The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire

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Masculinised power structures can only be maintained if women stay in the roles that have been determined for them, but there are a few incredibly courageous women out there who challenge the status quo. Women organising unions in Korean sweatshops, women making sure equal rights are written into the new Iraqi constitution, women teaching girls to read in rural Afghanistan.

Positive change doesn't necessarily have a linear relationship with time, but it is happening, and sometimes I can believe that things are gradually getting better. I originally gave this four stars, simply because I haven't read anything else that's related so I have nothing to compare it to and I generally can't give books on academic subjects five stars because it's generally hard to get passionate about them.

However, I'm bumping my rating up to five stars because my thinking has definitely changed since I read this, and I don't think any single other book has ever done that. View all 8 comments. Feb 08, Mary rated it it was amazing. Not quite a full 5 only for reasons of discontinuity. Highly recommended for anyone interested in a theoretical framework for thinking about global politics. Even just the first chapter, on curiosity and surprise, could change your outlook. Enloe reminds us that a willingness to be surprised is essential not only to feminism, but to any genuine intellectual curiosity and to any system of ethics that seeks to decentralize one's own privileged perspective.

As a side note, I met Enloe at 4. As a side note, I met Enloe at a lecture in October She is every bit as awesome as she sounds.

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Sep 22, Roxani rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-in If I were to create a canonical list of feminist reads about politics, war, and power, this book would be at the top. Cynthia Enloe makes me want to think smarter and kinder. Jan 07, Rachel Smith rated it it was amazing. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

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Enloe's voice in this collection of articles is amazing. She moves her audience to seriously consider what it means to be curious and to take a second or third look at the world around it. Here are some of my responses to some of the articles: Cynthia Enloe describes feminist curiosity, or curiosity as a whole, as a practice in letting go of imagined conceptions of what is said to be the natural way, and understanding both the origins and the implications of assuming something to be natural.

F Enloe's voice in this collection of articles is amazing. For the curious feminist, this means refuting the essentialist ideologies that have historically dictated gender roles across the globe. Furthermore, being a curious feminist means understanding that because there is a historical pattern of dictating gender roles, it is considered tradition and therefore more difficult to discount.

When we say the word tradition we are referring to something that people are encouraged not to question. We encourage people to respect and uphold their traditions and values. As curious feminists we must find the line between what is tradition for the sake of tradition and what is for the sake of oppression, or at the very least, which traditions yield oppression.


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These are the tasks of the curious feminist: she is to understand her surroundings and the events of the world in a way that allows her to refute the surface explanations for those events and search for the deeper, overarching ideologies. The explanations for events, circumstances, and everyday surroundings are not simple in the way people wish to think.

Enloe impresses upon her audience that ignorance does not equal bliss. Rather, ignorance perpetuates pain, oppression, and violence. Eventually, someone must realize that the generally accepted ideologies that have become so embedded in everyday life are in fact dangerous assumptions about the nature of humanity. Enloe explains that silence is one of the greatest weapons used against women because of its power to maintain the status quo of the hegemonic groups engaging in violence against women.

For example, the U. Since we have watched the U. If freedom is the end result of violence, then violence becomes a positive means for achieving the U. Therefore, the ideology that violence is the only way to achieve freedom becomes embedded in the American worldview and if an individual speaks out against it, they are condemned for speaking out against freedom.

Men and women in America today, for instance, are expected to live up to their patriotic roles and support the war in the Middle-East in the name of American Democracy and Freedom, and this position is elevated within American military communities.

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The American military has defined boundaries between the roles of men and women: men are to physically fight against the enemy, while women are put into supportive, nurturing, and ultimately submissive, roles within the military. These positions are deemed necessary by the state for the war to be a success and forces men and women involved with the military to feel responsible, through their gender roles, for supporting and defending the nation as a whole.

When individuals break the rules and no longer fit the images Enloe describes, such as the picture of a military wife wistfully kissing her husband goodbye, their minds and bodies are violated by the state and by the individuals around them. If women in particular are unable to fit into traditional roles of mother and wife, they are forced to either continue to support the military as prostitutes, or to appear anti-patriotic by refusing those particular roles.

Women who represent the latter category are subjected to violence, such as forced prostitution and trafficking, as a direct result of their denying the roles expected of them. War, then, is not simply about guns and bombs, but is heavily dependent on the state and its citizens to maintain rigid definitions of gender that are put on a level of life and death.

Cynthia Enloe's book is a very interesting one, with lots of clues and ideas that will fascinate the reader and make her or him think about many aspects of the world we live in and the way international and national relations play out. Enloe is trying here as the title of the book says to bring curiosity and feminism to the study of different aspects of the modern world the reasons behind sneaker brands to do their products in Asia, for example.

The topics are very interesting with a heavy f Cynthia Enloe's book is a very interesting one, with lots of clues and ideas that will fascinate the reader and make her or him think about many aspects of the world we live in and the way international and national relations play out.

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The topics are very interesting with a heavy focus on the masculine militarism that shapes the world nowadays and includes conversations and personal moments. Enloe is a good writer even if the level of her style fluctuates from one article to the other and most of the chapters are very easy to read, over before you even notice. Enloe's point is to make us think about why women are put where they are, what images we get of them, and why for example there may be no women in a public demonstration.


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It all will make the reader think about some aspects that are left outside of the focus in the mainstream narrative. On the down side, it is a little bit repetitive the title is repeated at least a hundred times , it is very Western centered little obvious critic of America or Europe, much more of other places and for some of the aspects that the book brings to the fore, feminism shouldn't be needed, just curiosity.

But these are minor quibbles. Every curious person should read this book for one obvious reason: we should all try to think outside of the box, and we all should think about where women and men are.

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Jan 05, Venessa rated it liked it. Academic but revealing, Enloe examines feminism and militarism, asking questions of older wars such as the World Wars and Vietnam, but also documenting the feminism that emerges from women both in and studying the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan among others destroyed by war today. Enloe reveals the connection between the extremely masculine military, not just in the US but around the world, and the way women are seen as spoils of war, even those in the military. Enloe asks the hard questions, Academic but revealing, Enloe examines feminism and militarism, asking questions of older wars such as the World Wars and Vietnam, but also documenting the feminism that emerges from women both in and studying the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan among others destroyed by war today.

Enloe asks the hard questions, and probes deep, revealing a part of feminism I never thought about too much before.

formmethosup.tk Jan 27, Yasmin Wahid rated it it was amazing. Brilliant piece of work! Sep 22, Crystal rated it really liked it.

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Good stuff. Rigorous, unfashionable, and uncompromising. Kate rated it it was amazing Dec 30, Michael Messner rated it it was amazing Sep 18, Melinte Alexandru rated it really liked it Jul 31, Riri rated it really liked it Mar 18, Katie King rated it it was amazing Jan 01, Brittany rated it really liked it Mar 02, JT rated it really liked it Feb 01, Lila rated it liked it Jan 16, Lima Ahmad rated it it was amazing Nov 24, Ngoc rated it really liked it May 18, Ryan Hartman rated it liked it Sep 01, Allison rated it really liked it Jun 27, Holly rated it liked it Apr 17, Jessica rated it really liked it Jun 09, Zachary rated it really liked it May 04, Jessica rated it it was amazing Jul 02, Brandi rated it liked it Aug 10, Dawn rated it liked it Jan 05, Alison rated it liked it Dec 30, Sheikh Tajamul rated it really liked it Dec 21, Ryan Boyle rated it really liked it Jul 08, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

Readers also enjoyed. About Cynthia Enloe. Cynthia Enloe. Cynthia Holden Enloe is a feminist writer, theorist, and professor. She is best known for her work on gender and militarism and for her contributions to the field of feminist international relations. She has done pioneering feminist research into international politics and political economy, and has considerable contribution to building a more inclusive feminist scholarly community.

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