Taking feminist violence seriously in feminist international relations

Marysia Zalewski, Anne Sisson Runyan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


In this article we explore questions about feminism and violence to constructively complicate understandings about this relationship. Feminism is conventionally positioned as oppositional to direct and structural violences, importantly so, as this has been seen key to feminism's viability as a constructive knowledge project. Yet there are increasingly persistent concerns about epistemic, juridical and other violences circulating around feminism, which render feminism's role in the production of oppositional knowledge and politics suspect. This is especially the case where western feminist ideas have been problematically taken up in neoliberal global policy making and for militarized human rights interventions. As feminist international relations scholars troubled by such associations, we investigate – via an exploration of three provocative feminist texts – how feminism is perceived to be both violated and violating by its contemporary imbrication in the violences of neoliberalism and global governance. We further suggest that metaphors of feminized corporeality, which infuse representations of feminism in these texts (especially in its western homogenized governance form), inhibit the destabilizing potential of feminism through its harmful associations with the ‘failing’ female body. This bodily shaping of feminism, which we examine by following a ‘trail of blood’, tells us something important about the relationship between feminism and violence, about recurring discursive and theoretical closures around feminism and about the possibilities for reinventions of feminism to unsettle the violent degradations, which feminists insistently reveal and decry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-313
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Feminist Journal of Politics
Issue number3
Early online date26 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • corporeal metaphors
  • feminism
  • feminist IR
  • feminist violence
  • violence


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