The First Political Order: How Sex Shapes Governance and National Security Worldwide

Regular price $ 28.00

by Valerie M. Hudson, Donna Lee Bowen, and Perpetua Lynne Nielsen

Columbia University Press

8/31/2021, paperback

SKU: 9780231194679


Global history records an astonishing variety of forms of social organization. Yet almost universally, males subordinate females. How does the relationship between men and women shape the wider political order?

The First Political Order is a groundbreaking demonstration that the persistent and systematic subordination of women underlies all other institutions, with wide-ranging implications for global security and development.

Incorporating research findings spanning a variety of social science disciplines and comprehensive empirical data detailing the status of women around the globe, the book shows that female subordination functions almost as a curse upon nations. A society's choice to subjugate women has significant negative consequences: worse governance, worse conflict, worse stability, worse economic performance, worse food security, worse health, worse demographic problems, worse environmental protection, and worse social progress.

Yet despite the pervasive power of social and political structures that subordinate women, history--and the data--reveal possibilities for progress. The First Political Order shows that when steps are taken to reduce the hold of inequitable laws, customs, and practices, outcomes for all improve. It offers a new paradigm for understanding insecurity, instability, autocracy, and violence, explaining what the international community can do now to promote more equitable relations between men and women and, thereby, security and peace. With comprehensive empirical evidence of the wide-ranging harm of subjugating women, it is an important book for security scholars, social scientists, policy makers, historians, and advocates for women worldwide.


"The First Political Order offers the strongest possible proof that male control of reproduction--and the violence necessary to control women's bodies--is the first step in normalizing violence and hierarchy in every society. From now on, there will be no more separating questions of politics and peace from the treatment of the females. Those days are over. Thanks to Valerie Hudson and her team of global researchers, we have a long, practical, intimate way of diminishing violence and increasing democracy." --Gloria Steinem

"The First Political Order's description of the pervasive damaging social consequences of institutionalized male dominance, based on a fascinating new dataset, makes devastating reading. The authors say that their findings should be foundational for any discussion about national or international security. Their argument is lucid, hugely important, and entirely convincing." --Richard Wrangham, author of The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution

About the Author:

Valerie M. Hudson is a University Distinguished Professor and George H. W. Bush Chair in the Department of International Affairs of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, where she directs the Program on Women, Peace, and Security. She is a coauthor of Sex and World Peace (Columbia, 2012) and The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy (Columbia, 2015), among others.

Donna Lee Bowen is professor emerita of political science and Middle East studies at Brigham Young University. Her publications include Everyday Life in the Muslim Middle East (third edition, 2014).

Perpetua Lynne Nielsen is associate teaching professor of statistics at Brigham Young University.