Feminism, Foreign Policy, Security

The Hypocrisy of Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy

Sweden is apparently world’s first officially self declared “Feminist” government. The brave sisters, of the foreign affairs department, recently obliterated the patriarchy in the United States, with a staged photo onslaught.

The Swedish Government signing new climate change legislation 3rd of February 2017

But that was before they surrendered to the dictates of an Islamist theocracy, just like all good Western feminists should. In a scenario all too painfully familiar in recent days, a bunch of privileged Western women found liberation in keeping their head down and knowing their place.

The Swedish Government in Iran, 12th February 2017

Look, I have nothing against Iran, in fact, I respect them, that they are iron-spined and strong enough to make Western governments bow down in front of them and their rules, regardless of which continent they are in. I find the weakness and hypocrisy of the other side more abhorrent. In what can be termed as the most abjectly hypocritical turnaround in recent history, Sweden’s annoyingly grandstanding government, paraded (or should I say, reverse-slutwalked) with their heads covered in a visiting delegation to Iran.

Why such a fuss with Sweden, you might wonder? After all, from Federica Mogherini to Julie Bishop, everyone has covered up top to bottom, even their hair, when they have met the Iranians. The Italians went as far as not just covering up when they visited Iran, but covering themselves and their statues up as well, when the Iranian delegations visited Italy.

Italy covers naked statues during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit

Following the law of the land you say? More like following one sided theocratic laws, in both continents. After all everyone knows, when in Rome, roll like you’re at home…or something like that. So why single out the Swedish sistahs?

Because nothing in this planet is as annoying as outright hypocrites taking the moral high ground.


Prima facie, there can be no ‘feminist’ foreign policy per se, but more on that later. Sweden’s foreign minister took an effort early in her days to explain what it is all about. In her own words, it is about focusing on peace, justice, human rights and discrimination. But how does that make it a feminist foreign policy? Does that mean other Western states do not care about those issues?

Even before this farce occurred, I had wanted to write a critique about the myth of Swedish ‘feminist’ foreign policy for quite a while, but carried on with my life, because it was frankly meaningless and not worth my time. As a researcher in International Relations, a discipline which primarily seeks to study and understand the interactions and conflicts between states in an international system, nothing has been ever so frustrating than watching my own discipline being hijacked by sociologists focusing on race and gender studies and hogging half of the grants for meaningless research with zero policy relevance. There can be no feminist foreign policy, just like there can be no feminist biology, or feminist chemistry or feminist economics, and those who try to claim such, are essentially inventing a new form of meaningless word salad.

International Relations — as an academic discipline — traces its philosophical origin to Thucydides, Sun Tzu, Kautilya, and the likes. It’s a discipline that tries to study and understand how the international system works, how powers interact, when peace happens, and when states or empires go to war. In modern times, mainstream IR theories like Realism and Liberalism follow a similar epistemological premise. While Realism is hardnosed and conservative, and deals with power, interests and security, Liberalism highlights the power of institutions, trade and democratic peace. To put it simply, they might be at odds over issues, but at least they are both empirically testable and falsifiable. The reason why postmodern concepts like feminist foreign policy have never been taken seriously in mainstream Political Science and IR, and have never published in premier journals like Harvard’s International Security, is because they have nothing to offer beyond stream-of-consciousness gibberish.

A typical example of feminist foreign policy scholarship would be this 1997 paper: “You Just Don’t Understand: Troubled Engagements Between Feminists and IR Theorists,” which is famous in PoMo circles. When the authoress was asked why feminists don’t have falsifiable theories, she replied that feminist epistemology believes in deconstruction and non-positivist methodology. Or in other words, I claim what I feel, to hell with your evidence, because evidence is socially constructed anyway. One needn’t be an IR theorist to understand the absurdity of this position. It is a miracle (for them) that 20 years since Richard Dawkins wrote “Postmodernism Disrobed“, these academics still have tenured positions at Western Universities.

But such dismissal is a lazy critique. So, let’s empirically test the Swedish feminists, bringing facts to claims. What is the legacy of feminist Sweden thus far?

Sweden was the first state to acknowledge Palestine, antagonising what is the only democratic power in Middle East and steadfast Western ally, Israel. Sweden apparently stood up to Saudi Arabia over the flogging of Raif Badawi. But when Saudis retaliated, the feminists promptly got their liberated derriere handed back to them, backtracked, and appeased Saudis with even more arms to sell. In a classic instance of a Security Dilemma, Sweden is now cozying up to NATO and the U.S. to defend against a revanchist Russia — just like any state, regardless of whether it is feminist or not, would — (which somehow makes Swedish trolling of Trump hilarious, given it is U.S. which provides security over Europe).

But that’s nothing compared to what feminist Sweden has unleashed on its own population. Uncharted migration has correlated with a record number of rapes, and crimes against women, which the Swedish media and government have tried to jointly cover up. Swedish police have been gagged by the government, told not to talk about mass sexual assault by certain minority groups, which has resulted in individual police officers venting in private. I could go on, but the most thorough breakdown of Sweden’s social structure seems to have occurred under their feminist government. The burdens of growing social security costs, ossifying academic orthodoxy, increasing Soviet-style nanny-state control, and the resultant far right backlash, is all described in detail by James Traub in Foreign Policy.

Failure to stand up to theocratic and revanchist forces abroad, and the failure to protect women at home, all the while impotently posing for photo-ops against disinterested men, in relative safety, seems like the hallmark of Sweden’s feminist foreign policy.

This is inevitable. Camille Paglia once said the same thing in a lecture. During the dying days of any civilisation, the civilisation becomes effete and impotent. Today, when one can see a German hippie with signs like “Hijab is empowerment,” or Saudi apologists like Linda Sarsour leading a bunch of free American women, one can only lament thinking of the actual women moderates and liberals who have been fighting against forces of genuine patriarchy in Middle East. The Kurds, the Yazidis, the Iranian liberals, the Saudi women who risk being jailed for driving.

Perhaps, Swedish gender scholars might want to meet and talk to people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali first, before railing against “Western patriarchy,” the same system, under whose relative security they are safe from the ultra-orthodox forces gathering at the outskirts; the system which they seem determined to break down, ushering in a nightmarish chaos.


Sumantra Maitra is a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, UK. His research is in Great power politics and Neorealism. You can find him on Twitter @MrMaitra.


  1. Lester Kobzik says

    I consider your analysis of actual policy decisions to be a more substantial concern than the cosmetics of wearing a veil when visiting Iran. I agree that visitors should accommodate to hosts a bit, so I would favor not wearing this gear when on home turf and hosting Islamic diplomats (ie. in Sweden). But I can’t get too excited about whether they do or not. In contrast, your criticism of their actual decisions and the discordance between principles espoused and actual behavior in the realm of foreign policy is much more compelling. Thanks for a well-written and thought provoking essay.

  2. Santoculto says

    Orthodox Jews aren’t less misogynous than Muslims so why spread again the “democratic myth of Israel”??

    • Because Orthodox Jews are not actually in charge of Israel, they are a very small minority whom most Israelis begrudgingly put up with. Their misogyny, whether it’s equal to or less than Islamic misogyny, but certainly not worse, is not being codified in to laws, in the same way it has been in Islamic countries.

      Also, Israel has a democratic system in which every citizen, regardless of religion or ethnic background, is allowed to vote. Any Israeli, regardless of religion or ethnic background, is allowed to advance themselves through society. Can the same be said for Saudi Arabia, where citizens must be Moslem first and foremost?

      • Santoculto says

        They are not a VERY small minority and with their higher reproductive rates they will be even less a ”very small group”.

        Be or not codified in to laws no matter, what’s matter is their current and constant behavior.

        There are small differences between muslins and orthodox jews regards their respective behavior with the women.

        Democracy is very fluid, ambiguous and broader term. None politicians asked Sweden, France or USA, three democracies, if they wanted be replaced by foreigner colonizers.

        • Doesn’t make my point any less valid, Israel is still a democracy, even in the broadest of terms or the narrowest of terms. Every citizen, regardless of religion or ethnic background, can have an equally valid vote, that’s what a democracy is. The fact that orthodox Jews are as misogynous as moslems doesn’t change that.

          The laws do matter, for it’s the laws that define the society officially. In several Islamic Islamic societies, misogyny is part of the country’s law, it’s legal code for all citizens; that’s far worse than the behaviour of a minority who have none of their laws written into the legal code, it’s a false equivalence.

          • Santoculto says

            Yes it’s make your argument broader and vague again. If democracy have a very fluid concept and application so Israel is far to be very democratic OR better, it’s very democratic IF we apply the democracy concept via literal and primitive way: Power to the people or for the well being of the people, a social and nationalist country.

            The problem is that Jewish diaspora work very hard to deny this rights for other supposed democracies like Sweden via indirect or direct way. Kind of ideological protectionism.

            Theoretically speaking Israel appear more democratic based on this modern concept. Theoretically…

            Right to vote hate little impact in daily lives namely in Jewish orthodox women. It’s more symbolical than practical.

            Define society officially…

            Everything look great in theory.

        • While Orthodox society may make women’s right to vote more symbolic than practical, it’s important to note that they still have that right under the laws of Israel. While the orthodox community may suppress that right, the state of Israel will not, nor will they enforce that suppression of women on behalf of the orthodox community; instead, Israel will do the opposite, they will make sure that her vote is able to be made, should she choose to make it known and ask for assistance. While this may be a brave move for her to do so, the state will still support her right. The behaviour of her community, is not upheld legally or in practice, by the state.

          Bear in mind too, democracy is only a democracy if a vote is VALID. A dictatorship holding faux-elections doesn’t count – conspiracy aside, Israel is not holding faux-elections at the moment.

          • Santoculto says

            A vague concept of democracy. Whatever, democracy start from the premise that there is a free will/ universal rational capacity among humans.

            But even inside Israel there is a parallel orthodox state.

            Israel state don’t reinforce but also don’t try to intermediate this situation.

        • Ah, then the discussion moves on to “whether humans have free will, or is free will just an illusion?” which is another philosophical topic altogether, and one which has plagued man for centuries.

          Also, if this concept of democracy (equal and properly valid voting for all citizens) is vague, then what would be a more precise and clear definition?

          • Santoculto says

            This is the primitive concept of democracy: Power to the people and generally it’s manifested via “universal” right to vote.

            Socio psychological basis of democracy is wrong because start from the wrong idea everyone/the people, individually or collectively speaking, can decide via rational thinking the social questions of their society. So democracy instead their very good intentions must be revised. Other problem of democracy is that astute people use it to their own goals and I’m not advocating for aristocracy or dictatorship but yes democratic regime is far to be perfect and one of the fundamental reasons is that it start from the blank slate pseudo philosophy.

            Or real democracy never was try. Supposedly “liberal democracies” in the west are the perfect example of democracy BUT “the people” or elected and not so elected politicians have very different point of views and subsequently policies than the real people represented by majority. Since several decades before they the politicians, have imported millions of foreigner people to the western democracies and in any moment they consulted the real people to know if they really want this situation while this same people has been distracted and ideationally cheated to believe that this aberrantly evident absurd situation is normal and acceptable.

          • So in other words, democracy is actually not being applied? So this is not actually democracy at all?

          • Santoculto says

            Maybe we are overvalue democracy confusing it as perfect regime. It’s the best political regime ever human already invented but or their fundamental basis are wrong = power to the people, or never was really/fully administered. Indeed we live in mixed political regimes with superficially homogeneous appearance of democracy.

  3. Yeah Nope says

    Note who champions all the policies and appeasements that will inevitably lead to the dissolution of western societies. It is invariably women, because they sub-consciously understand that they are not going to be the ones dying to defend their way of life from aggressive invaders.

    As history has shown, when the barbarian hordes invade, it’s the men that are wholesale slaughtered. The women may be enslaved, but they will live.

    And the weak effeminate men resulting from feminism will be the first those same feminists curse when the barbarian hordes take them as slaves.

    This is not a condemnation of women as a whole, nor even women in governance. It is merely an observation based on history and the current sociopolitical environment.

    • Santoculto says

      I have a different opinion.

      Conservative culture homogenize people to act by certain set of acceptable attitudes. Liberalism do the opposite in terms of behavior ((less Caucasian self defense)).

      So it’s not feminism only that make men look impotent but just show how they really look like without a smog-like conservative culture.

      In the scenario of direct competition very domesticated people become fragile.

      • Santoculto says

        Only no there direct competition among groups specially for the whitey.

  4. Joe Y says

    Amazing how the Jews–who have nothing to do with this article–always get dragged into it. Yes, in Orthodox Jewry, women definitely do not have the same rights as men , but there are many crucial differences between the lives of Orthodox Jewish women and those of Muslim women in Muslim countries.
    1. Most crucially, an Orthodox Jewish woman in Israel can always just walk away. She can grow her hair, wear regular clothes, get a job, and no one will track her down, and if they should, the law is on her side.
    2. There is no plague of “honor killings” amongst the Orthodox Jews in Israel.
    3. No acid attacks from spurned suitors.
    4. No forced marriage to your rapist.
    5. No child marriages.
    6. No polygamy.
    7. Wife beating is not justified in Jewish scripture.

    One could go on.

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