Anne-Marie Slaughter and the fiction of ‘have-it-all’ feminism

From The Guardian UK:

The former state department high-flier is right, and feminism needs to tackle work-life inequity, not blame its victims, Friday 22 June 2012

When Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” hit the web this week, the reaction was what you have come to expect with any in-your-face article about gender: polarized, vitriolic, and most of all, extensive.

There was both stinging criticism and emphatic praise for Slaughter’s piece, which argues that women cannot excel both as high-powered professionals and moms in America today (“having it all”), as we have been long promised by feminists. And, as detailed by the New York Times, Slaughter’s assessment has furthered debate into how moms should handle work, and contrasts with Facebook exec’s Sheryl Sandberg’s “higher-harder-faster school of female achievement”.

Slaughter ultimately feels that women can achieve far better career-family balance – that we can “have it all” – but not until major cultural shifts against phallocentric structures like “time macho” workaholism take place. Some people were not very happy, however, with the article’s presentation of feminism: that it had lied to a generation of women and grossly oversimplified the tricky realities of working motherhood. Slaughter wrote:

“Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with, even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career, because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation. But when many members of the younger generation have stopped listening, on the grounds that glibly repeating ‘you can have it all’ is simply airbrushing reality, it is time to talk.”

Some reactions? American Prospect’s EJ Graff, in a blog entry titled “Why Does The Atlantic Hate Women?”, wonders whether Slaughter’s piece reflects the Atlantic’s alleged “women problem”, in which female gains get presented as “dangerous – to children, to families, to marriages, to themselves, and to men”.

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Berlin gay pride parade attracts 700,000 participants

From Raw Story:

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, June 23, 2012

Camp costumes and colourful drag flooded the streets of Berlin on Saturday as hundreds of thousands took part in the city’s annualChristopher Street Day gay pride parade.

Marching and dancing to thumping techno music, the crowds made their way from the cosmopolitan Kreuzberg district to theBrandenburg Gate, where DJs and musicians were scheduled to keep the party going until midnight.

The German capital’s gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, kicked off the event. Organisers said 700,000 people had taken part in the parade, which celebrated its 34th anniversary this year.

The treatment of homosexuals in Russia was a hot topic at the parade, with some participants bearing giant portraits of President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev retouched in the flamboyant style of gay French artists Pierre and Gilles.

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Cardinal’s Aide Is Found Guilty in Abuse Case

From The New York Times:

Published: June 22, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — Msgr. William J. Lynn, a former cardinal’s aide, was found guilty Friday of endangering children, becoming the first senior official of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States convicted of covering up sexual abuses by priests under his supervision.

The 12-member jury acquitted Monsignor Lynn, of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, of conspiracy and a second count of endangerment after a trial that prosecutors and victims rights groups called a turning point in the abuse scandals that have shaken the Catholic Church.

The single guilty verdict was widely seen as a victory for the district attorney’s office, which has been investigating the archdiocese aggressively since 2002, and it was hailed by victim advocates who have argued for years that senior church officials should be held accountable for concealing evidence and transferring predatory priests to unwary parishes.

Monsignor Lynn, 61, sat impassively as the jury foreman announced the verdicts, but relatives behind him were in tears. Judge M. Teresa Sarmina of the Common Pleas Court revoked his bail, and the monsignor stood up, removed his clerical jacket and was led by sheriff’s deputies to a holding cell area. His conviction, on the 13th day of deliberations, could result in a prison term of three-and-a-half to seven years; sentencing is set for Aug. 13.

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The Gender Gap and the American Presidential Election

From Common Dreams:

Will the gender gap that decisively helped Bill Clinton and Barack Obama win the presidency again? Only if women remember who waged the ‘war against women’, against their economic equality and against their reproductive rights

by Ruth Rosen
Published on Saturday, June 23, 2012 by Common Dreams

Who will capture American women’s hearts and help President Obama or Governor Romney win the Presidency next November?

This is the question that the two major parties and their political analysts try to answer every four years. Should we appeal to them as soccer moms? Working mothers who need broader benefits? Waitresses who are single parents? What do we say about abortion? Economic equality with men?

A century ago, this was the dream of American suffragists who hoped that newly-enfranchised women would be decisive in affecting electoral politics. But it wasn’t until 1980, when Ronald Reagan ran for President, that their dream began to be realized in the United States. By 1980, more women worked outside the home, lived alone, and voted independently of their fathers and husbands. Even though women’s votes didn’t defeat Reagan, they created what has been called the first gender gap which is the difference between the proportion of women and men who vote for the winning candidate. Since 1980, American women—especially African American women–have decisively helped Bill Clinton and Barack Obama win the presidency.

This year, the grueling Republican primaries provided American women with ample opportunity to hear the Tea Party’s fringe proposals to repeal the right to abortion, end contraception and the “”morning after pill,” ban funding for Planned Parenthood, cut government spending for services for women and children, and block legislation that would provide women with equal pay–even as they cut the taxes of the wealthy.

The media started calling their assaults on women “the war against women.” And it did make women angry. When polled in early April, women revealed their simmering rage. A USA Today/Gallup poll showed that “President Obama has emerged with an impressive lead in swing states around the country — thanks to women voters abandoning the GOP in droves, showing President Obama leading among women voters in the top dozen battleground states by a whopping 18 points — greater than the 12-point gender gap he won with in 2008. The president leads him (Romney) 2-1 in this group.”

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1% Wives Are Helping Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible

From The Atlantic:

Being a mother isn’t a real job — and the men who run the world know it.

Elizabeth Wurtzel
Jun 15 2012

NEW YORK — When my mind gets stuck on everything that is wrong with feminism, it brings out the 19th century poet in me: Let me count the ways. Most of all, feminism is pretty much a nice girl who really, really wants so badly to be liked by everybody — ladies who lunch, men who hate women, all the morons who demand choice and don’t understand responsibility — that it has become the easy lay of social movements. I am going to smack the next idiot who tells me that raising her children full time — by which she really means going to Jivamukti classes and pedicure appointments while the nanny babysits — is her feminist choice. Who can possibly take feminism seriously when it allows everything, as long as women choose it? The whole point to begin with was that women were losing their minds pushing mops and strollers all day without a room or a salary of their own.

Let’s please be serious grown-ups: real feminists don’t depend on men. Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own.

If the movement had been serious about being serious then the idea could not have caught on that equal is how you feel. Or that how anyone feels about anything matters at all. Men know better. They look at numbers, and here is how the statistics are running years after women first started screaming and yelling and burning bras: We still earn 81 percent of what men do, and an act to make things more fair was blocked in Congress by Republicans. For anyone who doesn’t care to count, but understands traffic signals mixed with policy speculation, I think it’s safe to say that the day is near when a teenage girl will be forced to get a vaginal probe before she is issued a learner’s permit in the state of Virginia. And this is all because feminism has misread its mission of equality as something open to interpretation, as expressive and impressive, not absolute.

Don’t agree? Try this: smart is how you feel, pretty is how you feel, talented is how you feel — we are all beautiful geniuses. Feminism should not be inclusive, and like most terms that are meaningful, it should mean something. It should mean equality.

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Elite Women Put New Spin on Old Debate

From The New York Times:

Published: June 21, 2012

If a woman has a sterling résumé, a supportive husband who speaks fluent car pool and a nurturing boss who just happens to be one of the most powerful women in the world herself, who or what is to blame if Ms. Supposed-to-Have-It-All still cannot balance work and family?

A magazine article by a former Obama administration official has blown up into an instant debate about a new conundrum of female success: women have greater status than ever before in human history, even outpacing men in education, yet the lineup at the top of most fields is still stubbornly male. Is that new gender gap caused by women who give up too easily, unsympathetic employers or just nature itself?

The article in The Atlantic, by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Princeton professor who recently left a job at the State Department, added to a renewed feminist conversation that is bringing fresh twists to bear on longstanding concerns about status, opportunity and family. Unlike earlier iterations, it is being led not by agitators who are out of power, but by elite women at the top of their fields, like the comedian Tina Fey, the Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg and now Ms. Slaughter. In contrast to some earlier barrier-breakers from Gloria Steinem to Condoleezza Rice, these women have children, along with husbands who do as much child-rearing as they do, or more.

The conversation came to life in part because of a compelling face-off of issues and personalities: Ms. Slaughter, who urged workplaces to change and women to stop blaming themselves, took on Ms. Sandberg, who has somewhat unintentionally come to epitomize the higher-harder-faster school of female achievement.

Starting a year and a half ago, Ms. Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, injected new energy into the often circular work-or-home debate with videotaped talks that became Internet sensations. After bemoaning the lack of women in top business positions, she instructed them to change their lot themselves by following three rules: require your partner to do half the work at home, don’t underestimate your own abilities, and don’t cut back on ambition out of fear that you won’t be able to balance work and children.

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Paul Krugman on the ‘Cartoon Physics’ of the 2008 Crash

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Montreal protesters vow not to retreat over tuition fees and Bill 78

From The Guardian UK:

Thousands march against tuition fees rise and the anti-protest law that places draconian restrictions on gatherings in Quebec

Andrew Katz in Montreal, Saturday 23 June 2012

Thousands of students and their supporters marched through Montreal on Friday in a demonstration against tuition fee hikes and an emergency anti-protest law that led to the mid-May suspension of classes in Quebec.

The protest began at 2pm with a rally at Place du Canada, then wound through downtown and crawled up Avenue du Parc before settling for a closing rally at Parc du Mont-Royal, adjacent to McGill University.

Protesters carried signs reading “Nous ne réculerons” – “We shall not retreat” – and sported carré rouges. The small, square pieces of corduroy or felt fastened to clothing with a safety pin – if not painted on arms, faces or abdomens – are the visualization of the wordplay inspired by the French phrase “carrément dans le rouge,” or “squarely in the red.” Students say they’re being trapped in debt, and instead favor free, well-funded university programmes.

At the end of the march, the crowd cheered brief speeches by student leaders about the importance of community mobilization, and chanted: “Ceci n’est que le début! Continuons le combat!” (“This is just the beginning! Continue to fight!”)

Adam Awad, 26, the newly elected chairman of the Canadian Federation of Students, a group that represents more than 600,000 students from 80 unions across the provinces, bussed in from Ottawa to participate.

“It’s important to make sure that our governments are responsible, that they’re working in the best interests of the public and that we have strong public services,” Awad said. He said the ideal outcome is free university education and a provincial government that doesn’t shy away from dissent or criminalize opposition, but rather encourages free speech.

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