I felt the inspiration to start working on this post because I just finished watching the Gloria Steinem documentary, “Gloria: In Her Own Words.” Then I started thinking about the interview that Emma Watson posted on her Facebook page not too long ago where she speaks with Gloria. It was in that interview that I was introduced to my current read “Sex and World Peace” by Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett. In short (and in my words), this book sets out to show that the way girls and women are treated in family systems on a small scale can affect and predict how violent (or peaceful) a country/cultural system will be on an international level. I made the interpretation that if boys are taught from a young age that a human (a female) is not worth as much as they are and doesn’t deserve the same rights/safety/respect/opportunities as they do, it can fuel violence and condone inequality in all aspects of life. I highly recommend this book to anyone-feminist or not. It is very thought-provoking, and I wanted to share the parts of the book that were the most shocking to me. I hope this will inspire you to read it for the full effect and maybe get you thinking about issues you’ve never thought of before.
page 4: “Interestingly, more lives are lost through violence against women from sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, suicide, egregious maternal mortality, and other sex-linked causes than were lost during all the wars and civil strife of the twentieth century. From this perspective, the greatest security dilemma is, then, the systemic insecurity of women-half of the world’s population. Indeed, if we want to be technical about it, the systemic insecurity of women has resulted in a situation in which women are now no longer half of humanity, with a world sex ratio of 101.3 men per 100 women on the planet.”
page 18: “When we speak of microaggression against women, we must not overlook the fact that women may be as culpable as men.”
page 42: “Ironically, the United States insisted on quotas for women in both countries it invaded, Iraq and Afghanistan, so that now there is a significantly higher percentage of women in the legislatures of those two nations than in the United States itself.”
Ok, 2 sections from page 48 because I’m that taken aback: “…salary estimates of how much money would be required to buy the services of a full-time mother and housewife on the open market in 2009 in the United States ranged from $125,000 to more than $700,000. To exclude such a massive labor contribution toward the well-being of society from societal decision making is an invitation for economic and societal mayhem.”
“And so we find in the United States, the greatest risk factor for poverty in old age is to have ever been a mother–not a father, but a mother. That is because the Social Security system does not count any of a mother’s labor toward her Social Security check in old age.”
Interesting details of some experiments on page 52: “Research has shown that men process the voices of women in the same area of the brain that processes music and noise.”
page 60: “When a state, such a Yemen, allows an eight-year-old girl to be sold by her father into marriage with a man four decades older, that is one of the most profound betrayals of women a state can perpetrate.”
page 61: “The soberingly high maternal mortality rates among many African states should be seen as a call to arms by the rest of the world to help women through the vulnerable life stages of pregnancy and birth. It is a true devaluation of women’s lives for the state to be indifferent as to whether they live or die as a result of bringing forth the next generation of citizens.”
I want to include all of page 86 but I’ll just share this: “Given the multitude of degrading acts and demeaning innuendos constantly being made against girls and women, the rate of reinforcement for violence against women is extremely high, resulting in over-learned automatic violent behaviors.”
page 87: “When little girls are made to go hungry in order for little boys to have access to more food, the message is immediately sent that female children are of less value than male children and that little girls should not be given the same opportunities that are given to little boys.”
Here are some closing thoughts for those who think feminism means man shaming, from page 179: “Men are part of the problem, but they are also part of the solution. We are against violence, not men.” And page 200: “There is not a zero-sum game being played between men and women in which if women are elevated, then men are debased. We were meant to win together.”
The final chapters of the book offer top-down and bottom-up approaches to how we can make positive changes towards gender equality. Many people believe there are far more important issues going on these days than gender equality. However, protecting half the world’s population and thereby promoting world peace sounds like a pretty big deal to me.