Misogynists at war?
Which factors might predict a country’s likelihood of going to war? Undemocratic government? Widespread poverty? Dare we ask — Islamic religious values?
According to a provocative new study from Valerie Hudson and WomanStats, there is another factor more closely correlated with national belligerence than any of the above: A country’s levels of violence against women. As summarized in the Deseret News:
Look closely at the way women are treated, says Valerie Hudson. Look at the nonchalance with which a nation’s men beat their wives, or the dismissive way a country condones genital mutilation. These are clues, she says, about that nation’s likelihood of waging war. . . .
It has been widely assumed that other factors are more predictive of whether a nation might be unstable or aggressive. The three most likely candidates were poverty levels, lack of democracy, and the nation’s adherence to Islamic values.
But the WomanStats project offers a fourth predictor of a nation’s instability. Violence against women (VAW, in the shorthand of WomanStats) trumps the other explanations, proving to be three times more predictive of a nation’s instability than whether a country is Islamic, and one-and-a-half times more predictive than whether a country is undemocratic, Hudson says.
I haven’t yet looked over the numbers; and I wonder how much this can show. On first glance, this seems to be an area where causation and correlation would be awfully hard to disentangle. Still, the underlying thesis — that violence is violence, and that cultures which condone violence against women are likely to be more aggressive on a large scale — makes some sense, intuitively. And Hudson’s study is intriguing. It’s on my list of things to look over in more detail once I’m done with summer school.
p.s. On a global misogyny scale of 1 to 5, Hudson’s team coded the United States as a 3.