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Archive for the ‘Section 8’ Category

Mill and IM Sports at U of M

As many of you know, and as the Michigan Daily pointed out, IM sports is kind of sexist when it comes to Co-Ed leagues. In soccer, a goal by a girl is worth twice as much as a girl by a boy, and in flag football there is criteria for how often the ball needs to be touched by a female on the team. I have seen multiple posts about David Stern’s comments on women in the NBA, and this has spawned some great ides about different ideas of equality in the sports realm. While those of us who are scrambling to put together the final touches on our blog posts, I offer this one as a post to which many of us can relate to personally. What are your views on the (supposedly) flawed system that our intramural sports department had, and how do you think J.S. Mill would form his argument against the system? Before you spit it out that Mill favors equality in every sense of the word, think about the safety of the female participants involved, and how Mill would view the scoring system as well as admittance into a co-ed league.

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If Sarah Palin Was a Man

            Note: I’d like to say that this paper does not include quotes from Mill’s “Subjection of Women,” or from Professor LM’s article, even though it is about the same sort of thing, because neither of those prompted me to write this. I was prompted from talks that took place in discussion section, which are kind of hard to cite. Also, to keep the paper as short as possible, I did not support adequately some of the general claims I made. My apologies.

Throughout the governmental history of this country, a woman has never been president, or even vice president. Sure, in the early days of America’s life, women in general were viewed as less superior to men, and couldn’t even vote, let alone run for public office. However, even after the women’s suffrage movement, after a woman walked on the moon, after a woman serving on the Supreme Court, after women have held numerous lesser public office positions, people STILL don’t take women serious enough to hold the highest public office position in the land. In discussion section, we talked about how people who don’t consider women as possible leaders are essentially ignoring half of the population. This prompted me to write this paper as I ponder possible women I would want to lead me. I’ve decided that if Sarah Palin were a man, she would potentially win a Presidential election. I think Palin has the qualities that would allow her to win a Presidential election, but because she is a woman, it will be much harder for her to do so.

            First and foremost, I think the main reason that Palin would win is the fact that she is “inexperienced.” I put that word in quotation marks because it is often used to negatively describe candidates. She is just very different, as far as political history goes, than anyone else. I’ve heard many people say that this would hinder her ability to run the country, but to that I ask, what is the worst that could happen? The policies of these so called experienced leaders we’ve had for decades have left us in a bad economical situation. So, why not at least let Palin try? Her conservative polices wouldn’t throw us too far off even if she didn’t do a good job. So, as far as I’m concerned, it is time for a REAL change in the oval office. I’ve heard countless people say how Barack Obama is FINALLY the change we need. I acknowledge the fact that he is the country’s first black president, and that does help to lower the racial barriers, but as far as politics is concerned, he is just a liberal lawyer who has worked his way up the political ladder; which is something this country should be familiar with by now, I would think.  So if someone actually wants a change, I hope that they would lean towards a candidate like Sarah Palin. I think that since she hasn’t been feeding from the political trough for a long time, she would be better able to understand and help the private sector of the economy, which would be good for the country as a whole. I also think that it’s time for the country to start electing people who serve as better representatives of the average citizen. I know Palin isn’t perfect in this category, but she’s better than most candidates. For example, many can relate to her struggles with family problems. Her child having another child at a young age, as well as her child with down syndrome, helps to make Palin seem real. Also, she doesn’t seem to be as affluent as a lot of other politicians. Americans need a President that isn’t superior to the average citizen. We need to stop casting votes for the already rich lawyers and politicians that have had a strong hold on the white house for so long. How can we expect someone who doesn’t understand the everyday struggles of the average citizen to really effectively cater quality policy for us? Palin is so down to earth, and real, that it would be hard for anyone to say that she wouldn’t keep the average citizen’s interests in mind. After all, isn’t that what the government is supposed to do? Also, her education has nothing to do with law, and barely anything to do with politics. I mean, all she got was a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism. I’m not saying she’s dumb in any way, only that her education isn’t the norm for a politician.  I think these things bode well for Palin because I think America needs, and is ready for, a PRESIDENT WHO IS NOT A POLITICIAN. For these reasons, I think that Sarah Palin’s qualities would make her a tough opponent for any presidential candidate to have, and prime one to help change our country.

            I’ve tried to show the reasons I think that Palin would get elected, and now I’d like to offer the reason that Sarah Palin will probably not be elected: she is a woman. We have been reading about how women in our society are often ignored when it comes to big issues. It seems like most people think the idea of Palin being President is a joke. For this reason, she has been viciously attacked for quite a while. I mean, there are a lot of candidates and political figures out there, but none have been subjected to harsh mainstream media like Sarah Palin. She has been the butt of jokes ever since John McCain announced her as his running mate. From portrayals on SNL, to overall harsh criticism on many news shows, Palin has had to endure slander that is arguably worse than many politicians have had to endure. And I would like to know why? What has she done to warrant such hostility towards her and her family? I would like to think that the only thing she is guilty of is having a uterus. I believe that since people can’t find good enough things to make fun of her for regarding her policy or lack of education, they turn to the gender difference. I think that even though women’s rights have come a long way since the 1700’s, the seed of difference is still implanted in the back of everyone’s minds, which leads the majority of people to distrust the leadership of a woman. In discussion, we talked about how deep the differences between men and women really are, and I was surprised to learn that it basically stems from the fact that men are stronger than women. In the old days, women were inferior because they couldn’t complete all of the physical tasks necessary to survival as well as a man could. I think it is time to stop believing that men are inherently better leaders. By doing so, maybe the country will actually get the BEST person in office, regardless of race or gender. Also in discussion, we talked about how if women aren’t considered in Presidential talks, and women make up roughly 50% of the population, then that means we are potentially throwing out half of all the people in the country simply because of gender. Two heads are better than one, and with today’s crises we should not ignore half of the population when someone in that half could have the answers. I mean, if a woman is truly better, smarter, and more qualified, then she should get the job. However, she should not get the job just because she is a woman and is not qualified in other important ways (*cough* Nancy Pelosi/Judge Sotomayor *cough*). In my opinion, if people throw out the preconceived notion that men are superior to women, then Sarah Palin has a much better chance of getting elected and taking steps towards fixing the country.

            In conclusion, I think that if Sarah Palin’s qualities were to stand alone, it is likely that she would win a Presidential election. However, because she is a woman, she is often ridiculed, and therefore written off as a serious leader. I think that the way that she has been portrayed by the mainstream media makes her the laughing stock of the political world. The only way, in my eyes, for this country to really move forward is to throw out all gender notions and actually look at the person they are electing, as well as a good look at the reasons to elect them. As result, maybe the best leader overall will win the Presidency, not just the best male leader.

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While reading another blog post addressing the NBA Commissioner David Stern’s claims that a woman might play in the NBA in the near future, I recalled an article I read on the topic that offered a different perspective.

In this article from SlamOnline, the author suggests that a woman doesn’t need to play in the NBA to validate women’s basketball. The author believes the idea that the NBA should be the “goal” for both male and female athletes is insulting to the female athletes, because they should be respected as athletes within the WNBA, and not be forced to strive towards the NBA as the ultimate goal. He asks the rhetorical question, “Why should making it into the NBA be considered better than making it into the WNBA?”

I think this connects back to a point that the professor made in lecture about the values of the people determining the validity of something. Since the general public regards the NBA as superior to the WNBA, the WNBA athletes might be inclined to feel the same way.

I wonder how Mill would feel about this? Is this the same thing as “separate but equal”? Can you even consider the NBA and WNBA equal?

Thoughts!

🙂

Oh, and here’s the article

http://www.slamonline.com/online/other-ballers/womens/2009/12/missing-the-point/

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It has been over a century and a half since John Stewart Mill wrote his “On the Subjection of Women,” and although improvements have been made in women’s rights, the biggest win being gaining the right to vote in 1920, women are still subordinate to men in today’s society. Yet, in modern times the idea of post-feminism has taken over in America. Post-feminism is the idea that women have obtained equal rights, thus putting the women’s rights movement on the back burner in today’s society (1).

On the surface it is clear women have made advancements since Mill’s time. Hillary Clinton nearly received the Democratic Nomination in 2008, only to be beaten by the country’s first African American major party nominee. Also, a woman is the Speaker of the House for the first time in the country’s history, making women third and fourth in line for the presidency. When it came time to make the latest Supreme Court nomination, it went to a woman for the third time in history. Women have made advancements in societal hierarchy – they have left the home and their income is no longer simply supplemental, but how much advancement have women really made? Have they made the strides that society assumes they have?

Women have made progression since Mill’s time. In “The Subjecation of Women” he states, “There remain no legal slaves, except the mistress of every house” (2). While women are no longer “slaves” of the household, they have by no means achieved equal status in today’s society. In the workforce, white women only make 75 cents to a man’s dollar. The number is even lower for minority women, African American women only make 62 cents per dollar and Latina women make only 53 cents per dollar. Now, although some people may attribute this to less women going to college, even college-educated women make less. One year out of college women make 80 percent of college educated men. (3) And ten years out? Women make an even smaller percentage, averaging only 69 percent of what a male with the same experience makes. Even Mill knew that women had the same intelligence, as he wrote it isn’t fair to assume, “that women on the average are less gifted (intelligent) then men on the average” (2). So what causes this drastic gap?

The idea of post-feminism has greatly hurt the women’s rights movement. One of the causes of this ideal has been the overrepresentation of women’s achievements in the media. Popular television portrays women in high positions they often don’t hold. S. Epatha Merkerson has played Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on Law and Order since 1991 and Grey’s Anatomy depicts women in powerful medical roles (4). When women are shown in these prominent roles it creates the idea that women occupy a sufficient percentage of the top jobs in the country. According to an LA Times report from earlier this year, women held only 10.6% of executive positions and board seats in California this past year (5). In another report by USA Today, 393 of the Fortune 500 companies don’t have any women in their top 5 executives and only 6 of the top 24 paid executives are women (6). Yet, if you turn on your television you would think these percentages would be much higher. Because women have made progression, and their success is overrepresented, there has been a digression in the women’s rights movement and women are still subordinate to men. Sure, there have been improvements for women, but have they achieved equal status?

1)    Douglas, S. (2009).  Images of Women in the Media. [PowerPoint Slides].

2) Wooton, David. Modern Political Thought: Readings from Machiavelli to

Nietzsche. 2nd ed. Indianapolis, IN: Hacket Company, 2008. Print.

3) Cambell, R., Martin, C.R., & Fabos B. (2009). Media & Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communications (7th ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martins

4) “S. Epatha Merkerson.” Internet Movie Database. Amazon. Web. <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0580924/&gt;.

5) Olivarez-Giles, Nathan. “Top female execs still rare, UC Davis study shows — latimes.com.” Los Angeles Times – California, L.A., Entertainment and World news – latimes.com. Web. 11 Dec. 2009. <http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ucdavis-women19-2009nov19,0,2382413.story&gt;.

6) Jones, Del. “USATODAY.com – Few women hold top executive jobs, even when CEOs are female.” News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, U.S. & World – USATODAY.com. Web. 11 Dec. 2009. <http://www.usatoday.com/money/jobcenter/2003-01-26-womenceos_x.htm&gt;.

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Mill on Drugs

Drug law, in addition to gambling law is, has been, and looks to remain one of the most paternalistic sets of laws the government continues to enforce. The only reasons for the government to enforce these laws are out of a sense of paternalism over the citizens and much of the public opinion that drugs are “immoral.” Marijuana in particular causes far less death than other legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, yet in some states can be penalized as heavily as a $2000 fine for under 2 ounces.[1] Of the political theorists we’ve read so far in this course, John Stuart Mill in particular would greatly object to drug laws due to their restrictions on the freedom of drug consumers.

In his book On Liberty, Mill specifically mentions the laws against importation of opium into China and how “these interferences are objectionable, not as infringements on the liberty of the producer or seller, but on that of the buyer,” (Wooton 641). Throughout his work Mill supports free experimentation and the option to try out different lifestyles and with these freedoms a freedom to use drugs appears to be obligatory.

Though Mill certainly supports a right to use drugs as the user sees fit, this does not go without qualification. As with any behavior that comes with risks, Mill wants to be sure that no one does anything, including using drugs, without a full knowledge of the risks that come with it. Mill says in On Liberty, “when there is not a certainty, but only a danger of mischief, no one but the person himself can judge of the sufficiency of the motive which may prompt him to incur the risk…he ought, I conceive, to be only warned of the danger; not forcibly prevented from exposing himself to it,” (Wooton 641). Indeed, this is the way that all laws except patriarchal ones work. Though there is a substantial danger inherent to driving, the law does not prohibit it; it only makes sure that people are aware of the danger by enforcing driver training. By the same token, Mill would support an education program to inform people of the dangers of drugs so that they can ultimately make their own decision. If all activity with some danger to it were to be outlawed, there would truly be few rights remaining.

If the grounds for keeping drugs illegal are based entirely on how dangerous they are, there is clearly a discrepancy in United States law. Consider, for example, that alcohol, a legal drug, causes an estimated 85,000 annual deaths. Marijuana on the other hand, an illegal drug, has caused no recorded deaths ever.[2] Clearly there has been some confusion somewhere in the law making process. If danger is the sole cause for the illegalization of marijuana than alcohol should certainly be illegal as well. Better, as Mill says, to simply legalize and educate.

From Mill’s liberal utilitarian standpoint, the laws that restrict the sale of drugs that have no more than a chance of causing harm would severely infringe upon the rights of any consumers of such drugs. Though potentially dangerous, Mill supports a full legalization of all potentially dangerous behavior as long as the person making the choice is the one in danger and is fully informed of whatever danger they may face.


[1] “State Marijuana Laws.” National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Web. 7 Dec 2009.

[2] National Academy Press, 1999), available on the web at http://www.nap.edu/html/marimed/; and US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, “In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition” (Docket #86-22), September 6, 1988, p. 57.

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I actually started writing this a while ago, not long after we finished reading Rousseau, so some of this may seem fairly obvious now that we’ve begun reading Marx. Either way, I think this should be helpful for drawing parallels between the two writers.

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The issue of inequalities between people has been the focus of the vast majority of our readings this semester. Indeed, the main job of government (according to some) is to negotiate and solve these issues of inequality. Two political theorists in particular, who’s works we have read in this class, address this issue, but do it in radically different ways. The purpose of this post is not to make an argument about whether one stance is better than the other, but instead to compare and contrast the political and economic (in the case of Marx) theories of Jean Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx.

Rousseau, in The Social Contract, or Principles of Political Right discusses how to establish a government that will mediate issues of inequality in society. He sought to replace a hierarchical, dominating society (such as the vast majority of European monarchies) with an egalitarian government that was of, for and by “The People” (a concept that doesn’t really exist in Marx’s writing, which deals almost exclusively with Class.) Under a Rousseauian-style government laws are made by congresses of local people in accordance with the general will and are then enforced by an elected aristocracy who’s sole job is to enforce the laws, not to enact them. Also, he saw the development of human society as somewhat cyclical, in which every so often there would be new revolution to reestablish the aforementioned style of government. In a nutshell, Rousseau’s plan for dealing with the issues of war and inequality is a very direct democracy that is close to the people with frequent, somewhat low-level revolutions.

There are certainly similarities between the theories of Marx and Rousseau, but whereas Rousseau focused almost exclusively on a political solution, Marx advocated a more revolutionary cure for society’s ills. Marx claimed that capitalism, and the class struggle that it perpetuated was what was the cause for much of the negative aspects of the human condition.

While the economic situation is the crux of Marx’s philosophy, he does not neglect the political aspect of the strife of the proletariat. He argues that religion and political constructs are in place in order to keep the bourgeoisie in power over the proletariat. Essentially, the state was an extension of the wealthiest classes.

He viewed contemporary capitalism as creating tension between the laboring, wage-earning class (the proletariat) and the capital-owning middle class (the bourgeoisie). The inevitable conclusion of this tension was a violent (worldwide, ideally) revolution in which the proletariat overthrew the bourgeoisie and took control of the means of production. In Marx’s post-revolution world the end of capitalism would cause private property and class to slowly disappear, and because, according to Marx, the state exists to protect the property and wealth of the bourgeoisie government would soon disappear as well.

Marx and Rousseau were addressing the same issue: inequality between men. However, the chose to tackle the issue in similar, yet also very different ways. Both focused on the needs of the community and not the desires of the individual. Both also call for revolution, although Marx is significantly more adamant about the violent part. Where they differ is in how they view what drives the issue of inequality and where reform is most necessary. For Rousseau it was the political realm where change was needed. For Marx, radicalizing the economy (by abolishing it) would heal the wounds caused by inequality.

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That is a YouTube link to my group project, a manipulation of the 1960s classic game show, “The Dating Game”. My group mates, Nicole Gibson, Braden Burgess and I, made our three social contract theorists, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, answer their hypothetical “dating questions” based on their political ideologies. Pardon the  ridiculous voiceovers and my amateur editing skills (I’m neither a professional film maker nor a man).

Hope you enjoy it!

❤ Serena Rabie

Section 008

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