Look, I know it's not mine, but I wish I could have said something of the kind, myself.
I wonder if anyone has ever thought about that him/herself. I mean the difference of approach to certain theoretical problems between men and women could be explained by the gender difference and different roles that men and women play in the society.
International Relations has long been taught and theorized as if women were invisible: as if either there were no women in world politics, which was only men’s business; or as if women and men were active in and affected by the world politics in the same ways, in which case there would be no need to ‘gender’ the analysis. Now feminist scholarship is visible, if still marginal, and women’s and gender issues are the focus of transnational politics. Both feminist understandings and women’s organizing provide us with perspectives that contribute a more inclusive view of globalization. Feminist scholarship reveals the partial and gendered nature of intellectual work which is built on elite men’s experiences.
Feminism has come rather late to International Relations, one of the most masculinist of the social sciences. Suggested explanations include that the discipline is male-dominated, and so more likely to reflect men’s interests and fears; and that the way the discipline constructs its subject matter makes most people, including almost all women, disappear. Its focus on the ‘high politics’ of diplomacy, war, and statecraft called up a world of Statesmen and soldiers, who were assumed to be male.
The intellectual field, or territory, further disguised women and gender relations through its distinction between the domestic or the inside of states and the international or in-between of states. In the process differences within states, including gender differences, were relegated away from its interest, and left to other disciplines like Political Science and Sociology. At the same time, world politics was often characterized in terms of conflict, competition, security (defined as military security), and power (demonstrated through the threat or use of force), drawing on a particular notion of human nature that was gendered, and also perhaps class and culture specific.
Asking, ‘Where are the women?’ usually reveals women in different roles, for example, different relations to the military, or the market, compared with men. When we find women, we find gender relations.
The citizen is often presumed to be male, with public responsibilities, while women are relegated into the family, the domestic world. In foundation stories in political theory, women were also relegated away from the world of reason to one of emotions and passions, making them unreliable citizens, and even dangerous to men. The public/private split coincides with other splits, like reason/emotion, mind/body, and male/female. These are gendered divisions: they associate certain kinds of character or behavior with a particular gender. The ‘male’ side of the dichotomy is usually given more value, and privileged, while the female side is devalued. In the process, ‘gender’ becomes both relational and a power relationship.
Feminism makes several very important strategic claims here. The first is that women’s experiences are systematically different from men’s, even from men of their own family or group. Another is that all social relations are gendered; so we experience our class, or race, for example, in gendered forms. We do not experience our gender alone, or in isolation from other social identities, including for example whether we are citizens, where we live, or our age. And gender is constitutive of other social relations. This reveals as partial those representations of social relations including global politics that appear gender-neutral, but on closer examination turn out to universalize elite men’s experiences and knowledge.
Asking ‘Where are the women?’ reveals women in places where, otherwise, we might not look for them. Feminists take women seriously as knowledge makers about the world. This means seeking to learn from their experiences of politics and global processes. Women are often under-represented in formal politics as heads of state or parliamentary representatives or executive bureaucrats for example, though in the Scandinavian states, they are now close to equal. Women are more likely to organize in other politics, in social movements, and in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for example. Through these politics, women were actors in global politics long before they were noticed in the study of International Relations.
(From Jan Jindy Pettman ‘Gender Issues’ in The Globalization of World Politics: An introduction to international relations, 2nd edition, eds. John Baylis and Steve Smith, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)