The Cost of Doing Politics? Analysing Violence and Harassment against Female Politicians

Recent years have witnessed a troubling rise in reports of assault, intimidation, and abuse directed at female politicians. Australia’s first woman prime minister, Julia Gillard, famously hit back at misogyny during her term as leader, after being called a “bitch” and a “witch” in 2011 protests against a carbon tax. Months earlier in the US, politician Gabrielle Giffords narrowly survived an attempted assassination at a public meeting. Despite emerging global attention, conceptual ambiguities remain as to the exact contours of this phenomenon of violence.

In this seminar, Dr Mona Lena Krook will draw on literature in multiple academic disciplines to propose that this phenomenon is distinguished by the presence of bias and hatred against women in political roles – originating in structural violence, carried out through cultural violence and resulting in symbolic violence against women. Dr Krook will explore five overlapping types of violence – physical, psychological, sexual, economic, and semiotic – and propose a contextual approach for identifying and analysing cases of violence against women in politics, inspired by work on hate crimes. Three well-known cases of political violence will be examined; the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, and the murder of Jo Cox.

Could the negative implications of violence against women in politics deter the record numbers of women entering politics around the world?

The seminar will conclude by looking at emerging solutions around the globe.

More information can be found here.

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