Posts Tagged ‘Women’

‘Say No’ to condescending ad campaigns

Posted on October 6, 2014 at 11.16 am

Last week, the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) released a set of ads aimed at young women voting for governor in six states. If you haven’t seen them already, take a moment to watch this representative ad for Arkansas:

As this ad (and its five siblings) began to make internet rounds, it was almost immediately the subject of derision. Viewers noted that the tone was condescending, even sexist. As one typical review said, “Voting is hard, right ladies? Luckily, the College Republican National Committee is here to help put things in terms we’ll understand: wedding dresses.”

Soon, commentators on the right started playing defense. They highlighted a leftwing video put out by Cosmopolitian (yes, the magazine you probably know better as the source of “1000 Crazy Ways to Use a Can Opener in Your Sex Life” articles) in which a young woman parodies a makeup tutorial video while discussing politics. It’s hypocritical, so the arguments went, to criticize the CRNC video while lauding the one from Cosmo.

But as much as I have no love for Cosmo, here’s the key difference between the two: The Cosmo ad actually contains specific facts and policy suggestions. They may be facts we’d like to dispute (like whether or not women are only paid 78 percent of what men are paid) and policy suggestions we’d like to debate (like the effects of the minimum wage), but they’re undeniably there.

The format is silly; but to Cosmo’s credit, it gives the audience specific information they can research and concludes by encouraging the target demographic—young women—to get engaged in politics and not “let other people speak for you.”

But the CRNC videos? Not so much.

Each one offers only the vaguest possible critiques of the candidates they oppose, like suggestions that he’ll bring higher taxes or cause people to lose their jobs.

Ok, that’s scary, CRNC. And you may well be right. But how will this happen? Can you offer any specifics at all?

Because I don’t know about other young women, but pretty dresses are not enough to make me give someone my vote.

The fact that only ten seconds of each minute-long ad is even customized by state (beyond switching out the names) does not bode well. Indeed, I’d suggest that any campaign ad which can be used in six different states with minimal modification is by definition embarrassingly simplistic and condescending. And if that ad is exclusively targeted at young women—and there’s no similarly patronizing ad campaign made for young men—then, yes, it’s also sexist.

Read the whole thing here.

Girls! Girls! Girls!: My Panel Notes from ISFLC

Posted on February 17, 2013 at 9.48 pm

This past weekend, I was honored to be included in a panel discussion at ISFLC 2013 which was moderated by Nena Bartlett and also featured Cathy Reisenwitz and Julie Borowski. The panel was titled, “Girls! Girls! Girls!: Marketing Libertarianism to Women,” and the prepared version of my comments can be found below. Video of the whole panel should be posted on Cathy’s YouTube panel soon!

Question 1: Are there barriers to entry for women in the Liberty Movement? If so, what are they? If not, is there an issue with the current gender balance?

Are there barriers to entry for women in the liberty movement? I think for many of us, the self-evident answer seems to be a qualified yes. These barriers certainly aren’t formal—there aren’t any liberty organizations turning away women at the door—but it would be difficult to deny that there’s a gender imbalance. At this very conference, among the attendees and especially the roster of speakers, men are by far the majority.

Now, we libertarians have a lot of opinions that we love to share, but the subject of why most libertarians aren’t women has received comparatively little attention until the last few years—and the attention the question has gotten is, to my mind, typically not helpful.

Like some conservatives, some libertarians make the case that women are naturally more inclined to lean left—usually it’s some combo of their apparent greater desire to fit in or the maternal instinct feeding a love of social programs. Some go so far as to say that women make their political decisions according to their feelings, not logic (like men), and indeed women “are natural socialists.”

We could have a very lengthy discussion about whether or not there is truth in these claims and, if so, if such habits of behavior are truly innate or if they’re simply the product of social conditioning.

I’m not interested in having that discussion—and I don’t think the liberty movement as such needs to do so either. Let psychologists and sociologists figure out those details.

For my purposes here, suffice it to say that I’m not in that camp. This analysis strikes me as off-putting at best—not to mention, it’s an ironically sweeping collectivization coming from supposedly individualist libertarians. It’s perhaps also noteworthy that this panel isn’t discussing whether men are too difficult to reach with the message of liberty because they’re “naturally” inclined to aggression and war.

But I digress. Rather than talk about differences between the sexes, the suggestion I’d like to make is that even if the most extreme of these claims about women are true—if women are by nature mandated by their emotion-addled brains to focus only on pragmatic, often collective ways to take care of others—that should not be a barrier to equal representation of women within the liberty movement.

If it is a barrier, then we, not women at large, are the ones doing something wrong.

The onus remains on the liberty movement to get women into the fold.

In short: This is a marketing problem.

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On women and war.

Posted on January 26, 2013 at 3.15 pm

Much is being made of the recent announcement that women will no longer be banned from combat roles in the military — and inevitably the question of whether women will be required to register for the draft has been raised.

My thoughts on the subject are simple. Rather than focus on whether women should/shouldn’t/will/won’t be put into combat or drafted, it seems to me that there are bigger fish to fry: If our government is killing children with drones or coercing people into the military, the detail of what gender is pressing the kill button or being coerced strikes me as comparatively minor.

Is allowing women in combat a step toward equality? I suppose. But without significant changes in our foreign policy, what a horrifying equality it is.