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Does Feminism have anything else to offer International

Relations theory other than the argument that women

should be treated equally?

Feminism movement, get its highlight in the seventies, as a severe
critic to the patriarchal structures in which the world is structured
and where the women were at a disadvantage in regards to men.
Nevertheless, in the human history/history of the world is not
something new although is from twenties when feminism peaks not
only as a movement but also from a theoretical point of view. At the
end of twenties the changes generated by globalization allowed the
creation of new sceneries by means of which the feminism struggle
manages to reach an international stage. In this essay one will try to
explain the approach of feminism theory, its types and the
contributions done to international relations from a theoretical an a
practical point of view. As well as it will be concluded that feminism
theory has more contributions to give to International Relations
theory apart from that which claims the women equality.

In this way it will be try to get to the bottom of the scale that
international relations acquire from a feminism theory perspective,
being understood as a theoretical and practical alternative to
reformulate the structure of an international environment which is
presented as a chaotic faced with presence of globalization and the
disappearance of power balance.

The feminism theory is understood as the ideas set weaved around

a critic of values and the patriarchal dynamics on which States and
Wordl societies were structured; ideas which have its origin in the
eighteen century, when the first favourable opinions were made
around the social integration of women coming from erudite
philosophers like Condorcet or Olimpia de Gouges.

Then, during the nineteen century a strong reaction against
Napoleonic Code was produced, which declared women unable and
legally subjected to the tutelage of father, brother or husband. In
England, Lidia Beacker established the Women's Suffrage Journal, in
France, Olimpia Andouard, Noemi Reclus and others created
feminist clubs and newspapers which intensified even more the
budding feminist movements.

During the twenty century, boosted/ foster by the need of labor and
the crisis produced by the two big wars, when the women
incorporated to the factories and assumed the roles up until then
designated exclusively for men. In the middle of seventies, with the
peak of the different social movements which questioned the
prevailing statu quo, feminism produced a deployment of
epistemological breakings-off, construction of new paradigms and
interpretation skills around the women figure from a socio-political
point of view. Therefore, feminism assumed the struggle for socio-
political, economic, legal and cultural women claim. One of the
greatest reach of the feminist movements was the recognition of
the right to vote, as it became a powerful tool to get the aims and
influence in the government decisions.

In the eighties and nineties new political, ideological, economic and

cultural sceneries took place, which influenced feminists and social
movements in general. Globalization opened new periods to
undertake the claim struggle for human rights. In view of the
dramatic process of exclusion, feminists faced the need of
extending their struggles to the international field, under the lack of
will or the states inability of answering the city demands. This is
evidenced by means of the feminist movements’ participation in the
conferences, worldly peak and international forums.

Through a documental revision it will try to explain the different
approaches to the feminist theory, its types, its peaks and
limitations that the theory as well as the feminist movements have
contributed to the international relation field either as a discipline or
as practice.


Nowadays, international relations, as a discipline and as practice as
well, are going through an interesting period in his historical
evolution, because they are present at several questions which
necessarily produce a reconsideration of their theories, methods,
aims of study and operations, as well as their political and practical
utility in the national and international sphere. This, due to the
whole and dynamic action of the “propelling forces”1 that Alfred
Zimmern identified as causal of the impulse producing the
development of international relations: the internal development of
ideas or paradigms; the evolution of events (ending of the Cold War
and globalization) and the influx of the rest of social sciences.
The process is been remarked could be defined as a readapt
process, in which different theories that have tried to explain the
international reality approach and move away one from others,
providing to the discipline an unusual theoretical dynamism which
leave back/in the past the traditional debate between realism and
idealism to demarcate a new period.
Among the theories breaking with the traditional schemas and
demanding a restructuration of international relations, we can find
feminist theories2. It was Robert Keohane (1989) who indicated
fracture for first time between new and traditionalist approaches,
classifying the first ones as reflectivist and being characterised by:
distrust in scientific models to deal with the study of world politics,

ZIMMERN, A. (1931). The study of international relations. Oxford:
It is in plural because of the different perspectives since international relations can be deal with.

its methodology is based on the historical and textual interpretation
and the need of lead the reflection about the nature of institutions
and the character of world politics.
Among the remarked approaches the feminist theories are stressed,
understanding as feminist every person and group, reflexions
and actuations orientated to end up with subordination,
inequality and oppression of women caused by the
prevailing patriarchal structures and get, therefore, their
emancipation and the constitution of a society without sex
or gender iscriminations (Castells, 1996). These theories can
be grouped in two types, according to set out by Alison Jagar (1983)
can be grouped in accordance with political criterion; and Sandra
Harding (1996), who set out a classification in accordance with the
epistemological criterion maintained.

Political criterion: Alison Jaggar set out a typology from a political

perspective, in which he grouped those theories containing
underlying political and philosophical attitudes in their premises. In
this ideology the following classification can be distinguished:
-. Liberal feminism. They defend the values of freedom,
dignity, equality and autonomy typical of the liberal though. It
considers women to be oppressed because they are not treat equal
as men and demand equal formal, material or real opportunities to
revert the situation of discrimination. This stance try the woman to
be incorporate in conditions of equality by political means, creating
equality of opportunities and generating laws which take to the
reformism, it look for the equality of rights and representation in he
national and international field, looking for the creation of laws not
feminist or masculine but more human.

-. Socialist/Marxist feminism: it emphasizes the problem of

socio-economical inequality, understood from its link to the sexual
inequality. In this sense the women oppression is not a result of

ignorance or intentioned actions of individuals but result of political,
social and economical structures associated with capitalism.

-. Radical Feminism. It is linked to the human rights

movements in United Stated (1960-1970): and it focuses on the
criticism to the patriarchal, to the system which makes possible the
men domination over the women. A radical reconstruction in
sexuality is required which went beyond the reform of laws and the
equality in political and economical institutions. It assumes a really
hard critic faced at the first ones because they look for the women
liberation under the values men schemas, instead of demanding the
equality of power. Its essential aim is the transformation of the
system and therefore its critic is driven to the epistemological
fundament of the science in which the world is organised. This
ideology has a essentialist position because it starts from the
feminist point of view, from its values and experiences.

The other theories are grouped in schemas named epistemological

criterion, developed by Sandra Harding (1996).

El otro conjunto de teorías se agrupan dentro de los esquemas

criterios epistemológicos, desarrollados por Sandra Harding (1996).

2. Criterios epistemológicos. Son los más usados para el análisis

de las relaciones
internacionales. Dentro de esta tipología destaca la siguiente

2.1. F eminismo empiricista: Considera que el sexismo y el

presentes en la investigación científica son sesgos sociales que se
corregir con una adhesión estricta al método científico (Harding,
Considera el rol que la ciencia ha desempeñado en la división sexual
plantea la idea de una “mala ciencia”, en la cual no hay referencias

representación de la mujer y los temas que le competen a ella.
reconoce que existe una “buena ciencia”, ésta es un subcampo
subterráneo de las ciencias sociales que expone valores e intereses
funcionan como una evidencia material, exponiendo las fallas como
las ciencia naturales (Silvester, 1994:31).

2.2. F eminismo de punto de vista (stanpoint feminism). Es el

que sostiene
que la ciencia refleja la posición dominante del hombre en la vida
lo que produce un conocimiento “parcial y perverso” (p. 24). El
punto de
vista de la mujer permite favorecer una visión más moral y
más adecuada, pues completa el conocimiento y lo hace menos
para explicar e interpretar el mundo y la conducta social.
3.3. F eminismo posmoderno. Este enfoque se refiere a la
condición de género,
centrado en la identidad de la mujer y su relación con el
conocimiento. Se
cuestiona la validez de la ciencia moderna, “el posmodernismo se
Politeia 39
de todo intento de una teoría integrada y se muestra escéptico
a las nociones de racionalidad y verdad” (Sodupe, 2003:206).
un cuestionamiento del proyecto de la Ilustración junto con sus
sus categorías y su interpretación de la historia. No cree en los
emancipadores universales (mujeres, obreros). La identidad, según
esta corriente de pensamiento, gira en torno a la dicotomía poder-
(Sylvester, p. 16). El posmodernismo en relaciones internacionales
en su
versión feminista tiene dos vertientes; por un lado, el feminismo
(no esencialista) que busca la deconstrucción de la autoridad y la
idea de hombre soberano, donde la identidad no se comprende ni

sino en función del otro y, por el otro lado, el posmodernismo
(esencialista), que se centra en el estudio de las fuerzas y
de una identidad heredada, de forma tal de poder dotar a la mujer
con las
mismas capacidades que el hombre (pp. 11-17).
En las relaciones internacionales los enfoques feministas comienzan
a aparecer
a partir de 1980. Tanto el feminismo de punto de vista como el
posmoderno comparten
los planteamientos del feminismo radical sobre las estructuras
y antropocéntricas de la sociedad y del sistema internacional.
A propósito de esto, dice Marcela Lagarde (2002:273):
…el concepto de humanidad encubre ideológicamente la
dominación al pretender
la confluencia abarcadora de todos y todas (...) al homologar a la
con el hombre, se le anuncia excluyente ya que deja fuera, o sea
subsume en el
sujeto histórico (patriarcal, genérico, clasista, étnico, racista,
religioso, político)
a quienes están sometidos por el dominio, a quienes no son el
sujeto y, en consecuencia,
no son suficientemente humanos.
Las teorías feministas en sus distintas versiones buscan insertar en
la agenda
internacional el tema de la mujer, toda vez que el sistema
internacional se presenta
cada vez más difuso en tanto globalizado, cuando el Estado, actor
del sistema internacional, se ve cuestionado como dotador de
identidad, lo que
permite la emergencia de múltiples identidades que buscan
reivindicación y
En tal sentido, la crítica fundamental es que toda la concepción del
las categorías y las ramas del conocimiento están sesgadas con una
visión masculina,
producto de las preocupaciones masculinas, que deja de lado la
manera de
Politeia 39
entender las cosas de la mujer. Desde Platón, el pensamiento
occidental ha estado

estructurado mediante categorías duales o dicotómicas como
objeto-sujeto, universal-particular, que a su vez están sexualizados
y jerarquizados y
en las que se privilegia como superior lo masculino (Olsen,
2000:25). Por lo tanto,
se requiere de una reestructuración del pensamiento y de la manera
de conocer.
Alda Facio (1996:73) asegura que
…el que se atribuyan características dicotómicas a cada uno de los
sexos, tal vez
no sería tan grave si las características con las que se define a uno y
otro sexo no
gozaran de distinto valor, no legitimaran la subordinación del sexo
femenino y
no construyera lo masculino como todo lo humano.
Según la perspectiva del punto de vista femenino, la teoría debería
mostrar cómo las mujeres están situadas en relación con las
estructuras de poder
dominante y cómo éstas forjan una identidad y una política de
resistencia, además
de proporcionar una dirección hacia la cual, tanto la práctica como
la teoría, pueden
conllevar la liberación.
Una autora representativa de esta postura es Jo Ann Tickner (1988),
quien cuestionó
los seis principios del realismo político elaborados por Morgenthau
en 1948
y en la que centraremos nuestro análisis más adelante. Para
Tickner, los principios
de Morgenthau son expresión de la preeminencia machista, de la
razón machista;
así, la categoría del interés nacional, entendido como poder, está
basada en una
visión parcial y desde el punto de vista femenino el interés nacional
no sólo debe
definirse como poder, sino también como cooperación e
interdependencia, capaz
de incluir problemas globales como el problema nuclear, ecológico y
A su vez, Cinthia Enloe (1989), otra representante del punto de vista
se planteó la necesidad de demostrar el papel verdadero de la
mujer en la
política internacional, siendo éste más importante del que le
asignan usualmente.

Para ello examinó el papel desempeñado por las esposas de los
líderes políticos o
diplomáticos en las decisiones tomadas por éstos y el papel de las
mujeres vinculadas
con las bases militares estadounidense (empleadas, prostitutas,
antimilitaristas, madres de soldados).
Por su parte, el feminismo posmoderno se refiere más a la situación
de género,
la construcción social de las diferencias entre hombres y mujeres.
No obstante, el
Politeia 39
feminismo, en general, se plantea como una corriente que persigue
el cambio, es
rebelde y subversivo, anti statu quo, antipatriarcal, antineoliberal,
en tanto se antepone a todo lo que deslegitime a los diversos
actores sociales.
La vertiente crítica se concentra en el problema de la construcción
del género,
haciendo énfasis en las condiciones a las que se ve sometida la
mujer en su
participación y cómo se controla su acceso a las posiciones de
poder. Se orienta
a responder sobre las prácticas e ideas que permiten reproducir y
legitimar las
condiciones androcéntricas; sin ser esencialista busca un cambio de
la sociedad
(Silvester, 1994:24-25).

The feminist perspective provides a different way and alternative to
understand and raise the international relations, incorporating an
evaluation of the social context in which the matters have been
developed to favour the improvement of the human condition
without any privileges for a determined reality. Moreover they have
demonstrated that the identity of the individuals “is not gender-
neutral” 3. In this way his main investigation aim is the situation or
experiences of women in society and in the international system.
So, he considers the women central individuals of the investigation
process and intends link women with their capacities. He tries to
perceive the world from women’s point of view, so it is a critical
theory whose aim is produce a better world for women and
therefore for the humanity. He produces a paradigm change when
he proves that knowledge of world we thought it was universal and
absolute it is only a derived knowledge of a powerful segment of
society (men), which affects to the consciousness, symbols and
valid assesses. He enables update the theory of international
relations, providing new objects of study, modifying the agenda,
proposing new interpretations and showing different alternatives.
He also expands and enrich the way of doing politics, revitalizes
concepts, like those of citizenship, human rights, relationship
between States and relationship between States and international
Organizations. It is a theory that can be combined with other
theories of international relations like systematic, idealist,

PETERSON, V. (1996). “Epistemological and territorial remmaping in the
of globalization, en Globalization: Theory and practice. New York: Pinter.

constitutionalist, institutionalist... so that it complements and enrich
analysis methods already known.


Some theoretical debilities of the feminist perspective of the
international relations are the problematic character of the two
sides of feminism as political critic and practical of the though and
as social movement. For some of them, it weakens the discipline
because it dislegitimizes it with its critics. It only affects a minority
collectivism and has no greater importance for the whole discipline.
In his effort to get the inclusion of women, some feminist theories
are considered to be exclusive for men, so they lose their pretention
of giving it a complement character to the existing knowledge.



It is necessarily remark the existence of Neoliberalism and

Globalization, which critic the prevailing economical system and
their neoliberal proposal of considering women the most affected
under this system. They hold, for instance that the economical
model which organises the world contributes with globalization but
also with the spread of prostitution, at the same time teenagers and
children are incorporated to that. Women, regarding an report of
PNUD of 1995, they represented the 70% of 300 million of the
poorest people of the world, and furthermore are bombed by means
fashion and communication means to a inducement of permanent
consumerism. A proposal that feminism sets out is promoting the
gender perspectives from the inside of organizations which move
the economies like the International Monetary Fund and the World
Bank. From this perspective, the economical variation of
globalization is disencouraging and lead therefore to a violence as
means of subsistence.

The human genome considers that women are entrusted with the
change of politics and though to humanize the human, making the
world a more habitable place.
Due to the interest behind the scientific advances, technical
commercialization will allow from this perspective that the
transnationals take the secret code of the human life, and if the
women are unable to drive the economical, social, cultural and

political world changes, it will take the risk of the women
disadvantages grow up in an alarming way with the feminisation of
poverty, prostitution, violence, war and the conception genetically
manipulated. If this happens, women will lose a space in an inherent
area for women condition, the conception and the maternity.

International Security proposes the creation of a new inclusive

paradigm of security in which women are implied in all the phases of
Peace Process, in prevention as well as in resolution of conflicts.
There are some reasons because women are valuable for
pacification: because they are inclined towards establish relations
which save the ethnic, religious and cultural divisions due to their
social and biological role; they take the community’s pulse where
there has to be agreement; they normally are not who brandish the
weapons; because they have not been allowed to be in the political
power structures they are more inclined to find solutions and are
able to create their own agenda outside the political parties and
official organizations; and finally they have more capacity to
overcome the conflict barrier.


The fact that the woman nature was give life, makes her able to
look for pacific solutions, security, future vision, cooperation and
integration. Because of that, United Nations in the IV Conference
about woman (1995) laid the foundations for deliberations of women
participation in conflicts resolution, peace negotiations,
reconciliation, reconstruction and maintenance of peace. It
understand that the creation of peace culture cannot take place if it
is not clear that masculine power is immersed in structures and
forms of social, political, religious, military and economical
organizations and that masculinity is based on the exercise of
power, control, competitiveness and repression of emotions.
Therefore, the renovation must be done from a new socialization
without excluding the other.

From the feminism has been revealed a new way of looking at and
understanding the war and peace, through the logic and ethic that
appeal the basic principles of humanity, cooperation, integration,
tolerance, respect, equality, freedom and love. It has been
determined that values and attitudes which are behind the private
violence are the same of the armed conflicts.

Peace only can be got through dialogue, social and economic

development, justice, ability of negotiation and inclusion in both
negotiation process and daily matters.
In his sense, the biggest practical contribution of feminists to the
international relations is developed in the humanitarian
international law and in the pile of the declarations, resolutions and

international conventions, as well as through the plentiful literature
spread through books, articles, scientific essays about the
international relations.


Among the premises of the feminist theories contributed to the
international relations are:
-. Academic interest, that is generate a vision of things from a
women perspective, contributing an alternative to the decisions
making and solutions to the inequality problem and non-
-. Theoretical premise, which consists on that the world is build in a
patriarchal and anthropocentric structure, so reflexion is required to
end up with the subordination , the inequality and the oppression of
women which is generated and hold by this patriarchal
anthropocentric structure.
-. Vision about the humanity, that is, it starts from a optimistic vision
of human nature, therefore, it can be achieve the construction of
society free of racial or gender discrimination or any else damaging
basic human rights.
-. The central aims of study are the woman, the childhood, the
gender differences, human rights, international security, peace,
right to live without violence, in cooperation and integration.
-. The actors are individuals, social groups, ONG, states and
international nets.
-. Regarding the National environment, the democracy and the
respect to rules must be the fundament of national politics, giving it
a ethic character.
-. Regarding the International environment, peace and international
security can be achieved with will, cooperation, difference respect
and interdependence.
-. About the instruments of action, the discussion and consensus
about common interests to give an incentive to cooperation and the
education is the way for changing the excluding structures and
creating more democratic and respectful societies for humans, their
rights and their necessities.
-. The aims of action are especially build a better world where the
woman can live together and therefore the rest of the humanity.

One can be concluded remarking that, exactly, the feminist
perspective allow us see the international relations from a legalist,
ethic and human point of view pretty close to the idealist traditional
perspective but focusing on the incorporation of women as a
fundamental actor of socio-political, economical and cultural
On the other hand, one can observe that the greatest scope of this
theory is in the epistemological environment, as it allowed the
renovation of concepts, ideas and values under societies have been

structured. Not only has it been allowed the understanding of
women in a different way from traditional, but also men and
therefore, the humanity in general. Hence the peak of gender
studies. Although it is true that the feminist movements have the
local field of states as a action sphere and it is from there where
they have got their greatest achievements, they also have been
spreading from the local to the international thanks to the
globalization and the participation in international forums, where
the biggest impact fall on the renovation of the international right
towards the preservation of human rights of the citizens belonging
to all the states without distinction of ethnic group, sex, religion,
ideology or race.
We think that the biggest problem to which feminist theories have
faced up to is not only found in the resistance of change of the
patriarchal structure, but inside the same feminist movements, that
do not agree about the vision of the world in which they intend