Reuters: Hillary Clinton and the double whammy of sexism and ageism

Reuters: Hillary Clinton and the double whammy of sexism and ageism

My latest at Reuters is about how Hillary Clinton is up against sexism and ageism as she runs a second time for the presidency:

Simply put, Clinton is living proof of how sexism and ageism interact: when it comes to leadership positions, women always seem to be held to a higher standard than men, and by the time they’ve accumulated the experience to meet that standard, they’re old enough to be hit with age discrimination. That Clinton is running at 67 is one high-profile example of how long it seems to take women to amass the experience necessary for people — whether it’s voters or employers — to overlook the fact that they’re women. We know this about ourselves: in January, a Pew survey found that 65 percent of people recognize that, in business, women are held to a higher standard than men.

Clinton is far and away the most qualified person to enter the race so far. Between her legal and advocacy experience; her time in the White House as the most politically active first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt; her time as a senator; and her service as Secretary of State, she has amassed more relevant experience and knowledge than a number of the current Republican candidates combined. Detractors can reasonably question her judgment, her trustworthiness, her husband and her emails, but her qualifications are indisputable. Her resume is undeniably presidential.

None of which protects her from being subjected to what Catalyst, a research and advocacy group focused on normalizing gender and race representation in corporate leadership, calls the High Competence Threshold. “Women leaders face higher standards and lower rewards than male leaders,” Catalyst found in its 2007 study The Double Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership. “On top of doing their job, women must prove that they can lead over and over again,” the study found.

You can read the whole thing here.

The Washington Post: Where’s the political rom com we’ve been waiting for?

The Washington Post: Where’s the political rom com we’ve been waiting for?

I have a piece at Post Everything today, about how our current political climate has made the political romantic comedy all but impossible:

In 2014, it’s hard to imagine a Republican and Democrat going out for dinner, never mind strolling down the aisle. And at their core, rom coms require compromise: a “battle of the sexes” that must conclude with a sexy cease-fire. In recent politics, there is no such spirit of compromise: There’s no happy ending, just the beginning of a new election cycle.

Today, the division and the vitriol we see in our real-world politics make the notion of a political romantic comedy almost unthinkable. American politics is unprecedentedly polarized in 2014, with the 114th Congress looking to be more reactionary and bellicose than ever, and with Americans increasingly disaffected with their elected representatives in D.C. and with the president. Convincing audiences that it’s possible to fall in love in politics – that it’s possible to cross the aisle in the name of love – is a pretty tough sell. If Romeo and Juliet couldn’t make it work in a town divided by ancient grudge and new mutiny, why would we imagine that your standard rom com couple could make it work in Washington, D.C.?

You can read the whole there here.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Hillary Clinton presidency would spark a backlash

The Sydney Morning Herald: Hillary Clinton presidency would spark a backlash

I have a piece today in my hometown paper, The Sydney Morning Herald, about the promise and peril of Hillary Clinton – or any other woman – running for President:

My grandmother turned 100 years old this May. Grandma Belle, a New Yorker born and raised, is five feet flat, and she is formidable; she does the New York Times crossword every day, she plays a mean game of Scrabble, and she brooks no nonsense from her five grandchildren, all of them women. Belle was born six years before the 19th Amendment granted American women the right to vote, and the sheer amount of American history that has unfolded in her lifetime boggles the mind.

Earlier this month, Hillary Rodham Clinton went to Iowa, which suggests that a Clinton presidential candidacy in 2016 is all but inevitable. It seems that a Clinton win is highly likely. As a feminist, I yearn for a woman to run for president, and I yearn for a woman to win. Whether or not it happens in 2016, it will happen. And it will, without question, be a watershed moment, and I will shed tears. I will think about my grandmother, born before suffrage, and about my mother, who was among the first women to benefit from the wave of inclusion that swept through  the United States’ most prestigious educational institutions in the 1960s and 1970s. I will marvel at how far the US has come since my grandmother was born, and I will envy the little girls being born on that day, who will grow up having never known a world in which the US hasn’t had a female president. And then I’ll think, “oh God, here come four to eight years of virulent sexism”.

If a female president is all but inevitable, so too is the cultural backlash that will follow her campaign and her victory.

You can read the whole thing here.

Reuters: Is Hillary Clinton the cure for political apathy?

Reuters: Is Hillary Clinton the cure for political apathy?

At Reuters today, I have a column about how Hillary Clinton’s run for the Presidency might shift American political apathy – especially for American women:

While the scale of American political apathy, especially among women, is high, a Clinton win could go a long way to closing the gender gap in political engagement.

There is a downside, however.

Women’s participation in politics is often followed by a political and cultural backlash. We got a taste of that during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential run in 2008. The sexist tone of the commentary about Clinton that year has been catalogued many times: detractors and supporters alike discussed her hair, her wrinkles, her laugh, her clothing, her emotions, her husband. Anything, it felt like, but her policies and capacity to lead.

So, to what extent are gains made by female politicians negated by bias in the coverage about them? That remains to be seen. And, who knows, perhaps a nasty backlash is just what it takes to galvanize the politically aloof to be more involved. That certainly has been the case in previous cases of high-profile sexism at home and abroad.

And, speaking of unintended consequences of a Hillary campaign, one might be that it could actually increase political apathy– among men.

You can read the whole thing here.

Reuters: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert liberal lions? The guest chair tells a different story

Reuters: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert liberal lions? The guest chair tells a different story

Last week at Reuters, I wrote about how the diversity – or lack thereof – among guests on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report is in conflict with Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s reputations as liberal icons:

Appearing on Stewart or Colbert bestows credibility and respect on many of the people with whom the hosts choose to converse.

And yet when it comes to gender and race, their guest rosters more closely resemble a GOP national convention than they do the liberal vision of a diverse and equitable America. Of Stewart’s most recent 45 guests, 17 of them, or 38 percent, were women. This is closer to gender equity than many comedy and news shows manage, and it’s certainly a better showing than Colbert. But when you factor in race, Stewart’s numbers start to look very grim indeed. A resounding majority – 68 percent – of his guests were white, and of the very few African-American guests who appeared on his show, all were entertainers – the band Wu Tang Clan and the comedian Kevin Hart. Women of color fared similarly poorly on The Daily Show: Out of 45 guests, just three were women of color.

In Colbert Nation, the numbers were worse still: Of 45 guests, 73 percent were men, and 89 percent were white. And of the 12 women (12!) who appeared among Colbert’s last 45 guests, three of them shared a time slot. Of those 12 women, there was just one woman of color — District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

You can read the whole thing here.

 

Reuters: John Oliver, the insider-outsider perspective, and jokes that punch up

Reuters: John Oliver, the insider-outsider perspective, and jokes that punch up

I’m at Reuters again this week, writing about John Oliver’s new show Last Week Tonight, about how to make humour out of dark and dull topics, and about why a man with a thick Birmingham accent is so good at American political satire:

Oliver’s addition to the news-comedy landscape demonstrates the value of a half-American’s perspective on American politics and culture. He was born and grew up in Britain, moved to the United States as an adult, and has a strong Birmingham accent. He has been living here for almost a decade, is now married to an American, and has become a citizen. He is at once an outsider and an insider, a powerful position from which to critique and mock the United States.

At times, Oliver is explicit about his outsider status, particularly when he is addressing those subjects that are especially hard to joke about. In a May segment about the death penalty, Oliver noted that, as a Briton, “I come to this as a bit of an outsider. Britain does not have the capital punishment, so in a way, I really don’t know what I’m talking about.”

“But,” he continued, “in another way, I really do know what I’m talking about.” He then proceeded to give a brief overview of the lurid and grotesque history of British execution methods — “we boiled people, and in the grand tradition of British cuisine, if anything, we over-boiled them” — and joked about how British people respond when asked if they want to reinstate the death penalty, which was abolished there in 1965. It was, quite literally, gallows humor. It also demonstrated Oliver’s ability to joke about grim topics and situations that no one wants to talk about, in a way that does not detract from their gravity or strip the people involved of their humanity.

You can read the whole thing here.

MSNBC: Reproductive freedom is a fight bigger than Wendy Davis

MSNBC: Reproductive freedom is a fight bigger than Wendy Davis

I have a piece at MSNBC today, about why, though State Senator Wendy Davis has emerged as the most visible figure in the Texan fight for reproductive rights, the fight is far bigger than one person:

But millions of people will be adversely affected when Texas’s new abortion restrictions kick in. The most obvious are women in need of healthcare – either to keep a pregnancy healthy, or to terminate a pregnancy they don’t want or can’t sustain. Texas will now ban abortion after 20 weeks, and while a tiny percentage of abortions happen that late, most of the ones that do are performed to save the mother’s life, or to spare her the pain of giving birth to a fetus with such severe abnormalities that it cannot survive outside the womb.

Then there are the hundreds of thousands of Texans who rely on those clinics for primary healthcare: for mammograms, pap smears, contraception, STI testing, and more. What happens when a person doesn’t have access to preventive healthcare? What happens to a populace when thousands of its citizens no longer see doctors and nurses, no longer get tested for HIV, or breast cancer?

The need for abortion is not diminished with the disappearance of clinics. In their place, expect unsafe, illegal abortion. Before Roe v Wade, illegal abortion was a leading cause of death for women of childbearing age. Sixty percent were already mothers at the time.

You can read the whole thing here.