Feminist Responses to Security Studies


Tickner, J. Ann. 2004. “Feminist Responses to Security Studies.” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 16 (1): 43-48.

Author: J. Ann Tickner


In his book, Beyond Left and Right: The Future of Radical Politics, sociologist Anthony Giddens asks what we should make of the fact that “propagation of military violence has always been a resolutely male affair.” While acknowledging that there is a relation between war, military power, and masculinity, Giddens claims that war is not a manifestation of male aggression; rather, it is associated with the rise of the state. In a rather different book, War and Gender, international relations scholar Joshua Goldstein asks why we have not been more curious about the fact that, while virtually all societies throughout history have engaged in war, overwhelmingly they have been fought by men. Although Goldstein reaches a conclusion somewhat similar to Giddens, that war is not due to males’ inherent aggression, he devotes his entire book to examining evidence about the association of war with men and masculinity. In this essay, I will first discuss the gendering of war, the state, and citizenship in the context of the discipline of international relations (IR). Then I will say something about gender studies and its silences with respect to war and international security. I will suggest some reasons why these two disciplines, or transdisciplines—IR and gender studies—have a hard time communicating with each other. I will then describe some of the recent feminist scholarship in IR that has begun to bridge this divide and some contributions IR feminists have made to our understanding of war, peace, and international security. Most IR feminists are closer to what in IR is called “critical security studies” than they are to more conventional IR security scholarship. In the end, I want to offer some thoughts on possible convergences between IR feminist scholarship and critical security studies.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Security, Violence

Year: 2004

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