Friday, August 26, 2011

Should feminists back Michele Bachmann? (The Guardian)

This Gaurdian article, 'Should feminists back Michele Bachmann,' draws from WAPPP faculty adviser Jane Mansbridge's work to look at the impact of Bachmann's candidacy. The author writes:
Bachmann's politics may make her an undesirable standard-bearer for feminist principles, but if her presence in the race means greater female participation in politics, should women back Bachmann?
The answer must be a contingent yes. Feminist philosopher and Harvard professor Jane Mansbridge explored in a 1999 article the question of whether blacks should represent blacks and women represent women. She argued that "descriptive representation", or representation by people who, in some way, look and sound like their voter base, is good in certain contexts.
There are two particular implications from Mansbridge's research that should make us pause before throwing Bachmann out with the bathwater.
First, there are occasions in democracy that lend themselves to descriptive representation. Descriptive representatives can, according to Mansbridge, communicate to their voter base in a way others cannot. They also force us to deliberate on issues specific to their identity as a representative.
Second, descriptive representation can potentially recast underrepresented groups as "capable of ruling". Whatever Bachmann's politics, her presence as a serious presidential contender helps American society see women as potential political leaders. This, in turn, enhances the democratic legitimacy of a group historically excluded from high office – women.
Full article: 'Should feminists back Michele Bachmann', The Guardian, August 25, 2011

1 comment:

  1. I must say that in certain circumstances I would agree that feminists should support women political candidates with different views from mainstream feminist thought. There must, however, be limits. ANY woman will NOT do if she is unalterably opposed to the general welfare of women in general or if the policies she champions would be extremely detrimental to the general welfare. Bachmann is a dangerous figure on the political scene not simply because she opposes a woman's right to reproductive choice but because she is a theocrat.