International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe
Chapter 54: Conjoined, complex and ‘forgotten’ worlds: gender in world politics
As soon as one starts to think critically about the two major concepts and sets of practices of interest here – gender and politics – they start to unravel immediately. Gender opens up as complexly about femininity, sexuality, masculinity, women and men at a minimum (and all plural), and always unfathomably intertwined with a multitude of other identity categories, not least race and ethnicity. Moreover, gender as a concept for analysis is not necessarily accompanied by feminist politics or its wide range of intellectual competencies and commitments. In what ways might this matter? Politics, also complex, is conventionally thought to be about government and matters of state and security, in all of which scholars and others interested in the practices of gender are also interested in one way or another. Yet one of the significant insights generated through feminist work – the personal is political – opens up the term politics in a plethora of unthought-of ways, showing that it works on a wide range of levels difficult to access without the multi-faceted intellectual tools of feminist theory, perhaps, in part, answering the question I posed at the end of the first paragraph.
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