My job as a coder is, like many jobs, at times difficult. I read and sort through government documents, newspaper articles, IGO reports, and any and all other information regarding women to put in the WomanStats database. Much of what I read describes violence, economic difficulties, discrimination, and overall hardships of women and children. I cannot possibly describe what I have learned and felt as I have read this information. It makes me incredibly sad, frustrated, disgusted, and at times, happy. And sometimes I can’t help wondering at times if what I do is worth it. Does my job as a coder really matter? As I read the new book Sex and World Peace by Valerie Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad Emmett, I was reminded of the reason I am a coder. Like most writers and readers of this blog, I strongly feel that one of the most important struggles in the world is that of women and their fight for equality and security. I also feel that this problem is one of the most overlooked and ignored; however, the authors are able to perfectly describe the situation and what we must do.
The anecdotes of the women all over the world almost made me cry- the violence was horrendous and sickening. The obvious economic injustices of women made me angry and disappointed. These injustices are not limited to third world countries or developing nations- they are in our own cities and jobs, possibly in our own situations. And the blatant discrimination and devaluation of women everywhere made me cringe. The book starts with an overview of what we were traditionally taught in international relations- and some important things that we were not. I love studying international relations and political science, however, the standard texts do not take a micro-level approach. They do not consider the impact of homes, families, or individual lives. As the text states:
“In this book we argue that gender inequality is a form of violence that creates a generalized context of violence and exploitation at the societal level. These norms of violence have an impact on everything from population growth to economics and regime type. In IR theory, we assume that our theoretical assumptions, such as the democratic peace thesis, are gender neutral. These assumptions, however, clearly take a male-centric view. We want you to see the whole picture…and to experience an approach to understanding that does not exclude but rather embraces a female perspective. It is this gendered approach that is often ignored and might be compared with the roots of the tree. In this book we will make the case that the treatment of women is an unseen foundation for many of the phenomena we see as important in international affairs.”
This perspective is not only refreshing and different, it is absolutely essential. As I said, this book reminded me of why I am a coder. I read about horrible practices of violence that current ideas of IR have not addressed. Policy makers, in many cases, have a perspective that misses what these authors see. Sex and World Peace gives a complete picture of national security and international relations. However, the book was by no means a simple description of the situation of women, but a call to action. The authors invite all of us- politicians, students, scholars, blog-readers, and anyone with a desire to help human rights and equality- to think creatively in formulating solutions. We must understand the impact of the security of women on the security of states, we must devote the resources necessary to address problems, and we must develop an international system of rewards and sanctions. Although this sounds rather beyond the capabilities of the average person, these solutions begin in our homes and families. As we expand our own view, we can use this to change those in our sphere of influence. We may not be able to immediately change rape in Africa or trafficking in Asia, but we can change our families. As I read, I was empowered and my desire to act was renewed. I wholeheartedly give my thanks, praise, and appreciation to the authors of Sex and World Peace.