Mothers, Monsters, Whores provides an empirical study of women's violence in global politics. The book looks at military women who engage in torture; the Chechen 'Black Widows'; Middle Eastern suicide bombers; and the women who directed and participated in genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda. Sjoberg & Gentry analyse the biological, psychological and sexualized stereotypes through which these women are conventionally depicted, arguing that these are rooted in assumptions about what is 'appropriate' female behaviour. What these stereotypes have in common is that they all perceive women as having no agency in any sphere of life, from everyday choices to global political events.
This book is a major feminist re-evaluation of women's motivations and actions as perpetrators of political violence.
Laura Sjoberg positions gender and gender subordination as key factors in the making and fighting of global conflict. Through the lens ofgender, she examines the meaning, causes, practices, and experiences of war, building a more inclusive approach to the analysis of violent conflict between states.
Considering war at the international, state, substate, and individual levels, Sjoberg's feminist perspective elevates a number of causal variables in war decision-making. These include structural gender inequality, cycles of gendered violence, state masculine posturing, the often overlooked role of emotion in political interactions, gendered understandings of power, and states' mistaken perception of their own autonomy and unitary nature. Gendering Global Conflict also calls attention to understudied spaces that can be sites of war, such as the workplace, the household, and even the bedroom. Her findings show gender to be a linchpin of even the most tedious and seemingly bland tactical and logistical decisions in violent conflict. Armed with that information, Sjoberg undertakes the task of redefining and reintroducing critical readings of war's political, economic, and humanitarian dimensions, developing the beginnings of a feminist theory of war.
In this era of the increasing importance of gender, many conflicting images of women populate news headlines and political discourses. In the 2003 war in Iraq, Americans saw images of a teenage woman as a war hero, of a female general in charge of a military prison where torture took place, of women who committed those abuses, of male victims of wartime sexual abuse and of the absence of gender in official government reactions to the torture at Abu Ghraib. I contend that several gendered stories from the 2003 war in Iraq demonstrate three major developments in militarized femininity in the United States: increasing sophistication of the ideal image of the woman soldier; stories of militarized femininity constructed in opposition to the gendered enemy; and evident tension between popular ideas of femininity and women’s agency in violence. I use the publicized stories of American women prisoners of war and American women prison guards to substantiate these observed developments.
Two experimental studies examined the effect of power-seeking intentions on backlash toward women in political office. It was hypothesized that a female politician’s career progress may be hindered by the belief that she seeks power, as this desire may violate prescribed communal expectations for women and thereby elicit interpersonal penalties. Results suggested that voting preferences for female candidates were negatively influenced by her power-seeking intentions (actual or perceived) but that preferences for male candidates were unaffected by power-seeking intentions. These differential reactions were partly explained by the perceived lack of communality implied by women’s power-seeking intentions, resulting in lower perceived competence and feelings of moral outrage. The presence of moral-emotional reactions suggests that backlash arises from the violation of communal prescriptions rather than normative deviations more generally. These findings illuminate one potential source of gender bias in politics.
In this paper, I analyze the impacts of a centuries-old social institution, the caste system, (directly) on households'access to water resources and (indirectly) on female time allocation in India. The idea behind this study is quite intuitive, yet this remains an almost entirely unexplored topic: water is believed to be an agent that spreads pollution upon contact with a person who herself is in a state of pollution. Therefore, in many regions of India, the upper caste households insist on maintaining distinct water sources from the lower caste (i.e. untouchable) households in their villages. Data shows that over 69% of rural Indian households have to collect water for drinking purposes, and those fetching water are predominantly women. Thus, caste discrimination in the access to water resources creates an unequal burden for women and have important intra-household implications. My empirical findings support this hypothesis: the total time low caste women spend to collect water is significantly higher when they reside in a village dominated by lower castes (in terms of population shares), compared to a village dominated by upper castes. This is due to the congestion of the wells that low-caste members can access, and the results hold true even after controlling for village-level fixed effects. I also document the effect of the reservation of leadership positions in the village administrative bodies, i.e. Panchayati Raj, for low castes members: indeed, low caste members are more inclined to invest in water infrastructure in the low caste hamlets, which decreases the time spent at the water source by low caste women. This positive impact tends to be relatively higher in villages where low caste households represent a majority of the population. The analysis also shows that reservations for women in village leadership positions do not have a significant impact on low caste women's access to water resources.
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