The future of women in politics Essay
The future of women in politics
Within the realm of world politics, males vastly outnumber females. Women’s suffrage is a relatively new movement. Only in the last century have women won the opportunity to vote. Since 1960, only 24 nations have elected women to leadership positions. As women gain political power, political analysts and scholars debate the influence that females will exert upon international policy. According to popular feminist views, women will reverse the violent tendencies of men and create a more peaceful world.
This prediction is based on the assumption that men are inherently violent and genetically predisposed to wage war. However, the militaristic actions of female leaders like Margaret Thatcher may prove otherwise. Francis Fukuyama and Mary Caprioli explore the cultural stereotypes of women and question the relationship between politics and biology. In his essay, “Women and the Evolution of World Politics,” Francis Fukuyama argues that men are biologically inclined to wage war. He portrays men as violent, immoral and unable to break away from genetic programming.
Citing examples of extreme violence in Bosnia, Rwanda, Sierra Lione, Georgia and Afghanistan, Fukuyama blames men’s inherited aggressive tendencies for the social and political unrest in the world. Apparently, male behavior has not changed since the “primitive societies like the Yanomamo. ” Men, according to Fukuyama, behave like the chimps at Gombe (262). While the genetic make up of humans is remarkably similar to that of chimpanzees, the unique incident at Gombe does not prove that masculinity equates with innate aggression. In fact, it is well known that wild chimpanzees are typically non-violent.
At Gombe, researchers interfered with the natural environment. Chimps were suddenly faced with food shortages, and they reacted with uncharacteristic violence. Fukuyama would have his readers believe that organized violence began with man’s primitive ancestors and “The Future of Women in Politics” Page # 2 continued on an unobstructed path to present day man. On the contrary, archeologists have not found cave paintings of battles. Evidence of collective violence appears tens of thousands of years beyond the time that the human species branched away from chimpanzees.
War was the result of agricultural societies competing for resources. How could armies of men organize for war if society was not yet organized? Fukuyama does not answer this question. The reason that men are chosen as soldiers over women may be rooted in biology. However, it is doubtful that the reason lies in the genetic coding of their personalities. With their pronounced upper body strength, men are better equipped physically to use maces, bows and swords. Beyond that, most men do not enlist in the army to strengthen their fighting skills or satisfy their primordial thirst for killing.
The US Army recruits soldiers by promoting honor, loyalty, and courage. Young men are lured in by the promise of educational benefits, health care and financial incentives. Following Fukuyama’s argument, the armed forces would not have to coerce men to join. If organizing for the sake of violence is their biological calling, then why must governments institute drafts? Perhaps “draft dodgers” of the future will be forced to undergo gene therapy. But, it is very unlikely that scientists will ever find a gene for aggressive or competitive behavior.
Human behavior is the result of multiple genes interacting with a variety of biological and social forces. No single behavior can be associated with the X or the Y chromosome. Men are trained to fight wars. They are removed from normal society and deprogrammed. Soldiers must undergo extreme psychological conditioning to prepare for battle. Fukuyama makes an illogical leap from observing individual behavior to explaining formally organized warfare. “The Future of Women in Politics” Page # 3 War is not an impulsive act carried out by a group of aggressive males.
The decision to exercise military force requires strategic planning. It is best described as a politically motivated strategy within the realm of complex foreign policy. Political leaders are predominantly male. But, this does not necessarily prove that the use of political force is limited to the male gender. As Caprioli points out, “women who have obtained the power to act violently have done so” (267). Only in the last 100 years have women been granted the right to participate in elections and hold elected positions.
Women’s suffrage is a relatively recent development in politics. The world ushered in the first female prime minister in 1960 and the first female president in 1974. Heads of state, regardless of gender, are bestowed with the power to use military force against foreign bodies. In order to compare the degrees of force ordered by male and female heads of state, Caprioli examined the Militarized Interstate Dispute (MID) data set compiled by Stuart Bremer. If Fukuyama’s assessment of women’s behavior was true, then MID should report that females rarely or never ordered the use of force.
Contrarily, MID revealed no difference in the decisions made by men or women. “Both female and male leaders rely on… the use of force, most frequently. According to this evidence, female leaders are no more peaceful than their male counterparts” (Caprioli, 267). The fight for women’s suffrage was based on achieving political equality not to conquer the militaristic male agenda. As women rise up and gain political power, they are breaking the chains of traditional stereotypes. The role of a president is different than the role of a homemaker.
In the home, women are the designated caretakers. Rearing children and maintaining the household are the foremost priorities. Obviously, women are biologically suited to give birth and breastfeed. Preparing dinner and performing chores fulfill social needs. “The Future of Women in Politics” Page # 4 Traditionally, women have been shielded from violence by cultural socialization. However, suffrage has opened up new opportunities for women to approve of and use political force. During World War II, American women were honored by images of Rosie the Riviter.
The war provided millions of women with employment in the defense industry. All of these women willingly and proudly contributed to America’s military success. Furthermore, women who are employed by the State and the Defense Departments are freed from their conventional social constraints and thusly exhibit support for violence (Caprioli, 270). Female leaders share the same responsibilities and confront the same threats as males. Regardless of gender, political rulers must create laws, collect and distribute taxes, and shape foreign policy.
Germany, for instance, recently elected a female chancellor who adamantly defends the US invasion of Iraq. Caprioli concludes that, “As American society becomes more egalitarian with regard to the sexes, women are gaining more power. This power may not be directed toward pacifist, nurturing ideals” (272). For women, achieving political equality means utilizing force as a function of political leadership. Despite social training and genetic constitution, women have proven their individual and collective ability to perform aggressive acts and their proclivity to compete for social status.
Competition for social status is hardly limited to men. Prime time television in America is flooded with reality shows that pit women against each other to win fame, fortune and romance. Marketers prey upon women’s social drive to “keep up with the Joneses. ” Women are convicted for homicide, infanticide and child abuse. Although men are more likely to exhibit violent behavior, even Fukuyama admits that “the number of women incarcerated for violent crimes is increasing in the same proportion to that of men” (Caprioli, 272). Female guerrillas have fought.
“The Future of Women in Politics” Page # 5 in Central and South America. An unsuccessful female suicide bomber was recently arrested in Jordan. Women are well known to be propagators of violence. In conclusion, Fukuyama incorrectly correlates the aggressive behavior of men with genetic programming. His example of the warlike actions of the chimps at Gombe has been taken out of context and does not prove does that masculinity equates with innate aggression. The use of violence to gain social control cannot be traced straight back to the origins of man.
In fact, archeologists have yet to find evidence of organized warfare that predates the existence of agricultural societies. According to Fukuyama’s logic, war is the sum of many individuals’ violent behaviors and actions. In reality, war is the result of complex processes within foreign policy. His assessment is far too simplistic to support his claims. Caprioli provided evidence that female heads of state are just as likely to use force as their male counterparts. As women rise to positions of ultimate political power, they are freed from the social constraints of their gender stereotypes.
Based on the documented actions of female presidents and prime ministers, it is doubtful that a world run by women will be more peaceful. Works Cited Caprioli, Mary. “The Myth of Women’s Pacifism. ” Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in World Politics An Original Essay Written for This Volume (1999) Ed. Rourke, John T. Guilford, CN: McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, 2005. Fukuyama, Francis. “Women and the Evolution of World Politics” Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in World Politics Ed. Rourke, John T. Guilford, CN: McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, 2005 (Reprinted from Foreign Affairs, September/October 1998).