Oprah 2020?

President Obama awarding Oprah Winfrey with a medal
Oprah Winfrey receiving an award from President Obama

By Chloe Rigg

The beginning of a new year. A time of resolutions, the hopes of better weather, and award shows. After Oprah Winfrey’s phenomenal speech at the Golden Globes, “Oprah 2020” lit a spark throughout social media. I love Oprah as much as anyone. However, amongst this I must ask, “Would ‘Oprah 2020’ really be what our country needs?” Having our next president be an African American woman would help bring about the change we need, but is Oprah the right woman? Oprah is a celebrity with no political experience, and though vastly different than President Trump, she wouldn’t know how to properly run our government. She already has an established presence with her career, and continuously  . She does all these things throughout the US, without a spot in the White House. But, fear not. This doesn’t mean you are stuck with another “white stiff in a suit.” Instead, here are a few women of color who have plenty of political experience and would be great candidates to break the glass ceiling. (Oprah would probably love these, too.) Continue reading “Oprah 2020?”

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An Open Letter to Secretary Hillary Clinton

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A photo of myself inside of the Senate chambers at the Idaho Capitol Building in 2011. Photo courtesy of Jordan Rosengrant

By: Paola Aguilar

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.

Continue reading “An Open Letter to Secretary Hillary Clinton”

Why I Will #WearWhitetoVote

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Annie Kenney (left) and Christabel Pankhurst (right) holding a sign that reads, “Votes for Women”

By: Paola Aguilar

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.

Continue reading “Why I Will #WearWhitetoVote”

Underrepresentation Nation

By Jolie Day

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“A woman’s place is in the House and the Senate”

The U.S. has a severe disparity of equal and diverse representation in our government. In 2016, women still only comprise 20% of the United States 114th congress. Women of color are even more underrepresented, making up only 6.2% of congress. We had yet to even have a woman win a major party bid for the presidency until Hillary Clinton did this year. This scarcity of women in our government has lead to an uphill battle for policies and laws that concern women’s issues, such as health care, the wage gap, abortion, and paid maternity leave. Now more than ever, it is important to understand the impact that representation has in our nation and take that knowledge to the polls for the upcoming elections. Continue reading “Underrepresentation Nation”

Women in Power: Scifi and the Gender Ratio in American Government

Amber Atalaya Evans Pinel

I’ve been reading a lot of criticism of science fiction television shows by those looking at it from a feminist perspective—specifically, my all-time favorite Scifi series Battlestar Galactica (2003 reboot.) Just because I happen to adore BSG, that doesn’t mean I’m blind to its flaws. But right now I’d rather talk about what the show is actually really good at: an equal ratio of male and female characters. Specifically, the universe of BSG has more female characters in positions of power than the US Government does. As of 2012, the United States ranked #84 in the number of women serving in congressional (or parliamentary) positions. We’re tied with San Marino at a whopping 18.3% of women in congress. Considering more than 50% of voters are women, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And this trend doesn’t just exist at the federal level, “Only 22% of all statewide elective executive office positions are currently held by women.” Even though we see only a handful of military and government officials on the show (due to the genocide of most of the human race), it is pretty evident that there’s solid equality of opportunity for both men and women to be in those positions. The universe of BSG one-ups the USA in the first episode when Laura Roslin becomes President of the twelve colonies. She is appointed due to the death of the former president and a large percentage of the cabinet. However, people who oppose her do so because of the way she came into power and her lack of experience before becoming the president (she was formerly secretary of education), not because she is a woman. Then Kara Thrace (“Starbuck”) is appointed CAG (Commander of the Air Group)

after Lee Adama (a male) goes into politics. And she is easily the best CAG we see on Battlestar Galactica. One of the best things about the show, however, is that their military is totally unbiased when it comes to gender. Both men and women serve equally in every branch of the military, including the front lines and as fighter pilots. On the Cylon side of things, our three driving characters who seem to hold quite a bit of political power are Number Six, Number Eight, and Number Three, and all of them are female. However, their society isn’t matriarchal in the slightest. They pretty much have a democratic republic: the models choose one of their kind to speak for them in their own sort-of congress. Out of the eight main characters in Battlestar Galactica, five of them are women. Once I started counting the supporting and minor characters (and there are a lot of them) it appeared to be a pretty good 50/50 split. Considering a lot of our media these days is failing the Bechdel Test, I’d say that ratio is pretty stellar. Not just because there are female characters in the show, but because every single one of them is of note. (Almost) all of them are fully-fleshed out with character development and believable story lines of their own. Further on in the series we meet Admiral Helena Cain, the commanding officer of Battlestar Pegasus. Cain is arguably the most complex of all the female characters on the show, and she ranks the absolute highest in the military over everyone else. She has a Kurtz/Heart of Darkness kind of attitude in which most conventional morals were tossed out the window when the Cylons attacked. But, more on her next week. Finally, the primary reason BSG beats the US in equal representation in positions of power: The Quorum of Twelve, the universe’s parliament. Those who serve on it change throughout the show, however, it always has an even ratio of male and female representatives. Not because they are required to have an even ratio, but because that’s how the elections go. The Quorum is elected by the people, and serves much like the United States Congress.

 (The Quorum of Twelve meeting with President Laura Roslin)

So, if it’s so easy for an American television show to get it right, why can’t our nation do it for real? Well, here are several reasons from an article titled “The Gender Gap: Percentage of Women in Government Worldwide. We’re Number One, Right? Not So Much…”

1. On average, women candidates raise less money than their male counterparts.

2. Redistricting appears to target female candidates more than male candidates.

3. Incumbency: Men were in office before women, and once a person is in office, they have serious advantages for reelection. Usually, the most “winnable” seats are already held by men.

4. Less Media Coverage: According to the Daily Beast, in media reports on women’s issues—like abortion and birth control—men are quoted some five times more than women are. And that affects the coverage of women in politics.

5. Stereotypes

In my opinion, both major political parties in this country have the ability to put more women forward in elections. Furthermore, voters need to take on some responsibility for the representation inequality in our government as well. Obviously I’m not condoning voting for someone solely based on their gender. However, it is true that there is a significant amount of social prejudice riding on the idea of women in government positions. And only constituents have the power to change how they feel about women in our government.