Female Politicians Represent the Interests of Men, Too.

In a recent piece by Ann Friedman on the "relatability" of female politicians,  Diane Feinstein, the Democratic Senator from California, was asked about the potential of a two-woman ticket for the 2016 presidential election. Her response?  

I'm not sure it's wise.  You want a ticket that represents men and women.

Like Friedman, I found this response strange coming from one of the two female senators who have represented the state of California for two decades. 

If California voters were comfortable with Boxer and Feinstein representing them in the U.S. Senate 20 years ago — and have reelected them ever since — what makes her think American voters wouldn’t be okay with two women in the White House two years from now?

 Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) - Photo by  Mystery Pill  on Flickr

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) - Photo by Mystery Pill on Flickr

The fact that the first reaction to the idea of an all-female presidential ticket by a highly accomplished (and female) United States Senator is to express concern that the interests of men will somehow go unrepresented, is a perfect example of the powerful internalization of institutional and social biases that permeate every aspect of our society, including politics.

Friedman says this is because "[w]omen are in the habit of accepting male candidates as the default and male perspectives as neutral rather than gendered....women are used to getting past the question of whether candidates resemble us [because they never ever have], and considering instead whether they'll represent us." She's right. Male is typically viewed as the "default setting" in many situations, including cartoons and movies.   

Even though the majority of moviegoers are women, we get tons of movies with male protagonists because the overwhelmingly male filmmakers assume women will be able to empathize with all types of characters, whereas men will only relate to men. 

So, even though every single President and Vice President we've ever had, has been male, the question of whether an all-female ticket can represent the interests of both men and women, ironically appears to be a valid one, because the concept of two women representing the entire country is such a foreign concept, even to a United States Senator. 

Friedman notes that, naturally, this is not a phenomenon from which men suffer. 

 Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) at a rally in support of the Violence Against Women Act. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) at a rally in support of the Violence Against Women Act. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images 

Men...have had far less practice. They’re used to being represented by … men. Their presidents have always been men. Congress is 81.5 percent male. The picture in state legislatures isn’t much better. (And this is all in contrast to much more equitable gender balances elsewhere in the world). 

While I believe in diversity of representation and opinions, we shouldn't question whether two women can adequately represent the interests of the American people, any more than we have of two (traditionally old and white) men. 

Source: http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/04/women-poli...

Women Like Sex. Yes, it's true.

Progressives should embrace female sexuality, not sidestep it. 

Elizabeth Plank brings up an excellent point about the progressive movement's failure to respond directly to a specific type of right-wing attacks on women's access to birth control: that one that paints all women who use it as "sluts" or other variations of the term. 

Problematically, a lot of the Left's response has been in the form of arguments about health or religious freedom. They have mentioned little to nothing about the fact that yes, women have and (God forbid!) enjoy sex. Of course it's necessary to discuss all those implications, but refusing to engage with the sex argument is not only profoundly disingenuous, it ultimately gives the Right more ammunition. 

The loaded stigma surrounding birth control isn't the progressive movement's creation, but it is our responsibility to defeat it. This means addressing attacks to women's sexuality head on rather than merely deferring the attackers points about health and religious freedom that are valid in their own right. Until the Left publicly embraces a woman's right to an active and healthy sexual life, conservatives continue to claim moral victory — women's sexuality is precisely the battleground we have conceded and that we need to reclaim.

She's right. We shouldn't have to justify a woman's right to control her own body with anything other than the argument that a woman has a right to control her own body


Source: http://www.policymic.com/articles/86049/bi...

Gen Y: Political Explorers That Will Transform Politics

"Millennials are poised to have an outsized influence on our politics due to their sheer size. But their values and beliefs have been misunderstood, if not openly maligned, largely because they are not seen in the context of this group's unique generational experiences." 

They came of age in an era of unprecedented access to alternatives and a steady stream of information from nearly any region of the world, yet they are expected to get excited by orchestrated events and scripted interactions.

A study released last month by Michelle Diggles of Third Way, a democratic think tank, dives into the demographics and experiences of millennials to determine what impact their unique experience will have on the Republican and Democratic parties and the future of politics and policy in general. Her conclusion? The political loyalties of Millennials like myself are up for grabs. 

If knowledge is power, then Millennials have been empowered at an earlier stage in life than any other generation.

Unlike prior generations, whose access to news and information absolutely pales in comparison to the real-time, non-stop, 24/7 news cycle, Diggles notes that Millennials possess "a network of connections and options" which makes them "self-reliant explorers seeking out solutions from any corner of the world."  The ability to find the answer to any question at any time leaves them with little patience for the "behind-the-curtain" antics.

Carefully stage-managed personalities - in politics, entertainment, or any field - may alienate Millennials who crave immediate feedback and the truth behind the mirage.

Brand loyalty just isn't what it used to be.

At the moment, I can't think of one specific brand to which I am 100% loyal. For anything. If it works and I like it, I buy it. If I find something better, I don't hesitate to switch brands. Apparently, I'm not alone. 

Much to the chagrin of many in marketing, Millennials are much more willing than previous generations to switch from even their most favored brands if they can get a better deals or more of the features they want. Millennials don't feel limited by brand loyalty - true in the marketplace of goods and services as well as politics.

Diggles chalks this mentality up to the "choice and personalization rule":

They expect brands to genuinely engage with consumers and won't be satisfied with simply being ignored or having someone sell them a pre-made product. Living in an a la carte world with unlimited options, Millennials don't feel they have to choose between two limited choices. if they don't like a product, think the price is too high, or don't agree with a company's role in society, they are likely to switch brands. 

From a political standpoint, Diggles states that the a la carte lifestyle to which we've become accustomed makes us less likely than our predecessors to stick with the political party with which we initially aligned. In addition, not only are Millennials less likely to stay loyal to a political party, we are less likely to be happy with having a choice of only two

Political strategists often assume that once a pattern of partisan voting is established, voters will stick with their party, regardless of substantive policy disagreements that may emerge. But Millennials are less brand loyal than other generations at the outset, less likely to be satisfied with two static choices, and more apt to be swayed to change their tune then the voters who came before them. 

Translation: you can win us over, but you'll have to fight to keep us. And according to the stats, which indicate that "at least half of younger voters now refuse to associate themselves with either political party," both parties have some work to do. 

We still think/hope that government can be effective and helpful...for now.

According to Diggles, the one characteristic that set Millennials apart from every other generation was "a deep belief that government can play a positive role in people's lives." 

In a 2011 Pew intergenerational comparison, Millennials supported a bigger government providing more services (56%) over a smaller one providing fewer services (35%), a near reversal of their Baby Boomer parents, who supported a smaller government (54%) over a bigger one (35%). 

Just a year earlier - the year of the Tea Party takeover of Congress, in fact - 53% of Millennials said the government should be doing more to solve problems compared to 42% who felt the government was doing too many things better left to individuals and businesses. No other generation cohort said government should do more. 

Make no assumptions about where our loyalties lie.

As noted above, the days of lifelong party loyalty "just because" are gone.  While it may seem that the political winds blowing towards the Democrats, we will have no problem whatsoever deserting if they don't deliver. 

[The Democrats] must demonstrate that government can function effectively and make good on its promises, rather than just relying on an initial openness to a more activist government.

The extreme and exclusive rhetoric currently coming out of the Republican party is doing them no favors among Millennials.  We came of age during the financial collapse which means we heard story after story after story about people who lost their entire life savings through no personal fault of their own as a result of the "market". Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we aren't particularly swayed by the traditional "bootstrap" rhetoric.  We want solutions, not grand speeches on principle. 

For Republicans, an anti-government agenda, lacking constructive suggestions to solve big problems, will likely fall on deaf ears with this generation. Millennials may be cautious about "big government solutions" in the wake of perceived failures and shortcomings by lawmakers or new programs. But an agenda based solely on individual responsibility and market solutions to the challenges we face will be unlikely to garner widespread support among Millennials or inspire a new generation of voters.

All we know about this magical "free market" is that we are in debt up to our eyeballs with nothing to show for it.  

The Starbucks barista with a master's degree cliche exists for a reason, and Millennials aren't buying the "let the market decide" approach for now.  According to the study, 72% of Millennials believe "that a free market economy needs government regulation to serve the public's interest."

With high levels of student loan debt and unemployment, the basic bargain Millennials were offered - work hard and earn a college degree so you can get a good job - has seemingly disappeared overnight....

The market appears to have failed Millennials, and they are unsure that corporations and large financial institutions are acting in the public's best interest. 

We are "spiritual" but not "religious".

Millennial views on gay marriage and other social issues still maligned by the Church (and Republicans), have have a clear negative impact on both relationships.

The role organized religion continues to play in modern American politics - primarily concentrated on the far right with an increasingly vocal fundamentalist tilt - is squarely out-of-step with many of younger people's views...And the fusion of orthodox religion and Republican Party social conservatism has saddled both of them with the problems of the other in the minds of Millennials. 

Diggles goes further and states that like the free market, "the church appears to have failed [Millennials] as well - protecting priests embroiled in scandal and devaluing their gay friends and family as unequal and unwelcome." 

We are tolerant and super diverse, but can be somewhat naive about civil rights and gender equality.

It should come as no surprise that Millennials are more tolerant of other cultures and lifestyles than our predecessors. In addition to online globalization, which enabled us to explore and interact with different cultures from our bedrooms, changes in the 1960's to immigration policy led to a substantial increase in legal immigration. 

Millennials are not just composed of a greater diversity of racial and ethnic backgrounds than older generational cohorts, they also have relatively higher levels of interaction with people of other backgrounds. This has exposed them to the unique political, economic, and socio-cultural traditions of communities not traditionally dominant in American political discourse. 

While we are much more enlightened when it comes to gay rights and immigration policy, Millennials appear to take for granted other rights that many fought so hard to obtain, but which "do not necessarily resonate with today's younger generation."  While overt racism and sexism have, for the most part, been eradicated from civil society, there are still many latent barriers for women and people of color to overcome.  But many Millennials "see both racism and race-based affirmative action as relics of an earlier age." 

Among younger Millennials, 63% do not believe that race or gender will impact their future career prospects.  And only 23% of those under 40 years old supported using race as a factor in university admissions, with a whopping 62% strongly opposed. 

We are a slightly less "America! F$@* Yeah!" 

Pointing out that "the oldest Millennials were eight years old when the Berlin Wall fell," and that "few remember the Soviet Union," Diggles states

Millennial concerns with international engagement stem from questions of style and form. While 70% of Americans say that the U.S. is the greatest country in the world, only 58% of Millennials agree. Given their racial and ethnic diversity, access to information from all over the globe, and high proportion of immigrant parents, Millennials are less likely than others to claim superiority for their country. 

Millennials prefer a case-by-case approach to determining if a situation warrants international intervention which Diggles describes as "cooperative engagement." 

They want us to take allies' interests into account even if it means we have to compromise or emphasize diplomacy over military strength, and they worry that emphasizing military force breeds hatred and leads to terrorism. 

I wonder how we came to that conclusion? 

The bottom line:

Neither party can afford to take Generation Y for granted, and neither party should get comfortable. Each must grasp early on that they will be held accountable for any promises they make, because the tide has the potential to quickly turn against them if they fail to do so. Parties will be judged by their actions and not their words.   

This means compromise, not stubborn adhesion to the status quo to protect an abstract political ideal. This means transparency, into process and people.  This means flexibility and willingness to change if something isn't working. 

Millennials are not interested in catchy slogans and feigned interest in issues that affect them. They are interested in getting results. If they don't get them from one party, they will simply move on to another. 

Source: http://content.thirdway.org/publications/7...

Erica Payne isn't happy with Sheryl Sandberg

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I've had numerous conversations about Lean In and Sheryl Sandberg's decision to focus more on what women can do to get ahead. My personal opinion is that she took the easy way out in choosing this approach. Sandberg is an incredibly powerful woman with powerful friends and a powerful microphone. People listen to her. She is, quite literally, a phone call away (maybe two) from any CEO or leader in the country. If any woman has the power to become a major catalyst for actual change in the workplace and beyond, it's her. 

Instead of issuing public challenges to business leaders everywhere to reassess their work environment to determine whether or not they are taking full advantage of their female talent pool, Sandberg tells the female employees to do more work. Women aren't getting paid for the work they do now. Instead of tackling more substantive issues, she just launched a campaign to "ban bossy," and she got a former United States Secretary of State and the CEO of the Girl Scouts to launch it with her. 

This is where Erica Payne comes in. She thinks that Sandberg should be devoting at least some of her time to little things like raising the national minimum wage. I have to agree. I'm not minimizing Sandberg's current work because I truly do believe it is important and worthwhile, but I also think that she is wasting a valuable opportunity to affect changes in social policy  that will help millions of women in the long run. 

Should we "ban bossy"? Perhaps. Should we do whatever is within our power to ensure that millions and millions of women can feed, clothe, and educate themselves and their children? Absolutely. There's no reason Sandberg can't do both. 

 

 

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erica-payne/...