Bush School Professor Examines Treatment Of Women As National-Security Issue

June 24, 2015

The Hillary Doctrine book cover

Is the poor treatment of women around the world a threat to the security of the United States? According to a new book co-authored by a Texas A&M University professor, it is.

Valerie Hudson, a professor at the Bush School of Government & Public Service, co-authored “The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy” which argues that far from being a “soft” foreign policy issue, the subjugation of women worldwide poses a threat to global prospects for peace and is therefore a direct threat to U.S. national security.

Hudson says this position – what the authors term “the Hillary Doctrine” – was first articulated on behalf of the U.S. government by former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The book examines the implementation of the Hillary Doctrine during the four years that Clinton was secretary of state.

The book, published by the Columbia University Press, will be unveiled at a special event today at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. The event may be viewed online here.

“Nationalism is strongly gendered,” Hudson says. “Men typically build a violent nationalism on a foundation of misogyny, and women’s rights become a battleground in resulting conflicts.

“That’s why women’s rights come under attack immediately after regime overthrow and why women are often explicit targets of war.”

Hudson’s co-author is Patricia Leidl, an instructor in Michigan State University’s (MSU) Department of Advertising and Public Relations and School of Journalism.

“In societies that permit and encourage violence against women, men develop a willingness to harm, kill and enslave others,” Leidl says. “When male bonding intensifies as competing groups vie for power, men see women’s rights and freedoms as threats to their own legitimacy.”

Famed women’s rights advocate Gloria Steinem notes “The Hillary Doctrine,” “…is the first book about high-level efforts to create a foreign policy as if women mattered.”

Earlier this year, the book was nominated by the Kirkus Reviews as one of its top nonfiction picks of 2015. It said the book offers “a compelling argument for women’s rights” and is a “sound study that carries an urgent message.”

Hudson, an expert on international security and foreign policy analysis, holds the George H.W. Bush Chair. In 2009, “Foreign Policy” named her one of the Top 100 Most Influential Global Thinkers, and the International Studies Association named her a Distinguished Scholar of Foreign Policy Analysis. Most recently, Hudson received a 2015 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship.

As part of her dedicated efforts to shine a light on the treatment of women worldwide, Hudson developed a nation-by-nation database,, which has been used by a variety of agencies, including the United Nations and the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Before coming to MSU, Leidl was a Canadian journalist who spent 16 years working with various United Nations agencies and, more recently, advising various USAID-funded projects in Afghanistan and Yemen.

She formerly headed the communications department at the Geneva-based HIV/AIDS Department of the World Health Organization and was senior editor/media adviser with the New York-based United Nations Population Fund, where she was also managing editor of the UNFPA State of World Population Report and editorial director of the Human Security Report.


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