Gender theory in International Relations Essay

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Federica Pala

Feminist theories in IR
This essay aims to to analyse the role that gender plays in International Relations through the analysis which feminist theories have developed in the field of war and terrorism. More specifically, after a presentation of this relatively new theoretical position and its main contributions in the domain of world politics, there will be examined armed conflict with a particular focus on how gender issues affect the attitude toward international conflict, and how the dichotomy between feminine and masculine is reflected variously in the way war is understood, organized and conducted. A particular attention will be payed to sexual violence in wars and to the gender dimension that nationalism and …show more content…

While the soldiers are deemed “heroes”, the women are depicted as “victims”, that is weak and subordinated. This perpetuates women's lack of empowerment in peacetime situations and mask the reality of women’s experience of violence and insecurity.
This social and cultural structure is particularly evident in the “new wars”, which Kaldor (1999) distinguishes from the conventional warfare by highlighting that the formers are largely fought by men in the name of a political identity that usually has a significant gender dimension. In the article Gender and New Wars (2004), Kaldor and Chinkin identifies the salient aspects that characterize contemporary forms of conflict: a blurring of war and crime that involve deliberate attacks on civilians, such as rape and sexual torture, funded by predatory economic activities which appear to be more detrimental for women than for men. New wars are largely fought in the name of identity - ethnic, religious, or tribal - rather than for ideological or geopolitical goals. The figure of the heroic “old warrior” is here replaced by an insecure and contradictory soldier, who enters the conflict with no clear nationalist consciousness: as a matter of fact ‘war is an important mechanism through which identities are constructed and fixed through the imposition of a binary us and them’ (ibid. p. 171). A poignant example is provided by the Yugoslav wars, and in particular by the Bosnian one, fought by men (with few exceptions which saw the

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