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Emma Chen U6388045

808 Words


Introduction to International Relations: Contemporary Global Issues

Dr Michael Zekulin

This essay analyses Fukuyama’s article “Women and the Evolution of World

Politics”, and argues that Fukuyama’s argument that men are more violent than women,

founded upon contentious and vague evidence, leads to problematic conclusions being drawn

about the increasing role of women in contemporary international politics. It will do this by

firstly summarising Fukuyama’s central argument and discussing problems with the evidence

that he substantiates his argument upon. Secondly, this essay discusses problems arising from

the conclusions that Fukuyama draws from his argument. Finally, it explains the damaging

effect that Fukuyama’s assertions about women being inherently more peaceful than men

have on female contributions to international relations.

Fukuyama’s central argument asserts that male humans, like male chimps, are

inherently more aggressive and power seeking. He asserts that there exists a fundamental

biological difference between males and females, with females being genetically predisposed

toward peace and cooperation, and males toward violence and conflict. Per Fukuyama, a

matriarchal world would be less prone to conflict, and instead, more conciliatory and

cooperative (Fukuyama, 1998, p31). Fukuyama’s provocative thesis, though thought-

inducing, fails to convince due to lack of proper evidence. His attempts to provide evidence

for his assertions are markedly vague throughout his paper. For instance, in his assertions for

the existence of biological male aggression and bonding, Fukuyama continuously refers to

“virtually all reputable evolutionary biologists” (Fukuyama, 1998, p30) and findings in “new

biology” (Fukuyama, 1998, p31), failing to substantiate his claims with reference to specific


Due to Fukuyama basing his arguments upon vague and contentious evidence, the

conclusions he draws from them, naturally, become less tenable. From his assertion that

women are biologically more peaceful, Fukuyama draws the problematic conclusion that

men, biologically more violent, cannot be re-socialised to become less violent and more

cooperative (Fukuyama, 1998, p27). Fukuyama, in a classical realist manner, chooses to

blame human nature for global violence. Without proper evidence however, his pessimistic

conclusion remains a baseless claim, easily contestable by other realist theorists who may

argue, with substantial evidence, that international structures are to blame. Fukuyama’s

conclusions are also at times contradictory. He concludes that accepting human nature as

being often evil is beneficial, because political, social and economic systems can then be

designed to mitigate the effects of humanity’s primal instincts (Fukuyama, 1998, p39). This

conclusion invites disagreement as it is not entirely logical, and appears to contradict

Fukuyama’s central claim that females are genetically predisposed to being more peaceful

and morally good. Fukuyama furthermore concludes that the feminisation of world politics

would be a liability if not in a totally feminised world, due to persistent masculine aggression

(Fukuyama, 1998, p36). The “totally feminised world” that Fukuyama writes about is

unrealistic in the immediate future given the current global trajectory, which sees gradual but

limited increases of female impact. Therefore, alongside Fukuyama’s core argument that

rising female involvement in international politics is advantageous is a contradictory fear of

state feminisation.

From a “big picture” perspective, Fukuyama’s article, written amidst gradual but

limited rises of women in positions of power, has much relevance in today’s world.

Fukuyama seeks to explain how growing contributions by female leaders and officials will

affect international relations. He writes that the male tendency toward violence should be

constrained via liberal ideas about norms, laws and agreements, and by labelling women as

being biologically more peaceful, appears to advocate for more women to be involved in

international relations. However, the conclusions that Fukuyama draws from his paper in fact

have damaging effects for women in positions of international leadership and service.

Fukuyama challenges the feminist view that a world run by women would abide by different

rules, and that Western societies would become subsequently become less violent. He states

that women need to be brought into international politics in roles of leadership, officials,

soldiers and voters By having women contribute in global politics, women may shift the male

agenda more in favour of their own interests. (Fukuyama, 1998, p34). Although Fukuyama’s

argument may indeed have been well-meaning, his association of women with peace

exacerbates problematic gender stereotypes characterising women as passive and emotional,

and men as active and rational. Contributing to stereotypes such as these in fact keep women

from positions of power, threatening their credibility as actors in international relations in a

world where their rise remains difficult.

This essay argues that the central argument Fukuyama makes in his article “Women

and the Evolution of World Politics” is not based on proper evidence, and draws damaging

conclusions about the increasing role of women in international relations. Firstly, this essay

summarises Fukuyama’s central argument. Secondly, it discusses the conclusions Fukuyama

draws from his arguments, and the contention and illogical flow around his cited evidence.

Thirdly, it highlights the damaging role Fukuyama’s argument plays in a world seeing

gradual but limited increases of female contributions to international relations.

Fukuyama, Francis. (1998). Women and the Evolution of World Politics. Foreign Affairs 77:
pp. 24 – 40.