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Bananas, Beaches and Bases:
Making Feminist Sense of International Politics

by Cynthia Enloe

ISBN 0520069846 / 9780520069848 / 0-520-06984-6
Publisher University of California Press
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

This radical new analysis of international politics reveals the crucial role of women in implementing governmental foreign policies, be it Soviet Glasnost, Britain's dealings in the EEC, or the NATO alliance. Cynthia Enloe pulls back the curtain on the familiar scenes--governments restricting imported goods, bankers negotiating foreign loans, soldiers serving overseas--and shows that the real landscape is less exclusively male.
Bananas, Beaches and Bases shows how thousands of women tailor their marriages to fit the demands of state secrecy; how foreign policy would grind to a halt without secretaries to handle money transfers or arms shipments; and how women are working in hotels and factories around the world in order to service their governments' debts.
Enloe also challenges common assumptions about what constitutes "international politics." She explains, for example, how turning tacos and sushi into bland fast foods affects relations between affluent and developing countries, and why a multinational banana company needs the brothel outside its gates. And she argues that shopping at Benneton, wearing Levis, working as a nanny (or employing one) or planning a vacation are all examples of foreign policy in action.
Bananas, Beaches and Bases does not ignore our curiosity about arms dealers, the President's men or official secrets. But it shows why these conventional clues are not sufficient for understanding how the international political system works. In exposing policymakers' reliance on false notions of "feminity" and "masculinity," Enloe dismantles a seemingly overwhelming world system, exposing it to be much more fragile and open to change than we are usually led to believe.
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