Feminism, Sex Crimes, and International Law

The tradition of positivistic based theory has allowed the progression of humankind achieving great and terrible things. Exponential advancements in empirical science, academic inquiry, and social progress all have been achieved through the studious application of what we commonly refer to as the scientific method. Though positivism assumes a number of first principles about both the noumenal and phenomenological realms, the assumption of the relationship between the two has proven the veracity and effectiveness of the positivistic method. One merely has to observe the events such as the landing on the Moon, the establishment of international organizations and treaties such as the United Nations, and medical advances that have eradicated different forms of disease and suffering. Therefore, the legitimacy of implementing the same methodology that has brought about such human advances into the field of international relations theory seems all too correct.

However, a Husserlian phenomenology informs that excluding different phenomena from a comprehensive analysis fails to provide the informed mind with complete understanding. Expounding from this micro scale to the macro application of fields of study, merely restricting international relations theory to positivistic sources of information leads to the possibility of inaccurate theory. While some cases of excluding positivistic methods in favor of differing first principles are disproven by historical events, this nonetheless does not counteract the veracity of incorporating various phenomena.

For example, Hegelian based dialectical materialism–otherwise known as classical Marxism–has been proven by history to not be a sustainable political mode. Be that as it may, the Hegelian dialectic is an observable phenomena in nature and thus with the right application can be used to provide an accurate analysis of political phenomena. Ironically, relying upon the veracity of a theory based upon observation follows a positivistic line of thought. However, the intricacies of epistemological theory can be left to the realm of philosophical inquiry. The work of analysis in international relations theory can still incorporate Hegelian based thought which would include forms of Marxism.

Furthermore, the development of international law to include sex based war crimes against women as distinct forms of prosecutable offenses proves the legitimacy of incorporating non-positivistic forms of analysis. Feminism has brought attention to the extra toll that warfare inordinately places upon women–particularly in the wake of the Rwandan genocide and the United States involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. While making direct connections between feminist thought and evolving international law requires more investigation, the manner in which feminist thought has positively impacted the zeitgeist proves the veracity of implementing it into international relations theory.

While the positivistic thought remains the most robust form of developing accurate theory for international relations, the requirements of maintaining a holistic analysis according to a phenomenological approach demonstrate the necessity for inclusive thinking. The development of international law to bring attention to sex based war crimes against women proves the veracity of said inclusive thinking.


Crenshaw, Kimberle W. “FromPrivate Violence to Mass Incarceration: Thinking Intersectionally About Women, Race, and Social Control,” UCLA Law Review, 59 UCLA L. Rev. 1418, August 2012. Acessed April 4, 2017 at http://www.lexisnexis.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/lnacui2api /api/version1/getDocCui?lni=56S5-V1R0-02BN-00BY&csi=7359&hl=t&hv=t&hnsd=f&hns=t&hgn=t&oc=00240&perma=true.

Huckerby, Jane. “Feminism and International Law in the Post 9/11 Era,” Fordham International Law Journal 39 Fordham Int’l LJ. 533, February, 2016. Accessed April 4, 2017 at http://www .lexisnexis.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/lnacui2api/api/version1/getDocCui?lni=5JJX-V9C0-00CT-T0X3&csi=12490&hl=t&hv=t&hnsd=f&hns=t&hgn=t&oc=00240&perma=true.

Sokolowski, Robert. Introduction to Phenomenology. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.


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