Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What We've Been Reading- July 25th

Salem Mayor Takes on Gordon College  
Evan Allen from the Boston Globe reported on Gordon College’s involvement in a nationwide response to President Obama’s proposed anti discrimination law. Fourteen religious institutions sent a letter to Obama asking for religious exemption to the proposed piece of legislation that would bar “federal contractors from discriminating in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation.” There is no law currently that bans hiring discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. The President cannot mandate that every company abide by this new law without Congress’s approval, however, he can make sure all federal contractors, one fourth of the U.S. workforce, follow the law.

The letter from the colleges was sent on Tuesday, the day after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby allowing family-owned businesses a religious exemption regarding employees’ birth control coverage. Now, Gordon College, as well as Catholic Charities USA and Christianity Today, hope to still be able to discriminate against LGBT individuals in order to preserve their religious freedom. The letter states: “Without a robust religious exemption . . . this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom”. The letter continues to ask for “...an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need.” Gordon College president Dr. Michael Lindsay’s signature on that letter has drawn criticism from Gordon alumni, students, and faculty.

Instead of seeing this antidiscrimination law as a way to widen the Christian community, president Lindsay saw it as a threat. As of now, each Gordon student receives a handbook condoning acts of homosexuality, drunkenness, as well as sex outside of marriage. Some see these so-called “behavioral standards” as offensive.

Gordon College is in Salem, Massachusetts, where the Mayor Kim Driscoll has been weary of the college’s discriminatory actions, such as the handbook and letter to Obama. On Wednesday, the day after the Lindsay’s letter was sent, Driscoll terminated a contract between Salem and Gordon College which allows the school to use the Old Town Hall. Matt Rocheleau from the Huffington Post reports that Mayor Driscoll believes “Gordon’s policies violate a city ordinance prohibiting Salem from contracting with entities that discriminate.” More than 100 alumni, students, and faculty of Gordon College signed a letter to the White House agreeing with the Mayor, and supporting Obama’s legislation.

Since her decision, the Mayor’s office has been flooded with phone calls from anti-gay protesters. “In response, Driscoll plans to donate $5 to a local LGBT nonprofit for each angry phone call she receives” reports Tyler Kingkade of the Huffington Post; the LGBT nonprofit is North Shore Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth [nAGLY].
During a time when religious freedoms are encroaching on women and LGBT rights, public service officers face difficult decisions. Mayor Driscoll is a great example of what elected officials should do. Taking a stand on a controversial issue allows the public to know where she stands, proves she will stand up for minorities’ rights, and shows her constituents that she will act on her beliefs. We should applaud Mayor Driscoll for making the hard choice of standing up for LGBT rights, not supporting Gordon College and distancing the city from discriminatory practices. She is a role model for elected officials everywhere and the MWPC is proud to have endorsed her candidacy in the past.

-Philippa Haven

Clinton vs. Warren: Possible Competition for the Democratic Nomination
The most recent question on everyone’s mind is if Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is running for the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election. So, is she? That is unclear. While some sources quote her as saying she is definitely not running, her progressive supporters are very much urging her to consider it. If she is running, the next question is obvious: would Warren be able to beat Hillary Clinton (who also has not confirmed if she is running or not)? Once again, that is unclear. Some think Warren would have a good chance in winning the nomination. Either way, the questions and discussions are important to consider.
Is she running?
Let’s examine the evidence that Warren may be running. First off, she has been traveling around the US recently and talking to potential voters. While this may seem normal for a Senator in her second year of office, some speculate that the traveling is a way of testing her message and platform for the 2016 presidential race. Moreover, Warren supporters have started a site, http://ready4warren.com, that advocates for Warren in the hopes that she will run in 2016. However, the most recent statements we have from her show that she does not plan on running: "I'm not running for president and I plan to serve out my term," she said in December. But if she was running, she probably would not announce it yet anyway. Clinton has not confirmed or denied that she is running, and people seem to think it’s definite that she wants the nomination. So the questions still remains unanswered.
Could she win?
One survey shows that 51% of Americans (who voted in the survey) believe that Warren could win against Clinton in a primary (CNN Crossfire). The people advocating for her to run are progressives who appreciate Warren’s aggressive stance on Wall Street and student loan reform, which differs from Clinton. Warren would win the votes of these progressives, but those votes may not be enough to win the primary. Clinton would likely use her vast political experience against Warren, as she did with Obama in 2008 - though we all know how that turned out. In my opinion, Clinton would win against Warren. She has a wider mass of supporters and appeals to a greater amount of people, as recent state polls have shown. With that said, two women competing for the Democratic seat would set an amazing new precedent. Perhaps the continuing discussion of Warren running will urge her to at least consider the prospect if she has not yet. Regardless, the conversation about two strong women running for president is pretty exciting in itself. 
For more information:
-Emily Schacter

Women in Corporate Marketing
We all know how silly commercials for tampons and other sanitary products can be, with women dancing around in white clothing and demonstrations with blue liquid. In an article published by the Huffington Post this week, journalist Jillian Berman pokes fun at that issue and exposes the fact that most companies who sell sanitary products are owned and run by men. The first example is Kotex, who used all the previously mentioned marketing techniques over the past few decades when selling tampons. When they recently added women to the decision making process, they launched the enormously successful U by Kotex campaign that made fun of, and apologized for, all their past ads. You can watch that ad here.
The article reveals that 19 of the largest companies that sell their products mostly to women, are run by majority male boards. Only one company, Avon, had a board that was majority women. Another company, Veet, who has just one female member on their board, recently had to take down their campaign after major backlash from their customers. Their ad told women not to risk “dudeness” by having hairy legs. Jillian Berman also interviewed many women who worked in similar companies, that cater to women but are headed largely by men. Those women said that the men used market research to discuss  things such as, “what kind of applicator women wanted for tampons.” Another woman mentioned that her company was going to launch an ad campaign meant to be inspiring to women but it ended up “looking like the cover of the Sports illustrated swimsuit issue”. The article also mentions some reasons why women in these companies are not moving up the corporate ladder, and what can be done in the future to help remedy this.
-Kira Arnott

Girl Summit
This week in London, the British Government, UN, and UNICEF are hosting “Girl Summit”, CNN recently reported.  This event aims to end female genital mutilation or FGM as well as forced child marriage. UNICEF has recently released statistics that reveal at least 125 million women have undergone FGM, and approximately 30 million girls under the age of 15 are at risk. The practice is dangerous and leads to many problems later in life including, “chronic infection, and severe pain during urination, menstruation, sexual intercourse, and childbirth, and psychological trauma.” Not only is this a concern in the 29 countries where FGM is concentrated, mostly in Africa, but it is also pervasive in Great Britain, where an estimated 137,000 girls are affected or at risk. Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to create tougher prosecution laws for parents who let their daughters undergo FGM, as well as mandatory reporting to doctors and teachers. The event is well attended, as many activists from around the world are there, including Malala Yousafzai and girls who have suffered from FGM.
-Kira Arnott

Hobby Lobby Update
In an article analyzing the Hobby Lobby ruling, economic implications of this decision by the Supreme Court are explored, and the decision may set a dangerous political precedent. This ruling further expands the identification of corporations as people. Though the original treatment of corporations as people entitling them to constitutional rights arguably carries many economically beneficial results, this extension of these aforementioned protections to include religious rights is accompanied by the potential for these corporations to wield significant political influence. This influence manifests itself in the political power that corporations are afforded, both in their interactions with their employees, investors, and shareholders, but also in the government, more specifically, in lobbying for or against legislation. Despite the fact that the Hobby Lobby decision alone has a limited scope, the author astutely cites that these types of rulings “have a history of becoming more broadly cited as precedent.” Thus, even though this ruling only affects a small portion of the United States, the precedent that has been set may catalyze a slippery slope towards corporations enforcing more restrictions.
-Caroline Plapinger

Women in the Media
This week, New York Magazine published an interesting article discussing the cycle experienced by influential women in the media. The article observed that often when powerful women appear in magazines that are geared towards women, they are subject to criticism and are charged with succumbing to a stereotypical gender role. Politico magazine observed the phenomena of the princess effect within this media cycle, whereby powerful women are demeaned or undergo an “intellectual flattening” through their appearances in “women’s” magazines. However, this issue is multi-faceted and complex, although the removal of these influential women’s political or career-centered identities in place of a one-dimensional focus on their beauty regimen, workout choices, and/or child care is offensive and sexist, the idea that these conversations should not exist is problematic as well. The article points out that many of these powerful women who have been featured in these fashion and “women’s” magazines embrace this opportunity, and furthermore that these outlets are necessary. The collaboration between powerful women and fashion magazines provide women with the tools for “navigating style and other sexist minefields without compromising their intellectual integrity,” and we need more outlets like this for women.
-Caroline Plapinger