The Late Arrival of Feminist Approaches to the Study of International Relations Theory
In this essay, I will be attempting to explain the relatively late
arrival of feminist approaches to the study of international relations
theory. In addition I will be answering the question of what can be
learnt from feminist theories. I believe that there is a lot to be
learnt from feminist theories because in international relations, I
have not come across another theory which has covered the issues which
have been covered by feminism. This essay will not only consist of my
thoughts as to what can be learnt but certain facts and thoughts from
other people. I will be attempting to provide you with an insight into
the history of feminist; outlining when it arrived in IR. In addition,
I will be providing a brief summary of the several types of feminist
approaches; Liberal feminism, Marxist feminism and Radical feminism.
The history of feminism in accordance with actual events will be
provided to explain the late arrival of feminist approaches and
several reasons will be explained to help me provide an adequate
answer as to what can be learnt from feminist approaches. It is
perhaps necessary to begin this essay with an insight to the
introduction of feminism to IR.
International relations has been one of the last fields to open up to
feminisms, which offer unique contributions to any field of research.
Indeed, compared with other disciplines, the arrival of feminist
perspectives in IR occurred relatively late. It was only in the late
1980’s and early 1990’s that several conferences and the published
books created momentum for a feminist study of IR. Among the early
books, now classics of the field, are Jean Bethke Eishtain’s Women and
War (1987) and Cynthia Enloe’s Bananas, Beaches and Bases (1989). In
addition, J. Ann Tickners Gender in International Relations: Feminists
Perspectives on achieving global security (1992) and Christine
Sylevester’s Feminist Theory and International Relations in a
Postmodern Era (1994) made their mark in the early 1990’s. While they
are all different in their approach, they are united by seeking to
rethink IR’s basic parameters.
Research into gender is now a major growth area in international
relations. Gender and IR were very slow to connect historically
however, and there was no feminist work to speak of until the 1980’s.
Two factors contributed to the slow uptake of gender concerns.
Firstly, the discipline operated on the assumption of
gender-neutrality, premised on the notion that the gender issues
relevant in domestic politics were irrelevant to the national security
concerns of states in the international arena. Secondly, second wave
feminists tended to focus on the oppression of women within the
domestic sphere. Consequently, while IR focused on...