What Role Does International Relations Play in the Shaping, Defining, or Legitimating of Masculinity or Masculinities?
“There may be numerous ways in which international relations are implicated in the construction of masculinities and masculine identities; through the direct disciplining of male bodies, through numerous political and institutional practices, and through broader cultural and ideological links. ” Unquestioningly, more and more people believe that “the personal becomes political” nowadays, we can see that even for subjects that suppose to be those of intimate details of private lives have become something that are constructed and structured by social relations.
More obvious, lives of women are especially in the main stage, but not in a very good way. How? There are many forms of gender oppression towards women. This performance of discrimination “deprives women from equal rights, whereas men have been judge on their merits as individuals, women have tended to be judged as female or as a group. ” This is to say that apparently, the world of international relations is precisely a man’s world, both in practice and theory.
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Be that as it may, to be success in this particular world, one must pass the criteria measured by masculine traits: power, autonomy, and independence. Also, it has been said that the privilege and power that achieve by men are not due to their physical, but because of their cultural association with masculinity. Having said that, Hooper also proposed that “it is the quality of masculinity that is closely associated with power, rather than men per se, and the term masculinism, which implies a privileging of masculinity”.
Coupled the stories that I have just described with the picture of international politics which is dominated by diplomats, soldiers, and international civil servants, most of whom are men, in defining the governments’ policies, it is not exaggerate to assume that world politics is a man’s world. Regardless of the fact that international relations is one of the last social sciences to be affected by gender/feminist analysis, many agree that it is because it has been so strongly masculinised by the works of those people that I have just said.
Moreover, considering the current trend of world politics that is based mainly on the ideology of realism, not only that it helps legitimate the masculine world, but also it contributes to the international relations theory and practice’s focal point on power, sovereignty, and security. Nonetheless, in this paper I will first discuss about the significance of identity towards international relations which I believe will provide the basic clarity of why we have to study about the importance of IR towards the masculine identity, then I will turn to the talk about the meaning of patriarchy and who defines or what legitimates that notion.
Next I will try to answer the question of this paper by making it seems more practical. For example, I will depict the picture of the world after Cold War in which realism claims its explanatory power and its effect in shaping, defining, or legitimating masculinity or masculinities, along with the illustration of how the United States have inscribed the idea of gender into IR, and used it to legitimate their actions, etc. Lastly will be the conclusion part. Identity and IR
In the famous article of Marysia Zalewski and Cynthia Enloe, Questions about the Identity in International Relations, they have asked us many questions that many always want to know the answers: what our identity is and who defines us. Knowingly, “identity is being fashioned and constructed by others who have a stake in making up certain social categories and in trying to make people conform to them. ” However, if any chance the final result came out showing that your identity is ‘a woman’, then ‘too bad’, because you will have to live with this so-called inferior status for the rest of your life.
Asserting Zalewski and Enloe, “gender and specifically that which is identified as belongings to femininity acts as a pre-emptive deterrent to certain modes of thought, action and speech. ” Funny as it may seem, who would have known that the social construction of women identity has been manufactured by mainly male theorists in order to keep them from accessing the public world, the world designed only for men.
Patriarchy and the Misogynic World “The term patriarchy was originally associated with ‘the rule of father’ but feminists broadened its use to cover other aspects of male domination. ” Obviously, international relations base its assumption and explanations almost entirely on the activities and experiences of men. Furthermore, according to Connell, there are several reasons why feminists have seen the state as patriarchal institution. “the state is the core of the whole structure of power relations in gender with the total exclusion of women” •“the state has a well-marked internal gender regime” with the example of strong gender division of labour •“it is typical of modern states that the centres of state power, the top decision-making units, are heavily masculine” •“the state has the capacity to do gender, it generates policies concerned with gender issues” Given these reasons, it can be said that only men can benefit, ‘patriarchal dividend’ in the form of money, authority, respect, safety and power, from the world of gender inequalities.
Although not all men can receive the benefits of patriarchal world, and not every woman suffers from it either, still the way in which elites men who possess the power in influencing and making decisions in government’s policy tend to focus on dichotomous thinking is mainly in order to sustain the gender order in the way that they want and the way that they can privilege from.
Hooper suggested that in defining masculinities “the academic discipline of IR is not exempt from the general observation that the more men align themselves with hegemonic masculinities, the more they boost their own credibility and perpetuate that hegemony”. And in defending this more valued status, we can see masculine practices work their ways to maintain such position, whether self-consciously or not, as well as to make sure that they meet the threshold of requiring elites’ privileges.
Hooper also claimed that “masculinities are not just domestic cultural variables; both political events and masculine identities are the products of men’s participation in international relations. ” Also, “international relations reflects a world of men in that they influence international affairs through their physical capacities, through practices at the institutional level, and through the symbolic links between masculinity and power. For real supporting example of such argument, I find that many scholars believe that the United States in the post-colonial era had been dominated by politicians, diplomats, and other international players. These were groups of people who had been strongly influenced by European values of hegemonic masculinity. Asserting Hooper once again, “such institutions still tend to churn out a high proportion of international elites. ” In sum, the international arena and men require each other.
This is to say that, while international relations needs men to design and work on its structure, most men, especially white elites men, also need the international relations to hold on to and to maintain their status quo. International Politics and its effect on Masculinities The Realism World “Paradigms such as realism, pluralism and structuralism/globalism are ontologically and ideologically committed to seeing a particular picture of the international, as a result which they are also theoretically and epistemologically constrained. ”
States are considered to be principal actors in the international relations. Why? To answer this question, one might have to go back to the traditional ideology of realism – which regards states as unitary and rational actor- that has been in the main focus of world politics for quite some time now. Especially in the era of Cold War, foreign policies of both the United States and the Soviet Union led to the institutionalization of masculinity. They fought each other with, besides the arms race, the definitions of masculinity and femininity.
However, if we dig deep enough to the core of policy makers and intellectuals that dominated the world, we can see that most of them are men. Thus, as we live in the world that dominated by a masculine’s culture, anything that is relating to the traits of hegemonic masculinity can be seen as in a higher position, superior status to those that associated with feminine. Also, the way in which we mostly concentrate our ideologies after cold war with realism led us to the emphasis on power politics, which finally renders us the reinforcement of masculinities. And, “for realist, security tied to the military security of the state.
Given their pessimistic assumptions about the likely behaviour of states in anarchic international environment, thus war could break out at any time because nothing can prevent it. This rendered states to rely on their own power capabilities to achieve security” . Hence, it can be easily detected that realism is oriented by masculine-linked characteristics. “Characteristics associated with manliness, such as toughness, courage, power, independence, and even physical strength, have, throughout history, been those most valued in the conducted of politics, particularly international politics” .
Cited example from Zalewski and Enloe’s work, “the current Chinese officials making nuclear policy were all men and they made at least some of their nuclear decision in order to prove to the Russians and the Americas that they too were real men in international politics. ” In spite the fact that realism notion can only explain a partial view of reality, still just when we think about the national security, it means that we have already entered into an almost exclusively male domain.
Tickner argued that “in the post-World War II world, this bipolar balance of power became what less sanguine observers termed a balance on terror that rested on the vast array of nuclear weapons possessed by the United States, the unprecedented buildup and maintenance of hugh military arsenals in a time of peace led to a new branch of international relations scholarship known as national security studies. While national security scholars are realists in their basic assumptions and explanations, during the Cold War era they focused almost exclusively in designing a military strategy for the United States with respect to the Soviet Union.
As national security specialists have moved between academic and government, American national security policy has rested on the realist prescription of increasing security through preparation for war” . However, the statement that I have just cited is not exaggerate since when we look back into the world history, particularly for the Greeks, the way to achieve status and recognition as an honored man, one needed to participate in war in the form of heroic performance. We can assume from these given facts that realism focus only on men, while oppress women.
Tickner gave us clarity that “The high politics of war and Realpolitik, the traditional Western academic discipline of international relations privileges issues that grow out of men’s experiences; we are socialized into believing that war and power politics are spheres of activity with which men have a special affinity and that their voices in describing and prescribing for this world are therefore likely to be more authentic. ” This rendered the pattern of gender discrimination that happens in the world nowadays.
To give an insight on this area, I shall point to the work of many well-known realists, namely Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Morgenthau. But first as most international relations student know that the Greek city-state was a community of warriors, and intellectuals and theorists back in those years like Hobbes, he said that people in the state of nature are in international arena. This is to say that, nature is in control of men; thus, it helps legitimate hegemonic masculinity. While for Machiavelli’s “the Prince”, he highly praised for warrior-prince.
Given this fact, many feminists regard warrior-citizenship neither as a negative, unavoidable characterization of human nature, nor a desirable possibility. Rather, they defer it as a revisable, gendered construction of personality and citizenship. Machiavelli also argued that for a person to possess to quantity of manliness, one must have virtu, which literally means manly activity. According to Tickner, “Machiavelli’s virtu is insight, energetic activity, effectiveness, and the courage: it demands overcoming a man’s self-indulgence and laziness. ” On the other hand, he perceived women as fortuna.
Or else, it is a feminine power in men themselves against which they must continually struggle to maintain autonomy. For him, “fortuna is a threat to the masculinity of the citizen-warrior” Furthermore, he always regarded women as weak, fearful, indecisive, and dependent. Also, Tickner claimed that the real test of manly virtue in that era was victory in battle. In Morgenthau’s popular book “Politics among Nations,” he has constructed his argument almost exclude women. When he claimed about the struggle for power between individuals for dominance, women hardly occupy any claims of such area.
Thus, we can assume that when Morgenthau talks about domination, he is referring to men primarily. Having said these, we can presume once again that state continues to derive much of its legitimacy from its security function; especially for national security that citizens are willing to make sacrifices without doubt. Additionally, Connell said that “while state power is a resource for the struggle for hegemony in gender, hegemonic masculinity is also a resource in the struggle for state power. ” And this explains why political parties often choose military heroes or prominent generals as candidates.
Tickner proved that “the president’s dual role as commander in chief reinforces our beliefs that qualities we associate with the manliness are of utmost importance in the selection of our presidents ”To understand this logic, we first have to realize that “soldiering is characterized as a manly activity requiring the masculine traits of physical strength, action, toughness, capacity for violence, and, for officers, resolve, technical know-how, and logical or strategic thinking” and that “military combat in the pursuit of war is a clear example of how international relations help to shape men ”.
It is the most complete version of masculinity. Those who went to war and came back had been highly praised for their sacrifice. In this case, the dead were also heroes. Rather, in many cases we can that those men who avoid going to fight in war had been greatly looked down on as soft and feminized. Further we can see that “war are fought for many reasons; yet, frequently, the rationale for fighting wars is presented in gendered terms such as the necessity of standing up to aggression rather than being pushed around or appearing to be sissy or a wimp.
Support for wars is often garnered through the appeal to masculine characteristics ”. In the realism world where war is central to the way we learn about the international relations, the vicious cycle and the security dilemma relied greatly on the war, and since war demands manliness, for combat is the ultimate test of masculinity, thus “war is a gendering activity at a time when the discourse of militarism and masculinity permeates the whole fabric of society ”.
One of the most interesting examples of to show how international relations and masculinities had interrelationship after reading the work of Hooper is when he claimed that “Pluralist and liberal perspectives were being feminized by Waltz un order to put them down. Theoretical overcomplication that creates confusion is akin to so-called feminine woolly mindedness, in signifying lack of masculine reason and purposefulness… Such failings contrast neatly with Waltz’s own punchy, curt, and slightly aggressive prose. Given that example, we can infer easily of the direct consequences that international relations use the gender perspectives in upgrading their own point of view. Thus, using this same tactic the United States nowadays in order to fight the war on terror, most of the policymakers in the Capitol Hill, which most of them are men, have been tried to implicate the rhetoric of gender in which they portrayed those who refuse the use of patriot act as being soft, the characteristic most likely to associated with women. Imperialism and Post-Colonialism
Traced back in time we can see that imperial also intervened in domestic life or somehow found the way to link the issue of domination with gender of people in their colonies. For example, one of the greatest works in international relations studies of Edward Said ‘Orientalism’ rendered us the idea of a male perception of the world And Tickner showed that “colonized people were often described as being effeminate, masculinity was an attribute of the white man, and colonial order depended on Victorian standards of manliness ”.
Similar to the same tactic using above, sometimes we can see that the imperial countries often portray the countries which they ruled with the picture of female or even children. For example this is how Latin America was perceived by the United States. Thus, “it is not the action themselves but the gendered interpretations placed on them that are crucial in determining which activities count as masculine and valued and which count as feminine and devalued . ”
International Political Economy and Gender Division of Labour “The power of gendered dichotomies and the way in which strategies of masculinization and feminization work to promote inequalities between the sexes can be seen clearly in the gendered division of labor” . Recently political economy has become more and more powerful in its explanatory power. Depicting Japan and Germany, two countries saw as aggressors of World War II, these two countries nowadays have emerged as the economic superpower contrasting to the ideology of realism.
Yet, this does not imply that military, power have declined their strengths, rather in many countries still military and arms purchase still prior to other economic budget. True that political economy is another important field of international relations, and it has increased its popularity over time, still, as irony as it may seem, the more global economy has shown its face to the world, the more it shows the cold war imagery of masculinity. “Post cold-war era in for the United Sates reflected not only a reconfiguration of Anglo-American hegemonic masculinity in conjunction with economic estructuring, workplace changes, and new management styles, but also reflected a more local phenomenon: the Americanization of the City of London and of the culture of international finance ”. Even for liberalism that tends to give attention to economy, or liberalism rational economic man, most people still agree that that idea is based heavily on the hegemonic masculinity characteristics. Be that as it may, this gave birth to the gender or sexual division of labour in which men have dominated the intellectual fields while women have been assigned the domestic tasks necessary for physical survival , especially in the light industries .
Enloe said that “this sexual division of labour has had the effect of further masculinizing national and international politics. For governments to possess heavy industries which most men control is held as proof that a country has graduated. ” Also many Marxist feminists believe that capitalism is the source of women’s oppression and lower levels of human capital , radical feminists claim that “women are oppressed by the system of patriarchy that has existed under almost all modes of production.
Patriarchy is institutionalized through legal and economic, as well as social and cultural institutions ”. Moreover, “if capital is being rewarded disproportionately to labour in the world economy, then men are being rewarded disproportionately to women ” and that “women are oppressed in specific ways that are attributable to patriarchy rather than capitalism ” Conclusion “IR symbolically becomes a wholly masculine sphere of war and diplomacy, at the furthest extreme from the domestic sphere of families, women, and reproduction in the private/public/international divides of modernity” .
In answering the paper’s question, Hooper said that “international relations has played an important part in not only reflecting and legitimating specific masculinities, but also in constructing and defining them” . With all the proving examples that I have stated in this paper, I do not think that gender hierarchies that privilege male characteristics and men’s knowledge and experiences, and sustain the kind of attitudes toward women in foreign policy will change any time soon.