This chapter discusses gender. Mainstream political theorists have often ignored the issue of gender difference, and so feminists have had to argue for its significance and importance. There are many varieties of feminism, just as there are many varieties of liberalism or egalitarianism. However, it is possible to identify three theses that all feminists support, in one form or another. These theses are the entrenchment of gender; the existence of patriarchy; and the need for change. A key theme of feminist theory has been the idea that it is vital to distinguish the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. According to the distinction, ‘sex’ refers to biological differences and ‘gender’ refers to social differences. Feminists use philosophical and political methods that are common to other theories or campaigns, but there are some distinctively feminist methods, such as the Woman Question and consciousness raising.
This chapter explores the theoretical and political history of human rights that emerges out of the struggles that have been waged by feminists and other non-elites. It first considers the bases for the moral legitimacy of human rights and challenges to those arguments before discussing three aspects of feminist approaches to human rights: their criticism of some aspects of the theory and practice of human rights, their rights claims, and their conceptual contributions to a theory of human rights. It then examines the ways in which feminists and other activists for marginalized groups have used human rights in their struggles and how such struggles have in turn shaped human rights theory. It also analyses theoretical and historical objections to the universality of human rights based on cultural relativism. Finally, it shows that women’s rights advocates want rights enjoyment and not merely entitlements.
Helen M. Kinsella
This chapter examines international feminism, focusing on how feminist international relations theories are necessary for understanding international politics, what feminist international relations theories provide for understanding international politics, and how feminist international relations theories have influenced the practice of international politics. The chapter proceeds by explaining feminism and feminist international relations theory as well as feminist conceptions of gender and power. It also discusses four feminist international relations theories: liberal feminist international relations, critical feminist international relations, postcolonial feminist international relations, and poststructural feminist international relations. Two case studies of women's organizations are presented: the Women's International League of Peace and Freedom and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether feminist foreign policy changes states' foreign policy decisions.
This chapter focuses on the historical origins and the subsequent intellectual lineage of the three core theoretical positions within contemporary global political economy (GPE): realism, liberalism, and Marxism. ‘Textbook GPE’ privileges nineteenth-century understandings of political economy when discussing the pre-history of its own field. This helps explains GPE's treatment of feminist scholarship within the textbooks; feminism remains largely marginalized from textbook GPE, presented as something of a postscript to avoid accusations of it having been omitted altogether rather than being placed centre stage in the discussion. The chapter then looks at how the nineteenth-century overlay operates in textbook GPE. To do so, it makes sense to concentrate in the first instance on the issue that did most to divide nineteenth-century economists: namely, the free trade policies resulting from the general ascendancy of laissez-faire ideology. The most celebrated of the critics, Friedrich List, is treated much more as a dependable authority figure in GPE than he is in the history of economic thought. Indeed, in textbook GPE, the disputes between realist and liberal positions is very often presented initially through an account of List's work, despite the pre-history of liberalism being much the longer of the two.
This chapter examines John Stuart Mill's treatise The Subjection of Women, a manifesto of liberal feminism that advocates ‘perfect equality’ between the sexes. Written in 1861 and published in 1869, The Subjection of Women has been criticised by contemporary feminist theorists, who find Mill's theory lacking because of its political shortcomings and contradictions. The chapter analyses the political and intellectual context in which The Subjection of Women was written as well as its significance from the standpoint of contemporary feminist theory. It considers Mill's relationship with his father, James Mill, and with his wife, Harriet Taylor, along with the emergence of the women's rights movement in the United States and England. It also assesses the political import and methodological perspective of the work and concludes with a discussion of Mill's utilitarianism.