Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Nine books to make you think about gender politics in the political sphere

Every year in March we celebrate Women’s History Month, a perfect time to be inspired by the triumphs of real-life heroes. Let us not forget the path it took to get this far and the tribulations that these women endured. Society has come so far since the induction of the 19th Amendment, but we still have a way to go. We have compiled a list of titles that explore the ups and downs of this journey as well as present bold ideas to improve the future.

1. Credible Threat by Sarah Sobieraj

Greta Thunberg. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Anita Sarkeesian. Emma Gonzalez. When women are vocal about political and social issues, too-often they are flogged with attacks via social networking sites, comment sections, discussion boards, email, and direct message. This book shows that this online abuse is more than interpersonal bullying—it is a visceral response to the threat of equality in digital conversations and arenas that men would prefer to control.

Read a free chapter here.

100 Years of the Nineteenth Amendment2. 100 Years of the Nineteenth Amendment edited by Holly J. McCammon and Lee Ann Banaszak

This collection of original essays takes a long view of the past century of women’s political engagement to gauge how much women have achieved in the political arena. The volume looks back at the decades since women won the right to vote to analyze the changes, developments, and even continuities in women’s roles in the broad political sphere.

Read a free chapter here.

3. Race, Gender, and Political Representation by Beth Reingold, Kerry L. Haynie, and Kirsten Widner

It is well established that the race and gender of elected representatives influence the ways in which they legislate, but surprisingly little research exists on how race and gender interact to affect who is elected and how they behave once in office. This book takes up the call to think about representation in the United States as intersectional and measures the extent to which political representation is simultaneously gendered and raced.

Read a free chapter here.

4. Violence Against Women in Politics by Mona Lena Krook

Tracing its global emergence as a concept, this book draws on insights from multiple disciplines—political science, sociology, history, gender studies, economics, linguistics, psychology, and forensic science—to develop a more robust version of this concept to support ongoing activism and inform future scholarly work.

Read a free chapter here.

Feminist Democratic Representation5. Feminist Democratic Representation by Karen Celis and Sarah Childs

Popular consensus has long been that if “enough women” are present in political institutions they will represent “women’s interests.” Yet many believe that differences among women fatally undermine both the principle and the practice of women’s group representation. This book considers a broad spectrum of contemporary problems to discuss women’s under- and misrepresentation and the “good, bad and the ugly” representative.

Read a free chapter here.

6. Recoding the Boys’ Club by Daniel Kreiss, Kirsten Adams, Jenni Ciesielski, Haley Fernandez, Kate Frauenfelder, Brinley Lowe, and Gabrielle Micchia

Drawing on a unique dataset of 1,004 staffers working in political technology on presidential campaigns from 2004-2016, analysis of hiring patterns during the 2020 presidential primary cycle, and interviews with 45 women who worked on 12 different presidential campaigns, this book reveals the underrepresentation of women in political technology, especially leadership positions, as well as the struggle women face to have their voices heard within the “boys’ clubs” and “bro cultures” of political technology.

Read a free chapter here.

7. The Rise of Neoliberalim Feminism by Catherine Rottenberg

From Hillary Clinton to Ivanka Trump and from Emma Watson all the way to Beyoncé, more and more high-powered women are unabashedly identifying as feminists in the mainstream media. This book states that because neoliberalism reduces everything to market calculations it actually needs feminism in order to “solve” thorny issues related to reproduction and care.

Read a free chapter here.

Call your "mutha"8. Call Your “Mutha’” by Jane Caputi

This book looks at two major “myths” of the Earth, one ancient and one contemporary, and uses them to devise a manifesto for the survival of nature—which includes human beings—in our current ecological crisis.

Read a free chapter here.

9. Capable Women, Incapable States by Poulami Roychowdhury

In recent decades, the issue of gender-based violence has become heavily politicized in India. Yet, Indian law enforcement personnel continue to be biased against women and overburdened. This book asks how women claim rights within these conditions.

Read a free chapter here.

Featured image by Giacomo Ferroni

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