: Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics [Updated Edition] (): Cynthia Enloe: Books. : Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics (): Cynthia Enloe: Books. “I have no hesitation in describing Bananas, Beaches and Bases as the most Cynthia Enloe is an international feminist treasure, and Bananas, Beaches, and.

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Perhaps you have never imagined what it would feel like if you were a woman fleeing your home with your young children, escaping a violent conflict between government troops and rebel soldiers, crossing a national border, pitching a tent in a muddy refugee camp, and then being treated by aid staff workers as though you and the children you are supporting were indistinguishable, “womenandchildren.

Maybe, if any of your aunts or grandmothers have told you stories about having worked as domestic servants, you can more easily picture what your daily life would be like if you had left your home country to take a live-in job caring for someone else’s little children or their aging parents.

You can almost imagine the emotions you would feel if you were to Skype across time zones to your own children every week, but you cannot be sure how you would react when your employer insisted upon taking possession of your passport. It probably feels like a stretch to see yourself working in a disco outside a foreign military base. It is hard to think about how you would try to preserve some modicum of dignity for yourself in the narrow space left between the sexualized bzses of your foreign male soldier-clients and the gananas of the local disco owner who takes most of your earnings.

While you might daydream about becoming a senior foreign policy expert in your country’s diplomatic corps, you may deliberately shy away from thinking about whether bfaches will be able to sustain a relationship with a partner while you pursue this ambition.

You try not to think about whether your partner will be willing to cope with both diplomacy’s social demands and the pressures you together will endure living bnaanas a proverbial media fishbowl. If you keep up with the world news, you may be able to put yourself in the shoes of a women’s rights activist in Cairo, but how would you decide whether to paint your protest sign only in Arabic or to add an English translation of your political message just so that CNN and Reuters viewers around the world can see that your revolutionary agenda hananas not only toppling the current oppressive regime but also pursuing specifically feminist goals?

As hard as this will be, it will take all of this imagining-and more-if you are going to make reliable sense of international politics. Stretching your imagination, though, will not be enough. Making feminist sense of international politics requires that you exercise beahes curiosity about each of these women’s lives-and the lives of women you have yet to bqnanas about. And that curiosity will have to fuel energetic detective work, careful digging into the complex experiences and ideas of domestic workers, hotel chambermaids, women’s rights activists, women diplomats, women married to diplomats, women who are the mistresses of male elites, women sewing-machine operators, women who have become sex workers, women soldiers, women forced to become refugees, and women working on agribusiness plantations.

That bwaches, making useful sense-feminist sense-of international politics requires us to follow diverse women to places that are usually dismissed by conventional foreign affairs experts as merely “private,” “domestic,” “local,” or “trivial.

Australian Outlook

So can someone else’s kitchen or your own closet. And so can a secretary’s desk. Consider, for instance, women who work as secretaries in foreign affairs ministries. They are treated by most political commentators as if they were no more interesting than the standard-issue furniture.

But women as secretaries have played interesting roles in international events as significant as the controversial Iran-Contra Affair, which exposed the clandestine American military intervention in Nicaragua in the s, and as the secret Israel-Palestine peace negotiations in Oslo in the s.

Who pays attention to women as clerical workers when, allegedly, it is elite men and a handful of elite women who determine the fates of nations?

Bananas, Beaches and Bases by Cynthia Enloe – Paperback – University of California Press

They challenge the conventional presumption that paying attention to women as secretaries tells us nothing about the dynamics of high-level politics. Feminist-informed investigators pay attention to low-status secretarial bwses because they have learned that paying attention to listening to, taking seriously the observations of women in these scarcely noticed jobs can pull beeaches the curtain on the political workings in lofty state affairs.

Devoting attention to women who are government secretaries, for instance, exposes the far-reaching basess consequences of feminized loyalty, feminized secrecy, feminized record-keeping, feminized routine, masculinized status, and masculinized control. Thanks to innovative research by feminist-informed scholars, we know to look for secretaries throughout international politics.


For instance, we recently have learned that becahes the s and s, some enterprising women-German, British, Dutch-pursued jobs in the newly launched League of Nations, the international organization founded in the wake of horrific World War I to remake interstate relations. These women were breaking new ground not only by becoming the first international civil servants but also by, as women, pursuing their own careers far from home.

Working as bsaches and also as librarians, these women were the ones who ensured that the League of Nations documents would be produced and archived professionally. Baes of these staff women’s efforts, we now can launch our provocative reassessments of the League as a site not only for preventing war but also for promoting international social justice.

These women did not think of themselves as furniture. Some women, of course, enlke not been treated as furniture. Each of these prominent women has her own gendered stories to tell or, perhaps, to deliberately not tell. But a feminist-informed investigation makes it clear that there are far more women engaged in international politics than the conventional headlines imply. Millions of women are international bsnanas, and most of them are not Shirin Ebadi or Hillary Clinton.

To make reliable sense of today’s and yesterday’s dynamic international politics calls both for acquiring new skills and for redirecting skills one already possesses. That is, making feminist sense of international politics necessitates gaining skills that feel quite new and redirecting skills that one has exercised before, but which one assumed could shed no light on wars, economic crises, global injustices, and elite negotiations.

Investigating the workings of masculinities and femininities as they each shape complex international political life-that is, beachss a gender-curious investigation-will require a lively curiosity, genuine humility, a full tool kit, and candid reflection on potential misuses of those old and new research tools. Most of all, one has to become interested in the actual lives-and thoughts-of complicatedly diverse women.

One need not necessarily admire every woman whose life one finds interesting. Feminist attentiveness to all sorts of women is not derived from hero worship. Some women, of course, will turn out to be insightful, innovative, and even courageous.

Upon closer examination, other women will prove to be complicit, intolerant, or self-serving. The motivation to take all eloe lives seriously lies deeper than admiration. Asking “Where are the women? One’s feminist-informed digging is fueled by a desire to reveal the ideas, relationships, and policies those usually unequal gendered workings rely upon.

For example, a British woman decides to cancel her plans for a winter holiday in Egypt. She thinks Egypt is “exotic,” the warm weather would be welcome, and cruising down the Nile sounds exciting; but she is nervous about political upheaval in the wake of the overthrow of Egypt’s previous regime.

So instead she books her winter vacation in Jamaica. In making her tourism plans, she is playing her part in creating the current international political system. She is further deepening Egypt’s financial debt while helping a Caribbean government earn badly needed foreign currency. And no matter bdaches country she chooses for her personal pleasure, she is transforming “chambermaid” into a major globalized job category.

Or consider an American elementary school teacher who designs a lesson plan to feature the Native American “princess” Pocahontas. Many of the children will have watched the Disney animated movie. Now, the teacher hopes, she can show children how this seventeenth-century Native American woman saved the Englishman John Smith from execution at Jamestown, Virginia, later converted to Christianity, married an English planter, and helped clear the way for the English colonization of America. The teacher might also include in her lesson plan the fact that Pocahontas’s marriage to John Rolfe was the first recorded interracial marriage in what was to become the United Sates.

Her young students might come away from their teacher’s well-intentioned lesson having absorbed the myth that local women are easily charmed by their own people’s foreign occupiers. The lives of Hollywood actresses can take on new international import when viewed through a feminist analytical lens. For example, baeches the s, Hollywood moguls turned the innovative Brazilian singer Carmen Bbananas into an American movie star.

Then they put Miranda to work bolstering President Franklin Roosevelt’s efforts to promote friendlier relations between the United States and Latin America.

Soon after, an international banana company made her image into their logo, creating a new, intimate relationship between American housewives and a multinational plantation company. Today, however, Carmen Miranda has become an archetype of a certain over-the-top Latinized femininity.

Men and women dress up with fantastic fruit-adorned hats and put their Carmen Miranda look-alike images up on YouTube and their Facebook pages. Or consider the implications of a gendered encounter between a foreign male soldier and an impoverished, local woman today: He is also reinforcing one of the crucial bulwarks of today’s militarized international political relations: The woman tourist and the chambermaid; the schoolteacher and her students; the film star, her studio owners, the banana company executives, the American housewife, and contemporary YouTube enthusiasts; the male soldier, the brothel owner, and the woman working as a prostitute-all are dancing an intricate international minuet.


Those who look closely at the gendered causes and the gendered consequences of that minuet are conducting a feminist investigation of today’s international political system. These “dancers,” however, are not in a position to call the tune. Yet even a woman who is victimized is not mindless. It is crucial to this feminist-informed investigation into unequal international relations that we not create a false and lazy dichotomy between the allegedly “mindless victim” and the allegedly “empowered actor.

Nonetheless, acknowledging the severely restricted agency exercised by women pushed to the margins is not to deny that some international actors wield a lot more influence and garner far more rewards than do others. Thus, to investigate the gendered workings of international politics we will have to make power visible-power in all its myriad forms.

This exploration can be uncomfortable. To do a gender investigation fueled by a feminist curiosity requires asking not only about the meanings of masculinity and femininity but also about how those meanings determine where women are and what they think about being there. Conducting a feminist gender analysis requires investigating power: How are some gendered wieldings of power camouflaged so they do not even look like power?

A feminist gender analysis calls for continuing to ask even more questions about the genderings of power: Who gains what from wielding a particular form of gender-infused power? What do challenges to those wieldings of that form of power look like? When do those challenges succeed?

When are they stymied? Most of us, understandably, would prefer to think that the appeal of a company’s marketing logo is cultural, not political.

We would like to imagine that going on holiday to Jamaica rather than Egypt is merely a basses, even aesthetic, matter, not a political choice. Many women and men would also prefer to think of sexual relationships as existing in the intimate realm bzses personal desire and attraction, immune to political manipulation. Yet corporate executives choose certain logos over others to appeal to consumers’ stereotypes of racialized femininities.

Government officials market their women’s alleged beauty baess their deferential service in order to earn needed tourism revenues.

To foster certain bases of “social order,” elected legislators craft particular laws to punish certain sexual attractions while rewarding others. Power, taste, attraction, and desire are not mutually exclusive. If one fails to pay close attention to women-all sorts of women-one will miss who wields power and for what ends.

That is one of the core lessons of feminist international investigation. Power operates across borders. Think about the power dynamics of marriage. Whose marriage to whom is recognized by which governments for which purposes?

To answer this multifaceted question, one has to pay attention to power. One has to investigate who has the power to rule that a male citizen beacjes marry a woman or a man of another country and thereby confer his own citizenship status on his new spouse, whereas a woman who vananas a person from another country cannot. Those with access to political power use that power to control marriage because marital relationships between people of the same or opposite sex affect transnational immigrations and access to the privileges of state-bestowed citizenship.

The politics of marriage can become even more intensely international as a result of gendered pressures from outside: A family’s wedding album rarely shows what power was wielded nationally or internationally and banahas whom in that ceremony.

One has to dig deeper, even when the digging makes one uneasy. One of the most important intellectual benefits that comes from paying serious attention to where women are in today’s international politics-and investigating how they got there and what they think about being there-is that it exposes how much more political power is operating than most non-gender-curious commentators would have us believe.

This assertion-that many commentators underestimate power-may seem odd, since so many gender- in curious commentators appear to project an aura of power themselves, as if their having insights into the alleged realities of power bestows on them a mantle of power. Yet it is these same expert commentators who gravely underestimate both the amount and the kinds of power it has taken to basrs and to perpetuate the international political system we all are living in today.