This US presidential election cycle began with six women democratic candidates: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, and self-help author Marianne Williamson. With Harris, Gillibrand, Gabbard, and Williamson all dropping out of the race in the beginning few months, only Warren and Klobuchar were able to muster a strong enough following to qualify for debates in January and February 2020. However, with Senator Klobuchar dropping the race the Monday before Super Tuesday only Senator Warren was left standing. After a disappointing turnout on Tuesday, which included placing third in her home state of Massachusetts, Warren’s dream of being the 2020 Democratic nominee ended on March 5, 2020 when she announced the ending of her campaign.
When the word politician comes to mind what do you envision? Since the beginning of time, men have predominately run governments across the globe. World-wide, women only account for 24% of government. It is easy to forget that feminism is a relatively new idea to impact our politics when you compare it to how long males have dominated politics across the world. And, of course, the meaning of feminism takes a different form in every country, changing how much women have been involved in government. Recently, women have begun to challenge the male-dominated positions. In Washington D.C., more females than ever are currently serving in Congress. But, it was a long line of women before them that helped pave a way to make it possible for them to hold such powerful positions, such that shape countries agendas, make or break economies, influence the public, create new policies, and so on.
Lesbians are defined through the dictionary as, a woman who is sexually attracted to another woman. I would define lesbianism as any queer AFAB (assigned-female-at-birth), AMAB-trans person, non-binary/gender-nonconforming/gender-fluid, self-identified woman/female, who is attracted to another queer self-identified woman/female.
According, to Kate Manne’s definition of misogyny, in her book Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, lesbians are ‘bad women.’ Manne defines misogyny as enforcing sexism bypolicing women in society, in order, to keep them subservient. Every woman is a ‘bad woman’ in Manne’s definition because they haven’t become ‘good women.’ A woman can become a ‘good woman’ by provide feminine-coded goods and services for men. Lesbians are incapable of ever becoming ‘good women,’ because our existence makes men irrelevant and unnecessary, rendering them powerless.
Not only are lesbians failing to be ‘good women,’ but we are in competition with men,
because misogynists require women to provide feminine-coded goods when lesbians are presenting masculine-coded goods by simply living without men. Manne writes in Taking His Out, “In view of differential norms of giving, a woman may be held to owe characteristically feminine-coded goods to some man, ideally, or at least to society; and a man may be held to be entitled to lay claim to them from her with impunity – women may be effectively prohibited from competing with him for, or otherwise robbing him of, certain masculine-coded prizes; and he may also be deemed entitled to prevent her from so doing.” When lesbians have masculine-coded goods, men are threatened to the point of needing to punish us as the ‘bad women’ we are. Nora Berenstain writes in her Book Review on Down Girl, “On Manne’s account, the primary function of misogynistic acts and behaviours is to punish women who deviate from patriarchal norms and expectations. Under these norms,
women are expected to provide men with feminine-coded goods, such as deference, attention, care, and sympathy. When women do not provide such goods or request masculine-coded goods like status or authority, they can expect to be put in their place as ‘more or less subtly hostile, threatening, and punitive norm-enforcement mechanisms will be standing at the ready.’ Misogyny is thus construed as the series of ‘coercive enforcement mechanisms’ that ensure that women stick to their assigned patriarchal roles of providing emotional labour and that those who deviate from the script are swiftly punished.” Lesbians are punished into ‘herasure,’ resulting in undervalued women and the erasure of lesbians.
Society is complicit in the ‘herasure’ of lesbianism by the public acceptance of gay couples and families more than lesbian couples and families. The L versus G controversy is subliminal in our society. But it is consistent in its ‘herasure’ of lesbianism. Gay men and the word ‘gay’ are widely more popularly accepted than lesbian. Many women
would rather identify as gay or queer when coming out, than as lesbian. Lesbian has become a charged label with a negative connotation, I believe this has stemmed from misogyny. According, to Out.com and their timeline of Nearly Every Queer Couple in TV History, there is less than half as much lesbian representation than there is gay. Many companies would rather skip around the idea of female queerness rather than outwardly make a character lesbian. Captain Marvel and Elsa are perfect examples of sexual identity ambiguity for character depth. Elsa had meet-cute moments with
Honeymaren in Frozen 2. Many queer people believe Elsa’s new solo in the movie, was a queer anthem. Almost every queer woman has a crush on Brie Larson, her strength and style. Yet these characters are given no labels, when there have been many more explicit moments of gay male relationships on TV. Lesbian families are also rare to see in popular culture unlike gay families with children. Two lesbians mothering children threaten men’s masculine-coded prizes of a nuclear family, therefore resulting in misogyny.
Popular Culture celebrities are also playing around with sexual ambiguity to entice fans and hopefully gather support from the LGBTQIA+ community. Stars like “Madonna, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande have used lesbian/bisexual hints to titillate fans and sell more records,” according, to Spectator UK. These hints of lesbianism are called ‘lesbian tourism.’ When it is popularized for heterosexual women to display
queer woman-on-woman flirtations this furthers the ‘herasure’ of lesbians. Examples of queer women love that are inaccurate to the truth of lesbian love is harmful to lesbian women. It creates an inner-misogyny along with battling compulsory heterosexuality. This inner-misogyny comes from concepts created within the lesbian community to validate true ‘lesbianism.’ Labels like ‘gold star lesbian’ are harmful to the community and the perception of there being guidelines to identifying as a lesbian. A ‘gold star lesbian’ is a lesbian who has never been intimate with a man. Identifying as ‘gold star’ creates a hierarchy within lesbianism and therefore makes women who identify as lesbian who have previously been with men, experience ‘herasure.’
Living in the patriarchy, as a lesbian, results in hostility and punishment from men and misogynists for not being gender compliant women. Lesbians aren’t capable of ‘giving’ any ‘goods’ to men. Lori Watson adds in her Comments onDown Girl, “One aspect of
patriarchy’s reliance upon a gender binary to ensure conformity to binary gender roles, and thus secure a set of reliable givers from whom men can take, is the “benefits” compliant women secure within this system. For as Manne carefully argues these gendered roles work to subordinate women as unequals in a binary gendered system and make them targets for violence and hostility.” Watson’s argument relates to how lesbians are not only incapable of ‘giving’ to men, but because we are ‘bad women’ we will never be deserving of social goods and standing. Therefore, misogyny villainizes lesbians because of our perpetual ‘badness.’ Watson describes this phenomenon, “Sometimes that includes being read and treated as a “failure” as a woman. Instances of being perceived as a “failed woman” can be illuminated by the idea that in failing to conform to dominant standards of femininity, I have stepped out of line.” Lesbians being perpetual ‘bad women’ results in being ‘failures.’ Lesbians are ‘failures’ as women.
Because lesbians are ‘failures’ as women, lesbian can be an ‘insult.’ Being a lesbian can also be a place of power, because we disregard gender roles, misogyny, and the patriarchy, for what we want. That is why Hillary Clinton made headlines on NBC last
week for once again reiterating that she is not a lesbian. This came as a shocker, considering she has been married to a man for many years, had children with him, and is still married to him.
This public condemnation of male-owned businesses who are profiting off the misrepresentation of lesbians is a positive step towards social understanding. Because lesbians are consistently living within going against the grain of society, we are a perfect example of ‘bad women.’ Lesbianism has been around since women have existed, we are not going anywhere. The patriarchy cannot sustain expecting women to serve to their needs through misogyny when we are no longer fitting the definitions they want to put on us.
Who knew four words could be so subversive, so controversial? With those four words, Ariana Grande changed her career, probably forever. These words show us that when it comes to power, especially the extreme power of a deity, gender matters. Gender really matters. You can’t just ignore gender when it comes to gods, artists, or U.S. presidents. Those roles are reserved for men, and when you dare to say otherwise, there will be backlash.
Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam”
Ariana Grande’s version
If you have yet to see the music video for “God is a Woman” by Ariana Grande, I would recommend taking a moment to view it at this link before you continue to read. This video is filled with imagery empowering to women. In my personal favorite part of the music video, Grande literally breaks the glass ceiling with a giant metal hammer. The video also alludes to many classic artworks, recreating them with Grande at the helm instead of a man. For example, the last shot of the video shows a new version of Michaelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. There is also a depiction of The Thinker by Rodin, in which Grande sits in the same posture as the thinking man while men throw gendered slurs at her, trying to tear her down. It is through these gender-reversed images that the viewer begins the realize how infrequently women are shown in positions of power historically. It is almost difficult to recognize how little representation there is until you are confronted with images that you have, amazingly, never seen before.
A while ago when I was scrolling through Facebook I saw a status update that a friend had shared. It went something like this,
“Ya’ll notice how Bernie lost and he still around fighting and Hillary lost and she disappeared into the night?”
It hit a chord with me, why is Hillary Clinton getting called out for taking time off? She just finished running for the highest office in the nation and didn’t get the job. This must have been upsetting at the very least. But then she worked up the nerve to go to her opponent’s inauguration. I felt a break was entirely justified, if not it was understandable. Continue reading “Hillary Clinton doesn’t owe you anything”→
The first time I heard your name, I was in the first grade and my mom was telling me that maybe someday I could be like you. At the age of 6, there was so much that I still didn’t know, but I knew that you were a person I could look up to. I always strived to be at the top of my class and didn’t let anyone tell me I couldn’t be. My peers called me bossy and teachers asked me to give other kids a chance to answer their questions. None of this fazed me. As soon as I knew who you were, I saw a successful woman who worked hard to fight for every American, every chance that she got. If you could do it, so can I.
On August 18th in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified. The 19th Amendment granted women the constitutional right to vote. While the Women’s Suffrage movement in the United States can be dated back to different specific moments, the most prominent and well-known event that started the Women’s Suffrage movement was the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York in July of 1848. The convention was organized by abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. After this convention, Stanton and Mott were joined by many other women, including Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul, in a national effort to grant women’s suffrage. In rallies and marches, the suffragettes wore ribbons that were white, purple and gold and the predominant color of their attire was white. Purple was to represent loyalty, and steadfastness to a cause while white was symbolic of purity and the quality of the cause.
This tradition started by the suffragettes is now carried on in their honor by women who have made ground-breaking accomplishments and who have paved the road for many other women who seek to be leaders in the United States government.
By Sam Kennedy
Comedy is a male-dominated world. Samantha Bee acknowledges that in her very first sketch on her TV show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. In a room full of reporters, she is berated by the journalists asking her every variation of the question, “What’s it like to be a female comedian?” All female comedians will be asked this in some way or form during their career. If they’re lucky, they might even be told, “You’re pretty funny for female comic!”
So Samantha Bee’s answer to these comments? “Witches.” Obviously, that’s how women are able to be funny AND successful. Through demonic ritual, blood sacrifice, and dark magic. There’s just no other answer.
Why is it so absurd for a woman to be successfully funny? Is it really that rare of a thing? The answer is, no. They unfortunately just don’t get as much publicity as their male counterparts, and are much more likely to receive harsher criticism and judgement. (Take a look at all of these controversies that have occurred throughout the years, if you don’t believe me.) Which is part of what makes Samantha Bee so damn good. If you watch Samantha Bee, you’ll know that she’s excellent at the comedy game. With a comedy news style mimicking that of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, she finds the humor in the most exasperating and frustrating aspects of current events. Continue reading “Samantha Bee: The Hero We Need”→
A few of our pals will be graduating next month and leaving academia for the professional unknown, so there’s a lot of career advice going around campus right now. In the past two weeks, I’ve met with more than 20 media professionals for Q&A group sessions offering advice on resumes, CV’s, interviews, and negotiations. Since the (greatly appreciated) advice is being offered from experienced and successful professionals to younger and emerging graduates, a few differing or perhaps generational opinions should be expected:
One person recommended bringing a suitcase along to interviews but leaving cell phones in the car.
Most professionals felt that resumes are not the place to use design skills, like Adobe.
“Gender specific: don’t cry.”
That last one had to be the most interesting, especially since it came from a woman who works for a public institution. I’m not saying she’s necessarily wrong to give this sort of advice, but I do wonder whether it’s still the best answer to an old question:
Admittedly, my first thought was “I hope not.” I have suffered through loud, emotionally unstable co-workers who brought their problems to work and didn’t do much problem-solving. Not fun. Those same people were never very good at their job anyway, so maybe there’s just less empathy for annoying co-workers.
What really made me question this advice was acknowledging that I’ve cried at work. Is that OK? Is it OK if it fits into a certain context?
I was working at my desk when I received the mid-morning phone call that the woman who’d raised me had been taken to the hospital and might not live, so I excused myself to the break room and cried while I collected the rest of the details. My boss came in looking for me, hugged me and left. After I’d calmed down, I went back to my desk and finished the work day, not because I “had” to, but because I felt safe to do so. She would have understood if I’d needed to leave at any point, and that was comforting enough.
In the ‘don’t cry’ rules, women are allowed to have a cry in cases of death (guess I’m excused, then) or divorce, as long as it’s not excessive. Other than that, crying is typically regarded as manipulative or problematic. For students about to graduate into challenging careers, how will we handle a ‘slip up’ if we cry? Hillary Clinton expressed a half-sniffle of emotion during a 2008 presidential campaign speech and it nearly stopped the presses. This video makes a quick summary of the double-standard scrutiny the media applied to Clinton as opposed to her similarly teary male counterparts.
But it’s certainly not just the media that objects to professionals who have cried: it’s other professionals. In describing one woman’s experience, Forbes staff writer, Jenna Goudreau, wrote:
Caprino was asked into the president’s office to speak about her supervisor, whose competency had come into question. The president asked her to keep an eye on the supervisor and regularly report his mistakes. Feeling it would be wrong and disloyal, Caprino said she wouldn’t snitch. He was adamant, however, and demanded that she do it. That’s when the tears came—first out of frustration that she’d been backed into a corner and then compounded by disappointment in herself that she’d lost control. She watched as the president’s eyebrows raised in shock and embarrassment and then slowly contort into anger.
The crying itself was never mentioned between them, but Caprino immediately saw a shift in the president and in their relationship. “It was awkward thereafter,” she says. “I knew it was the absolute worst thing in the world; crying in the workplace is inappropriate. When control is everything, crying will get you alienated.”
But what if this is archaic? Leaders like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg disagree that women need to fit into the old ideal of masculine-appropriate conduct, where women should never cry because they should be more like men (guess what, men also cry sometimes). In an interview with Jezebel about her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sandberg said:
“Look, I’m not suggesting that the way to get to the corner office is to cry as much as possible. Nobody is going to publish the next Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and say that crying is one of them. But I am saying that it happens. It has happened to me. It has happened to me more than once. It will happen to me again. It happens to other women. Rather than spend all this time beating ourselves up for it, let’s accept ourselves. OK, I cried, life went on. And I think that’s part of the message of Lean In, like we are human beings, we are emotional beings and we can be our whole selves at work.”
So maybe this idea is evolving right now. As more women enter professional leadership roles in their careers there’s less need to ‘pass’ for a stoic leader. Trying to be more like an emotionally challenged man is not going to be your ticket to success, and the more we present ourselves as normal, functioning people the more our presence becomes normal. Do we, as a nation, need to speculate over the appropriateness of Hillary Clinton’s breasts or Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s pregnancy? Or that one time some woman cried in her boss’s office? No, because it reinforces the (il)logic that successful women should not be women.
There’s no use in trying to make ourselves over into robots because it’s unrealistic: life can be tough, our careers can be tough, and sometimes it takes blood, sweat and tears to get the job done. It’s not that we shouldn’t be ourselves but that we should be our best. That’s not gender-specific.