“Gender is actually central to the constitution and practice of international policies.” Marysia Zalewski
Historically the international relations (IR) have been overwhelmingly dominated by the male politicians. Therefore, in the dominant Western culture patriarchy and its natural corollary masculinity has been the undisputed norm in politics. The aggressive masculine image of the ideal macho male politician is deeply etched in the collective psyche of the entire Western civilization and culture. However, in the present day post-modern, post industrial West the dominance of the man in the domestic and the international arena has been under stringent scrutiny, and in certain instances under open frontal attack by the vocal feminists. Today there are no two opinions about the premise that gender is vital to both the constitution and the practice of the IR. Both in the academia and the real world, the absence of women from the arenas of real-politick is being questioned on a daily basis now (Brittan 1989).
Violence has been the primary weapon by which the men have perpetuated their complete and undisputed dominance, both in the domestic political sphere and in the international relations. According to some scholars the violence is the manifestation of the aggressive primordial nature of man. The male statesmen and the politicians are involved in a constant struggle for power. The male dominated institution of military is the symbol of the power and the prestige of the mankind as opposed to the womankind. The men are opposed to the very idea of women joining the military because this institution, over the centuries, has been transformed into an exclusive male club. In the view of the feminists the act on part of the women to join the military evokes a kind of fear as that of being emasculated in the hearts and the minds of the men. The feminization of the military is offensive in the eyes of the men and the act reeks of nothing short of seditious revolt on part of the womankind. The mere thought of feminization of the military is an insult to man’s insolent pride. The military is in fact is the integral part of the scheme of things to keep the women in bondage. What the men really fear is that the women by nature are not going to settle issues through the blatant use of force but instead they would aim to resolve the conflicts amicably in a peaceful and humane manner (Fukuyama 1998).
The other method to prolong the male hegemonic designs vis a vis the women is the economic exploitation or the economic dependence. The mainstream international political economy (IPE) which is also dominated by men by the formation of such financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is another aspect of the male dominance in the realm of international relations. The critical international political economy (IPE) with its primary emphasis on the micro-economic projects negates the principles of economic oppression set in place by the men. The critical international political economy (IPE) specifically targets the poor and the disenfranchised segments of the society and provides with the essential means to rid them of the economic dependence. The critical political economy (IPE) amounts to the female gender becoming economically stable and independent. Hence, like he feminization of the military the critical international political economy also goes against the domination of the men and is bitterly opposed by them. Owing to the paradigm shift, the non-state actors like the INGOs and the community banks are gradually but surely bringing about important changes not only at the micro-economic level but also at the macro-economic level, as well. The strong bastion of the male hegemonic economic institutions like the IMF with projects of restructuring the economies are being shunned by the majority of the under-developed and the developing countries of the world. The feminism and the feminists are at the vanguard of this strong challenge to the traditional male inspired economic institutions and the policies replacing them with new people-friendly institutions and economic policies. Globalization is the major factor that is challenging the out-dared and obsolete practice both in the social and the economic spheres. Globalization, though, being resisted by the feminists in certain instances, is the impetus behind the new found confidence among the feminists against the traditional, patriarchal mode of accomplishing political and economic tasks. The new-world-order of the neo-liberals with it worn-out pressure tactics and economic maneuverings is being successfully side-stepped by the enlightened feminist practices and agendas. No more in international relations the world is being run by the men in order to preserve and safeguard the interests of the men. Furthermore, no more these interests are, consciously or unconsciously, interpreted by other men according to the male perspectives only (Waylen 2006).
The female gender is rewriting the political and the economic history of the world and the male gender can do little to stop this advance towards peace and prosperity. Under the influence of the feminists the female gender is asserting itself. The female gender, perhaps, for the first time in the recorded history is playing a positive role in the international relations. The democratic dispensations in most of the countries of the West are providing the female gender a legitimate and a solid platform to fulfill it anointed part in the domestic affairs of their nations, and I the international relations, respectively. The female gender is demanding its fair share in the political and the economic spheres; something that has been denied to them because of the uncaring, ruthless male hegemony. The feminists have given the female gender a new voice and a new vigor to accomplish tasks that the male gender because of its inherent natural limitations has not completed or completed them according to their perspectives without giving a thought to the dreams and the aspirations of the finer gender. The female gender is gradually but surely claiming for itself decision making roles in the domestic as well as the international politics. The feminine approach to the international relations is diametrically opposed to that of the egoistic male approach. The female approach to such issues as class, race and religion is much more humane and enlightened. The international relations are in desperate need of more and in addition active involvement on part of the women. The involvement of the womankind in the international relations ensures that the world is transformed for the better. The history of the United States proves that the majority of women opposed all foreign interventions on part of the government. The majority of women opposed the Vietnam War whereas the men supported it. The same was the case as far as the Korean fiasco was concerned: the women pleaded the government to abstain from any sort of adventurism but their advice was not welcome. In the more recent history the American women vehemently opposed the Gulf War but once again no one in the government seemed interested in their sane opinion. The women by nature are attuned to bridge gaps and resolve conflicts because of their inherent maternal instinct. If there were more women in decision-making posts most, if not all, of these conflicts could well have been averted. The men, on the other hand, know only one way to resolve the conflicts and that is by the use of blatant force. History records that the decisions made by the men in the government and on the streets proved very costly for the entire nation. Both in the terms of resources and the manpower all the wars America took part in were ultimate in vain. Furthermore, decades after these wars there are some wounds that are still not fully healed. America needs more women in its power corridors so that sane and not emotional decisions are made in the future. The feminization of the military and all the other armed forces is necessary for the reason that unreasonable or the excess of aggression is contained. Masculinity and the Rambo-style politics in the international relations have made the United States a pariah and an outcast. At the present moment in time, because of the short-sightedness of its macho, masculine politicians the United States is the most hated country in the under developed and the developing world. The policies and the projects initiated by the United States for the restructuring and the economic uplift of the different countries and in different are having the completely opposite effects than what the policy makers had in mind. The foreign policy of United States, believe it or not, lies in complete shambles. Why? The answer is very simple. The successive administrations in the White House tried to impose their will on different countries and in different regions without giving a thought to what were the ideas and aspirations of the people Washington wanted to help. The results of these policies have been disastrous and the United is a unwelcome entity in these countries and regions, even after spending billions of dollars. Not all is lost. The United States has the golden opportunity to put everything right. The dire need of the hours that more women are needed to be at the helm of affairs. The woman touch is needed to build bridges with the disgruntled countries and the United States. The feminine approach is necessary because only women can tactfully handle the volatile situations in the international relations. The country needs to foster healthy foreign relationships with the angry and the frustrated people o the world. The feminine approach needs to be practiced both at the personal and the institutional level. In the words of prominent scholars the field of international relations is in need of engendering. The process of engendering can only start when the female gender is taken seriously. Mere lip service will not suffice. The masculine approach has failed and it is high time that the feminine approach is given a valid chance. It is the right time when the feminist principle “personal is political” is practiced in the realm of international relations. Overwhelming masculinity has been badly and in certain cases irreparably damaged and exposed. The feminist principles and practices must be given a chance as the final anti-dote to the illness in the international relations. The time is right for the United States to follow the feminist precepts in its foreign policy making and the international relations. Placing women at the center stage is the only viable option left. The female politicians and the female leaders must be given a chance to amend the mistakes made by the male politicians and the male leaders. The 21st requires new mode of acting and unique modes of thinking as far as the international arena is concerned. Immediate restructuring is needed as far as the male/female; masculine/feminine dichotomy needs to be addressed at war footings. No more should the international relations be seen as site for the production of masculinities but instead international relations must be highlighted as a site for the production of femininities. Only thereby can the problems that beset the United States in the international relations can be adequately solved. In conclusion, the dictum that the female gender is central to the composition and practice of international relations must be adhered to in the best interest of the United States, in particular and the world, in general (Zalewski and Parpart 1998).
The paper answers the essential question of the reasons for the predominance of men in world politics. In addition, it addresses the problems that the over dominance of men in international relations has resulted in, like the Holocaust and the American wars. The paper highlights the importance of the participation of women in the globalized, post-modern , and the post-industrial world. The participation of women is imperative to solve many dire problems faced by the United States in the international affairs. One of the most important steps suggested by this paper is the feminization of the military which is the mainstay of the macho, masculine nature of the real-politick. The paper concludes with the assertion made by Zalewski, that the female gender is “central to the constitution and practice of international policies.”
Brittan, Arthur. Masculinity and Power, 170-200th ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989.
Fukuyama, Francis. "Women and the Evolution of World Politics." Foreign Affairs 77, no. 5 (1998): 24-40.
Waylen, Georgina. "You still don't understand: why troubled engagements continue between feminist and (critical) IPE." Review of International Studies 32 (2006): 145-164.
Zalewski, Marysia, and Jane L. Parpart. "Introduction." In The "man Question" in International Relations, 1-12. Boulder: Westview Press, 1998.