicts were less effective because of those blind spots. Third, we discussed the ways that. V. Spike Peterson (1999) showed how sexist and heterosexist notions of the citizen underpin contemporary nationalism, which can neither be understood or manipulated without reference to those dynamics.

Extending from these arguments about cause and effect, our third argument was that fluency about gender subordination is necessary to solving contemporary security problems. In addition to expanding on the examples in the previous section, we cited research that showed that a lack of fluency about gender has been a hinderance in addressing security problems diverse as nuclear strategy, protecting civilians in war, peacekeeping, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.14 We used Megan MacKenzie’s (2009) work to show how many of the problems with the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) programs in post-conflict Sierra Leone could have been improved by paying attention to the nuances of gender generally and gender in conflict specifically. We then discussed how a lack of gender analysis in the terrorism studies literature causes analysts to make many problematic and inaccurate assumptions about what terrorism is and how it works, and provided some policy suggestions sourced from the FSS literature.15

After discussing these core and common contributions of the FSS literature, we discussed some differences and disagreements that had occurred among those who study security from feminist perspectives. Even at the time, we noted that there were a number of different understandings of what FSS was or should be (e.g., Blanchard, 2003; Sjoberg, 2009a). We noted that these approaches have both commonalities and differences and explained that each stems from an interest in recognizing and critiquing gender hierarchy in the international security arena; but ultimately, they came up with different, and often conflicting, understandings of security (Sjoberg & Martin, 2010).One difference can be understood as related to feminist approaches to security being related to and dialoging with various paradigmatic approaches to international relations (hereafter IR) theorizing, including realism, feminist liberalism, feminist constructivism, feminist critical theory, feminist poststructuralism, feminist postcolonialism, and feminist environmentalism.16 Another difference that we identified was a potential generation gap in early feminist IR between first-generation theoretical work and second-generation empirical work—should FSS be empirical? What were the ethics around this?17 Another (related) difference could be found in debates about whether there are methods and methodologies that are better suited for feminist work, or particularly feminist in some intrinsic way (Ackerly, Stern, & True, 2006; Caprioli, 2004a; Tickner, 1998). Brooke Ackerly, Maria Stern, and Jacqui True (2006) have argued that what makes scholarship … feminist is the research question and the theoretical methodology. Was FSS unified by methodology?

A related set of debates can be described as centering around the disciplinary sociologies of IR and Security Studies. Should FSS engage the mainstream?18 What would be gained and what would be lost? What should the relationship be between feminist work and other nonmainstream or critical approaches?19 Is it possible to do work on gender from a non-feminist perspective (e.g., Carpenter, 2002)? The last question had inspired what Laura Shepherd (2009, p. 217) described as an intense intra-disciplinary debate within feminist security studies over the necessary “feminist credentials” of some gender analyses.20 Finally, we showed that some in FSS are content to disagree on some of these core issues, while others argued that feminist theorizing about security needed to have a clearer sense of agreed-upon core methodological, epistemological, and substantive tenets.

We concluded with an optimistic vision for FSS, suggesting that both disagreements and disagreements about whether it is acceptable to disagree are par for the course. Citing Zalewski’s (2003, p. 291) discussion about the controversial undecidability of feminism and Hoffman’s (2001, p. 8) understanding of feminisms as a momentum concept with many (not necessarily harmonious) currents, we made the argument that it was an exciting time for the development and increasing diversity of FSS research (Sjoberg & Martin, 2010).

A Decade’s Development of the “First Look”

Many of the trends and debates that we recognized ten years ago continue in FSS work. As the 2009 special issue of Security Studies took stock of the field, others debated and defined its contours in different ways, highlighting narratives (e.g., Wibben, 2010, 2011) and tensions (e.g., Sylvester, 2010b).21 In these stock-taking exercises, debates arose over the role of location (e.g., Shepherd, 2013; Sjoberg, 2014a; Sylvester, 2013a), race and ethnicity (e.g., Parashar, 2013a; Teaiwa & Slatter, 2013), class (Allison, 2015; Wibben, 2014), and sexuality (Hagen, 2016; Sjoberg, 2011). While definitional exercises continue, many of them have moved away from comparisons with IR’s isms or other descriptions used mainly by non-feminist IR scholars. Relatedly, questions about the relationship between FSS and the mainstream of the field have continued to be meaningful, but have moved away from being centered around mainstream inquiry.22 A proliferation of mainstream work on gender and security has meet feminist criticism related to the operationalization of gender, gender essentialism, and concerns about intersectionality.23

Meanwhile, substantively, feminist work on gender mainstreaming, peacekeeping, the movement of people, non-combatant immunity, terrorism, women’s violence, human security, environmental security, genocide, transitional justice and post-conflict reconstruction, peace advocacy, wartime rape, militaries and militarism, and the theory and practice of security more generally has continued to grow and develop.24 Work on women’s peace movements continues (see, e.g., Confortini, 2012; Kirby & Shepherd, 2016; Tickner & True, 2018; Woehrle, Coy, & Maney, 2016), as does work about how to get beyond associations between women and peace (see, e.g., Aharoni, 2017; Gentry & Sjoberg, 2015; Kunz, 2017; Sjoberg, Kadera, & Thies, 2018).25

Outlines of the three streams of FSS work that we originally identified can still be seen in the field. Feminist research shows the importance of gender in conceptualizing security, demonstrates that gender is key to understanding causes and predicting outcomes, and shows gender as a key part of solving security problems. In the area of conceptualizing security, work that uses gender and gender subordination as tools for rethinking the state as the center of security theorizing continues to develop, as does work that redefines security and that looks at the insecurity of women in secure states (Johansson-Noguees, 2013; Stavriankis & Stern, 2018; Wibben, 2016b).26 Scholars continue to make women more visible in the security arena, to look at security where women are likely to be found, to study women’s vulnerabilities in war and security, and to employ a continuum approach to violence (Basham, 2016; Grayzel, 2014; Pankhurst, 2012; Parashar, 2014).27 Work that shows the conceptual necessity of gender for understanding the complexities of civilian immunity, conflict sexual violence, and security discourse and practice continues to develop (Jansson & Eduards, 2016; McLeod, 2015b).28 In the area of analyzing causes and predicting outcomes, diverse research programs show how gender is integral to causal chains concerning conflict and security (Cockburn, 2010; Sjoberg et al., 2018).29 The research programs we discussed about the utility of peace agreements and the role of sexuality in nationalism have continued to expand (Haritaworn, Kuntsman, & Posocco, 2014; Lee-Koo, 2012; O’Reilly, 2016).30 Extending on these arguments, the FSS literature on solving security problems has grown exponentially, not only in the areas that we discussed before about DDR processes and the study of terrorism, but across many diverse security issues (Basini, 2013; Basu, 2016a).31

We concluded with an optimistic vision for FSS—looking at it as a growing field with significant potential. There are important ways in which that remains the case and even remains a part of my vision within and for FSS. That said, the remainder of this article presents a different look at FSS and a different look at IR, from a less optimistic and less progressive place.

Revising Visions of FSS

In the intervening decade, I have come to see the vision we originally presented of FSS as important in many ways, but partial in many others. We characterized FSS as a potentially transformative force for thinking about security, but also as a force that would not itself be transformed by mainstream security. We characterized FSS as diverse in forms and subjects of inquiry. I would maintain those characterizations even were I re-mapping the field now. Still, here, I have four major re-visions of FSS—two things that the original presentation was blind to or underemphasized, and another two that might serve as tools to map the field going forward.

The first re-vision that I suggest is that feminist work is necessarily and should be intersectional in nature as it addresses the subject matter of international security and as it addresses the disciplinary sociology at the overlap of feminist International Relations and Security Studies (Hudson, 2009; Parashar, 2013a).32 Looking at the subject matter of international security, older work used ideas of standpoint feminism (the idea that women are positioned differently than men are), postmodern feminism (which questioned the validity of binary approaches to gender and other concepts), and postcolonial feminism (which suggested an intersection between gender and colonial histories and presents).33 While these approaches do still have significant influence in the field, the notion that there is one women’s standpoint or a feminist standpoint has given way to an understanding that the male/female dichotomy does not make a lot of sense generally, and certainly cannot be parsed without understanding the ways that they intersect with race, ethnicity, nationality, class, sexuality, language, gender norms, and a wide variety of other factors that play significant roles in social hierarchies and in which gender plays significant roles (Basham, 2018; Eichler, 2015).34 Postcolonial approaches have given way to decolonial approaches, emphasizing a recognition that actors continue to live in both a gendered world and a colonial one as they live security (Bueno-Hansen, 2015; de Jong et al., 2018; Lugones, 2010; Runyan, 2018). Even work that is not explicitly intersectional twenty years into the 21st century pays attention to a wide variety of national and social contexts as key to understanding the different situations of genderings across global politics and international security (Hoogenson & Stuvoy, 2006; Tripp, Ferree, & Ewig, 2013).35 While even early feminist work suggested that feminist concerns for gender at the margins of global politics led naturally to concern for other margins in global politics, that initial sense of solidarity has developed into a view that it is crucial to understand a wide variety of contexts to get a full picture of the work done by (and to) gender in global politics.36 The importance of issues of contextualization and privilege around not only gender but also race, class, and nationality in what we research and whose research constitutes conversations about (gender)/security (Parashar, 2013a; Sjoberg, 2014a; Shepherd, 2013).37

The second re-vision is that the analysis of gender and/in security is incomplete without, but not the same as, the analysis of sexuality and/in security. In the last decade, the research program in queer studies of global politics and global security, alongside and within research about LGBTQIA+ rights and experiences of security, has expanded significantly (Picq & Thie, 2015; Rao, 2018; Weber, 2016).38 But queer research about security, the state, and foreign policy-making existed when we wrote this article initially (see, e.g., Peterson, 1999; Weber, 1998, 1999, 2002). We, as observers and narrators of the field, and perhaps the field more generally, did not adequately give credit to the importance of considering sexualities in/with gender analyses. While some scholars were writing about the ways in which dominant and subordinated masculinities were sometimes mapped onto/from hetero/sexualities and others were considering associations of queer women and traits identified with masculinities in the writing of political violence, most scholarship separated feminist from queer analysis, and gender lenses from lenses that evaluated LGBTQIA+ experiences (Hooper, 2001; Richter-Montpetit, 2007).39 The integration of sexualities into FSS work has increased significantly over the intervening decade, as has the directness and sharpness of queer analyses of global politics generally and security specifically. The result of that, for me, is to see a need to pay attention to sexuality as a part of, but not reducible to, gender analysis (Leigh, 2017; Richter-Montpetit, 2018; Weber, 2015).

The third re-vision is one of framing. Various framings of FSS that have been used in the past, either in our work or in others’ work, maintain utility. It is the case that feminist work is done from the perspectives that include feminism and most of the traditional theoretical isms from which IR is generally studied. It is also the case that at least one generational break can be found in feminist work—where the early 2000s saw a significant increase in empirical work,40 and perhaps the 2010s saw a significant globalization of FSS work (e.g., D’Costa & Lee-Koo, 2013; Hardi, 2011; Teaiwa & Slatter, 2013).41 It is also the case that older generations (both in terms of the scholars often identified as “first generation” and in terms of theoretical work) continue to make important contributions (e.g., Peterson, 2014; Sylvester, 2015; Tickner & True, 2018).42 It is the case that FSS work continues to contribute theoretically and show policy relevance. And it is the case that FSS work often shares a similar general goal of advancing the study of gender and security, if different work defines both concepts differently. But perhaps it was never the case that FSS worked as multiple streams in one river, as I saw it more than a decade ago. That rosy view came in part from the position of privilege of spending time with and being mentored by many of the scholars that I had come to identify with the genesis and continuation of feminist IR; in part from white, American privilege, which augmented my general perceptions that I am a cis*, hetero woman, and in part from a combination of youth and exuberance. On top of those things, I think that we bought a progressivist notion that research programs needed work to build on the other work in that research program in order to be coherent or successful.43 It was the case even then that there were significant intellectual differences among feminist scholars who thought about security, where some work that would be considered part of the FSS field provided sharp and pointed critiques of other work that would also be considered part of the field.44 Recognizing that would have been a more accurate vision of the field then, and looking now shows that there are significant and meaningful differences across work that would be characterized as within FSS that cannot be easily solved or repackaged to reach the same goal. Is the category of woman a valid one?45 Can gender equality be leveraged in service of the ends of (gendered) states? If it can, should it?46 What is the relationship between the representational inclusion of women and the substantive representation of femininities in the making of security policy and/or the production of security scholarship (Karim & Beardsley, 2017; Kirby & Shepherd, 2016; Pratt, 2013; Pratt & Richter-Devroe, 2011; True, 2016)?47 How is the intersectional work of FSS done (Gentry, Shepherd, & Sjoberg, 2018; Wibben, 2016a)? What methods are appropriate to the feminist study of security (Wibben, 2016a, 2016b)?48 Can there be positivist FSS work? If so, what would that look like (Carpenter, 2002; Reiter, 2015)?49 What are the violences that feminist lenses can see in the process of research production and publication? In field evaluation exercises?50 These differences show FSS to be fundamentally not only contested, but uncertain, unstable theoretical terrain. That makes FSS vibrant, alive, debated, and troubled. A progressivist notion of moving forward into some ultimate success is both inaccurate and the wrong standard for the field; a poststructuralist notion that the business of feminisms is the business of troubling and destabilizing fits mapping FSS as it is (and even as it was) more appropriately.

The fourth re-vision of FSS work that I would make in terms of mapping the field going forward is to complicate (if not throw out) blanket statements about the relationship between FSS and the field of Security Studies more broadly. Steve Smith (2005) once characterized FSS work as one of many subfields of critical security. I once suggested that it should be seen as transformative of a “mainstream” of the field, which I constituted as some version of the neo-neo synthesis (Sjoberg, 2009a). Others have suggested that FSS ignores the (American) mainstream of the field and have pointed out tense relationships between FSS and critical security work as well (e.g., Sylvester, 2007, 2013a). A significant body of literature incorporating (some) feminist insights into traditional, largely American, largely quantitative security work has developed in feminist IR’s fourth decade years, and with it has come controversy over whether that work counts as feminist and how to best communicate across significant epistemological differences.51

In this atmosphere, many scholars in/of the global south have expressed how little these debates matter to the study of key and pressing gender issues, and how different epistemology “on the ground” is from epistemology in a gendered, raced, elite, small subset of the academy that is used to setting the terms of debate.52 Suggestions that some feminist work is violent to other feminist work, to its research subjects, or even to women more broadly have shown how complex these debates can be.53 My inner optimist suggests that it might be necessary to FSS, and might strengthen the field of inquiry generally, to have work done from all of these different perspectives. Still, I recognize that significant power differentials between research programs and discursive violence among them make that an inadequate answer to the question of how FSS relates to “Security Studies,” however the latter is characterized. Mapping FSS as within Security Studies does not work—as Carol Cohn (2011) noted, it is important to know whether we are talking about Feminist (Security Studies) or (Feminist Security) Studies to know the scope and political commitments of the research. Mapping FSS as transformative of Security Studies seems both aspirational and inappropriately still grounded within a field in which it would it very uncomfortably. Mapping FSS itself implicates problems with binary categories, power relationships among subfields of FSS, and gatekeeping exercises—it is a political exercise first and foremost. But then refusing to map FSS is also a political choice—a political choice to be left out of larger field-mapping projects like this, as well as potentially textbooks and syllabi. So how is one left to characterize a map of FSS? As an argument?54 As without coherence?

Seeing FSS Now and Later

Thinking about the contributions and dimensions of Feminist Security Studies (FSS) shows the strengths and weaknesses of projects of mapping fields to try to understand how they work. On the one hand, looking at the various dimensions of Feminist Security Studies (or any other subfield) provides lessons on the research that is available, the ways that scholars think about concepts, and the aspects of security that have been analyzed, theoretically and empirically. On the other hand, any exercise of taking stock necessarily has not only omissions, but built-in hierarchies among included work—stock-taking is a political and gate-keeping exercise. Something being left out of the first draft of this article, or discussed in a mistaken way, did not make it less of a part of the field of FSS, or less important research. Similarly, errors, omissions, or blindnesses in this stock-taking themselves constitute violences towards the work omitted and perhaps the researchers who are authors of that work.

In that view, perhaps the best description of the research program of FSS—or of any research program—is that it is. FSS is, and is essentially both contestable and contested. Contributions to shifting knowledge proliferate, and are, in my view, ever more impressive in both quantity and quality. FSS is growing, but that growth is not, and should not have to be, either coherent or unidimensional. Maybe a better question than how to map FSS is to ask how it matters to different fields of inquiry around global politics and international security. There, FSS research seems to have made the overwhelming case that it is impossible to think about security in any coherent and complete sense without thinking about gender, and that the ways of thinking about gender in security contexts are multiple and complex, not only conceptually but also methodologically and politically. FSS work cannot be covered adequately in a mapping exercise—there is too much quality work to reference and too many important directions in the field(s). Here, I have argued that many angles from which FSS work can be described provide some insight, but none is without its shortcomings and none fully describes the vibrancy and disparateness of the available research. I have looked to identify what I think are some shortcomings of my first take on this mapping exercise (and existing trends in the field) in the section on re-visioning FSS. There, I have suggested the key role that intersectionalities and sexualities should play in the substantive and methodological view and work of FSS. I have also argued that progressivist versions of characterizations of a field that all goes the same direction are not necessary and can be harmful, and that it is both substantively and politically important to question boundaries of any field, mainstream or critical.

In the context of FSS, that means that any stock-taking exercise, including this one, contributes a view of FSS rather than a definitive take on FSS, and even that view can be either lauded or faulted (or both) for its inclusions and exclusions, borders and boundaries. One of the key limitations of this piece is my lack of familiarity with (and therefore the piece’s lack of documentation of) non-English language sources. There are doubtless other weaknesses. Reading across a field has to start somewhere. If, for the reader, it starts here, take this as an opening proposal rather than as a conclusive map—follow its cites, and look for its shortcomings—and tell your own story of gender, security, and scholarship that addresses those issues.

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Notes:

(1.) This conversation took place in 2012.

(2.) Issue 18[2] in 2009, including contributions: Detraz, 2009; Hudson, 2009; Lobasz, 2009; MacKenzie, 2009; McEvoy, 2009; Sjoberg, 2009b; Wilcox, 2009. These are joined in the broader project from Sjoberg, 2010a with entries by Heeg, 2010; Parashar, 2010; Stiehm, 2010; Sylvester, 2010a; Wadley, 2010; Wright, 2010 in Sjoberg, 2010a).

(3.) We cited Basch, 2004; Blanchard, 2003; Hansen, 2001 as examples of gender and peace studies.

(4.) Walt, 1991, p. 212 was a key example.

(5.) As exemplars at the time, we noted this work as follows: Gender mainstreaming (Cohn, 2008; True, 2003; True & Mintrom, 2001; Shepherd, 2008). Peacekeeping (Higate & Henry, 2004; Hudson, 2009; Mazurana, Raven-Roberts, & Parpart, 2005; Stiehm, 1999; Whitworth, 1998). The movement of people (Hyndman, 2001; Indra, 1987; Kaufmann & Williams, 2007; Lobasz, 2009; Yuval-Davis & Werbner, 1999). Noncombatant immunity (Carpenter, 2005; Elshtain, 1987; Gardam, 1993a, 1993b; Sjoberg, 2006a, 2006b, 2008). Terrorism (Brunner, 2005; Brown, 2008; McEvoy, 2009; Sjoberg, 2009a; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007, 2008a, 2008b; Sylvester & Parashar, 2009). Women’s violence (Alison, 2004, 2009; MacKenzie, 2009; Moser & Clark, 2001; Parashar, 2010; Shepherd, 2007). Human security (Hoogenson & Stuvoy, 2006; Hudson, 2005; Robinson, 2008; Truong, Wieringa, & Chhachhi, 2007). Environmental security (Detraz, 2009). Genocide (Daley, 2008; Gangoli, 2006). Transitional justice and post-conflict reconstruction (Handrahan, 2004; Hudson, 2009; MacKenzie, 2009). Peace advocacy (Brock-Utne, 1985, 1989; Cockburn, 2007). Wartime rape (Askin, 2003; Card, 1996; Engle, 2005; Hansen, 2001; Skjelsbaek, 2001). Militaries and militarism (Cockburn, 1998; Cohn, 1987, 1993; Cohn & Ruddick, 2004; Elshtain, 1985; Jacoby, 2007; Reardon, 1985; Stiehm, 1982, 1989, 1996). And the theory and practice of security more generally (Blanchard, 2003; Cohn, 2000; Enloe, 1983, 1989, 1993, 2000, 2004; Hansen, 2000; Peterson, 1992; Shepherd, 2008; Sjoberg, 2009b; Sylvester, 1994, 2002; Tickner, 2001).

(6.) Wollstonecraft, 1792 discussed manliness and womanliness in soldiering, citing the distinction as unnecessary; Woolf, 1938 implicated law and practice in reifying masculinities and femininities in war. See discussions in Andrew, 1994 and Kinsella, 2005.

(7.) Citing work from the “founding mothers” of feminist theorizing (e.g., Addams, 1972/1909; Brock-Utne, 1985; Elshtain, 1982; Stanton, Anthony, & Gage, 1887), as well as more recent work on women’s peace movements (e.g., Alonso, 1993; Banerjee, 2008; Chodorow, 1995; Confortini, 2012; Cooper, 1983; Harris & King, 1989; Romanova, 2008; Ruddick, 1989; Toussaint, 2008; Warren & Cady, 1994).

(8.) E.g., Flax, 1987; Gibson-Graham, 1994; Hooper, 2001; Prugl, 1999; Tickner, 1988, 1992, 2001; Zalewski, 1996.

(9.) E.g., Harding, 1987; 1995; 1998; Harding & Hintikka, 1983; Keller, 1985.

(10.) Citing Enloe, 1989; MacKinnon, 1993; Peterson & Runyan, 1991; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007; Steans, 1998; Sylvester, 1994; Tickner, 1992; Wilcox, 2009, and making reference to different sorts of gendered power relations—the domination of women by men—and the assignment of more value to behavior and personality characteristics associated with masculinity than those associated with femininity … the gender-symbolic dichotomies that organize Western thought, … the feminization not only of women but other disempowered actors in global politics, and the ways in which gendered social hierarchy shapes the ways we view the word (Sjoberg & Martin, 2010).

(11.) Citing Carpenter, 2002, 2005, 2006; Kinsella, 2005, 2007; and Sjoberg, 2006a, 2006b.

(12.) Citing Hansen, 2006, 2001, in dialogue with Butler, 1990, Stiglmayer, 1994, Zalewski, 1995.

(13.) Citing Shepherd, 2008 analyzing the early Women, Peace, and Security agenda.

(14.) Citing Cohn, 1987, on nuclear strategy; Sjoberg, 2006a; 2006b on protecting civilians; Hudson, 2009 and Whitworth, 2004 on peacekeeping; and Golan, 1997 and Sharoni, 1995 on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

(15.) Citing work by Brown, 2008; Brunner, 2005; McEvoy, 2009; Sjoberg, 2009a; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007, 2008a, 2008b; and Sylvester & Parashar, 2009 on gender/terrorism in critique of mainstream work that misses substantial dimensions of terrorism for lacking gender analysis (e.g., Bloom, 2005; Pape, 2003; 2005; Victor, 2003).

(16.) Citing, for realism, Sjoberg, 2010b; True, 2009; Whitworth, 1989. For liberalism, Caprioli, 2000, 2003, 2004a, 2004b; Caprioli & Boyer, 2001; Hudson & Den Boer, 2002, 2004; Hudson, Caprioli, Ballif-Spanvill, McDermott, & Emmett, 2009. For constructivism, Kardam, 2004; Locher & Prugl, 2001; Meyer & Prugl, 1999; Prugl, 1999. For critical theorizing, Chin, 1998; Steans, 1998; Whitworth, 1994. For poststructuralism, Hooper, 1998, 2000, 2001; Hyndman, 2001; Shepherd, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009; Sylvester, 1994, 2002; Weedon, 1987. For postcolonialism, Agathangelou & Ling, 2003, 2004a, 2004b, 2005; Chowdry & Nair, 2002; Mohanty, 1988, 2006; Sylvester, 1999. For environmentalism, Detraz, 2009; Mies & Shiva, 1993; Warren, 1997.

(17.) See longer discussion in Tickner & Sjoberg, 2006, citing Das, 2005; Hooper, 2001, Moon, 1997; Zalewski, 1995, and as early exemplars of application.

(18.) In the yes camp at the time, see, e.g., Hansen & Olsson, 2004; Sjoberg, 2009a; Tickner, 2001; in the no camp, see, e.g., Brown, 1988; Squires & Weldes, 2007. The no camp was largely concerned with the potential that engaging the mainstream of the field would damage the integrity and focus of feminist work.

(19.) Some have seen feminist work as associated more generally with the “third debate” epistemological opening of IR (see, e.g., Marchand, 1998; Tickner, 1997; Tickner & Sjoberg, 2006; Whitworth, 1989). Critical theorists (e.g., Booth, 2007; CASE Collective, 2006) have often just assumed feminist theorizing is a part of their paradigm or that of a fellow traveler. Still, feminists have noted that these approaches can marginalize gender (see, e.g., Sylvester, 2007), fail to take account of gendered power dynamics (see, e.g., Hoogensen & Rottem, 2004; Tickner, 2001; Truong et al., 2007 in critique of human security; and Hansen, 2000, 2001 in critique of the Copenhagen School).

(20.) In the debate about the possibility of studying gender from a non-feminist perspective, Shepherd cites Carpenter, 2002, 2005; Sjoberg, 2006b; Zalewski, 2007. In the debate about operationalizing gender, Shepherd cites as examples Caprioli, 2004a; Caprioli & Boyer, 2001; Carpenter, 2006; Melander, 2005. She cites as critics Carver, 2003; Kinsella, 2003; Squires & Weldes, 2007; Zalewski, 2003, 2007.

(21.) See also discussions in Sjoberg & Lobasz, 2011 (including Cohn, 2011; Hudson, 2011; Sjoberg, 2011; Tickner, 2011; Wibben, 2011; Wilcox, 2011), in Shepherd, 2013 (including Basu, 2013; D’Costa & Lee-Koo, 2013; McLeod, 2013; Parashar. 2013a; Sylvester, 2013a; Teaiwa & Slatter, 2013), and in Elias, 2015 (including Allison, 2015; Elias & Rai, 2015; Enloe, 2015; Hudson, 2015; Sjoberg, 2015a; True, 2015a), as well as Ahall, 2016; Gentry et al., 2018; Prugl, 2011; Sjoberg, 2014a; Stern & Wibben, 2014; Wibben, 2014, 2016a; True, 2012a).

(22.) See, e.g., D’Costa & Lee-Koo, 2013; Parashar, 2013a; Sjoberg, 2013; Sjoberg et al., 2018; Tickner, 2010; Wibben, 2010.

(23.) For mainstream work, see, e.g., Horowitz, Stam, & Ellis, 2015; Hudson, Bowen, & Nielsen, 2020; Hudson et al., 2012; Hudson & Matfess, 2017; McDermott, 2018; Reiter, 2015; Schaftenaar, 2017; Wood & Ramireez, 2017. Note that not all of these have the same problems according to FSS scholars, and some are worse on all of these issues than others. For explicit engagement and criticism, see, e.g., Crane & Crane-Seeber, 2013; Kinsella & Sjoberg, 2019; Nayak, 2013; Sjoberg, Kadera, & Thies, 2018; True, 2015.

(24.) Gender mainstreaming (see, e.g., Aggestam & Bergman-Rosamond, 2016; Basini, 2013; Ellerby, 2016, 2017; Joachim & Schneiker, 2012; McLeod, 2015a; Pratt & Richter-Devroe, 2011). Peacekeeping (see, e.g., Carreeiras, 2010; Henry, 2019; Jennings, 2019; Karim & Beardsley, 2017; Kreft, 2017; Kronsell, 2012; Olsson & Gizelis, 2014; Pruitt, 2016; Reeves, 2012; Shepherd, 2017). The movement of people (see, e.g., Freedman, 2015; Kreidenweis & Hudson, 2015; Lobasz, 2018). Noncombatant immunity (see, e.g., Ase & Wendt, 2019; Falquet, 2019; Gregory, 2017; Harel-Shalev & Daphna-Tekoah, 2016; Kinsella, 2011; Peet & Sjoberg, 2019; Sjoberg & Peet, 2011; Stern, 2018). Terrorism (see, e.g., Brown, 2011; Dyvik, 2014; Eager, 2016; Gentry, 2015, 2016; Gentry & Whitworth, 2011; Innes & Steele, 2015; Mehta, 2015; Ortbals & Poloni-Staudinger, 2014; Pain, 2014; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2011; Zalewski & Runyan, 2015). Women’s violence (see, e.g., Auchter, 2012; Brown, 2014; Cohen, 2013; Gentry & Sjoberg, 2015; Henshaw, 2016; MacKenzie, 2012; Parashar, 2011, 2014; Sjoberg, 2016a; Viterna, 2013). Human security (see, e.g., Boyd, 2014; Cockburn, 2013; Tripp, Ferree, & Ewig, 2013). Environmental security (see, e.g., Detraz, 2014, 2017; Detraz & Windsor, 2014; George, 2016). Genocide (see, e.g., Altinay & Peto, 2016; Brown, 2014, 2017; Hardi, 2011; Hogg, 2010; Schott, 2011; Sjoberg, 2016a). Transitional justice and post-conflict reconstruction (see, e.g., Baines, 2015; Bjorkdahl & Selimovic, 2015; MacKenzie, 2012; McLeod, 2015b; Ni Aolain, 2012; Ni Aolain, Haynes, & Cahn, 2011; O’Reilly, 2012; Pankhurst, 2012). Peace advocacy (see, e.g., Anderson, 2015; Cockburn, 2013; Confortini, 2012; Confortini & Ruane, 2014). Wartime rape (see, e.g., Baaz & Stern, 2013, 2018; Banwell, 2014; Cohen, 2016; Davies & True, 2015; Gray, 2019; Gray & Stern, 2019; Grey & Shepherd, 2013; Harrington, 2016; Henry, 2011; Kirby, 2015; MacKenzie, 2015; Meger, 2016). Militaries and militarism (see, e.g., Basham, 2013, 2016, 2018; Duncanson & Woodward, 2016; Eichler, 2015; Henry, 2016; Kronsell & Svedberg, 2011; MacKenzie, 2015; Sjoberg & Via, 2010; Vigil, 2014; Wibben, 2018). And the theory and practice of security more generally (see, e.g., Cockburn, 2010; Duriesmith, 2016; Pain, 2015; Parashar, 2013b; Sjoberg, 2013, 2014b, 2016b; Sylvester, 2012, 2013b; True, 2015b; Wibben, 2016a; Wilcox, 2015).

(25.) See also work on theorizing women’s political violence cited in note 22.

(26.) For related work, on rethinking state centrism (see, e.g., Bergman-Rosamond, 2013; Enloe, 2016; Parashar et al., 2016; Sjoberg, 2013; Stachowitsch, 2013; Tripp et al., 2013). On redefining security (Jansson & Eduards, 2016; Sjoberg, 2013). On the insecurity of women in secure states (see, e.g., Cockburn, 2013; Enloe, 2010).

(27.) For related work, on making women visible (see, e.g., Cohn, 2013; Enloe, 2010; Hareel-Shalev & Daphna-Tekoah, 2016; Viterna, 2013). On looking at security where women are (see, e.g., Coulter, 2015; Enloe, 2010; Pain, 2014; Wibben, 2016a). On studying women’s vulnerabilities (see, e.g., Cohn, 2013; Enloe, 2010; Parashar, 2014; Sjoberg & Peet, 2019; True, 2012b). And on using a continuum approach to violence (see, e.g., Cockburn, 2010; Frazer & Hutchings, 2014; MacKenzie & Foster, 2017; Pain, 2015).

(28.) For related work, on complexities of civilian immunity (see, e.g., citations in note 22). On conflict sexual violence (see, e.g., citations in note 22). On security discourse and practice (see, e.g., Ahall, 2016; Hagen, 2016; Kirby & Shepherd, 2016; McLeod, 2013; Wibben, 2016a;).

(29.) See also Sjoberg, 2012, 2013.

(30.) For related work on gender mattering in the utility of peace agreements, see, e.g., Aharoni, 2014; Ellerby, 2013. For work on sexuality and nationalism, we could/should have cited several other things back then, including but not limited to Puar, 2006; Weber, 1999, 2002. More work extends on that now, including but not limited to Amar, 2013; Shepherd & Sjoberg, 2012; Weber, 2016.

(31.) For further discussions of Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) processes, see, e.g., Kaufman & Williams, 2014; MacKenzie, 2012; Shekhawat, 2014; Wilen, 2014. For discussions of terrorism, see, e.g., work discussed in note 22). For discussions of applicability generally, see, e.g., Aggestam & Bergman-Rosemond, 2016; Kronsell, 2012; McLeod, 2015a; Parashar, 2014; Tiessen, 2015; Wibben, 2018.

(32.) For related work, see, e.g., Brunner, 2007; Hagen, 2016; Leigh, 2017; Peterson, 2012; Thwaites & Pressland, 2016; Wibben, 2014. Note that not all feminist work in Security Studies (e.g., Henry, 2017) sees the use of the word intersectionality as the most useful approach to multiple layers of power, but even that critique of the deployment of the term intersectionality looks at the importance of emphasizing multiple contexts. Recently, I have been thinking about this in terms of the categories of gender hierarchies (that is, hierarchies primarily based on gender) and gendered hierarchies (that is, hierarchies primarily based on other factors, or covering multiple factors, that are couched in terms of gender).

(33.) For arguments for standpoint feminisms in IR, see, e.g., Cockburn, 2010; Keohane, 1989. For early critiques, see, e.g., Sylvester, 1994; Weber, 1994; Zalewski, 1993. For early poststructural work, see, e.g., Sylvester, 1994; Weber, 1995. For early postcolonial work, see, e.g., Chowdry & Nair, 2002; Marchand & Parpart, 2003. Sylvester (1994) uses the trichotomy between standpoint, empiricist, and postmodern feminisms in introduction to a book on postmodern feminisms for IR.

(34.) For related work, see also, e.g., Basham, 2016; Daigle, 2015; Jansson & Eduards, 2016; Peterson & Runyan, 2014.

(35.) For related work, see also, e.g., Cohn, 2013; Hudson, 2005; Shepherd, 2008.

(36.) When I think about discussions of how looking at gender causes one to see the other margins in global politics as well, I think of Tickner (1992), whose work also addresses ecological, economic, and security injustices on axes other than gender. But recent work (see. e.g., the work in notes 32, 34, and 35) has made the argument that empathy with other injustices is not enough; analysis of the intersection and piling up of different axes of subordination is necessary to understand any one axis.

(37.) For related discussions directly in FSS, see also, e.g., Agathangelou, 2017; Parashar, 2013b; Shepherd, 2009; Sylvester, 2013a. For more general conversations, see, e.g. Dion, Sumner, & Mitchell, 2018; McClain et al., 2016; Medie & Kang, 2018a.

(38.) See also Amar, 2013; Belkin, 2012; Hagen, 2016; Haritaworn et al., 2014; Kramer, 2017; Langlois, 2016; Shepherd & Sjoberg, 2012; Puar, 2006; Rao, 2014, 2016; Richardson, 2017; Richter-Montpetit, 2018; Wilcox, 2011, 2014, 2015; Wilkinson, 2018; Wilkinson, 2017; Weissman, 2017. Note that some of these were found and read in consultation with Anna Weissman, for our co-authored bibliography on queer IR (Weissman & Sjoberg, 2019).

(39.) For related work looking at the ways masculinities are often hierarchically ordered by perceived relationships with sexualities, see, e.g., Baaz & Stern, 2009; Duncanson, 2009; Masters, 2005; Zalewski & Parpart, 1998. For related work looking at the ways in which (perceived) homosexual women are often identified with traits associated with masculinities (particularly related to political violence), see, e.g., Enloe, 1993; Hansen, 2000; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007, 2008b. Richter-Montpetit (2007) ties gender and sexuality analysis conceptually in a way some of this other early work did not.

(40.) At the time, we cited Prugl 1999; Chin 1998; Moon 1997; and others as examples. Now, work that is not situated in an empirical context is the exception not the norm.

(41.) For related work, see, e.g., Basu, 2013, 2016b; Eichler, 2015; Hardi, 2011; Harel-Shalev & Daphna-Tekoah, 2016; Medie & Kang, 2018b; Parashar, 2013a, 2014. This list is not exhaustive; it is also unlikely to be representative. Many of these scholars reside in and work in the Global North. This necessarily leaves out work not published in English (a very significant omission) as well as work that is about gender/security outside of a dialogue with the FSS literature.

(42.) For some other recent important work by scholars considered “first generation,” see, e.g., Parashar, Tickner, & True, 2016; Weber, 2016; Zalewski & Runyan, 2015. Again, this is not an exhaustive list. Recent theoretical contributions include, e.g., Ahall, 2016; Weber, 2015; Wibben, 2010. First generation of scholars continue to make important contributions, as does theorizing.

(43.) For an in-depth discussion of this, see Sjoberg, 2019.

(44.) See, for example, the discussions in Shepherd (2009) about whether it is possible to study gender from a non-feminist perspective and the problems and possibilities of operationalizing gender, discussed in more detail supra note 19.

(45.) See, e.g., critiques in Ahall, 2016; Hagen, 2016; Sjoberg et al., 2018; Shepherd, 2008, engaged with work that they critique.

(46.) For the argument that gender equality can and should be leveraged in service of peace, see, e.g., Hudson, Ballif-Spanvill, Caprioli, & Emmett, 2012; Hudson et al., 2009; Hudson & Matfess, 2017. For critical approaches, see, e.g. Crane & Crane-Seeber, 2013; Kinsella & Sjoberg, 2019.

(47.) Much of this debate can be found across critical approaches to the United Nations Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda.

(48.) For related work, see, e.g., Reiter, 2015; Sjoberg et al., 2018; Wibben, 2010.

(49.) For the counterargument directly, see, e.g., Tickner, 2010. For a discussion somewhere in the middle of positivism and post-positivism, see, e.g., Sjoberg et al., 2018.

(50.) See, e.g., discussion of feminist violences in Zalewski & Runyan, 2013.

(51.) See some of the work mentioned supra note 22.

(52.) See, e.g., discussions in D’Costa & Lee-Koo, 2013; Medie & Kang, 2018a; Parashar, 2013a; Teaiwa & Slatter, 2013.

(53.) In different contexts, see, e.g., Kinsella & Sjoberg, 2019; Parashar, 2013a; Shepherd, 2013; Teaiwa & Slatter, 2013.

(54.) This is a shoe I tried on in Sjoberg (2011), following the logic of the work of Hayward Alker. While I think that there is some utility in this approach, I also think that it glossed over some of the difficult issues of theoretical, epistemological, and ontological clashes.