Family Issues

It Takes a Family (To Break a Glass Ceiling)

How nepotism advances feminism.

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Read this article at the New York Times.

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  1. The split hyperlink is kinda fun!

  2. The most tragic of these cases is IMHO that of Lurleen B. Wallace. Governor of Alabama for a very short time. The Wiki entry of her is horrifying.

  3. True, nepotism can be good for feminism, but alternating the White House between two dynasties is not a good idea. My greatest fear is that Clinton will win, serve 2 terms, and during that time a Bush gets elected to the Senate and displays ambition….

    We really don’t need that.

  4. The only thing that can resurrect Jeb Bush’s presidential hopes is Hillary Clinton.

  5. Lurleen, what have you been up to lately.

  6. I spent last night in a ditch.

  7. The only thing that can resurrect Jeb Bush’s presidential hopes is Hillary Clinton.

    One more reason to not elect her. There’s an important principle here.

  8. …and during that time a Bush gets elected to the Senate and displays ambition….”

    seems as though I remember seeing something about H.W Bush having an illegitimate son named Roger?

    from Arkansas?

  9. In the United States, where a poll last year found that 14 percent of people still admit they would not vote for a woman

    Wow, how far we’ve come.

  10. If we elect a political wife now, perhaps we won’t have to later.

    The key word here is “perhaps”. What Ms. Howley’s column lacks is any evidence (of any sort; not demanding hard numbers here) that the sort of “nepotism” she describes and documents has ever paved the way to women being elected without it. I’m not passing judgement on any of the points being raised here other than to point out that Kerry’s column just does not do much if anything to support her conclusion beyond reasonable sounding speculation.

  11. If we elect a political wife now, perhaps we won’t have to later.

    If only Kerry had taken her logic one step further, she would have instead written something like, “If the first female U.S. president will probably be a political wife or daughter anyway, why not wait until we can support someone more interested in the individual liberty of men and women than Mrs. Clinton?” Nowhere to go but up, after all.

  12. Was this written when Hillary Clinton was still a viable candidate?

  13. Was this written when Hillary Clinton was still a viable candidate?

    But she’s gonna be the “come back”…wife… or something.

  14. The Constitution doesn’t require the president to be a man, it simply assumes the president will be a man (He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years…, etc).

    Back when women couldn’t vote, that was probably a pretty good assumption.

  15. Q: What kind of power will Hillary Clinton have to make treaties, if elected president?

    A: “He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur”

  16. Modern women defend their office with all the fierceness of domesticity. They fight for desk and typewriter as for hearth and home, and develop a sort of wolfish wifehood on behalf of the invisible head of the firm. That is why they do office work so well; and that is why they ought not to do it.

  17. President Hillary Clinton can’t possibly be a good thing for women, because she’d be a bad thing for everyone. In my lifetime, I’ve seen precious few political leaders that weren’t bottom feeders. Ron Paul is one. Margret Thatcher was another. Indeed, I think the Iron Lady was the very best politician of the later twentieth century. How I wished we could have traded Ronald the clown Reagan for her.

    Find me a Margret Thatcher and go door to door collecting for her blimp. But I just can’t see how HRC is making life better for anyone, let alone all women.

  18. some dude,

    Until the last few decades, the pronoun used to refer to someone who could be of either sex was “he”. This is also still done in Spanish and many other languages (indeed, Spanish has both a masculine and feminine version of “they”, and the masculine is used unless it is certain that all of “them” are female).

    It wasn’t till recently that ghastly constructions such as “(s)he”, “his or her”, and the singular “they” made their appearance to rectify the grave harm that the English pronoun system was perpetrating on women.

  19. she-he-it

  20. I don’t think that a woman becoming president, in and of itself, would do or accomplish or change anything. It would demonstrate something. It would celebrate something. But it probably wouldn’t cause anyone’s perceptions about anything to change.

    Electing a black candidate, on the other hand, would change people’s ideas and assumptions, if only the idea, apparently widely-held among black voters, that white America would not support a black candidate.

    It would be NICE to see that particular 0-for-43 streak come to an end, but not particularly important.

  21. It’s easy enough to write sentences about gender-neutral/mixes/unknown subjects so that “they” is grammatically correct.

    “When the president faces a challenge, he/she/it give it a lot of thought.”

    “When presidents face a challenge, they give it a lot of thought.”

  22. Margaret Thatcher, whose father was Mayor of Grantham, is probably another name that should be added to the list of female firsts who owe something to nepotism.

    Bella Abzug is about the only female politician I can think who got much of anywhere without family connections..and even she didn’t get far.

  23. joe,

    it’s not always appropriate to pluralize the entire sentence; doing so can obscure or even change meaning (especially when translating older texts–gender-neutral translations of the Bible are a prime example of having to change the meaning of sentences in order to translate them the PC way without using clunky constructions like “him or her”, “(s)he”, “that person”, etc.

  24. joe,

    For example, there is never a time when “presidents” face a challenge. Only one president can face a challenge at any given “when”. Now, that might not seem like hair-splitting, but I don’t think clarity of meaning should ever be sacrificed for fashionable political purposes.

  25. Electing a black candidate, on the other hand, would change people’s ideas and assumptions, if only the idea, apparently widely-held among black voters, that white America would not support a black candidate.

    Well black candidates have been elected by white Americans, just not yet to the presidency.

  26. crimethink,

    Of course older sentences will need to be translated accurately, or there might be meaning lost. I was talking about how we write and speak today.

    As for the your second post, my grammer there is still correct, and completely clear.

    When presidents face a challenge like health care, they tend to turn into giant cowards. Since, as you say, there is only one president at a time, we know that the above sentence is referring to how they have all acted in the aggregate.

  27. fyodor,

    And yet, the impression remains.

  28. The Persian language has gender-neutral pronouns, yet nobody can claim Iran is a bastin of modern women’s rights. So anyone who thinks the “he” pronoun is actively oppressing women doesn’t know as much as he [or she!] pretends to about the alleged correlation between sexist pronouns and sexist attitudes.

  29. I just think it’s more accurate not to refer to women using words that imply they are men.

  30. joe,

    True, I don’t think anyone above the age of reason will think there are multiple US Presidents at one time, and get the meaning. But, what if you were describing a more obscure officeholder, of whom there may be only one or many?

    For instance, if I say that the directors of the tutoring center where I work are responsible for tracking student progress, doesn’t that sound like there are a bunch of them simultaneously doing so, perhaps conferring with each other about this topic?

    But I know that there’s only one director. So the idea I’m trying to describe is quite different from the impression given by the pluralized sentence.

  31. joe,

    They only imply that they are men if you aren’t used to “he” referring to women in some situations. Words mean only what people think they mean, after all.

  32. Gimme an example of rewriting a sentence to “they” that would be unclear.

    The director of the tutoring center tracks his students’ progress. Or “tracks her students’ progress.” We know whether this particular director is a man or a woman.

    Directors of tutoring centers track their students’ progress. We don’t know if these directors are male or female.

  33. I just think it’s more accurate not to refer to women using words that imply they are men.

    I for one don’t feel as much of a disconnect when we are referring to Hillary using male pronouns.

  34. Words mean only what people think they mean, after all.

    This is the gist of the problem; we think that he means male. And it does mean male. It is not that he sometimes is gender-neutral, but that there was a period when the male was used to refer to both males and females. That, of course, is inaccurate, but it was an inaccuracy that people were willing to put up with because of their ideas about male being the “normal” or “default” setting and female being a “marked” category.

    Today, when we don’t think of men as being the normal sex, it strikes the ear funny.

  35. “Today, when we don’t think of men as being the normal sex, it strikes the ear funny.”

    Speak for yourself. I married the only woman that made a bit of sense to me. I’m gonna hang on to “I’m normal, they’re not,” for a long time. The alternative is disconcerting …

  36. And yet, the impression remains.

    That’s my point.

    To spell it out further, since evidence that white Americans will elect black candidates is already at hand, it hardly stands to reason that more such evidence will necessarily change attitudes the way you seem to assume it will. I hope so, and it’s certainly possible, but it’s hardly something we can assume.

    In fact, you seem to be committing pretty much the same error as Ms. Howley!

  37. Call me naive, but why is the gender or race of the President something other than a peripheral topic? This is a position where an individual will have control over the most powerful military on Earth, the infamous executive order, a nuclear stockpile capable of annihilating all life on Earth about 23 times over, and the ability to wreck significant havoc on the life, liberty and property of ordinary American citizens. Allowing this position to become a social experiment for even a second is just stupid for our country’s future.

    I’d vote for a woman like Margarette Thatcher in a New York nanosecond over any Republican other than Paul, but let’s be serious here. The odds that a woman who is a pretty consistent small government conservative is going to be taken seriously by the Rockefeller Republicans or the Neocons who control the Republican Party are miniscule. They already treat Ron Paul’s ideas as anathema. It’d be 5x worse for a woman.

  38. fyodor,

    There is something unique about the presidency, compared to governor, senator, or Congressman.

  39. MikeT,

    why is the gender or race of the President something other than a peripheral topic?

    Well, probably for the same reason that The odds that a woman who is a pretty consistent small government conservative is going to be taken seriously by the Rockefeller Republicans or the Neocons who control the Republican Party are miniscule.

    We’ve got history, and it causes people to have things stuck in their heads. Things that not even they believe, if they think about it rationally, but much of human behavior comes from irrational parts of our brains.

    Seeing a woman or, even moreso, a black man ascend to the presidency would give those pre-rational sections of our brains a good whack.

  40. I just think it’s more accurate not to refer to women using words that imply they are men.

    There’s no way you can accurately say that a particular definition (which is determined by how people use and understand a word) is inaccurate. In this particular case, if “he” is understood to mean (among other things) groups of people that include both men and women, then it’s perfectly accurate to use it that way. Now, maybe you mean it’s inexact language since it doesn’t distinguish between when the speaker knows that the group is entirely male, but there’s myriad examples of that kind of thing in any language, Anyway, c’mon, do you really think people have encouraged this change of language for that reason? Would you bother to debate any other inexact (or, as you put it, inaccurate) use of language?

  41. There is something unique about the presidency, compared to governor, senator, or Congressman.

    [scratches head]

    Okay, if you say so, joe! 🙂

  42. The president symbolized America in a way that no other office does. They are heads of state, like kings, and not just heads of government.

  43. I’d say this harms feminism more than anything. It simply says that but for the fact that Bill was her husband & President, Hillary wouldn’t stand a chance.

    “See? Women can’t succeed on their own! They need their husband’s help!”

  44. We’ve got history, and it causes people to have things stuck in their heads. Things that not even they believe, if they think about it rationally, but much of human behavior comes from irrational parts of our brains.

    Seeing a woman or, even moreso, a black man ascend to the presidency would give those pre-rational sections of our brains a good whack.

    That’s all well and good, until you consider the fact that the only blacks and women running today are running with politics that are thoroughly socialist, and more likely to entrench any existing prejudices, than break them. The fact is, Hillary is a terrible, terrible female candidate if your goal is to make men so comfortable with the idea of women being President that you “break the glass ceiling.” She will end up running as a combination of a bitch on wheels and a nanny.

  45. Oh, well, since they are liberals and you aren’t, then I guess that’s that.

  46. All Bull shit!

    Here is a real woman and the best governor Washington State has ever seen…she should have been president.

    And a democrat no less!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixy_Lee_Ray

  47. joe comments:

    I just think it’s more accurate not to refer to women using words that imply they are men.

    I fully disagree. We should impose penises on both the penised and the penisless. If it’s good enough for the French, it’s good enough for us.

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