chapter  3
19 Pages

Comparing mainstream and feminist theories on rebellion

Dialogue between mainstream political science and feminist work in the field has been infrequent and uneasy. Moreover, far from being a unified approach, feminist theory is an active and varied genre encompassing different factions and numerous areas for debate. Many of these feminisms also share a heritage with other established traditions in political theory, for instance Marxist feminism’s link to the Marxist tradition and liberal feminism’s connection to Enlightenment thought. In this chapter, I seek to create a gendered theory of rebellion that takes main-

stream theories from political science and economics as a starting point, while at the same time critiquing them through a feminist lens. I start by discussing my view of gender as a superstructure, which acts to determine whether and to what extent women are able to contribute to a non-state armed group. The discussion then proceeds to an exploration of two frameworks for understanding armed rebellion that are widely accepted in the field of international relations: one that views rebellion as an expression of grievance, and another (drawn from economic literature) that views rebellion primarily as an opportunity for personal gain through the acquisition of private goods. A key argument is that ideas about grievance, which emphasize the emotional nature of rebellion, dovetail with ideas present in feminist thought. At the same time, while notions of rebellion as an act of self-interest driven by rational choice purport to be gender-neutral, a feminist examination of this theory exposes some key flaws. Overall, the analysis shows that both of these theoretical approaches stand to be improved by an analysis that incorporates ideas about gender.