A number of women’s issues serve to create novel policy problems that require creative, and sometimes unique, regulatory and legal responses. This book embarks upon a comparative case study approach to explore UK policymaking in the areas of abortion, rape, prostitution and pornography in turn. Each chapter engages a different institutional perspective to explore the influence of a range of bodies such as the legal system, medical profession, civil society, police force and mass media. The analysis reveals a common thread that runs throughout decision-making in these areas; a constant balancing act between regulation that purports to protect women, and regulation that supposedly reflects female liberation, with a continual dance between the labels of ‘criminal’ and ‘victim’ being performed by policy actors.
Largely reflective of a dogmatic approach to the status of women, it is argued that different institutions retain strongholds over policymaking in these domains, prohibiting a joined-up approach. This has served to perpetuate harmful and negative stereotyping of women’s issues and create countless conundrums when the activities of women fall into more than one policy category.
Acknowledgements / List of Abbreviations / 1. Analysing the Status of Women in UK Policymaking: How Do Institutions Matter? / 2. Hanging onto the Old: Path Dependency in UK Abortion Regulation / 3. Balancing Protection and Prosecution? The Rationality of UK Prostitution Legislation / 4. Demanding a ‘Proper Victim’: The Culture of Rape Policy in the UK / 5. Welcoming Public Debate: Developing the Regulation of Pornography through Open Discussion / 6: Conclusion: Harmful Stereotyping and Institutional Stronghold in the Regulation of Women’s Issues / Bibliography / Index
A welcome and timely addition to scholarly research on women’s experiences in the political, policy and regulatory landscape. This tour de force covers a breadth of issues on the status of women in policy institutions, the regulation of abortion, pornography and gender based violence. It offers a uniquely multi-disciplinary perspective drawing upon historical, sociological, feminist, political and governance frameworks to offer new insights on the social exclusion of women. Cooper provides a sound, empirical evidence base for improving policy and the quality of life for women.
By examining the regulation of women in the UK, this fine book is foremost about gender issues and policy-making in the national setting. It is, however, also of great interest to students and scholars of European studies as it convincingly shows how a policy-area of strong national institutions and legacies is influenced by and respond to European integration, be it due to the free movement of women as the abortion chapter demonstrates or the ways in which supranational law and the open internet influences the regulation of pornography.
Sarah Cooper is Lecturer in Politics at the University of Exeter.