Introduction to Political Theory

(Marvins-Underground-K-12) #1
we have suggested above), so that it empowers rather than degrades and diminishes
Women cannot be citizens unless they are treated as equal to men, and by equality
we mean not merely sameness but an acknowledgement (indeed a celebration) of
difference, not only between women and men but among women themselves.
The involvement of women in contemporary liberal societies as members of the
armed and police forces is a necessary condition for women’s citizenship because
it helps to demystify the argument that only men can bear arms and fight for their
country. Deeply embedded in traditionalist notions of citizenship is the idea that
only those who go to war for their country can be citizens. It is worth noting,
however, that armies in liberal societies will increasingly be used for peacekeeping
and even development purposes, so that the notion of soldiers bearing arms is likely
to become more and more redundant anyway. But being conscious of the link
between patriarchy and war involves rather more than ‘opening’ up armies to
women. It involves a recognition of the link between male domination and violence.
Citizenship requires security – not simply in the sense of protection against violence

  • but in the sense of having the confidence, the capacity and the skills to participate
    in decision-making. What Tickner calls a people-centred notion of security (1995:

  1. identifies security as a concept that transcends state boundaries so that people
    feel at home in their locality, their nation and in the world at large.
    It can be argued that the traditional caring role of many women brings an
    important dimension to citizenship itself. The notion that feminist conceptions of
    citizenship should be ‘thick’ (i.e. local and domestic) rather than ‘thin’ (i.e. public
    and universalist) rests upon a dichotomy which needs to be overcome. This is why
    the debate between ‘liberals’ and ‘republicans’ is, in our view, an unhelpful one for
    women (as it is for people in general). Both liberalism and republicanism presuppose
    that politics is a ‘public’ activity that rises above social life. Liberals argue for a
    negative view of the individual who is encouraged to leave public life to the
    politicians, while republicans stress the need to participate, but both premise their
    positions on a public/private divide that is patriarchal in essence.
    Bubeck (1995: 6) instances Conservative proposals in Britain to extend the notion
    of good citizenship to participation in voluntary care, protection schemes or
    neighbourhood policing. These are useful ways of enriching citizen practices for both
    women and men, but what is problematic is a notion of political participation that
    ignores the social constraints that traditionally have favoured men and disadvantaged
    women. The fact that the obligation to care for children and the elderly has fallen
    upon women as a domestic duty, does not make it non-political and private. Bubeck
    speaks of the existence of ‘a general citizen’s duty to care’ (1995: 29) and, as she
    puts it later, the performance of this care needs to be seen as part of what it means,
    or it implies, to be a member of a political community (1995: 31).
    Care should be transformed from what Bubeck calls a ‘handicap’ of women to
    a general requirement for all (1995: 34). Providing care should be seen as much of
    an obligation as fighting in a war (1995: 35), but whereas fighting in a war implies
    a sharp and lethal division between friends and enemies, the provision of care seeks
    to heal such divisions. The notion of ‘conscription’ into service that could either
    exist alongside or be an alternative to the army is an attractive one. A caring service
    of some kind has an important role to play in developing a citizenship that combats
    patriarchy and recognises the position of women.

128 Part 1 Classical ideas

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