The 'Man' Question in International Relations

The 'Man' Question in International Relations

The 'Man' Question in International Relations

The 'Man' Question in International Relations


International relations is still very much a man's field. Questioning & problematizing the subject-hood of men, this book of twelve original essays examines the various ways in which masculinities are implicated in international relations theories & practices. The contributors argue that if the subject of international relations is constructed around men & masculinity, then perhaps destabilizing the subject of "man" will help destabilize the whole field in ways that "adding women & stirring" has not. The feminist modern project of bringing attention to women can paradoxically highlight the fluidity of the subject of woman rather than reveal the solidity of her position, however illusory.


A man and a woman are talking over dinner in a restaurant. The man tells the woman about his life and finally says, "OK, that's enough about me. Let's talk about you. What do you think about me?"

This is not a book simply about men in international relations. This is a book about masculinities in international relations.

This is a book that is informed and inspired by feminist questions. And it is a book that has moved from asking the "woman" question to asking the "man" question. We do not assume that women are a problem to be solved. Instead we want to problematize masculinities, the hegemony of men, and the subject of man within the theories and practices of international relations.

International Relations as a Man's World

It seems obvious, even natural, to think about international relations as a man's world. The world's militaries are mostly populated by men, especially in the combat and senior ranks. The majority of state decisionmakers are men. Women appear to be largely absent from these arenas of "high politics." And with regard to one of the most central topics in international relations--war--one general's view is that

war is a man's work. Biological convergence on the battlefield [women serving in combat] would not only be dissatisfying in terms of what women could do, but it would be an enormous psychological distraction for the male, who wants to think that he's fighting for that woman somewhere behind, not up there in the same foxhole with him. It tramples the male ego. When you get right down to it, you have to protect the manhood of war. . .

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