Centre for Political Studies, Indonesian Institute of Sciences organized intern seminar on “Masculine Imagery in Australian Foreign Policy: The case of East Timor” presented by Athiqah Nur Alami, SIP, MA, researcher of International Politics Department. The discussion took place on June 29, 2010 at the centre’s seminar room. Athiqah explained how has masculine imagery featured in Australia’s foreign policy discourses toward Indonesia and east Timor? and what are the functions of these images? The paper, a summary of her Master thesis employs gender lens in analyzing the relationship between Australia with both Indonesia and East Timor during the East Timor crisis.
As the paper focused on Australia’s foreign policy discourses, then it paid particular attention to use official documents such as speeches and statements of the Australian government as primary resources, specifically the foreign policy texts which produced during Howard administration (1996-2006) and are relevant in the case of East Timor. In her paper Athiqah revealed that language does matter and it is not value free. It can reflect and transmit particular images of gender which reflect a desire to assert, maintain, and naturalize power relations in international stage.
Athiqah contended that at least there are two kinds of masculine images produced within Australian foreign policy towards Indonesia and East Timor namely benevolent and malevolent images. She argued that masculine imagery in Australian foreign policy shifts around according to the contexts. They emerge variously in situations where these countries are seen as being internationally vulnerable, internationally cooperative or internationally threatening. The utilization of both images has showed a different function to Australia’s national interest. The malevolent image, in some ways, has undermined Australia’s interest in maintaining good relationship with Indonesia and East Timor. On the other hand, Australia’s benevolent image has benefited Australia’s national interest toward both countries.
Therefore, Athiqah, alumna of Australia National University, analyzed that Australia is more comfortable and confident to engage with Indonesia and East Timor as a subordinate that can be characterized as weak and vulnerable, rather as a challenger. Australia will offer support to both countries and not assert hypermasculinist stances as long as both countries do not challenge Australia’s hegemonic regional power. Of course, Indonesia and East Timor are important for Australia and Australia will strongly maintain its relationship with both countries. Her findings also suggested that the construction of Australian foreign policy toward other states actually is determined by their behaviour toward Australia and may therefore reveal an underlying tendency towards reactionary policy formation. (Lidya Christin Sinaga)