Political Participation

Sjoberg, Laura, and Caron Gentry, ed. Women, Gender, and Terrorism (Studies in Security and International Affairs Ser.). Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the last decade the world has witnessed a rise in women’s participation in terrorism. Women, Gender, and Terrorism explores women’s relationship with terrorism, with a keen eye on the political, gender, racial, and cultural dynamics of the contemporary world.

Throughout most of the twentieth century, it was rare to hear about women terrorists. In the new millennium, however, women have increas­ingly taken active roles in carrying out suicide bombings, hijacking air­planes, and taking hostages in such places as Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and Chechnya. These women terrorists have been the subject of a substantial amount of media and scholarly attention, but the analysis of women, gender, and terrorism has been sparse and riddled with stereotypical thinking about women’s capabilities and motivations.

In the first section of this volume, contributors offer an overview of women’s participation in and relationships with contemporary terrorism, and a historical chapter traces their involvement in the politics and conflicts of Islamic societies. The next section includes empirical and theoretical analysis of terrorist movements in Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine, and Sri Lanka. The third section turns to women’s involvement in al Qaeda and includes critical interrogations of the gendered media and the scholarly presentations of those women. The conclusion offers ways to further explore the subject of gender and terrorism based on the contributions made to the volume.

Contributors to Women, Gender, and Terrorism expand our understanding of terrorism, one of the most troubling and complicated facets of the modern world.

Sjoberg, Laura, and Caron E. Gentry. Mothers, Monsters, Whores: Women's Violence in Global Politics. 1st ed. London: Zed Books, 2007. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
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.
Sjoberg, Laura. Gendering Global Conflict: Toward a Feminist Theory of War. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
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.
Sjoberg, Laura. “Agency, Militarized Femininity and Enemy Others: Observations From The War In Iraq”. International Feminist Journal of Politics 91 (2007): , 9, 1, 82-101. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
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.
Brescoll, Victoria L., and Tyler G. Okimoto. “The Price of Power: Power Seeking and Backlash Against Female Politicians”. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 36.7 (2010): , 36, 7, 923-936. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
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.
Keskin, Pinar. “The Gender of Caste: Identity, Political Reservations and Access to Water Resources in Rural India”. 2010. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
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. 
 
2017 Aug 31

WAPPP Open House

11:30am to 1:00pm

Location: 

WAPPP Cason Seminar Room, Taubman 102

Please join us to learn about the Women and Public Policy Program and our work of creating and sharing knowledge that helps close gender gaps in economic opportunity, political participation, health, and education. We will discuss our initiatives, fellowship stipends, and other student opportunities. 

Lunch will be provided. 

RSVP not required.

Kessely Hong

Kessely Hong

Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

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