Battles in the gender war : theories of international relations and gender and the realities of women in war

Bickford, Sandra (1997) Battles in the gender war : theories of international relations and gender and the realities of women in war. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Informed by the notion that international relations in its present configuration is androcentric and narrowly construed, this thesis examines gender critiques of international relations and ways in which international relations theory has precluded an analysis of gender. Through the examination of the works of various scholars writing on the topic of gender and international relations, the ways in which women have been excluded from both international relations theory and practice are elucidated. By challenging the hegemonic discipline on the basis that it neither adequately nor accurately understands, explains or predicts international relations, various points of entry into critiques of the discipline are raised. The point of critique examined in this thesis is the issue of women and war. The first chapter examines gender critiques and some of the central themes within the sub-field of gender and international relations, concluding that the study of gender contributes at least partially to the understanding of international relations. Further, the chapter examines the ways in which gender and international relations theory have broadened conceptions of the discipline and problematized inscribed gender roles. The second chapter continues the examination of gender roles by examining theories of women in the non-traditional role of soldier or warrior, in addition to examining theories of patriarchy and militarism. It is argued that many of the arguments against women in the military, which maintain that women never have been and are incapable of becoming effective soldiers, are rooted in outdated and illogical gender constructs. To buttress this assertion, chapter three examines several examples of women's involvement in wars, from the American civil war up to the Persian Gulf war. Further, it is argued that the focus on the theoretical debate surrounding women in the military has obfuscated more important issues facing enlisted women, including sexual harassment, physical assault and rape; recent examples of these occurrences from the United States and Canada are provided. The fourth and final chapter concludes by problematizing the inscribed gender roles which are implicitly assumed within the discipline of international relations and which function as a barrier to women's active and meaningful involvement in the military. It is argued that this can only be redressed by taking gender seriously as an elucidating variable in international relations.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5801
Item ID: 5801
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 75-86.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Political Science
Date: 1997
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Women and war; International relations; Women and the military; Feminist theory

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