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cindy sheehan and the social vs. the political May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in 911, bill o'reilly, cindy sheehan, controversy, female politicos, Female Power, G W. Bush, gender, in the news, iraq war, jersey girls, jersey widows, morality, motherhood, nationalism, news stories, politics, Power, rush limbaugh, the state, wartime politics, women and war.
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I wanted to talk a little bit more about something I brought up in class today, about how women’s traditional gender roles in the U.S. involve upholding social and cultural mores, and possibly aiming to ‘better society,’ but never being explicitly political about it.  I realized after class what I meant by ‘explicitly political’: placing the blame on someone.  Politics is very much about finger-wagging, appeasing constituents, and placing the blame for something on somebody or something.  Traditionally, it’s been more socially approved for women to try to ease society’s ills, e.g. the temperance movements of the late nineteenth century.  Although women took on leadership roles in these organizations and argued in favor of women’s right to vote, their main focus was on maintaining the ‘traditional’ family structure (the Women’s Christian Temperance Union is strongly against same-sex marriage), not shaking up society.  However, and I think this has something to do with us living in the post-9/11 era, when a woman blames someone explicitly for breaking up the family (and not just alcohol), there can be a severe backlash.  Even flippantly critical comments like Natalie Maines’ can do that, but I think the best example in the current Bush presidency is Cindy Sheehan.

I’m sure you’ve heard of her; she’s the mother whose son died in the Iraq war, and became an anti-war protester, going so far as to camp outside President Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch for five weeks, insisting on speaking with him personally (which he never agreed to, though he did send top officials).  I remember when this happened in the summer of 2005, and it just being all over the news.  Surely a mother’s grief for her lost son is newsworthy.  But Sheehan’s story only took the vitriolic, polarizing turn that it did, dominating the nightly news for the summer, because she took her traditionally social role as a mother and used it politically.  Antiwar groups rallied against her because she was so beneficial to their cause, and Bush’s supporters criticized her for being ‘treasonous.’  Her critics didn’t question what she was saying–that the Iraq war wouldn’t make us any safer, and that she herself would fight to protect the country–rather, they questioned her. (more…)

man wins presidential election; world is shocked May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in 2007 french presidential election, careerwomen, class, female politicos, Female Power, female voters, feminism, france, gender, Girl Power, Hillary Clinton, in the news, International, jacques chirac, motherhood, new york times, news stories, nicolas sarkozy, politics, Power, segolene royal.
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As you may know, France’s presidential election took place recently.  In a runoff between rightist Nicolas Sarkozy and socialist Segolene Royal, Sarkozy was chosen to replace Jacques Chirac, 53 to 47 percent.  What’s relevant to ‘girl power’ is that Royal is a woman.  I found this article, “France’s female voters shun Segolene Royal,” which makes the situation sound pretty bad.  But the female vote for Royal wasn’t much different from the overall vote, with a 52 to 48 margin in favor of Sarkozy.  Although Royal focused part of her campaign on appealing specfically to female voters ‘as a mother’ and promising greater equality (only 12% of French lawmakers are female), apparently female voters thought she focused on it too much.  Some of the women interviewed say that they didn’t vote for Royal just because she’s a woman, because they didn’t think she was going to do anything for them or because she didn’t share the same vision for the country that they did.

There are two conflicting ways to look at the situation.  On one hand, isn’t this what we want, for women to be seen as individuals (as ‘human’) and not just as women?  But, do we really want that when it doesn’t work in their favor?  Especially when it might not be working in their favor because the political system is still biased against them?  And it seems that while Royal was criticized for showing too much identification with one demographic, that being women, she’s also criticized for (more…)

Gender Equality in Israel May 1, 2007

Posted by Melissa in bodies, careerwomen, controversy, female executives, female politicos, female soldiers, G.I. Jane, gender, general considerations, Girl Power, in the news, Israel, nationalism, Spain.

I found this article earlier today about the status of gender equality in Israel. I don’t find the statistics surprising, women have been paid (more…)

Ann Coulter March 6, 2007

Posted by Melissa in female politicos.

I am sure, given the recent backlash, that many have heard of the comments recently made by Ann Coulter regarding presidential candidate John Edwards (I’ve posted the video). I thought it was interesting that she would refer to Edwards as being gay, when her voice and her own actions as an outspoken commentator would not immediately qualify her for Miss America.
I am completely blown away with what this woman has been able to get away with over the past few years, even her stint on our campus. I would consider Coulter to be an incredibly abrasive, offensive, outspoken member of the extreme right, yet when I see photos of her, I am a bit confused. She always manages to present herself in the most feminine form; the image I see does not match the person I would have imagined. It is almost shameful to say this, but I would have pictured someone more like Hilary Clinton spewing the words Coulter is famous for. I have the idea that the more controversial figures in politics, or those who are known to be more outspoken, are usually men. In looking at photos of both Clinton and Coulter, I am not surprised to see that the former usually looks more masculine. Perhaps it is her figure or the clothes she wears, but when looking at Clinton I have no inclination to empathize with her. Both Coulter and Clinton are considered to be “bitches” by many people, yet when I simply look at their images I see Coulter as the “good one.”
I know Coulter’s image is one she has carefully constructed to appeal to her audience-men love to see a pretty little lady, the female-right/left like to see a woman (looking like a woman) in the spot light- but I can’t help that I initially fell for the act. I wonder what people would think of Clinton were she to drop a few pounds, grow out her hair, and maybe have a little “work” done? Does a woman need to “look” like a woman to be seen and not immediately cast off? Do the right really respect Coulter, or is she just a harmless woman riding on the coat tails of her own appearance? I cannot imagine what the life of a female politician/public persona would be like, but I do shamefully admit that Coulter makes it look easy…I only wish the same could be said for Clinton.

The images I’ve posted below are representative of the more common perceptions of both women (there were more/less attractive photos of both).