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2020 Race Shows the More Women Run, the More They’re Treated Like Candidates—Not ‘Tokens’

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People hosted by the Center for the American Progress Action Fund and the SEIU at the Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Source: Flickr/gageskidmore)

By Elizabeth C. Tippett | Common Dreams

When Victoria Woodhull ran for president in 1872, she was depicted as “Mrs. Satan” in a political cartoon.

When Sen. Margaret Chase Smith sought the Republican nomination in 1964, one columnist labeled her too old—at 66—while others insisted she was attractive “for her age.”

When Hillary Clinton sought the Democratic nomination in 2008 and the presidency in 2016, she was unable to escape gender-based tropes characterizing her as “calculating” and “power-hungry.”

But in observing the 2020 Democratic presidential primary—which has featured as many six women—it seems possible that this time might be different. Not because sexism has left the building, but because the critical mass of women candidates may have changed the dynamic.

A lone woman in a crowd

As a researcher who studies the workplace, I was reminded during the debate of an influential study of female representation in the office.

In the 1970s, business professor Rosabeth Kanter studied the group dynamics in a corporate sales division where women represented a tiny part of the sales force. When women found themselves “alone or nearly alone” in a sea of men, they came to be seen as “tokens”—a constantly scrutinized stand-in for all women, viewed by others in terms of their gender and gender stereotypes.

Every action these saleswomen took had “symbolic consequences,” Kanter wrote. “In short, every act tended to be evaluated beyond its meaning for the organization and taken as a sign of ‘how women do in sales.'”

The women were subject to exaggerated scrutiny of their physical appearance and became “larger-than-life caricatures.” Their presence also affected the men, who behaved in a hyper-masculine way to “reclaim group solidarity” and emphasize the women’s outsider status.

This was, essentially, the predicament that Clinton faced as the lone female contender in her unsuccessful 2008 primary bid and as the first woman within striking distance of the White House in 2016. She never had the chance to be one of many female candidates whose qualifications, benefits, and flaws could be evaluated in a measured way.

Even before Donald Trump arrived on the scene, she was a lightning rod and a caricature. During the 2008 primaries, a poster depicted her as a witch. Others used various gender-based epithets. A T-shirt said “bros before hoes“—a hyper-masculine expression of in-group solidarity. Fox News compared Clinton with a “nagging” wife, while a host on CNN apparently thought “scolding mother” was the better analogy.

In the 2016 election, Trump gleefully piled on, interrupting her in the final debate to call her a “nasty woman.”

As the wife of a former president, Clinton was portrayed as the ultimate undeserving “token.”

Critical mass theory

Kanter believed that group dynamics would change if women were better represented in the office.

She hypothesized that once women made up 35% or 40% of the group, they would be liberated from their token status and others would start to see them as “individuals differentiated from each other” as well as differentiated from men.

This idea would later be popularized as the theory of the “critical mass.” It inspired, among other things, gender quotas in legislatures. Universities would also use the idea as a legal justification for affirmative action policies on the basis of race.

I was reminded of the critical mass theory in watching the Nov. 20 debate in Atlanta, which was moderated entirely by women. Among the candidates, it featured the same female to male ratio—40%—that Kanter predicted would make a difference.

And it did.

The four women on stage freed each from being the perfect woman, the “you’re likable enough” trap that left Clinton in a bind. It meant Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) isn’t a nasty woman—she is a populist, as some have described her, like Bernie Sanders.

It meant Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) can attack colleague Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s (D-Hawaii) record without it being portrayed as a “catfight.”

Freed to be funny

But what I noticed most from the female candidates were the sly jokes and subtle digs. Humor is difficult when you’re alone in a crowd. Garnering a laugh can be as much about solidarity as wit.

During the Atlanta debate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) was in particularly fine form. She bragged about having “raised $17,000 from ex-boyfriends” in her first Senate race. She also doubled down on a past comment that a female version of Mayor Pete Buttigieg would never have made it this far with his meager political experience. “Women are held to a higher standard,” she said, “otherwise, we could play a game called Name Your Favorite Woman President.”

Harris even used humor to good effect when former Vice President Joe Biden claimed he had the endorsement of the “only African American woman …elected to the United States Senate”—apparently referring to Carol Moseley Braun.

“The other one is here,” Harris quipped. The audience guffawed.

Power in numbers

Kanter observed that women’s isolation in these settings not only affected how they were perceived by others. It also affected their own behavior.

Aware of their symbolic status, women felt extra pressure to perform and “prove their competence” while simultaneously trying not to make the men “look bad” and “blend noticeably into the predominantly male culture.”

I wondered how Hillary Clinton would have looked up there alongside the others in Atlanta. It’s possible she would have come across as wooden or boring. Even so, the stakes would have been lower—an inference that this particular person is boring, not that women can’t cut it.

Elizabeth C. Tippett

Elizabeth C. Tippett writes about ethics, employment law, and the intersection of law and technology. She is a co-author of the Fifth Edition of the West Academic textbook, Employment Discrimination & Employment Law: The Field as Practiced, along with Samuel Estreicher and Michael Harper.  Her research on disparate impact litigation was cited by the United States Court of Appeals and the Iowa Supreme Court.

Professor Tippett is the faculty co-director for the master’s program in conflict and dispute resolution at the University of Oregon.  Before joining the faculty, she was an employment law attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Professor Tippett earned her law degree at Harvard Law School in 2006.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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War is a Racket & Not What It Seems To The Majority of People: Major General Smedley Butler

By Arjun Walia | Collective Evolution

In Brief

  • The Facts:The highest ranking marine and most decorated US solider at the time, Smedley, told the truth about war in 1935 and how it’s not what we really think it is. It’s not about protection from harm, it’s about big business and special interests.
  • Reflect On:Why do so many people believe that war is necessary, and that the military establishment is here to protect our freedom? Is it true, or is it simply propaganda to blind us from what’s really going on?

War is not what most people think it is. We’re told that war is necessary, that soldiers are and have been overseas ‘fighting for our freedom’ and sacrificing their lives in order to keep our homeland safe. It’s a narrative that’s still pushed today and it’s backed by a massive propaganda campaign that beams patriotism into the hearts of the masses; meanwhile, very few people ever question what’s actually happening. We are made to believe that war and the entire military establishment are necessities, but they’re not. People have been sharing this opinion for a very long time, those of us who actually think for ourselves instead of simply believing everything that’s presented to us without ever questioning it. Take Mark Twain, for example, who explained the behaviour of the global elite to which I am referring to quite well:

The statesman will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them: and thus he will by and by convince himself the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception. (source)

Today, this represents so much more than an opinion. In order to keep patriotism flowing and money feeding into the military industrial complex, we are made to believe war is necessary. More people have become aware of what’s known as ‘false flag’ terrorism. One of the more recent examples of false-flag terrorism would be the supposed chemical gas attack in Syria. False-flag terrorism means that these acts were covertly carried out by one country (in this case it was the United States) and blamed on the home country (Syria), all for the purpose of justifying a specific goal (US military intervention). It’s important to keep in mind that these aren’t just beliefs, they’re facts that are backed by tremendous amounts of evidence, so much so that current presidential candidate and military veteran Tulsi Gabbard, who introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, the terms of which her website outlines succinctly: “The legislation would prohibit the U.S. government from using American taxpayer dollars to provide funding, weapons, training, and intelligence support to groups like the Levant Front, Fursan al Ha and other allies of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda and ISIS, or to countries who are providing direct or indirect support to those same groups.”  Gabbard herself was quoted as saying that the “CIA has also been funneling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others who provide direct and indirect support to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. This support has allowed al-Qaeda and their fellow terrorist organizations to establish strongholds throughout Syria, including in Aleppo.”

The idea that the latest gas attack in Syria was fabricated by the western military alliance in order to justify intervention in that country clearly outlines how ‘fake’ things are. These fake terrorist attacks, both home and abroad, are not only used to justify military action, but also to take away our rights here at home and justify surveillance and a heightened national security state. This article is not going to go into the Syria attacks, but I put more information in a recent article titled “BBC Producer Blows The Whistle & Admits The “Gas Attack” Footage From Syria “Was Staged.” 

Another example of false-flag terrorism would be 9/11, as all of the witness testimonies and published research suggest it was a controlled demolition, and many believe it was orchestrated by the US government.  

Think about that for a second: The same powers that claim to be protecting us from and fighting the ‘war on terror’ could be the same ones creating it.

This is why I wanted to share a portion of the work of Smedley Darlington Butler, a United States Marine Corps Major General, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history.

What better person to hear it from than a source like this?

This is an excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933 by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC. I obtained these excerpts from Dr. Paul Craig Roberts. You can access General Butler’s entire speech here.

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

[Read more here]

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Congresswoman Who Says U.S. Funds ISIS Just Got Back from Syria: Here’s What She Found

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | The Anti-Media

(ANTIMEDIA) Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the lawmaker who accused the U.S. government of funding and arming ISIS and introduced a bill to prevent it from happening in future, recently disclosed that she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during her recent trip to Syria. The move has reportedly angered many of her fellow congressmen and women.

Upon returning from the war-stricken nation, Gabbard released the following statement in the form of a press release:

“My visit to Syria has made it abundantly clear: Our counterproductive regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.

“As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.”

According to the press release, Gabbard met with refugees, Syrian opposition leaders who led protesters in 2011, widows and family members who fight alongside al-Qaeda groups, pro-Assad troops, humanitarian workers, and students, to name a few. Gabbard also met with high-ranking officials such as Lebanon’s newly-elected President Aon and Prime Minister Hariri, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Syrian President Assad, Grand Mufti Hassoun, and Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of the Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo.

Initially, Gabbard allegedly had no intention of meeting Assad, as she stated in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so because I felt that it’s important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we’ve got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we can achieve peace,” she told Tapper.

The meeting with Assad is incredibly controversial because of numerous allegations by the U.N. that Assad has committed crimes against humanity.

“Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria,” she added. “In order for any peace agreement, in order for any possibility of a viable peace agreement to occur there has to be a conversation with him.”

Not surprisingly, the media has hyped up this visit as outrageous but has omitted some very glaring hypocrisies that arise as a result of Gabbard’s trip to Syria.

First, the Obama administration and Bush administration both drew serious allegations of war crimes, but if Gabbard had met with either of those former presidents, it’s doubtful anyone would have batted an eyelid.

Second, former Secretary of State John Kerry met with Assad in 2009, even though, after nine years in office, Assad was clearly responsible for all of the things western media has been relentlessly accusing him of doing since 2011.

Third, Gabbard’s meeting symbolizes the ridiculousness of America’s foreign policy decision-making system. A few hundred old men and women who have never been to Syria — nor care to go — sit in a room and deliberate a piece of paper deciding whether or not to drop million dollar tomahawk missiles on a relatively poor country. Even when these decision-makers are well aware of the horror their edicts will unleash, they are never required to visit the country, talk to its people, or understand the situation and better educate themselves. In the case of Syria, Congress wasn’t even required to approve the air campaign that began in 2014, as Obama authorized airstrikes without their approval anyway.

Gabbard’s move should be applauded — not ridiculed. Singling Assad out as some sort of mass-murdering psychopath while foreign leaders routinely meet with alleged war criminals such as Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia’s leadership, and Henry Kissinger, to name a few, is the epitome of U.S.-NATO arrogance.

Gabbard may have met with a mass murderer, but she also met with numerous people on the ground — the people who matter most. After doing so, she concluded:

“I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government. I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists—directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS.”

No one can criticize her strategy because, for the last six years, no one has even attempted it.


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Congresswoman Says US Is Arming ISIS, Introduces Bill to Stop It

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | The Anti-Media

(ANTIMEDIA) Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has broken free of the corporate media’s narrative by accusing the United States of funding and arming terror groups al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail,” Gabbard tweeted on Saturday.

Most importantly, however, is her introduction of the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act,” which she presented last Thursday. In her presentation of the bill, Gabbard cited prominent publications such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to show that the rebels the U.S. is supporting in Syria are aligned with al-Nusra (which is essentially al-Qaeda in Syria).

She is co-sponsoring the bill with Rep. Thomas Massie, who says the bill “would prohibit the U.S. government from using American taxpayer dollars to provide funding, weapons, training, and intelligence support to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, or to countries who are providing direct or indirect support to those same groups.”

These concerns are not conjectures — they can be verified by none other than suspected war criminal Tony Blair. A think tank founded by the former U.K. Prime Minister released a report in 2015 that concluded it was ultimately pointless to make a distinction between the various rebel groups on the ground since the majority of these groups share ISIS’s core belief system (and would impose Sharia law if they came into power).

“The CIA has also been funneling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others who provide direct and indirect support to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, Gabbard stated on the House floor last week.

She went into more detail:

The CIA has long been supporting a group called Fursan al Haqq, providing them with salaries, weapons, and support, including surface to air missiles.  This group is cooperating with and fighting alongside an al-Qaeda affiliated group trying to overthrow the Syrian government. The Levant Front is another so-called moderate umbrella group of Syrian opposition fighters. Over the past year, the United States has been working with Turkey to give this group intelligence support and other forms of military assistance. This group has joined forces with al-Qaeda’s offshoot group in Syria.

“This madness must end. We must stop arming terrorists. The Government must end this hypocrisy and abide by the same laws that apply to its’ citizens.”

Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration are well aware of the support the Gulf states have provided to ISIS.

The bill would prohibit any federal agency from supporting a terrorist group or funneling support through other countries that directly or indirectly support terror groups. It is also co-sponsored by lawmakers Peter Welch, Barbara Lee, and Trump ally Dana Rohrabacher.


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