Peace as a Feminist Ethic

Early on in the Democratic primary, one of the factors that swayed me toward Obama and away from Hillary Clinton was Obama’s prescient decision to vote against invading Iraq. I viewed Obama as the more “feminist” candidate because he favors diplomacy over war.

Last night’s debate troubled me for a lot of reasons but mostly because neither candidate really spoke about how to bring about a more peaceful global society. Rather they disagreed about which country should have been invaded and which should be invaded next. I still think Obama favors diplomacy over war, but it seems that the media’s calls for him to “toughen up” might be pushing him to talk tough in order to prove that he can “keep America safe.” But I worry, like I worried about Hillary, if proving himself tough (read masculine) will mean that Obama will have to appear pro-war. Even though McCain finds Obama’s desire to meet with all world leaders without precondition a signal of the younger candidate’s naivety, it’s that kind of diplomatic thinking that drew me toward Obama. Refusing to talk with other leaders, even if you disagree with them, is childish and hubristic.

Most of the world’s citizens do not want to be at war. Isn’t it time we elect leaders who value our lives? Or is the desire for peace also naive?


About jennifer williams

Jennifer D. Williams is a writer and professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies. She has published in academic journals and online at, PopMatters, among other sites. Jennifer is currently working on a book that looks at black women's urban literature between the Depression and the civil rights era.

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