Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ruminations on the Boston Massacre - What's in YOUR pressure cooker?

Back from Cal. State Democratic Convention.  Yes, there were good speeches from women and men, Nancy Pelsosi, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom.  Good resolutions passed, anti-drones, anti-fracking, protect our environmental laws.  We continue to make Progress. John Burton is his feisty irreverent right-on self. He said, "Hell no, don't mess with Social Security."

Our own Betty Yee is bucking the machine and running for State Controller. All this is inside baseball, when explosions rock the marathon in my adopted home town. Terrorists, lone nuts, disgruntled ex-runners or amputee vets.

Yes, they suffer from some "mental illness" - all of them, every one. Don't hide it. Any one who kills has madness at the core. I don't believe in evil.

There are degrees of madness, from charmingly eccentric to off the charts violent.  Mostly they are scared, our society makes them so.  Paranoia is everywhere, black helicopters? Conspiracies? Rag headed terrorists? Shoe Bombers.  Every time, who suffers? The law abiding, whose anger is in check. For the moment.

We mourn our losses.  We move forward. We do not give up our civil liberties.   We just don't.  A revolt of the masses in airplane lines is brewing. Leave on your shoes. Bring bottles of more than 5 ounces. Small knives, toe nail clippers, hedge clippers.  Keep your belts buckled. Refuse to accept radiation.  If you must, ask for the grope option.

Be not afraid. They will get you in the end, we just don't know when the end will come or who "they" will be. Women, stand up and be counted. Like the future of the planet depends on you. It does!

In the meantime, what's in YOUR pressure cooker?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Media not good for Women Candidates - We Need to Change This!

Not so shocking, but disturbing news that the media, all media, is bad for women candidates, even so called "good press."  You've heard the expression "there's no such thing as bad press."

Not so for the woman candidate, according to this account from Think Progress, via Down Ticket Dems. Read on and comment:

Posted: 14 Apr 2013 02:38 PM PDT
Annie-Rose Strasser
As Media Coverage Of A Female Candidate’s Appearance Go Up, Her Chances Of Winning Go Down 
When President Obama elicited outrage for saying that Attorney General Kamala Harris was “by far the best-looking attorney general in the country,” his defenders jumped to say that people offended by the comment should “lighten up,” or focus on more serious threats to women’s rights.
But just days after that comment, a brand new study shows there’s definitive evidence to back up what the detractors were saying all along: It might seem small, but pointing out the physical attributes of a woman in the political arena can have a big effect.

The study, released Monday by the Name It, Change Itproject, reveals that mentions of a woman’s appearance when she is running for political office — whether those mentions are flattering, unflattering, or neutral — has a negative impact on her electability. That includes “the horserace, her favorability, her likelihood to be seen as possessing positive traits, and how likely voters are to vote for her.”

The survey was conducted by asking 1,500 likely voters to read about two candidates, one male (Dan Jones) and one female (Jane Smith). Some groups received descriptions of the candidates that did not mention physical attributes. Others received one of three types of descriptions for the woman:
Neutral description: Smith dressed in a brown blouse, black skirt, and modest pumps with a short heel…
Positive description: In person, Smith is fit and atractive and looks even younger than her age. At the press conference, smartly turned out in a ruffled jacket, pencil skirt, and fashionable high heels….
Negative description: Smith unfortunately sported a heavy layer of foundation and powder that had settled into her forehead lines, creating an unflattering look for an otherwise pretty woman, along with her famous fake, tacky nails.

When respondents hear the negative description of the female candidate’s appearance, she gets only 42 percent of the voters. When they hear the “flattering” description, she gets 43 percent (and there are fewer undecided votes overall, so her opponent gets an even bigger lead). With no physical description, Jane Smith gets 50 percent of the votes.

The same is true for all of her personal attributes; no matter the description, it affects her negatively:
But the real point of the survey — and the most salient fact that came from it — is that pushing back on the comodification of a female candidate’s beauty can be just as impactful as the criticism itself. Some respondents heard a defense from Jane Smith, saying, “My appearance is not news and does not deserve to be covered. Rarely do they cover men in this fashion and by doing so they depict women as less serious and having less to offer voters.” Others heard a similar defense from Name It, Change It. In both cases, when they heard that, their votes flipped back. Indeed, Jane Smith gained her first lead of the entire campaign.

It might seem lighthearted, or fair game, to comment on Hillary Clinton’s headbands, or Sheila Jackson Lee’s colorful suits. But those comments are not without repercussion. Overt, unequal, and pointed criticisms of women’s appearances are hurting them politically. And it might help explain that horrible ambition gap that’s keeping our elected government so heavily male.

Annie-Rose Strasser is Deputy Managing Editor for ThinkProgress. Before joining American Progress, she worked for the community organizing non-profit Center for Community Change as a new media specialist. Previously, Annie-Rose served as a press assistant for Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Annie-Rose holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from the George Washington University.
Think Progress is a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The Center for American Progress Action Fund is a nonpartisan organization.