Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Gender

Emma Watson’s HeForShe Campaign is Really Cool

Writing about politics is often a depressing business. In the big picture, so much continues to go wrong–economic inequalities continue to grow, climate change continues to get ignored, and governments continue to take apart their regulatory and welfare states. Wars rage, and people die in the millions of preventable diseases. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other poisonous ideologies march on. There is so much unnecessary suffering in the world. But despite all the pessimism I often feel for the future of our societies, there was a story I ran across this past week that made me smile. Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai claims to have been inspired by Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign to call herself a feminist. This may sound like a small thing, but it has some big implications, and they’re really good.

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Why Lazy Pundits Keep Comparing Sanders and Trump

In recent weeks, I’ve observed a troubling trend among America’s pundit class–the tendency to make really lazy Bernie Sanders/Donald Trump comparisons. You see, Sanders and Trump are both political outsiders, they both tell it the way they think it is, they both have experienced significant growth in their poll numbers in recent months, and they’re both causing problems for their parties’ other candidates. Revelatory, right? Pundit centrists love to draw strained equivalencies between the left and right in American politics and they love to focus on elections as narrative struggles between good guy centrists and bad guy extremists, so it’s natural for them to see these two figures as analogues. In truth, Sanders and Trump could not be more different–not merely in terms of their ideologies and policies, but in their whole approach, in their very attitude toward the public.

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Transgender vs. Transracial: Is There a Moral Difference?

Recently, Caitlyn Jenner has been in the news–Jenner is a former Olympian who is transgender and recently decided to transition from expressing traditionally male characteristics to expressing traditionally female characteristics. Aside from a few on the right, the media response was generally one of acceptance. By transitioning, Jenner realizes her vision for herself, she achieves a measure of self-actualization. This is good for her and it harms no one else. All of that seems pretty obvious to me, and I wasn’t going to bother writing about Jenner at all, because I think it’s pretty straightforward. But then this other thing happened–a woman named Rachel Dolezal showed up in the news. Dolezal is genetically a white person, but she chooses to present herself as a black person and to identify as black. The media response was very different–Dolezal was accused of pretending to be black when she is in fact a white person, of “faking it”. Many people are accusing Dolezal of appropriating black culture, of being a liar, and so on and so forth. Why are the reactions to these two women so different? Is there a difference, and if so, what’s the difference?

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A Scientist’s Shirt: How Feminism Has Turned On Itself

Last week, Matt Taylor, a British scientist associated with the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission (which landed a probe on a comet), wore a shirt with scantily clad women on it:

Many online commentators took offense to the shirt, calling it sexist. Taylor eventually issued a tearful apology. This piece is not about whether or not the shirt is sexist. A man was reduced to tears because he wore a shirt that some people didn’t like. Should feminism be in the business of making men cry because of the shirts they wear?

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Was Stephen A. Smith “Blaming the Victim”?

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has been suspended by the network for a week following comments he made concerning domestic violence. Smith has been accused of “blaming the victim”–attributing violence exclusively to the wrongful behavior of the victim rather than to the perpetrator. Is that what Smith did? Let’s take a look.

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