What Role Does International Relations Play in the Shaping, Defining, or Legitimating of Masculinity or Masculinities?

Topics: Gender, Masculinity, World War II Pages: 10 (3358 words) Published: January 6, 2012
“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. 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...
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