AbstractFeminist International Relations (IR) theory is haunted by a radical feminist ghost. From Enloe's suggestion that the personal is both political and international, often seen as the foundation of feminist IR, feminist IR scholarship has been built on the intellectual contributions of a body of theory it has long left for dead. Though Enloe's sentiment directly references the Hanisch's radical feminist rallying call, there is little direct engagement with the radical feminist thinkers who popularised the sentiment in IR. Rather, since its inception, the field has been built on radical feminist thought it has left for dead. This has left feminist IR troubled by its radical feminist roots and the conceptual baggage that feminist IR has unreflectively carried from second-wave feminism into its contemporary scholarship. By returning to the roots of radical feminism we believe IR can gain valuable insights regarding the system of sex-class oppression, the central role of heterosexuality in maintaining this system, and the feminist case for revolutionary political action in order to dismantle it.


  • Q- How many radical feminists does it take to change a lightbulb? A- Thirteen

  • We found that the limited and shallow engagement with radical feminism perceived in the content and discourse analysis above is replicated in journal articles of contemporary feminist international relations (IR)

  • The Ghost of Radical Feminism Despite this disavowal, we find that the germinal texts of feminist IR and their contemporaries owe a great debt to radical feminism, but are curiously silent regarding the source of their radical ideas

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Q- How many radical feminists does it take to change a lightbulb? A- Thirteen. One to change the bulb and twelve to argue over the definition of ‘radical feminist.’ - Robin Morgan[3]. We explore the absence of radical feminist theory within feminist IR, the effects this has had on how feminist IR has theorized concepts which are central to its development, and attempt to sketch what might be gained by revisiting radical feminist theory for thinking through issues of the international In forwarding this argument, we echo Eriksson Baaz and Stern’s insight that feminist IR has rarely provided sustained critical engagement with the earlier feminist theoretical debates that inform current scholarship on ideas such as sexuality, violence and power.[4] Echoing debates across the discipline regarding the representation of and depth of engagement with the ‘old’. We find the relationship between radical feminism and feminist IR deeply unresolved


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