March 12, 2009

Wa-Po blogger Cillizza implies Obama’s Council on Women and Girls is not for addressing gender issues

Posted in gender, male feminists, mass media, news, politics, sexual politics, U.S. politics at 4:30 pm by LB

In an odd phrasing, Washington Post political blogger Chris Cillizza seems to imply that Obama’s call for a Council on Women and Girls, is not primarily a result of his recognition that we need policies and solutions to social problems that adequately address how they impact women and families (for whom women are still overwhelmingly responsible for the care of).  In other words, Obama is forming this council out of the recognition that appropriate solutions to social problems must take both men’s and women’s experiences into consideration.

Cillizza seems to imply otherwise:

Obama has both personal — his wife and two daughters — and political reasons to make this sort of high profile move to ensure that women’s needs are being addressed by his administration.

In 2008, 53 percent of the electorate was female and Obama carried that group 56 percent to 44 percent over Arizona Sen. John McCain.

So Obama’s “personal” reasons for putting the council into place are that he has a wife and daughters.  Yawn.  How insulting to think that men are only concerned about women’s issues and the male-centric models of citizenship and public policy because they have daughters.   I would hope that there might too be fathers of boys who are concerned about gender issues so their sons could have the  socially-supported ability  to be at-home dads if they choose, without their masculinity  being denigrated and without threat to family finances because their female partner’s career is being stymied by gender discrimination (by pay or “mommy tracking”) or sexual harassment in the workplace.

And the “political” reasons Obama is putting this into place is…to keep the allegiance of his female voters (?).  So Obama is doing this to keep women happy, not because it’s good policy?

Reading between the lines, much?

Oh and let us not forget, this council is in no way (expected to be) substantial: “Expect then more symbolic moves like the establishment of the Council to demonstrate Obama’s commitment to women and women’s issues.”  Because all women voters expect are empty gestures without results.  Because women usually applaud style over substance.  Because women don’t want to be taken seriously, just acknowledged.  Because women are above all, fans of [political] superficiality.

(I think you have us confused with lad-mag apologists.)

And I think you underestimate women as political actors who demand accountability, as well as our new President, who has demonstrated at least an understanding that there are structural barriers to success that equal rights legislation did not address.

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1 Comment »

  1. ballgame said,

    If Obama wants to facilitate the resolution of issues that interfere with both men’s and women’s struggles against gender roles, it doesn’t make any sense to name it the “Council on Women and Girls.” There are 2.3 million single parent families where that single parent is male, which means there’s a pretty good chance that there are at least half a million — and likely closer to a million — families which have no ‘women or girls’ at all.

    Why would these fathers think this council has anything to offer them? Why do you say that “Obama is forming this council out of the recognition that appropriate solutions to social problems must take both men’s and women’s experiences into consideration”? Wouldn’t “The President’s Council on Families and Gender” have been a more accurate title, if, indeed, the broad focus you claim was his intention?


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