Sex & World Peace, Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 304 pp., $26.50 cloth.
This is an important, well written, and informative book that will serve a wide audience of graduate and undergraduate students, academics, and policy-makers, as well as the interested public. It is a testament to the writing and presentation of the authors' argument that such a diverse audience will be challenged and enlightened by this work. And while there are particulars about which some will disagree, the breadth of information and analysis offered in Sex & World Peace provides ample material for spirited engagement and further learning.
The authors set forth three complementary but distinct arguments, each of which can be taken on its own merits. The first is that gender inequality, by which the authors mean the subordination of women, is a form of violence "no matter how invisible or normalized" it may be (P. 5). (The authors define gender as "socially defined differences between men and women" and inequality as an "aspect of violence based on ... relative power ... in society [p. 6]. Gender inequality, then, is the subordination of those who are different and lacking in power and status--in other words, women.) Second, security studies as both a discipline and a practice must account for women's security in its identification and evaluation of independent variables. Third, what is learned from this book should be taken as a call to action and a call for positive changes in policy and practice.
The overarching premise of the book is that "we can no longer speak of achieving national and international security without speaking, in the same breath, about the security of women" (p. 208). Further, the authors argue, the security of women is violated through gender inequality, which is itself buttressed by and constitutive of three specific forms of "micro-aggression" against women (p. 17). These are: "(i) lack of bodily integrity and physical security, (2) lack of equity in family law, and (3) lack of parity in the councils of human decision-making" (p. 19).
These claims, certainly, are not without centuries of precedent, as feminist scholars and activists have long pointed out. As Simone de Beauvoir observed regarding relations between the sexes, "All oppression creates a state of war. And this is no exception" (The Second Sex, 1949, p. 717). The Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane...