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 Sean Cosgrove
Julia Gillard (Australian’s current, and first female, Prime Minister) has made waves both at home (which for me is Australia) and overseas after her explosive speech calling out the leader of the opposition (currently Tony Abbott) for not only being sexist but fostering an environment of sexism and misogyny.
You can read about it everywhere. Seriously, everywhere: The BBC, The Australian (and again) The Conversation, Crikey, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Jezebel, The New Yorker, The Vine.
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.
By Austin McCoy
Long before Jesse Jackson, Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, Shirley Chisholm launched a campaign for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, we rarely mention her efforts when we look at the history of U.S. presidential politics in the last forty years. It would seem easy to forget how Chisholm blazed the trail for the likes Jackson, Clinton, and Obama after Clinton’s and Obama’s 2008 nomination battle. But the sexism that Hillary Clinton endured and the racism that Obama faced in 2008 arose from a longer context of racism and sexism structuring the outcomes of U.S. party and presidential politics. Chisholm stood as the first to confront the closed nature of national (and black) politics. Defending her campaign to the broader Democratic Party would seem par for the course; yet, Chisholm also battled the established black male leadership in quest to secure the nomination. In doing so, however, “Fighting” Shirley Chisholm, as she called herself, utilized various political styles and strategies seen in later candidates like Jackson, Clinton, and Obama.
There is a lot of controversy over Mitt Romney’s latest “off the cuff” comments he made to a room full of donors:
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. These are people who pay no income tax. My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Let the memes commence! Of course, there have been a lot of reports refuting these so-call facts and rightly attacking Romney for his misconstrued perceptions of who does not pay what. (BTW, Romney, how much did you pay in taxes for the last 10 years? Just asking.) I’ll let them hash out how wrong Romney is and always will be.
I want to concentrate on one line: “My job is not to worry about those people.”
Women speakers made the greatest impact on the first night of the Democratic National Convention. Clearly the Democrats aimed to exploit the Republican Party’s woman problem. Women like veteran Tammy Duckworth, republican defector Maria Ciano, NARAL president Nancy Keenan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Lily Ledbetter, citizen Stacy Lihn, and Michelle Obama, all ventured to speak explicitly about a range of policies that the Republicans remained vague about during the RNC last week. Many of them explicitly placed very controversial issues like income equality, contraception, and Obamacare on the table, and not just during the early evening speeches, but during prime time.
In a T.V. interview on Sunday, August 19, Representative Todd Akin stated, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare…. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” I don’t know whether we should be livid about his qualifying rape into “legitimate” and “illigetimate” (whatever those categories are) or that he is perpetuating a myth- a horrible ignorant fabrication- about pregnancy and rape. Sexual Assault survivors have endured enough after such a traumatic event. Already, rape victims face a society that perpetuates blaming the survivor, as I mentioned in my prior post on Victim Blaming. Do we really need to add even more problems onto their plate?
This morning Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. Now, I find Paul Ryan objectionable in a number of ways – he has cited Ayn Rand as the “one person” who inspired his political career, for God’s sake, and never mind that she was a pro-choice atheist while he is an anti-choice Catholic – but we at Nursing Clio are particularly interested in issues of gender, sexuality, and medicine, and so I would like to take this opportunity to explain why Ryan poses a particular threat to women, gays, lesbians, and, well, anyone who cares at all about women, gays, and/or lesbians.
Like many graduate students, I obsess about my particular academic interests and have a hard time letting them go at the end of the day. I happen to study the history of women and medicine in the United States, so I see my specialization everywhere, often to the dismay of my friends and family. I interrupt movies to point out inaccuracies and anachronisms, and I offer unsolicited historical commentary about the depictions of women on Mad Men. I lecture people about the stupidity of 1950s nostalgia, and I get angry about advertisements for Dr. Pepper. I am, in short, lots of fun at parties.