gender and IR

Conversation Hijacking: How Not To Insert Yourself into a Conversation by Pushing a Woman Out of It

by on 2014-10-21- 2 Comments

This is a guest post from Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham, an associate professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland.  She is the author of Inside the Politics of Self-determination (Oxford University Press, 2014).

I was recently at a relatively small academic conference, one that I’ve been attending for years whenever I can. The size of the meeting encourages engagement between big names and small names, grad students and professors, and across genders. It is a classic academic mixer, filled with slightly awkward people, many of whom are slightly disheveled, talking about things that are really interesting in really boring ways (to outsiders).

I started attending as a grad student and have made a number of critical personal and professional connections. In addition to getting useful feedback on my own work, this venue is a great opportunity to reconnect with people in my field and get to know some new ones. While I began as a young grad student, I am now at place where I am a (newly) senior member in the field.

After the final session one day, while people trickled out of the room, I sat down with a colleague I hadn’t seen for years. I was just hearing about a fascinating research project he’s working on when another person (another senior man in the field, though I’m not sure that matters) walked up and sat down, smiled at me but did not introduce himself and started a totally independent conversation with my colleague. I got up a few minutes later to make another meeting, but this small event stayed with me.

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The power of mentorship: a reflection

by on 2013-10-25- 3 Comments

In the Monkey Cage’s recent symposium on gender and political science,  David Lake writes how important it is that our scholarly networks become less gendered, how male scholars must make an effort to mentor women in the field.  In my view, the importance of mentorship cannot be understated.  Without the support of several scholars in security studies, not all but many of them men, I may have indeed decided that this field was not for someone like me.

In my first year of graduate school, I was beginning to see myself as more of an “IR theory” than a “security studies” student (yes, whatever that means).  But in May of 1997, our department administrator called me into her office to talk teaching assistant assignments.  “We’d like you to be a T.A. for Warner Schilling’s class,” she said.  I was thrilled, but terrified.  The course was “Weapons, Strategy, and War,” and if there was one thing I was absolutely certain about, it was that I did not know enough about weapons, or strategy, or war to be teaching anyone anything about those topics.  And, having taken this course with Schilling, I knew that this was not for the faint of heart.  I would have to guide undergraduates through the basics of shot and pike, of column and line, of counterforce and McNamara curves.  I very simply was not qualified.

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What’s Wrong with FETs? Thoughts from Gendering Global Conflict

by on 2013-10-16- 18 Comments

(Note: This post is cross-posted at the Columbia University Press Authors' Blog

Over the last couple of years, the US military has begun to employ FETs (Female Engagement Teams) in Afghanistan, characterizing their purpose as "to engage the female populace" of the country. The mission of these groups of female soldiers seems to be divided between victim services, trust building, influence seeking, and intelligence gathering. Many feminist scholars (e.g., Keally McBride and Annick T. R. Wibben) have expressed their deep concerns about both the effectiveness of FETs and the ideas about sex, gender, and warfare that their deployments suggest the US military holds.

My recent book, Gendering Global Conflict, is not about FETs specifically, but it does provide insight into this (and hopefully a number of other) problems of sex, gender, and war. It argues that, in order to understand fully how something like an FET became possible, we have to be able to see gender subordination and war-fighing as mutually constituted. Understanding that, it argues, provides insight into a number of other policy choices and theoretical assumptions in the security sector that might initially appear paradoxical when approached from a feminist perspective. The rest of this post discusses that with regard to FETs.

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International Women’s Day: Cupcakes and Hateraid

by on 2012-03-08- 11 Comments

I did not make these to destroy feminism.Duck readers, I have a confession. I bake cupcakes. Thousands of them. I love doing it, I love
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All Male Soldiers are Rapists and all Female Soldiers are Weak Homewreckers: Fox News on Female Soldiers

by on 2012-02-22- 1 Comment

I mostly try to let Fox News polemics slide past me like water off a ducks back. It was easy to dismiss Liz Trotta's first
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Whitney Houston, Chris Brown, and Grammy Irony

by on 2012-02-14- Leave a reply

image taken from This Sunday the 2012 Grammy Awards attracted more attention than normal due to the untimely passing of Whitney Houston on the
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The Aussie Military Accepts GI Janes into the Ranks

by on 2011-09-27- Leave a reply

While the US and UK continue to debate the ways that women impact cohesion and combat effectiveness, effective immediately, the Australian military will allow women
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Post-revolution Walk of Shame in Libya: women asked to ‘go home’ in the afterglow of the revolution

by on 2011-09-15- Leave a reply

The exciting and tumultuous eve of the revolution in Libya has achieved many of its objectives: the power balance has swung in the rebel's favor,
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Assessing the Arguments Against GI Jane II: Unpacking the Cohesion Hypothesis

by on 2011-09-05- 7 Comments

In my post last week I talked about the three main arguments against removing the combat exclusion for women: the physical standards argument, the moral
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Assessing the Arguments Against GI Jane: The Combat Exclusion for Women Part I

by on 2011-08-29- Leave a reply

As American troops trickle back from Iraq and-eventually- Afghanistan, it seems like the perfect time to examine the lessons learned from the last decade of
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Best exam question EVER!

by on 2011-08-18- Leave a reply

I know it is hard to believe, but while most of the academic world is enjoying the last few weeks of university break, down under
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Friday Nerd Blogging: GoT IR?

by on 2011-06-24- 8 Comments

I was recently asked whether Game of Thrones was going to become "the cult IR series of 2011." My initial response, spouted on a FB
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Feminist IR 101, Post #10, Feminist Scholarly Community

by on 2011-06-09- Leave a reply

One of my favorite characterization of feminist theorizing is in Sarah Brown's 1988 Millennium article, where she calls feminist work "fundamentally a political act of
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Feminist IR 101, Post #9, Transforming IR

by on 2011-06-05- 1 Comment

Twenty years ago, Robert Keohane proclaimed that “feminist standpoint theory provides a particularly promising starting-point for the development of feminist international relations theory.” From the
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Feminist IR 101, Post #8, Human Rights

by on 2011-05-31- Leave a reply

Controversial feminist lawyer Catherine MacKinnon titled her latest book Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues. MacKinnon was, of course, referring to a feminist campaign
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Feminist IR 101, Post #7, Political Economy and Globalization

by on 2011-05-28- 1 Comment

Why is it that women represent 70% of the world’s people living in poverty? What does it mean to have economic stability? How do international
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Boys’ Toys

by on 2011-04-20- 2 Comments

The following word cloud from Crystal Smith's The Achilles Effect blog reflects the vocabulary commonly used for toy advertisements directed toward young boys (i.e. those toys in
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A Reply to the Reply: Jean Elshtain, Gender, and IR (Part III)

by on 2011-04-05- Leave a reply

Part 3 (of 3) ...In concluding, Elshtain characterizes my essay as “overreach,” “hyper-theorizing,” and “prosaic,” arguing that (like “the entire post-structural arsenal”), “when you get
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A Reply to the Reply: Jean Elshtain, Gender, and IR (Part II)

by on 2011-04-03- Leave a reply

Elshtain, before characterizing my article as a “massive shopping list” of “feminists argue,” “feminists claim,” etc. (i.e., as the critical literature review that it is
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A Reply to the Reply: Jean Elshtain, Gender, and IR (Part I)

by on 2011-04-01- Leave a reply

Some of you might have seen the summer 2009 issue of International Relations; a retrospective on Man, the State, and War, by Kenneth Waltz, and
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