Ruth Marcus published a Washington Post editorial on Obama’s Kamala Harris debacle that summed up my thoughts perfectly.
Marcus states that she could easily write two very different columns about the situation. The first would be titled “Classic Feminist High Dudgeon”:
This column would discuss the continuing, albeit more subtle, discrimination against women in the workplace. It would explain how, even if unintentionally, Obama’s reference to Harris’s attractiveness is demeaning — that it serves, in the apologetic words of White House press secretary Jay Carney, “to diminish the attorney general’s professional accomplishments and her capabilities.”
The second, opposite column would be called “Contrarian Persnickety”:
…bemoaning the tyranny of political correctness in which male politicians and executives shy away from making even the most innocuous remarks (…) [Obama] didn’t concentrate solely on Harris’s looks — he remarked on them in the context of her overall capabilities.
“You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake,” the president said at the fundraiser heard round the world. “She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country.”
Here is the essence of what Marcus has to say, taking the complex middle ground rather than the outer edges of the spectrum described above:
While it is true — and an interesting insight into the premium the president places on physical appearance — that Obama routinely refers to male Cabinet secretaries and other officials as “good-looking guys,” it is also irrelevant. Such compliments, yes even in 2013, carry different resonance when applied to women.
Check out the editorial responses, too. Funny and sad all at once.
The Alligator, resident newspaper on the University of Florida’s campus, recently published a feature story on local rape and sexual assault victims. The article is focused on Luis Pereira, a club promoter who was accused on two separate occasions of rape.
Pereira drugged and raped Danielle Ruiz in 2010, and raped Susan (name changed) and sexually assaulted her friend in 2008. The stories are long and complex, but the Alligator describes the end result:
Pereira received 15 years of probation, which he can serve in Puerto Rico with his probation officer’s permission. He can’t break any laws, drink alcohol or use drugs. He must complete 100 hours of community service within two years and meet 20 times with a therapist who specializes in sexual treatment. He can’t work as a promoter. He can’t stay out past 11 p.m.
But he did not receive any jail time.
I really appreciated the depth of this feature - it serves as a reminder of how complicated the crime of rape, and the legal aftermath, can be. Two-thirds of rapists know their victims personally, and 60% of rapes happen in private homes. Considering these parameters, it is difficult to collect hard evidence, so a legal case often comes down to the word of the victim against the word of the offender.
A crucial source of evidence is completion of a rape kit, but there are many restrictions surrounding rape kits. From the article:
Later that morning, Susan and her friend waited in a hospital room, each alone. They couldn’t visit each other because it would hurt the police’s case. They got together at the hospital, a defense attorney might argue, because they were cooking up a lie to nab Pereira. So Susan waited hours, she said she thinks, for a nurse to come in and collect evidence, to snap pictures and take swabs and check for DNA on Susan. It was as if she were a human crime scene.
Susan grew impatient, scared and tired. And she felt dirty. She wanted to take a shower. She sneaked out of her hospital room and crept to her friend’s.
The friend convinced Susan that “this is a waste of time, let’s get out of here.” They left, and although Susan went back later that day feeling guilty, the hospital would not collect evidence once she had initially left the premises.
It is alarming that rape can be brushed off so easily by society. A rape victim is scared and hurt - he/she needs support and guidance in the aftermath. To leave a young woman alone in a hospital room for hours does not seem right. I appreciate that the Alligator reported on these incidents in Gainesville, because while I was a student at UF rape was not discussed frequently.
(Read the article here)
He’s for states’ rights with regards to abortion, unless he isn’t. He’s for rape, incest and health exceptions, unless he’s not.
— Irin Carmon for Salon, on Mitt Romney’s varied abortion stances.
If he isn’t pro-choice, it isn’t good enough. It may be impossible to tell what Mitt Romney’s stance on abortion actually is, but at this point he definitely isn’t pro-choice.