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Date Submitted: 11/27/2012 02:07 PM

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Like feminists in other disciplines, IR feminists have claimed that instrumental

rationality, based on rational choice theory, is a model extrapolated from

the highly individualistic competitive behavior of Western men in the

marketplace, which IR theorists have generalized to the behavior of states.

Rather than uncritically assume the state as a given unit of analysis, IR

feminists have investigated the constitutive features and identities of “gendered states” and their implications for women’s and men’s lives (Peterson

1992). Feminists have asked whether it makes a difference that most

foreign policy leaders in the world are men and why women remain so

fundamentally disempowered in matters of foreign and military policy.

They have questioned why states’ foreign policies are so often legitimated

in terms of typically hegemonic masculine characteristics and why wars

have been fought mostly by men. These constitutive questions have rarely

been asked in IR; they are questions that probably could not be asked

within the epistemological and methodological boundaries of positivist

social science.

Like feminists in other disciplines, IR feminists have expressed skepticism

toward a body of knowledge that, while it claims to be universal and objective, is in reality based on knowledge primarily from men’s lives. An

ontology based on unitary states operating in an asocial, anarchical international environment does not provide an entry point for feminist theories

grounded in an epistemology that takes social relations, particularly gender

relations, as its central category of analysis. Feminist ontology is based on

social relations that are constituted by historically contingent unequal political, economic, and social structures. Unlike practitioners of conventional

social science IR, IR feminists generally prefer historical or sociological

analyses that begin with individuals and the hierarchical social relations in

which their lives are situated....