Nations That Allow Exploitation of Women in the Home Also Tend to Have Unstable Governments

Valerie Hudson, a Texas A&M University distinguished professor and the holder of the George H.W. Bush Chair at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, believes that in order to understand how a nation treats its women, you have to look to see how they are treated within the four walls of their homes. Things like marriage and divorce laws, bride prices, dowries, polygyny, and more are all indicators of the subjugation of women.

Through research funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Professor Hudson developed a theoretical framework that suggests the first political order in any society is the one developed between men and women. Societies that are highly subordinative of women end up with far worse governments, demographics, economic performance, environmental preservation, and health outcomes. Her research is published in the new book The First Political Order: How Sex Shapes Governance and National Security Worldwide (Columbia University Press, 2020), which she co-authored with Donna Lee Bowen and Perpetua Lynne Nielsen, both of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

The research, conducted from 2014 to 2018, found that countries that exploit women within the household have governments that are far more unstable. “What you do to women is what you end up doing to the nation-state,” Professor Hudson said. “If you normalize domestic terror, which is domestic abuse, don’t be surprised if men believe that it is completely appropriate to use political violence to achieve their aims within society.”

“I think the publication of our book signals that we can’t continue to study national security the way that we have done in the past,” Professor Hudson said. “It really is time that we brought in the other half of the population.”

Dr. Hudson joined the faculty at Texas A&M University in 2012 after teaching at Brigham Young University. Professor Hudson earned a master’s degree in international relations and a Ph.D. in political science at Ohio State University.

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