The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions: The Construction of Femininity Within and Through the Human Security Paradigm
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This paper uses a particular form of postmodern feminism to analyze the construction of femininity within and through the human security paradigm. It explores the ways in which human security has been implicated in the power-knowledge system of patriarchy. It does so in order to investigate the human security discourse that has shaped the subject position of the individual suffering from insecurity. It establishes and interrogates the following questions: How is the power-knowledge system of patriarchy implicated in human security? Has the insecure individual’s subject position in the human security paradigm negatively affected the way that the paradigm addresses agency? This paper argues that human security is feminized and denigrated in relation to national security. Further, human security’s epistemological foundations remain in the power-knowledge system of patriarchy. These bases of power-knowledge are implicated in the feminization of human security as a concept, as well as the feminization of insecure individuals. The paper is organized into three main sections. First, it provides an overview of how traditional national security and human security are gendered concepts. Second, it analyzes the feminization of the insecure individual to demonstrate how this political action marginalizes individual agency as it paradoxically attempts to “protect” people from insecurities. Drawing upon a case study of United States anti-trafficking efforts, it examines how pre-existing humanitarian gender motifs have influenced human security, preventing effective policy from emerging in a contemporary form. Third, it outlines how a postmodern feminist approach can create a site for, and insert individual agency into the center of socio-political scholarship.