Saturday, September 27, 2014

First Woman President = Progressivism?

I came across a petition letter written by Denis Kucinich, a US Congressman, urging South Korea's president Park Geun-hye to commit herself to the democratic values she supposedly espouses. Personally, this really hit home as I've been frustrated by how often people equate the election of a woman president with a country's progressive political development. When women politicians are defined by their gender, there is a great possibility of overlooking their competence as a leader and the political values they stand by. This is evident in the fact that despite Park's failure to distance herself from her legacy as a daughter of the infamous dictator Park Chung-hee, she has garnered substantial support on the grounds that she will advance women's rights and promote feminism in a traditionally conservative country. This feminist rhetoric has distracted many Koreans from Park's repeated equivocation on controversial issues, her failure to demonstrate knowledge of common facts, such as Korea's minimum wage, and most importantly, her general lack of past records on supporting gender equality and empowering social minorities. As Kucinich suggests, a president of a democratic nation should not be judged by their inherent qualities, such as gender or race, but their strong commitment and representation of democratic values.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jon Stewart pointing out the double standards imposed on women in politics

Here's a segment of The Daily Show from last April highlighting the political stereotypes we discussed on the first day of class, and have touched on since. I mostly enjoyed the variety of clips included contrasting the media reactions to shows of female and male emotion. Many of them use very similar wording to the political cartoon we looked at in class, where women, in this case Hilary Clinton, are described as getting "all misty eyed," being "close to a breakdown," "letting her emotions fall out of her," being "bewildered," "frustrated," and "so angry," while men who show emotion, in this case a variety of political figures, show "courage" and "passion," get "fiery," are "tough," a "straight shooter," "forceful," or "aggressive" (applauded for such behaviors). I don't necessarily agree with all of Jon Stewart's comments, but I do appreciate the attention directed towards the issue!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

John Oliver covers Miss America: how much do they really award in scholarships?

Highlight of this video from John Oliver:
Women's accepted political contributions extend to 20 seconds at the Miss America pageant in which she is asked to "solve ISIS."

This clip, though on the long side, covers the variety of problems with Miss America that are normally not named (like the swimsuit portion): that is, their testimony that they are the largest provider of scholarships for women in the entire world. They "offer" $45 million, but in reality, only $4 million is spent a year (2012). Nevertheless, with just $4 million, they still award the largest amount of scholarships out of any organization, even more than the Jeanette Rankin (i.e. first female congresswoman) Women's Scholarship Fund.

A "contestant" in John Oliver's impromptu pageant referenced Seneca Falls and the first wave of feminism. She said that the fact that she was expected to answer questions in 20 seconds showed how Miss America is nowhere close to becoming a purely academic-minded organization. Women are chosen to receive a scholarship on their bodily appearance, their performing talent, and 20 seconds talking about current affairs. Here are this year's questions:

I really recommend watching John Oliver's whole video on Miss America scholarships:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Women and Petitioning

I came across an article today publicizing results of a historical study. The authors found that in the period of 1833 to 1845, women were gathering 50% more anti-slavery signatures than men in the same areas, with the same petition requests, and at the same time period. A gag rule against any slavery-related petitions was institued by congress in 1836, which seems to have instigated women doubling their efforts in seeking signatures.

"More fascinating still, these women remained active in politics for decades afterwards. A number of them signed the Seneca Falls Declaration in 1848. And for movement leaders active after the Civil War, women were four to five times more likely than men to come to their activism through petitioning. The women who canvassed antislavery petitions were not active in national politics before – many of them were teenagers."

I'm attaching here the link to the article summary in the Washington Post and the original article, published in the American Political Science Review.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Emma Watson's Speech HeforShe: "Men, Gender Equality Is Your Issue Too"

In reading the primary source documents for class, one aspect of the Women's Suffrage Movement that has really stood out to me as ironic is this notion that women really rely on men in order to get the vote. Perhaps more important to their cause than convincing each other of the importance of the women's vote is convincing male voters to vote for suffrage. No matter how well they organize themselves, they ultimately have to find tactics that engage men in their movement.

Emma Watson's speech at the UN to launch the HeforShe campaign has gone viral over the weekend. The HeforShe campaign aims to engage men as advocates for ending gender inequality. For me, the tone of this campaign is so similar to the way suffragists engaged men in the fight for the vote at the turn of the century. And, part of me is really annoyed with that. Part of me feels like we already changed the system, so women should be able to be advocates for themselves. But, at the same time suffragists recognized that they needed to work with in the system in order to change it. And, I really do think that mentality is perhaps the most useful tool towards progress today. Men are an essential aspect to ending gender inequality--they are half of the population. And, just as women have been objectified and stereotyped they've been objectified and stereotyped in different ways. And, a collective movement is required to really address gender inequality globally.

- Laurel

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cosmo Votes

Cosmopolitan recently launched "Cosmo Votes,"a project to discuss issues the magazine sees as important to women and to encourage readers to vote in the 2014 midterm elections. The magazine will cover the races, endorse candidates, and explain the impact of women voters. See this interview with Joanna Cole, Cosmopolitan's editor-in-chief, on "CBS This Morning; this piece, "10 Reasons Young Women Absolutely Need to Vote in the Midterms"; and this collection of Cosmo articles on politics.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

To Hold Senate, Democrats Rely on Single Women

According to this article that appeared in the New York Times in July, unmarried women have emerged as an important voting bloc, although many do not vote in midterm elections.

"Sister Suffragette"

Remember this song from "Mary Poppins"?

Bad Romance: Women's Suffrage

Check out this parody of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," a tribute to Alice Paul and her fellow activists.  You might take a look at the behind-the-scenes video too, since it's quite interesting.

NPR Series "She Votes"

In May, NPR ran a special series called "She Votes" that examined women's influence on politics. Looking ahead to the midterm elections, the pieces considered such topics as why women vote and what draws them to the polls, the challenges female candidates face, and how they govern once elected. You can find the stories here.