10.1 Feminist foreign policy changes states’ foreign policy decisions.

1. As Swedish scholar Ulf Bjereld suggests, do ‘military defense and feminism represent two branches of the same tree: that citizens’ security is guaranteed by having a strong military and that the feminist agenda is guaranteed through diplomacy, aid, and other arsenals beyond defense’?

  • In support of this statement, one might highlight that feminist foreign policy is premised on rights, resources, and representation.  Together with notions of humanitarian intervention, it may be argued that both military and feminist policies serve to secure the individual.
  • Contrary to this claim, it may also be suggested that even where women’s security is rhetorically at the heart of military engagement this is not often pursued in practice. An example includes US promises not to ‘abandon’ Afghan women and girls during the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan when, in reality, the United States did little to ensure their security.

2. Are feminist foreign policy and the Hillary Doctrine iterations of an imperial feminism that serves the interests of only (some) sovereign states and obscures their true goals of military and economic dominance?

  • Feminist rhetoric has often served to impose the will of powerful states. Other than the critique of the Hillary Doctrine, another infamous example is George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.
  • However, while this danger persists, it is important to acknowledge that the notion of a feminist foreign policy adopted by state leaders and formal politicians also serves to legitimate a feminist discourse in world politics.

3. Does it matter if feminist foreign policy doesn’t change state behaviour? How else could it have significant effects on international politics?

  • On the one hand, the answer might be yes. After all, feminism is premised on the notion that many everyday realities, which restrict and endanger the lifestyle of both men and women due to persistent gender norms, continue to be excluded from both theoretical and practical engagement with international relations.
  • On the other hand, one might suggest that raising awareness is just as crucial, because changing thinking patterns result in changing conduct, even where this is not immediately visible.
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