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The ‘Duel’ Meaning of Feminisation in International Relations: The Rise of Women and the Interior Logics of Declinist Literature

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‘Feminisation’ in International Relations refers to multiple, and sometimes contradictory, concepts. Much of the time it refers to the incorporation of women into various organisations and institutions, such as women’s participation in militaries or in politics. The decline of violence, or declinist, literature lists it as one of the contributing factors in the decline of violence and associates feminisation with women’s social, political, and economic empowerment. Feminist theory in IR, however, conceptualises ‘feminisation’ in a different light. As the feminine is often devalued or deprioritised for the preferred masculine, feminisation is synonymous with devalourisation.1 Therefore, this paper will play with the dual meaning of feminisation, offering a cautionary tale for the dependency on women’s empowerment in the declinist literature by asserting that it is hampered by masculinist thinking. It will do so by challenging the equation of women with gender in the declinist literature. Gender equality and/or progress cannot simply be limited to raising women’s status, which implicates an understanding of gender as a binary categorisation of men/masculinity or women/femininity. Instead, gender is a spectrum that understands the multitude of gender identities, going beyond heteronormativity to lesbian, bi-, gay, trans, queer, and intersex (LBGTQI). Limiting gender to women means violences against other communities, particularly sexual minorities, is unrecognised and unaccounted for.

Affiliations: 1: University of St Andrews,


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