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Mean Girls: A Theory of Women's Violence and Gender Subordination in Global Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  oppression should lead us to a more progressive understanding of women as subjects and femininity as a construct. Like all violence, violent women are an unfortunate presence in global politics. Their recent visibility, however, provides feminist IR a pathway to demonstrate women’s continued subordination in global politics and to study it from a unique perspective. Even though men and women have both biological and socially constructed differences, we argue that the theories of political and extrajudicial violence that apply to men can both apply to women and be made gender-sensitive. Interrogating the narratives of violent women as mothers, monsters, and whores occurs in two phases. First, it requires critiquing the content of the narratives. Second, it requires asking why narratives with inaccurate content remain dominant. Who benefits from the false and fantastic portrayal of violent women? In criminal law, this question is called cui bono, an old Latin adage that means the person or people guilty of committing a crime may be found among those who have something to gain from its commission. Certainly, our research shows, the women themselves are not the beneficiaries of these narratives. We argue that the tellers and consumers of these gendered narratives are, consciously or unconsciously, invested in a certain image of what women are. The telling of these stories preserves that image at the expense of the real narratives of violent women and while appearing liberating. Gendered narratives of violent women thus create a double transgression of their own: falsely appearing liberating and entrenching gender subordination. 32

Authors: Sjoberg, Laura.
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oppression should lead us to a more progressive understanding of women as subjects and
femininity as a construct. Like all violence, violent women are an unfortunate presence
in global politics. Their recent visibility, however, provides feminist IR a pathway to
demonstrate women’s continued subordination in global politics and to study it from a
unique perspective.
Even though men and women have both biological and socially constructed
differences, we argue that the theories of political and extrajudicial violence that apply to
men can both apply to women and be made gender-sensitive. Interrogating the narratives
of violent women as mothers, monsters, and whores occurs in two phases. First, it
requires critiquing the content of the narratives. Second, it requires asking why
narratives with inaccurate content remain dominant. Who benefits from the false and
fantastic portrayal of violent women? In criminal law, this question is called cui bono, an
old Latin adage that means the person or people guilty of committing a crime may be
found among those who have something to gain from its commission. Certainly, our
research shows, the women themselves are not the beneficiaries of these narratives. We
argue that the tellers and consumers of these gendered narratives are, consciously or
unconsciously, invested in a certain image of what women are. The telling of these stories
preserves that image at the expense of the real narratives of violent women and while
appearing liberating. Gendered narratives of violent women thus create a double
transgression of their own: falsely appearing liberating and entrenching gender
subordination.
32


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