Female profs hash out women and politics [Video]

By on November 3, 2010

What does it mean to represent women? Do Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin represent women?

Professor Jennifer Sacco posed these questions and others at Friday’s panel discussion of “Women and Politics.”

Sacco, along with professors Lisa Burns and Hillary Haldane, participated in one segment of Quinnipiac’s Scholarship Committee’s lecture series in Buckman Theater. The topics ranged from Sacco’s theories on the political representation and reputation of women and minorities to Burns’ opinion of the television show “The View,” to Haldane’s take on how to end violence against women.

Check out the full discussion, courtesy of Quinnipiac University:

Sacco’s presentation focused on descriptive representation in politics which she said is based upon sex, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion and primary language.

“This representation, which is called descriptive representation, is under-theorized amongst political scientists and political theorists, and we have particularly unsophisticated ways of talking about this representation,” Sacco said.

Those placed in the category of descriptive representation, according to Sacco, are held to higher and different standards. The additional burden placed on these candidates makes it harder for these minority candidates to be in office.

“The conception that political scientists have now is pretty monolithic; it’s only one thing,” Sacco said. “And I think if you ask a few questions you will find that there are five different types of descriptive representation, and that they can account for a lot of the variation we can see in real life human beings.”

Burns is an associate professor of media studies in the School of Communications and author of “First Ladies and the Fourth Estate: Press Framing of Presidential Wives.” She discussed the popular television show “The View.”

While the show is often written off as a “women’s talk show” or “gab-fest,” Burns said, it has broken new ground for female political discussion.

“‘The View’ has created a space for women to engage in political debate,” said Burns.

Burns discussed the topic from a media studies point of view. She said older women (the target demographic of “The View”) are extremely desirable for politicians and marketing since they are considered “swing voters.”

“It does celebrate women’s voices and viewpoints and their differences, not just their similarities,” Burns said. “So, instead of getting lumped into, sort of, all women are represented the same, it talks about how women are different.”

Haldane is an assistant professor of anthropology at Quinnipiac, and she took an anthropologist’s approach on how to deal with gender violence.

“One of the difficulties around trying to approach the topic of gender violence as an anthropologist is that not all people in all cultures classify gender violence the same way,” Haldane said.

Haldane ended her segment with a series of questions for the audience to ponder, such as “What counts as discrimination?” and “What counts as violence?”

Photo credit: Zach Abrams

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