Tag: gender (page 2 of 4)

Monday Linkage: targeting mothers, uteruses, and the key to ending congressional deadlock

  • According to economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, “gender smarts” were key to ending the recent congressional deadlock. She argues: “Unlocking gridlock in government, it turns out, depends on precisely the mechanism that unlocks competitive strength in the private sector: a diverse team (laden with gender smarts and cultural fluency) managed by leaders whose aggregate of experience motivates them to manage inclusively.”
  • A new “ism”: motherism, or prejudice against stay-at-home-moms.The Guardian reports that- according to Dr Aric Sigman, a biologist and psychologist- “stay-at-home mothers are increasingly facing a damaging but unspoken prejudice that assumes they are stupid, lazy and unattractive.”
  • Medical staff working in Syria are reporting that snipers appear to be targeting pregnant women– with several cases of heavily pregnant women being shot in the uterus.
  • In a great post entitled “Why so few women in Nobel science?” Debasish Mitra laments the lack of gender equality amongst the past winners and lists six women who deserved to win the Nobel prize for science. Continue reading

Monday Morning Linkage- it’s all about balance


Citation Counts are Like Democracy

There is much gnashing about citations of late.  This tweet inspired the ensuing spew below:

But also this series of posts at the Monkey Cage last week on gender bias in citations (the link points to the final piece in the series, so it has links to the rest of the posts) raises questions about using citations as a metric of success.   If the numbers are problematic, what should we do?

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Gender and Inclusion in the Profession

duckThe Monkey Cage has launched a symposium on the gender gap in academia. Jane Mansbridge, Barbara Walter, Sara Mitchell, Lisa Martin, Ryan Powers, Daniel Maliniak, Rick Wilson, Ashley Leeds, Beth Simmons, and David Lake will explore a range of issues over the course of this week.

I know that this symposium will lead to a productive discussion that will move us forward. My political psychologist side would like to see this as well as other conversations about diversity and equality also touch upon perceptions of inclusion. Social and organizational psychologists have long highlighted the importance perceived inclusion-exclusion. Institutional safeguards to prevent discrimination, for example, may not always help minorities “feel” included. “Women and minorities are especially welcome to apply” is a boilerplate we see in job ads in our discipline. Does this really make women feel included? And sometimes inclusion can feel like exclusion. A female scholar may feel like she is being included to fill a quota. Research indicates that female graduate students are more likely to drop out. What is the role of individual beliefs about exclusion in their decision-making? These are not easy questions, but I think confronting explicit and implicit exclusion requires taking perception seriously. Continue reading


Make Love and War? Sex and Syria …

Among the more famous anti-war slogans in the US is the 1960s’ declaration of “make love, not war.” I found myself thinking about that phrase when a student sent me a link to the Daily Show on Monday – where Jon Stewart made some insightful comments about sex, gender, and the presumably impending military action in Syria.

And yes, I used the words “insightful comments” to describe something Jon Stewart said. Those of you who know me know how hard that was to say. But his description works for me …. and suggests that “make love not war” is actually a false dichotomy.

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The Glass Half Empty: Gendered Problems in Academic Networking

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Sara McLaughlin Mitchell, Professor and Department Chair of Political Science at the University of Iowa. It is Part 1 of a 2-part discussion. 

Many recent posts (e.g., posts here by David Lake, Dan Nexon, and Laura Sjoberg, and elsewhere by Christian Davenport and Steve Saideman) have discussed professional networking in political science.  Given my belief that academic experiences are not universal, a viewpoint articulated by Will Moore (https://willopines.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/some-dimensions-over-which-the-return-to-networking-is-not-uniform/), I add another perspective to this debate.  I focus on several problems female scholars might encounter in male dominated academic environments, especially as they try to become professionally networked into these groups. In so doing, I draw largely on my experiences at conferences I have attended frequently, including APSA, ISA, Peace Science Society, and the Society for Political Methodology. Gendered problems include:

1) Working hard to find people who look like you

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Become the Survey Participant! New Survey on Teacher Evaluations

In case you are interested in expanding our knowledge of the use/misuse of teacher evaluations, Lisa Martin of Wisconsin-Madison has a short survey that is worth taking:

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The Aussie Military Redefinig Masculinity Amidst Another Scandal?

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) finds themselves in yet another sex scandal this week. The force has barely recovered from last year’s ‘skype scandal,’ which involved members of a defense force academy videotaping sex without permission and streaming it to other members of the academy. This time it is alleged that officers have videotaped sex with other colleagues and civilian women and distributed the videos via the defence email system. It is a disappointing revelation considering the promises to rid the force of sexism following the scandal last year. If the allegations prove true, it seems that things are getting worse, not better, for women in the ADF. Yet there is a glimmer of hope. The Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General David Morison has come out with a public video statement that shows true courage and has already been hailed as a feminist manifesto. Continue reading


Thursday evening linkage

indexHappy Valentine’s Day Duckies! Here are a few interesting links on love and gender.

First, for those of you feeling completely clueless when it comes to romance, the Huffington Post put up a list of Five Courses about Sex and Love, including “Beyond Hooking Up: Creating Meaningful Relationships” — a Chemistry and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies course at Williams College (Williamstown, Massachusetts) and “Dating and Mating” — a Women’s Studies course at Duke University (Durham, North Carolina).

Second, rather than chocolates, Ms Magazine hands out a list of suggestions for ways to mark Valentine’s Day with feminist activism.

Third, the Daily Beast offers a list of Nine Things Women Actually Want for Valentine’s Day, including more realistic orgasm predictions (it’s not too late!!).

Finally, thousands of men and women around the world are focused on ending violence against women rather than candies and roses. The One Billion Rising campaign is encouraging people to walk, dance, rise up and demand an end to violence against women. There have been a variety of flash mobs and rallies as a result. Continue reading


The Societal Implications of Women in Combat

This is a guest post by Dorit Geva. Geva is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Central European University, and has written a book on conscription politics in France and the United States. Megan H. Mackenzie wrote an earlier post on this topic.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s announcement that some 230,000 combat jobs might open for American servicewomen in the armed forces is a watershed moment for the American military.  But the consequences will resonate beyond his announcement’s effects on professional soldiers.  Since the 1980s, the legal reasoning barring women from registering with the draft has been that women do not serve in combat positions.  Panetta’s surprise announcement will not only transform the career opportunities of women in uniform, but could affect every woman living on American soil. Continue reading


Lifting the Combat Ban for Women: why the policy change is the right choice

combatToday it was announced that the combat ban for women will be fully removed within the US military. This reverses a long-standing policy that restricts women from serving below the brigade level  in positions specified as  front-line, ground combat. Given that the policy had been recently reviewed, the change may come as a surprise to some, however there are three main reasons why this policy had to be changed right now.

First, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has long been a supporter of gender integration within the forces and has publicly acknowledged the exclusion as contradicting operational practice and untenable. Panetta plans to step down from his post after only 18 months in the job, making the removal of the combat exclusion his legacy.

Second, the Department of Defense is facing a lawsuit from several female soldiers and backed by the ACLU. The suit has raised significant publicity surrounding the issue of women in combat and the DoD would have had a difficult time defending claims that the policy is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Third, growing evidence of women’s contributions to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including in ground combat, have become impossible to ignore. It is widely acknowledged that there are no ‘front’ lines in insurgency warfare. Moreover, women have contributed to offensive missions in recent wars, died in hostile fire, contributed in all-female teams during insurgency missions, and even been awarded for their valor in combat. The contradictions associated with having a combat exclusion in a military that provides combat pay for some women and honors their contributions to combat have just become to extreme.

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2nd Annual International Feminist Journal of Politics Conference

The International Feminist Journal of Politics announces its 2nd Annual IFjP Conference, May 17-19, 2013, University of Sussex, Brighton, England: (Im)possibly Queer International Feminisms

General Keynote: Lisa Duggan, American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, NYU

Queer Film Screening: Circumstance (2011), Introduced by Director Maryam Keshavarzwith Q&A to follow

Conference Theme Keynotes: Jon Binnie, Geography, Manchester Metropolitan University, Vivienne JabriWar Studies, Kings College London; V Spike Peterson, International Relations/Gender Studies, University of Arizona; Rahul RaoPolitics and International Studies, SOAS

Other confirmed speakers:  Rosalind Galt, Film Studies, University of Sussex; Akshay Khanna, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex; Louiza Odysseos, International Relations, University of Sussex; Laura Sjoberg, Political Science, University of Florida

The aim of this conference is to serve as a forum for developing and discussing papers that IFjP hopes to publish.  These can be on the conference theme or on any other feminist IR-related questions.

Apply by January 31!

Call for papers

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Gang Rape and “Peaceful Death”

The world has payed attention to the gang-rape of a young woman (her name has not been made widely public) in Delhi and her struggle to survive over the last few weeks. The reports of the brutal incident on December 16th broke through the national news of India and set waves of reports through the rest of the world. The sheer violence, randomness, and horror of it seemed to fixate the globe.

Now, as we learn that this woman’s struggle to survive after multiple surgeries, cardiac arrest, and evidence of brain damage has ended, there seems to be an attempt to shift this story back into familiar categories of domestic sexual violence and out of the political sphere. Reports on the death of this woman consistently re-report the hospital’s claim that she ‘died peacefully.’ This may seem like a side note to the entire story, yet these words hold significant political value and raises some important questions, including:

Does the focus on her ‘peaceful’ death detract from the violent nature of her attack and her exhausting struggle for life over the last 2 weeks?

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James Bond, Ambiguously Gay Villains and Masculinity

The James Bond movies aren’t the first place most would look to learn about masculinity; it’s an action movie, the special effects are always amazing, and most of us just leave the gender analysis at home…BUT just humor me for one scene. In my view the best part of an otherwise mediocre movie (sorry super-Bond fans!) is when Bond is confronted by the ultimate villain, Silver (played spectacularly by Javier Bardem). Silver is a unique antihero, he meditates, he often speaks in a high pitch voice, he giggles, in many ways he is- well- effeminate. In his intro scene he snuggles up to a handcuffed Bond, fondling his chest and stroking his leg, challenging him to recall if his training has taught him to deal with this type of advance. He teases Bond that “there’s a first time for everything.”

For an action movie, this type of homo-erotic interaction seems rare. The viewers are held in suspense wondering what to think of the villain and how the hero character will handle this apparent challenge to his masculinity. Of course, Bond rises to the occasion (unfortunately there is no hero-villain love scene, maybe we’re just not there yet). Bond retorts back, “what makes you think this is my first time.” In that moment, Silver is taken aback and the audience seems to relax. By keeping his cool and lobbing the advance back to the villain, Bond’s masculinity seems to be not only reaffirmed, but in some ways enhanced. How did a male on male flirtation lead to masculine enhancement for the characters?  Continue reading


War Rape is Not Declining

The Human Security Report Project (HSR) recently released their 2012 Report. The first chapter on wartime sexual violence makes sweeping conclusions and provocative claims about the nature and rates of sexual violence. The overarching message, and certainly the one picked up by the media is that wartime sexual violence is on the decline. Before taking a closer look at the 5 Myths about sexual violence that HSR seeks to dispel, it is important to put this report in a bit of context.

In case you aren’t familiar with HSR, they have made a name out of making counter-factual hypotheses and offering provocative- if not always accurate- headlines. They revived the ‘war is declining’ headline in 2005- over a decade after most political scientists widely acknowledged that inter-state war was indeed declining (and being replaced with other forms of conflict and political violence). What’s precious about HSR is that their depiction of successful peacekeeping, a global decline in violence, and impending peace in international relations ignores the increase in intra-state violence, political violence, and terrorist activities, as well as research pointing to conflict and violence as the primary influence behind global poverty and evidence that the annual percentage of civilian fatalities perpetrated by non-state actors is on clear, upward trend. Most concerning is that HSR have used the tenuous ‘war decline’ hypothesis as the foundation for numerous other tenuous claims, including that the number of child soldiers has decreased and, now, that sexual violence is decreasing. Continue reading


Gender, Violence, War, Political Memory

The sailor (George Mendosa) and nurse (Greta Zimmer Friedman) depicted in this iconic photo snapped moments after the announcement that World War II had ended turned out to be complete strangers, and apparently Greta Friedman, the nurse, wasn’t kissing back:

Mendosa: “It was the moment. You come back from the Pacific, and finally, the war ends,’ Mendonsa told CBS. ‘The excitement of the war being over, plus I had a few drinks. So when I saw the nurse, I grabbed her, and I kissed her.”

Friedman: “I did not see him approaching, and before I know it, I was in this vice grip. That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me.”

Crates and Ribbons notes how recent interviews with the “couple” fail to acknowledge Mendosa’s behavior as sexual assault. A lively discussion in comments about gender, violence, war, and political memory. Enjoy.


Human Rights Activism on the Cutting Edge

The German Justice Ministry has outlined a new draft law regulating the circumcision of children in that country, on the heels of a Cologne court’s decision that circumcision of non-consenting minors constituted a human rights violation.The decision, after a four-year-old Muslim boy experienced uncontrollable bleeding following his ritual circumcision, sparked a firestorm, with some child rights activists hailing the decisionand while Muslim and Jewish communities within Germany and abroad argued that the ruling constituted a violation of religious rights.

The new law must pass by at least a 2/3 majority in the Bundestag, and could still be challenged in Germany’s highest court. However given the ease with which efforts to outlaw circumcision have been struck down in other contexts, it would not be at all surprising if this ruling were rolled back. Indeed already religious communities in Germany have resumed preparations for circumcision ceremonies, the industry having slowed to a halt in the weeks after the Cologne decision as physicians feared criminal liability under the ruling.

This week I’m at the 12thInternational Symposium on Genital Autonomy in Helsinki Finland, where I’m conducting field research within the transnational movement to eradicate the practice of surgically altering female, male and intersex minors. From my vantage point here, the political significance of these developments in Germany will not simply be determined by whether or not the law passes. Rather, the Cologne ruling (and press coverage of it) has shifted the framing of the circumcision debate away from questions of health or gender equity and toward the tension between children’s bodily integrity rights and the rights of parents to religious freedom.


The Sexual Scandal Factor in Military Policy Making

Do scandals- particularly the kind that receive international attention- inspire progressive gender policies? While there is no conclusive research on this question, there are indicators that sexual violence scandals may be as important as public opinion or operational changes in influencing policy change in the military (perhaps more so).

My prediction– you can quote me on this- is that the current onslaught of sexual violence scandals in the US military will provide the tipping point needed to remove the combat exclusion. Do I think this is the answer to the problem of one in three female service members facing rape during their service? Absolutely not. Will it be a temporary distraction to a widespread systematic problem? Absolutely- just take a look at some earlier cases.  

There is almost no comparative research shedding light on why 14 of the world’s militaries have decided to remove the exclusion. BUT, if you look at each country case by case a startling pattern emerges: major sexual violence scandals rocked many of these countries in the period immediately preceding the removal of the exclusion. For example, New Zealand didn’t officially remove the exclusion until 2001, only a few years after a scathing investigation indicated that 42 sex charges had been laid with the navy within five years. Canada removed the combat exclusion as a result of a Human Rights Tribunal decision in 1989. However, leading up to the decision there were widespread accounts of sexual violence plaguing the services. This culminated in a late 1990s Maclean’s magazine detailed expose on sexual violence, including evidence of multiple rapes at gunpoint and widespread acceptance of sexual harassment. Australia is the latest country to remove the exclusion, making the decision only last September. This policy change came on the heals of the famous “skype scandal,” which saw an Australian Defence Force Academy cadet broadcast, without consent, consensual sex with a fellow cadet. This incident proved to be the tip of the iceberg as evidence of “decades of abuse” continue to come to light in recent reports.

How can one account for an international sex scandal as a contributing factor to major policy changes? What are the implications if some gender policy changes are “shush” policies designed to detract from institutional sexism?

Only time can answer these questions- and tell if my prediction is correct. But with new reports of sexual harassment and violence within the US military emerging almost daily- including headlines declaring “Rape on US bases left unchecked,” and “Why rapists in the military get away with it“- and with the documentary “The Invisible War” drawing international audience’s attention to the problem of rape within the forces, ignoring the problem is no longer an option. Removing the combat exclusion as a distraction from institutionalized and endemic sexual violence would be the right policy for the wrong reason. The problem does not call for adding more women, or allowing women to ‘do more’ within the forces; rather, it requires a change in sexist attitudes and behaviors. This will involve far work than a single policy change. 


IR Course Uncovers the Romantic Comedy Foruma

My students and I have unlocked the key to writing a blockbuster romantic comedy script. When lecturing on masculinities in my Gender and Human Rights course I gave students the following challenge: think of an stereotypical, ideal-type character that symbolizes one form of hegemonic masculinity. Remembering that hegemonic masculinities are fluid ideal types that vary across history and context,  students came up with answers like “the macho rugby player,” “the workaholic CEO,” “the playboy” and “the quiet, rugged cowboy.” After getting them to list the qualities that define these masculine types, I asked them to imagine a scenario or event that would completely challenge, undermine, or seemingly contradict these masculine identities and to talk about how their immediate community and society might react. Well, the answers produced almost every romantic comedy script you can imagine.
Here are a few examples:
Scenario 1: Rugby player decides to be a stay at home dad
Result: fans and teammates are shocked, hilarity ensues. I think there is an entire sub-category of comedies dedicated to macho men trying to raise babies: “Three Men and a Baby,” “Kindergarten Cop,” Vin Deisel’s “The Babysitter”
Scenario 2: star athlete reveals a secret love of ballet/opera etc, or, more specifically, hockey player reveals a secret love of figure skating
Result: his mates initially ostracize him but end up being impressed with is skills. This is loosely the real plot line of “The Cutting Edge”, a cheesy 90s romantic comedy.
Scenario 3: playboy falls in love
Result: “Crazy, Stupid Love”and a million other romantic comedies premised on the macho main character ‘softening’ as his goofy sidekick ‘hardens’ up- the result is that both find true love.
Scenario 4: Rugged cowboy comes out of the closet
Result: you see where I’m going here.

So what’s the take home message? Romantic comedies could not exist without very specific and stereotypical ideas about masculinity (and femininity). We tend to over-examine the representation of women in popular culture (for good reason) but are less apt at looking at how the construction and unraveling of masculinity is key to almost any Rom Com script. Never mind the fact that there is almost always a great example of complicit masculinity- those characters that do not fit the stereotype of hegemonic masculinity but who benefit from the power structures associated with the identity. Think “Pretty Woman”, where a hardened CEO softens under the spell of employee while his jerk of a partner grapples with the situation. Go on, think of your favorite Rom Coms and spot the hegemonic masculinity/complicit masculinity at play. Have fun.


IR, Policymakers, and the Gender Balance

I’m pretty sure this is a Soviet poster for International Women’s Day.

Are IR scholars relevant to policy? IR scholar and famous policymaker Anne-Marie Slaughter addresses that puzzle, which principally concerns only IR scholars, in a roundabout way in a new article in The Atlantic asking whether women can “have it all”–a puzzle that concerns a great many more people. She also addresses these concerns in a follow-up Q&A on The New York Times Web site.

I mention this because although I am not demographically directly interested (being neither a woman, nor a parent, nor, for that matter, employed) I am of course keenly aware of these tradeoffs, or as keenly aware as anyone at second-hand can be. Slaughter’s answer–which is a pretty unequivocal “no”–strikes me as being, at least, honest, and her trepidation in broaching the topic given her feeling seems sincere as well.

What I particularly appreciate is her diagnosis that academia is the friendliest, or at least among the friendlier, industries for women to balance “work” and “life.” (I hate the phrase “work-life balance,” though; I see work as an important part of my life, not an interruption of it.) And yet …

And yet, now I’m going to ramble a bit.

There is a creeping sense, occasionally publicly broached by commentators like Matt Yglesias (see Tim Burke here), that academia is too comfortable, too cosseted, and altogether too flexible–that we must all begin to work like Stakhanovites to fulfill our quotas of instruction and research at lower wages and with less well prepared students.

As U.S. society is being changed by, in no particular order, the AI revolution, the imposition of austerity, and the polarization of politics, it strikes me that we–and here I mean good liberals–don’t have a good sense anymore of how to address concerns like Slaughter’s in the context of change. Feminist demands were fairly easily accommodated in a distributional politics setting (not to devalue activism! I mean in comparison to accommodating peasants’ demands in the French Revolution). But the contemporary erosion of settled institutions suggests that the sort of full-throated defense and advocacy of particular points of view that characterized the 1960s and 1970s will come back in vogue–but, this time, as outcomes become more zero-sum, compromises grow less likely.

That’s a pessimistic conclusion, since it points to a future where there is less and less space for creating the kind of lifestyle that we’ve come to accept, even to define, as “middle class.” But there is no law of social science that requires the future to be like the present, only more so. In fact, it is very nearly the opposite.

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