The 'Man' Question in International Relations

By Marysia Zalewski; Jane Parpart | Go to book overview

4
Masculinity and the Fear of Emasculation in International Relations Theory

Lucian M. Ashworth
and Larry A. Swatuk

Perhaps the most widely discussed news story in the Western world in 1994 was a "malicious" wounding of a husband by his wife. It led to a media circus, produced a new verb--"to bobbitt"--and caused men from all different walks of life and educational backgrounds to turn pale and cross their legs. Malicious woundings, not to mention murder, go unreported daily in the United States. This one caught the attention of the Western world only because it involved a penis and hence dredged up male fears of emasculation.

This chapter deals with this fear of emasculation as it manifests in the development of mainstream international relations (IR) theory. We examine the classical debate between conservatism (which eventually fed into realism) and liberalism (idealism or liberal internationalism) from a gendered perspective. 1 Since the inception of international relations as a field of study, liberalism/idealism has (unsuccessfully) sought to displace conservatism/realism as the dominant mode of inquiry and method of analysis ( Swatuk 1991). However, the gendered nature of this dialectic has been neglected.

One critique of this interparadigm debate is that by limiting mainstream debates to arguments and claims to truth as made by realists and liberals, more critical and particularly feminist approaches are marginalized (see Holsti 1985 as compared to George 1994 and Runyon and Peterson 1991). We seek to build on this criticism by focusing on the masculinist bias in mainstream theory. We argue that by couching these debates within the veiled context of what it means to be properly masculine, realist and liberal IR approaches are not only gendered and androcentric but are indeed mutu-

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