Gender Ideal – Feminism and the IR

I have a subject called “International Relations’ Theory” and our professor held a lectrue this week with the title: Feminism and the IR. I must admit that the lecture was far more interesting than I had expected and had a thought which really caught my attention. We were examining J. Ann Tickner‘s study from 1997: You Just Don’t Understand. Out professor summarized us the essay telling about gender, gender dualism and gender ideals and it prooved to be a really intriguing topic.

The main idea is that we have to realize the difference between sex and gender. To make it really simple: sex is biological, gender is social. The study is about the misunderstandings of feminists and traditional IR scholars and I actually haven’t found the thought explained in greater details, my professor mentioned and which interests me: he was talink about gender dualism (which means that there are general characteristics identified with men and women, as masculine and feminine) and about gender ideals. The main point is that even though it differs with time and in different coultures, there is both a male and female ideal which shows what men and women should be like and how they should behave -generally, in given situations and towards each other. This kind of dualism describes men with the words: power, autonomy, rationality and public – women with the opposites of these: weakness, dependence, emotions and private. And even if we don’t take it literally, we have to accept that there always have been and there still are given social expectations and ideals men and women have to live up to.

This is what I’ve been thinking about for a few days now. What are these social expectations nowadays? What should men and what should women be like? Is there even one ideal or are there more at the same time? Are these expectations physical, intellectual, about behaviour or both? Where does the pressure come from? Is it possible for an individual “complete the process” and be just like that ideal?

I actually decided to write a paper on the subject built around these questions, so if you’re interested, I will post it when it’s done (around in the middle of May). Please don’t hesitate to tell me your opinions! It could even be useful for me 🙂


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