International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe
Chapter 7: Masculinities in international relations
More than any other area of modern social life, international politics has been the domain of men. It is men who have ruled states and empires, negotiated global trade relations and defined and patrolled political borders, and who overwhelmingly make up the militaries of the world. At the time of writing, the Central Intelligence Agency lists 199 world leaders, only 12 of whom (or around 6 per cent) are women. Nearly 80 per cent of all the world’s parliamentarians are men, and Rwanda remains the only country where women constitute the majority in a parliamentary assembly. Men dominate the upper echelons of global corporations, universities and religious institutions. Many studies furthermore identify men as the main perpetrators of violence in a wide range of settings. In other words, manhood and global power appear to be intimately related. Feminism came later to international relations than to other academic disciplines, but when it arrived feminist scholars were quick to point out this inequality of representation and practice, revealing the many ways in which men remained dominant. In other words, feminists started to ask the ‘man’ question (Zalewski and Parpart, 1998). Instead of seeing men’s role as natural, feminists and gender scholars began to problematise male power by tracing how it worked, how it was secured and protected, how it related to other forms of identity and power (such as race, class, sexuality or citizenship) and how it could be changed.
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