Volume LI – Number 1

Mackenzie E. Rice

Abstract: National identities are constructed through the process of ascribing a society’s preferred attributes to the image of the state at large. In the United States, gender remains a prevailing construct that drives definitions of both individual and collective American identities. Societal preferences for masculinity frame a gendered depiction of the American identity, and subsequently shape foreign policy; as American political leaders design policies and champion rhetoric that serves to project masculinity to both allies and enemies abroad. The connection between foreign policy and masculinity, while often envisioned as “natural” or “intuitive” in traditional theories about international security and conflict, is in fact forged consciously, and in the case of the United States, predicated on gendered national identity preferences. Moreover, feminist analysis of past and present American foreign policy provides a deeper understanding of the true extent to which gendered identities have the ability to structure and define foreign policy discourse. This understanding is important, as all identities taken to extremes have the potential to be manipulated for political gain. Therefore, in the case of the United States, a comprehensive awareness of the interaction between national identity and foreign policy formation is imperative in order to maintain the ability to empirically evaluate foreign policy options.

Keywords: Foreign Policy, Gender Definitions, Feminist Analysis 

About the Author: Mackenzie E. Rice has a B.S. in Political Science and Economics from Towson University and will begin studying for a Master’s Degree in Global Affairs at the University of Toronto this fall.

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