By Helen McBride
A week ago, Saturday Night Live paid tribute to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who passed away earlier that week. The SNL sketch featured Fred Armisen as Ian Rubbish, a Johnny Rotten type, whose dislike for the British monarchy and government inspired punk-rock gems. However, as we learn in this "documentary," when Margaret Thatcher came to power, Rubbish's reaction left his band, the Bizzarros, and fans scratching their heads. Expecting Thatcher to be "Rubbished," Rubbish instead did a 180 and wrote songs praising Thatcher. What in world had come over Rubbish? Well we learn soon enough that his "love" for the Iron Lady developed because, wait for it, she reminds him of his mum. So there is no changing his mind. SNLs tribute reflects a myriad of responses to Thatcher's death. Not surprisingly, the stormy reaction across Britain and Ireland over Baroness Thatcher’s death hasn’t escaped anyone’s attention. The decision to commemorate or celebrate her death in Northern Ireland in particular, was bound to produce a split in opinion. The relationship between Northern Ireland (and the Republic of Ireland for that matter) and Thatcher has always been tense. Recent revelations from former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson about Thatcher’s supposed mistrust of the Irish, and her equally naive and ridiculous Cromwellian solution to the “Troubles” (i.e. to simply move all the Catholics to the Republic) is just the latest in this deeply complicated relationship. Yet, the polarized responses to her death reflect not only her conservative policies that still influence British politics, but also reveal cultural norms and beliefs regarding gender and politics. Thatcher may have reminded Rubbish of his mum, but this reduced Thatcher to being a mum, not a politician, judged not for her (controversial) policies, but for her inability to fulfill feminine expectations.
Posts from the ‘Politics’ Category
By Helen McBride
By Sean Cosgrove
Usually DIY anything means hours of pain and frustration: IKEA flatpacks, or a lost Sunday at the hardware store trying to work out how to correctly measure a straight line so you can progress further towards that table-making course which seemed so attainable months ago (clearly I’ve never experienced that...) The #DIYrainbow, however, is of a completely different ilk. I promise.
By Austin McCoy
The Steubenville rape case and CNN’s disturbing response to the conviction of the two football players illustrate the pervasiveness of rape culture in American society. As Blogger Lauren Nelson highlighted in her piece, “So you’re tired of hearing about rape culture,” politicians, news pundits, athletes, teenagers, men, and women have displayed some or all the characteristics of rape culture recently—victim-blaming, shaming, and (online) bullying, objectifying women, demonizing sexually active women, perpetuating the notion that (young) men, especially athletes, are entitled to act upon women’s bodies without their legal consent, and sympathizing with those judged guilty.
By Austin McCoy
Some political observers have pointed out how President Obama’s second inaugural address contained plenty of memorable lines. The President’s affirmation of women’s rights, civil rights, and gay rights, via his Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall allusions, does not just stand out as an impressive use of lyrical alliteration; it represents the acknowledgement of Obama’s electoral coalition. Also, Obama’s nod serves as a ringing validation of the same manifestations of “identity politics” that some critics have chided while lamenting the fate of the U.S. Left after the 1960s. Obama’s adoption of the rhetoric in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution highlights feminists’, civil rights advocates’, and gay rights activists’ efforts to expand democracy by forcing the nation to live by its own creed articulated in the founding documents.
By Helen McBride
The TEDxBelfastWomen event was the first of its kind to be held in the new Skainos building in the East of the city, as part of the Skainos urban regeneration project. TED is a non-profit organisation that aims to spread ideas. Started 25 years ago, it has broadened its scope to include more than the original Technology, Entertainment, Design and added the ‘x’ element. The x marks independently organised events that stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.
By Austin McCoy
Reports of a deal between Democrats and Republicans to avert the so-called fiscal cliff finally surfaced a few hours before they all turned to pumpkins at midnight. I know I am not the only one who grew tired of hearing about the fiscal cliff, curb, or whatever metaphor you used to describe the crisis. Actually, I learned that I did not want anything to do with this when I sat down to write because the fiscal cliff negotiations were tiring, and frankly, rather annoying. Yet, in all of my annoyance, the outcomes of these negotiations had very tangible consequences for anyone receiving unemployment benefits, living on Medicare and Social Security, or relying on their payroll tax cut. Yet, the current deal only postpones sequester for two months, possibly setting up another conflict over long-term budget cuts. This aspect of the deal is the most disconcerting. It means the 2012 fiscal cliff crisis signified just one event in what has become a rolling crisis—a series of failed negotiations and compromises that lead to more failed negotiations, weak compromises, and crises.
By Ashley Baggett
In the past few weeks, I have witnessed excessive misuse of history to justify political opinions. The presidential election seemed to bring out the historian in everyone, much to my chagrin. Generally, I try to avoid debating people on social media (a wise suggestion for everyone), but I couldn’t stand it anymore during the election returns. Way too often people used quotes taken completely out of context (as I’m screaming, “But context matters for understanding that properly!!!"). On every Facebook status that made me cringe, I put in my two cents and tactfully acted as a caped crusader correcting gross historical inaccuracies and rabid attacks on the historical profession. The responses were depressing. The lack of rational discussion I expected to a degree, but the low level of respect for historians was shocking. I wondered, as many of us often do, how to maintain the accessibility of history to the public and yet still retain authority over our expertise?
By Austin McCoy
President Obama’s recognition of Americans’ struggles while voting seemed unexpected, even with all of the news reports about long lines, defective voter machines, and other voter irregularities.What is even more astonishing, and at this point, pretty tone deaf, is that the Supreme Court may hear another case challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Shelby County, Alabama aspires to have the provision overturned on the grounds that it is archaic and unnecessary in an “American that elected and reelected Barack Obama as its first African-American president.” Section 5 forces particular states with histories of voter disenfranchisement to seek “preclearance” from the Department of Justice before changing voting rules. Conservative justices, according to Adam Serwer writing for Mother Jones, argue that the law discriminates against white southerners despite the fact that Section 5 applies to “all or parts of” Western and Northern states such as New York, New Hampshire, California, and Arizona, nor does it single out white individuals. States and “political subdivisions” are the regulated entities.
By Sean Cosgrove
Questions in public discourse surrounding the issues of human gender and sexuality seem to revolve around (unchallenged) binaries of female and male, and hetero or homosexual. Now, that they exist in this form currently and shape our lived experience is absolutely true. That they have always existed, however, in the guise(s) that they do now is not, and it can be dangerous to assume the unchanging nature of these constructs when talking, particularly, about social policy.
By Cheryl Lemus
I am a child of Sesame Street. My afternoons in daycare began with "Sunny days. Sweepin the clouds away. On my way to where the air is sweet. Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?" I had my favorite characters. Oscar the Grouch made me giggle as he told everyone to “scram!” Grover's silly antics brought smiles to my face on the gloomiest days and I always counted along with the Count. I cannot say I was ever a huge fan of Bert and Ernie, but I did like it when Ernie got on Bert’s last nerve. I was a fan when Mr. Hooper and Kermit the Frog were regulars, and I became a fan again, when Elmo’s cuteness made my kids' eyes light up. But there was one character who was always a favorite and that was Big Bird. His gigantic proportions never overshadowed his kindness So, when Mitt Romney said during the first debate, "I'm sorry Jim. I'm gonna stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm gonna stop other things,…I like PBS, I like Big Bird, I actually like you too," I instantly thought I had heard it wrong, but then I quickly realized that Romney did indeed say Big Bird was on menu for Thanksgiving. Romney's comments are incredibly sad because Big Bird, and everything he stands for, such as kindness, honesty, toleration, sharing, generosity, hope, and curiosity, are all the qualities that we, as Americans, supposedly value. So, in many ways, we all are Big Bird because he represents the best of America and by making him a political target, Romney essentially places the bull's-eye on the backs of most Americans.