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Old 03-16-2008, 11:10 PM   #16
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It's hard to say what exactly having a (white) female or an African-American (male) President might do to address those discrepancies, at least relative to "another straight white guy". There's always the argument that the "symbolic" value alone could make a huge difference--that it might in various ways and to varying degrees help open millions of people's eyes to potentials they've been overlooking (consciously or not) in others. It's interesting how the once-common refrains, from several months back, of "Oh Obama's not really black" or "Hillary's only a 'successful woman' because she's Bill Clinton's wife" have largely given way to (perceived?) identity-politics repackaging of both, to the point where they allegedly embody the aspirations, frustrations, predicaments etc. of millions of others "like them" (and where is that supposed to leave black women, anyway?). On the one hand no one wants a mere "token," on the other hand we're w(e)ary of the social fallout from seeing candidates transformed into collective dreams of equality personified, because then the "competitive" undertones inevitably seem to creep in, and people's awareness of what they might be "sacrificing" in voting for whichever candidate is heightened. Does s/he have a Dream, or really just a grievance? And if it's the former, what blind spots might it be hiding?
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Old 03-18-2008, 03:33 AM   #17
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I think I meant to go beyond whether we should elect an African-American President or a woman president but that this heated campaign laid bare perceptions we often try to pretend we've gotten over in polite society. Nothing like politics to shed social inhibitions.
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:09 AM   #18
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I think the gender issue also has to do with age, and you can see that reflected on this election. In general younger women (I have no idea what the age cutoff would be) have not experienced sexism at the same level that "older" women (whatever the cutoff for that would be) have.
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Old 03-18-2008, 04:40 PM   #19
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Do you mean in the sense that older women have 'been around the block more', or in the sense that women are actually treated differently based on age?

It has been my observation in my 16 years in the full-time workforce (8 years in retailing, 8 in academia) that on the whole, older women--by which, I suppose, I mean 'women who no longer appear young'--are more likely to be unfairly judged 'unreasonable' or 'incompetent' than younger women are. There are probably multiple reasons for that; I assume one is that on a subconscious, cultural-archetypal level, people are more likely to project 'mother figure' associations onto them, in a similar fashion to how older men are more likely to evoke 'father figure' responses (the latter are *usually* advantageous, however). That's a generalization, of course, and you could qualify it in various ways--for example, young and exceptionally attractive women may be more likely to draw the most outrageous forms of those judgments; in a few workplaces, such as the classroom, older women may actually find it easier than younger women to establish authority and command respect; a woman's race, particularly if different from that of her coworkers, may also affect their perceptions, etc.

It's difficult, though, to parse out where in something like the present primary campaign the dividing line between different experience-based perceptions of an unfolding reality, on the one hand, and more reflexive, less thought-through forms of emotional loyalty, ultimately lies, especially when there isn't some one concrete test case to look at. I do think that some of the more logical reasons for being turned off by Hillary Clinton's campaign can sometimes snowball into responding to her as if she were some sort of apocalyptic Lilith figure, and it can be difficult not to see sexism in that. Likewise, some of the more well-reasoned concerns that Obama may not be as prepared to lead the country as his compelling presence suggests can sometimes slide into a too-easy derisive contempt, and it can be difficult not to see racism in that. But Presidential campaigns trade so heavily in tropes, archetypes, and symbolism to begin with that it can be tough to pin down what a 'logical,' 'reason-based' response to their various twists and turns should look like.

At any rate, I do think that if Hillary wins the nomination, a lot of people are going to walk away darkly muttering, "There will never be a black President in my lifetime," and that if Obama wins, a lot of people are going to walk away darkly muttering, "There will never be a woman President in my lifetime." And I do find that sad.
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Old 03-18-2008, 07:06 PM   #20
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It seems to me quite honestly that Republicans have a point when they say that theirs is the party of action, Democrats is the party of talk, talk, talk.

The Republicans get on with appointing an African-American male and African-American female to high office, without looking for plaudits from the PC brigade.

The Democratic party whinges and moans in a rather self-obsessed fashion about whether they should be more concerned about gender or race, and then expects to be congratulated by the rest of the world on its great commitment to advancing the cause of equal rights.

The Democratic party should stop obsessing with what the left-wing sociologists brigade - who, let's face it, are never going to be happy until white men are pretty much barred from everything - think of it.
Interesting, intelligent, insightful comments on this whole thread.

Thanks everybody.
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:59 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
Do you mean in the sense that older women have 'been around the block more', or in the sense that women are actually treated differently based on age?
I meant in the sense that they've 'been around the block more' and some grew up and began their careers, etc. in what was essentially a different time for women. It seems as if younger women at times even take that for granted because their life experience has been different in that regard, perhaps even their upbringing and family life. Of course that's a generalization and each woman has her own story to tell. I'm sure twentysomethings have plenty of stories to tell about sexism they've experienced.

When I have read about results this election, it tends to follow a certain pattern as far as older women vs younger women voters. But of course there are variables other than gender.
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:48 AM   #22
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NY Times

April 6, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Our Racist, Sexist Selves
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

To my horror, I turn out to be a racist.

The University of Chicago offers an on-line psychological test in which you encounter a series of 100 black or white men, holding either guns or cellphones. You’re supposed to shoot the gunmen and holster your gun for the others.

I shot armed blacks in an average of 0.679 seconds, while I waited slightly longer — .694 seconds — to shoot armed whites. Conversely, I holstered my gun more quickly when encountering unarmed whites than unarmed blacks.

Take the test yourself and you’ll probably find that you show bias as well. Most whites and many blacks are more quick to shoot blacks, no matter how egalitarian they profess to be.

Harvard has a similar battery of psychological tests online (I have links to all of these from my blog, nytimes.com/ontheground, and my Facebook page, facebook.com/kristof). These “implicit attitude tests” very cleverly show that a stunningly large proportion of people who honestly believe themselves to be egalitarian unconsciously associate good with white and bad with black.

The unconscious is playing a political role this year, for the evidence is overwhelming that most Americans have unconscious biases both against blacks and against women in executive roles.

At first glance, it may seem that Barack Obama would face a stronger impediment than Hillary Clinton. Experiments have shown that the brain categorizes people by race in less than 100 milliseconds (one-tenth of a second), about 50 milliseconds before determining sex. And evolutionary psychologists believe we’re hard-wired to be suspicious of people outside our own group, to save our ancestors from blithely greeting enemy tribes of cave men. In contrast, there’s no hard-wired hostility toward women, though men may have a hard-wired desire to control and impregnate them.

Yet racism may also be easier to override than sexism. For example, one experiment found it easy for whites to admire African-American doctors; they just mentally categorized them as “doctors” rather than as “blacks.” Meanwhile, whites categorize black doctors whom they dislike as “blacks.”

In another experiment, researchers put blacks and whites in sports jerseys as if they belonged to two basketball teams. People looking at the photos logged the players in their memories more by team than by race, recalling a player’s jersey color but not necessarily his or her race. But only very rarely did people forget whether a player was male or female.

“We can make categorization by race go away, but we could never make gender categorization go away,” said John Tooby, a scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who ran the experiment. Looking at the challenges that black and female candidates face in overcoming unconscious bias, he added, “Based on the underlying psychology and anthropology, I think it’s more difficult for a woman, though not impossible.”

Alice Eagly, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, agrees: “In general, gender trumps race. ... Race may be easier to overcome.”

The challenge for women competing in politics or business is less misogyny than unconscious sexism: Americans don’t hate women, but they do frequently stereotype them as warm and friendly, creating a mismatch with the stereotype we hold of leaders as tough and strong. So voters (women as well as men, though a bit less so) may feel that a female candidate is not the right person for the job because of biases they’re not even aware of.

“I don’t have to be conscious of this,” said Nilanjana Dasgupta, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “All I think is that this person isn’t a good fit for a tough leadership job.”

Women now hold 55 percent of top jobs at American foundations but are still vastly underrepresented among political and corporate leaders — and one factor may be that those are seen as jobs requiring particular toughness. Our unconscious may feel more of a mismatch when a woman competes to be president or a C.E.O. than when she aims to lead a foundation or a university.

Women face a related challenge: Those viewed as tough and strong are also typically perceived as cold and unfeminine. Many experiments have found that women have trouble being perceived as both nice and competent.


“Clinton runs the risk of being seen as particularly cold, particularly uncaring, because she doesn’t fit the mold,” said Joshua Correll, a psychologist at the University of Chicago. “It probably is something a man doesn’t deal with.”

But biases are not immutable. Research subjects who were asked to think of a strong woman then showed less implicit bias about men and women. And students exposed to a large number of female professors also experienced a reduction in gender stereotypes.

So maybe the impact of this presidential contest won’t be measured just in national policies, but also in progress in the deepest recesses of our own minds.
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Old 04-07-2008, 11:23 AM   #23
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I read that article this morning and thought a lot of it rang true perhaps because of an unconscious division of roles and characteristics between men or women regardless of individual skill and temperment. Perhaps there is a corollary between this and orientation bias regarding a conscious or unconscious categorization of what is "natural".
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Old 02-21-2009, 08:19 PM   #24
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Current featured poll over at US News & World Report:





They forgot the "Why the f- should I be thinking of any of these women as prospective daycare managers" option...
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Old 02-21-2009, 09:04 PM   #25
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They forgot the "Why the f- should I be thinking of any of these women as prospective daycare managers" option...
I guess they figured asking "Who is the best mother" was too direct and antiPC.

Frightening that Sarah Palin is so far ahead in the poll.
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Old 02-21-2009, 09:07 PM   #26
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True. Also

Kind of reminds me of the 2004 election. Would you prefer John Kerry or George Bush to babysit your children? Frankly neither of them and why are you asking me this? Sigh.
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:47 AM   #27
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I guess they figured asking "Who is the best mother" was too direct and antiPC.
Yep

That's odd, and creepy too
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Old 02-24-2009, 10:13 AM   #28
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All this racism and sexism shows is that many Americans are little more than immature, grown children, rather than adults. I truly find both concepts to be utterly foreign to me.
So do I and I am an American.

The media is simply an opinion. It does not represent how people truly feel.
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Old 02-25-2009, 08:37 PM   #29
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When will we throw our crayons away?


When will we judge by character, not by color of skin?


When will we move on as human beings?
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:48 PM   #30
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When will we throw our crayons away?


When will we judge by character, not by color of skin?


When will we move on as human beings?

Speaking and doing so are two entirely different things...
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