Bananas, Beaches, and Bases by Cynthia Enloe

Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics

~ Cynthia Enloe, University of California Press (January 11, 1990)

Enloe both excited me and frustrated me with her analysis on women in international politics. To me, her victimization of women made it seem like we are almost hopeless, and her goal of greater participation unattainable. There are indeed gender inequalities in this world, but I wonder how much a women leader can do if she is to always think about her gender and putting that in the place of making political decisions.

I was also sometimes confused about what message she was trying to get out- for greater equality of women as a gender, in general? Or for greater female participation in international politics, specifically? I was not convinced that both could take place at the same time from her observations.

Key ideas:

– We risk of being “globally naïve” if we do not see that Masculinity and femininity are definitely politicized, and that women’s experience needs to be taken seriously in international politics.

–  Relations between governments depend not only on capital and weaponry, but also on the control of women as symbols, consumers, workers and emotional comforters. –xvii

– A danger in this discussion for change is only seeing women from the developing world when discussing women in international relations.

–   Making feminist sense of international politics may compel us to dismantle the wall that often separates theory from practice- 201

Enloe discusses issues like sex tourism and Hollywood where women are continuously used, abused, and left in the shadows. When she asked why it is women that are used in sex tourism in Southeast Asia, I asked, why aren’t women the ones to be the head of crime circles? Why aren’t women more violent and commit frauds and lead states into wars? Maybe then we can be taken more “seriously” as Enloe wants.

I wonder, if women were the ones to be modern pirates and dictators, is that considered choosing their “feminist aspirations” (64) or in general, basic human aspirations? If other women looked at these types of leaders with admiration, is that violating their nationalist aspirations for feminist aspirations? Would it help women’s sense of security?

(October 7, 2009: For Sociology class)

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