Sex and World Peace

Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett

Columbia University Press

Sex and World Peace

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Pub Date: April 2012

ISBN: 9780231131834

304 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $24.00£18.00

Pub Date: April 2012

ISBN: 9780231131827

304 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£26.00

Pub Date: April 2012

ISBN: 9780231520096

304 Pages

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List Price: $23.99£18.00

Sex and World Peace

Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett

Columbia University Press

Sex and World Peace unsettles a variety of assumptions in political and security discourse, demonstrating that the security of women is a vital factor in the security of the state and its incidence of conflict and war.

The authors compare micro-level gender violence and macro-level state peacefulness in global settings, supporting their findings with detailed analyses and color maps. Harnessing an immense amount of data, they call attention to discrepancies between national laws protecting women and the enforcement of those laws, and they note the adverse effects on state security of abnormal sex ratios favoring males, the practice of polygamy, and inequitable realities in family law, among other gendered aggressions.

The authors find that the treatment of women informs human interaction at all levels of society. Their research challenges conventional definitions of security and democracy and shows that the treatment of gender, played out on the world stage, informs the true clash of civilizations. In terms of resolving these injustices, the authors examine top-down and bottom-up approaches to healing wounds of violence against women, as well as ways to rectify inequalities in family law and the lack of parity in decision-making councils. Emphasizing the importance of an R2PW, or state responsibility to protect women, they mount a solid campaign against women's systemic insecurity, which effectively unravels the security of all.

An eye-opening contribution to our understanding of the powerful misogynist forces that still contribute to violence and war. This volume should be required reading for all students of international relations and those who make policy.

Ann Crittenden, author of The Price of Motherhood

Sex and World Peace is unprecedented. While there have been books on gender and international relations and books exploring the causes of war with statistical analyses of archival data, to my knowledge no other book does both. This is therefore a germinal contribution to the emerging field of gender and international relations. It will also add to the ongoing American debate between realism and idealism in foreign policy. Of course this book will appeal to researchers and advanced graduate students, yet the accessible writing—leading the reader into the central argument by vivid 'case studies'—will also make it useful to advanced undergraduates. Finally, practitioners and activists in diplomacy, international aid NGOs, enlightened multinational corporations, and women's and men's organizations aimed at transforming gender relations will find much here that is instructive and useful.

David G. Winter, University of Michigan

Valerie M. Hudson and her colleagues take a monumental stride forward in providing a clear theoretical and empirical case for linking important outcomes in international politics, such as security, to the treatment of women. Their tour de force book connects micro-level incidents of violence against women—instantiated in such phenomena as inequity in family law, polygamy, and imbalanced sex ratios—to macro-level occurrences such as conflict and war. In this approach, they highlight the way in which legal institutions in particular serve to perpetuate patterns of violence within the family and larger society. The authors argue that the true clash of civilizations is not taking place between East and West, Christian and Muslim, but rather occurs in the chasm between men and women and in the discrepancy between attitudes, expectations, responsibilities, and opportunities playing out on the world stage. They provide an important theoretical link locating the origins of the mechanisms individuals use to establish and sustain hierarchies of dominance in international relations through the use of violence within the family. This learning then generalizes out into other domains, unconsciously but pervasively aligning dominance in the family to power between states that threaten or use violence to maintain control over groups constructed as a weaker "other." The implicit and ubiquitous nature of these patterns, in turn, provides unquestioned justification for the repression and protest spawning conflict around the globe.

Rose McDermott, Brown University

Sex and World Peace should be on top of every introductory International Relations reading list.

Sara E. Davies, International Affairs

[A] pioneering and readable book.... Highly recommended.


This is an important, well written, and inf ormative book that will serve a wide audience of graduate and undergraduate students, academics, and policymakers, as well as the interested public.

Helen M. Kinsella, Ethics and International Affairs

highly readable and provides a thought-provoking introduction to the reasons why equality between women and men within the family matters for the relations between states and, ultimately, world peace.

Marijke Breuning, Peace and Conflict

A landmark book.

Gloria Steinem, Ms.

Since violence against females is the normalizer of all other forms of violence, this book is vital, from family life to foreign policy.

Gloria Steinem, T: The New York Times Style Magazine
List of Maps
Preface and Acknowledgments
1. Roots of National and International Relations
2. What Is There to See
3. When We Do See the Global Picture
4. The Heart of the Matter: The Security of Women and the Security of States
5. Wings of National and International Relations
6. Wings of National and International Relations
7. Taking Wing
Appendix A. Operationalizations for Data Analysis in Chapter 4
Appendix B. Data Analysis Results for Chapter 4

Read the chapter, "Roots of National and International Relations":

Web Features:
Watch a discussion of the book at the Woodrow Wilson Center:

About the Author

Valerie M. Hudson is professor and holds the George H. W. Bush Chair at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. She is the author or editor of several books, including (with Andrea Den Boer) Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population, which won the American Association of Publishers Award for the Best Book in Political Science and the Otis Dudley Duncan Award for Best Book in Social Demography. Hudson is one of the principal investigators of the WomanStats Project, which includes the largest compilation of data on the status of women in the world today. Her most recent book is Sex and World Peace, coauthored with Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad Emmett, listed by Gloria Steinem as one of the top three books on her "Reading Our Way to the Revolution" list.

Patricia Leidl is a Vancouver-based international communications adviser/writer who also lectures at the College of Communication Arts at Michigan State University. Leidl has spent close to two decades working with various United Nations agencies and more recently advising USAID-funded projects in Africa, Afghanistan and Yemen. She is the former head of the Advocacy and Communications with the Geneva-based HIV/AIDS Department of the World Health Organization and was senior editor/media advisor with the New York-based United Nations Population Fund. She continues to consult with numerous other multilateral organizations and international NGOs.