Manufacturing Urgency

6 December 2018

Manufacturing Urgency: The Development Industry and Violence Against Women
by Corinne L. Mason
University of Regina Press
Review by Rose Willow
$34.95 ISBN 9780889774711

The title of this book, Manufacturing Urgency, immediately grabbed my attention, causing my mind to ponder. Why manufacture urgency? Isn’t there enough urgency already in today’s world? Isn’t violence against women an already urgent issue without “manufacturing” more? Corinne L. Mason looks behind the scenes of this perplexing issue and provides insight into the motives behind this manufacture of urgency.

There are three big players in the manufacture of urgency including American foreign policy makers, World Bank, and the United Nations – their motive – to further the development of industry.

Mason gives due consideration to Hillary Clinton, longtime advocate for women’s rights and strong proponent for ending violence against women, but argues Clinton’s approach, from when she was secretary of state, portrayed a morally superior attitude and fostered “a particular brand of U.S. state feminism.” In addition, Clinton’s approach was based on failed criminal models from within the U.S. Her motives were to affect American foreign policy, to serve U.S security issues, and to improve the image and attitudes about the United States all around the world.

World Bank, with its watchful eye on money, sees female survivors of violence as “drains on the economy because they often require social services and health care.” Women, when subjected to violence, often miss work and their performance is hindered when they are there. In other words it is inefficient for women to be subjected to violence; hence World Bank’s urgency to end it.

The United Nations takes a different tack by appealing to feelings and emotions in creating urgency with its “say no” campaign and fundraising practices. It then “subsequently funds development organizations that deal with the issue.” Any possible solutions that might exist outside the limits of the development industry are ignored.

Violence against women should matter in itself. Instead, women are being manipulated yet again when combined with the urgency of development, security, and economic growth. Women are still a commodity, although seemingly more valuable.

Mason’s book, carefully researched and full of verified facts, demands a concentrated read. It’s a book one will want to go back to time and again, making it a valuable addition to every feminist’s library.

Corinne L. Mason is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Sociology at Brandon University. Manufacturing Urgency is her first book. Mason is also a co-editor of the book series Feminist Interruptions and Refusals with Lena Palacios, Dana Olwan, and Shaista Patel (Palgrave Macmillan) set to launch in 2019. She lives in Winnipeg with her partner and young child.


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