Methods of feminist normative theory: A political ethic of care for international relations
All forms of feminist theorizing are normative, in the sense that they help us to question certain meanings and interpretations in IR theory, because many are concerned, says Jane Flax (1987: 62) with “gender relations … how we think or do not think … about them” (or avoid thinking about gender). (Sylvester 2002: 248) Introduction Feminist approaches have always occupied a marginal position within International Relations; this is also the case within feminist ethics and normative theorizing in the discipline. It could be argued, of course, that feminist scholarly activity - driven as it must undeniably be by the goals of bringing to the fore marginalized feminine and feminist perspectives, and of reducing asymmetries in power between men and women - is always, at least implicitly, normative. Indeed, it is often the case that feminists working within IPE or security studies are, implicitly, relying on many of the same, ethical, methodological and epistemological claims that have been explicitly articulated within feminist ethics. Thus, we could say that the opening quotation by Christine Sylvester is both illuminating and confounding. It is illuminating because it clearly reminds us that “the normative” - questions and issues of value, including ethical questions - must be seen as intrinsic to the feminist enterprise more generally. The quotation is also somewhat confounding, however; if all forms of feminist theorizing are normative, what, then, is feminist normative theory?