Women Politicians Battle Double Standards…and their Opponents

Thelda Williams was already in her 40s when she was first elected to the city council in Phoenix, Arizona, but that didn’t stop people from assuming she wasn’t up to the task. The Arizona Republican believes people underestimated her because she is a woman. 

“Staff, in the very, very beginning, really treated me like, ‘Well, you probably don’t understand. This is probably too overwhelming. There are too many subjects,’” she recalls. “And, you know, you prove them wrong.”

Decades later, Williams remains on the city council, having served as interim mayor three times, most recently during a stint that ended in March. One of the arenas in which Williams still believes she isn’t treated equally is when it comes to how the media cover her.

“You know, I just don’t get the same respect. I mean, they talk about everything from what shoes I wear, to what color my hair is, to what my age is,” she says. “You don’t see that with the men. … What really irritates me is when it’s a woman who’s written the article.”

Then-Mayor Thelda Williams (second from left) attends a neighborhood smoke alarm awareness walk, October 2018. (City of Phoenix)

The undermining of women in politics is not new. Stereotypes and double standards continue to exist for female politicians, says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

“And it starts with things as basic and as simple as being scrutinized for their physical appearance, what they wear, how their hair looks, the way in which they speak,” Walsh says.

“During the 2016 presidential election, we heard comments that Hillary Clinton didn’t smile enough. We never heard that about Bernie Sanders, and heaven knows he is not somebody who grins. He’s pretty grumpy, and so is, for that matter, Donald Trump.”

Women are also criticized for being shrill when they speak forcefully. Media focus on details not related to the issues can hurt women electorally. 

“If the media is not focusing on the content of what women are talking about, but much more on their presentation, their style, their appearance, it diminishes them as serious candidates,” Walsh says. 

“And this becomes even more of a challenge for women who are running for office, because women are not assumed — in the same way that men are assumed to be — qualified and capable and able to hold these offices. So, they have to prove themselves in ways that male candidates do not.”

A record number of women are running for president in 2020, and how the press covers them could impact their political fortunes. 

In Massachusetts in March, Northeastern University’s School of Journalism examined almost 1,400 articles about the 2020 presidential election and found that the female candidates were consistently described more negatively than their male counterparts.

The female candidate with the fewest positive words written about her, Kirsten Gillibrand, has already quit the race.   

Click on graphic to enlarge (Source: Northeastern University School of Journalism)

Walsh says female candidates have to navigate the presidential debates differently than men because a man who interrupts or asserts himself is not written up in quite the same way as a woman who does the same thing.

She’s also concerned about the recurring question of electability. 

“There is this assumption that somehow after 2016, the Democrats need to ‘play it safe’ right now and not take a risk on a woman candidate, that they have to win,” she says. “I assume ‘traditional’ is white and male and probably over 60 years old.”

Williams isn’t holding out hope that media coverage will one day focus solely on the issues and not her appearance, delivery style or age. 

“I mean, it doesn’t seem like they’re ever going to change,” she says. “I think they expect me to behave nicer, be a little gentler. The men can get away with saying just about anything — it can be swear words — whereas a woman, you can’t. We’re expected, I think, ‘You have to behave.’”

In her experience, there are very specific losses for society when women are not at the decision-making table. 

“I think right off the bat, compassion. And not only for people — kids, seniors, families, animals. I think that’s all missing if it’s just left up to men,” Williams says. “Morals would be so much different if there were no women politicians. I think they bring much more detail and depth to almost every subject.”

In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, Erin Schrode poses at her home in Mill Valley, California.

Activist Erin Schrode, who ultimately lost her 2016 congressional bid in her California district, faced an onslaught of misogynistic attacks and physical threats from nontraditional media. The online campaign against her was orchestrated by a popular neo-Nazi website.

“Insinuating that I had, or would, perform sexual acts to advance my standing in the political world,” she says, recalling the online attacks against her. “That I wouldn’t have my job if I weren’t pretty. And on the flip side, that I was too hideous to even merit a vote.”

Despite the harassment she endured, Schrode agrees with Williams that more women are needed in public office and hasn’t ruled out a future run for herself.     

“We need that perspective, that judgment, that level headedness, that experience the same way that we need all voices represented in Congress,” she says.

“Women are communicators. Women are fighters. Women are mothers. Women are forces to be reckoned with. And our place is wherever we want it to be, and that most certainly includes the halls of Congress.”

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Trump Lashes Out at Democrats Over Impeachment Probe

U.S. President Donald Trump is continuing to unleash attacks on Democrats who have initiated an impeachment inquiry of him over a whistleblower complaint.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks to reporters about a transcript of a call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskiy, at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 25, 2019.

In a series of Twitter posts Monday, Trump lashed out at his accusers and focused much of his ire at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff who last week parodied the president’s remarks of a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019

Trump also tweeted comments made by a conservative pastor that warned of the dangers of “civil war” if the president was impeached.

….If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019

 

The whistleblower alleges that Trump sought Zelenskiy’s help in digging up incriminating information about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter that would hurt Biden’s prospects of winning the Democratic presidential nomination and challenging Trump in the 2020 U.S. election.  The White House last week released a rough transcript of the call.

While not present during Trump’s call to Zelenskiy, the whistleblower says that several officials “with direct knowledge of the call” provided a consistent account of what transpired, substantiating its authenticity.

Lawyers representing the whistleblower are stressing the need to protect the person’s identity, while the president has said he deserves to “meet my accuser.”

The legal team led by Andrew Bakaj issued a statement Sunday saying lawyers are continuing to work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to finalize the logistics of having the whistleblower meet with lawmakers, but that no date has been set.

Another lawyer, Mark Zaid, denied a report that the whistleblower was under federal protection due to safety concerns.

The legal group published a copy of a letter it sent to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence saying their concerns for the whistleblower’s personal safety have increased during the past week, and that they “expect this situation to worsen.”  They cited as evidence a statement from the president.  The lawyers also said they were aware that people were offering substantial sums of money for information about the whistleblower’s identity.

“I want to know who’s the person who gave the Whistleblower, who’s the person that gave the Whistleblower the information, because that’s close to a spy.  You know what what we used to do in the old days when we were smart?  Right?  With spies and treason, right?  We used to handle them a little differently than we do now,” Trump said Thursday.

In a separate letter to the top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House intelligence committees, the whistleblower’s lawyers called for lawmakers to “speak out in favor of whistleblower protection and reiterate that this is a protected system where retaliation is not permitted, whether direct or implied.”

Trump has been repeatedly posting on Twitter, reiterating his defense of the July phone call with Ukraine’s president that is at the center of the whistleblower complaint.

“Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called “Whistleblower,” represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” Trump said on Sunday.  “In addition, I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the “Whistleblower.”  What this person SPYING on the U.S. President?  Big Consequences!”

According to a copy of the whistleblower complaint released last week, the person said they “received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

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Another US Airstrike in Libya Targets IS Fighters

A U.S. airstrike in Libya has killed seven Islamic State fighters, according to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

It is the fourth U.S. strike this month against the terror group in the southwestern Libyan town of Murzuq.

One airstrike last week killed 17 IS militants, and another killed 11, according to AFRICOM. A strike on Sept. 19 killed eight IS militants.

The strikes were carried out in coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord to degrade IS’s “ability to effectively conduct operations against the Libyan people,” said Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, AFRICOM director of operations.

U.S. officials say the deteriorating security situation in Libya has allowed militants affiliated with IS to expand their presence in ungoverned spaces of the desert in the country’s south.

Troops affiliated with the Government of National Accord have been fighting forces led by strongman Khalifa Haftar, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army. The fighting has left hundreds of people dead in Tripoli and in nearby cities and towns.

In recent months, IS has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks against Libyan civilians and military personnel.  

But as IS has become more emboldened by the current political chaos in Libya, U.S. officials tell VOA they have also made themselves an easier target.

Some reports say that between 500 and 750 IS fighters are currently active in Libya, but experts think the number is higher than what has been reported as foreign fighters continue to flee there from Syria.

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Уряд очікує отримати 2-2,5 млрд гривень від легалізації грального бізнесу

Кабінет міністрів України очікує отримати 2-2,5 мільярда гривень від легалізації грального бізнесу, повідомив прем’єр-міністр Олексій Гончарук.

«Ми розраховуємо, що близько 2-2,5 млрд гривень за рахунок легалізації бізнесу у бюджет отримаємо, але, звичайно, треба рахувати», – сказав Гончарук.

29 вересня Кабінет міністрів ухвалив проєкт закону про легалізацію грального бізнесу в Україні. Згідно з повідомленням пресслужби уряду, документ передбачає, що азартні ігри будуть проводитися винятково на території готелів і на гральному обладнанні з використанням програмного забезпечення, яке відповідає міжнародним стандартам.

В Україні діяльність закладів із азартними іграми заборонена від 2009 року.

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На міжбанку зросли котирування долара

На українському міжбанківському валютному ринку 30 вересня дещо зросли котирування долара. За даними сайту «Мінфін», станом на 12:00 торги відбувалися на рівні 24 гривні 17,5–20,5 копійки за долар.

Орієнтуючись на показники міжбанку, Національний банк України встановив довідкове значення курсу на рівні 24 гривні 16 копійок за долар, це на 8 копійок більше за офіційний курс на 30 вересня.

Офіційний курс на понеділок є рекордним за понад 44 місяці – від січня 2016 року.

На український валютний ринок нині прийшли значні ресурси, які іноземці вводять для купівлі облігацій внутрішньої державної позики. За підрахунками експертів, за 9 місяців нерезиденти викупили таких облігацій на суму понад 100 мільярдів гривень, тобто завели на український ринок близько 4 мільярдів доларів. На курс також впливає позитивна кон’юнктура щодо товарів українського експорту.

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НБУ встановив новий рекордний курс гривні

Національний банк України встановив на 30 вересня курс 24 гривні 8 копійок за одиницю американської валюти, це на 11 копійок менше за поточний курс і є новим рекордом за понад 44 місяці – від січня 2016 року.

Наступний орієнтир – 23 гривні 95 копійок, таким офіційний курс був 15 січня 2016 року.

На торгах міжбанківського валютного ринку 27 вересня регулятор викупив близько 20 мільйонів доларів, цього вистачило, що не допустити зміцнення гривні до менш як 24 гривень за долар.

На український валютний ринок нині прийшли значні ресурси, які іноземці вводять для купівлі облігацій внутрішньої державної позики. За підрахунками експертів, за 9 місяців нерезиденти викупили таких облігацій на суму понад 100 мільярдів гривень, тобто завели на український ринок близько 4 мільярдів доларів. На курс також впливає позитивна кон’юнктура щодо товарів українського експорту.

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China Spurns US Criticism of Economic Cooperation With Afghanistan

A regional Chinese diplomat has rebuked the United States for being “ignorant” about his country’s ongoing key economic contributions and cooperation with Afghanistan.

Arrangements are being worked out to enhance the cooperation with Kabul even under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Yao Jing, the Chinese ambassador to neighboring Pakistan told VOA.

He hailed Saturday’s successful Afghan presidential election, saying China hopes they will boost peace-building efforts in a country wrecked by years of conflicts.

“We hope that with the election in Afghanistan, with the peace development moving forward in Afghanistan, Afghans will finally achieve a peaceful period, achieve the stability,” said the Chinese diplomat, who served in Kabul prior to his posting in Islamabad.

Earlier this month, U.S. officials and lawmakers during a congressional hearing in Washington sharply criticized China for its lack of economic assistance to Afghan rebuilding efforts.

“I think it’s fair to say that China has not contributed to the economic development of Afghanistan. We have not seen any substantial assistance from China,” Alice Wells, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, told lawmakers.

Wells, however, acknowledged that Beijing has worked with Washington on a way forward on peace as have other countries, including Russia and immediate neighbors of Afghanistan.

“She is a little ignorant about what China’s cooperation with Afghanistan is,” ambassador Yao said when asked to comment on the remarks made by Wells.

He recounted that Beijing late last year established a trade corridor with Kabul, which Afghan officials say have enabled local traders to directly export thousands of tons of pine nuts to the Chinese market annually, bringing much-needed dollars. Yao said a cargo train was also started in 2016 from eastern China to Afghanistan’s landlocked northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

China is also working on infrastructure projects, including the road linking Kabul to the eastern city of Jalalabad and the road between the central Afghan city of Bamiyan and Mazar-e-Sharif. Chinese companies, Yao, said are also helping in establishing transmission lines and other infrastructure being developed under the CASA-1000 electricity transmission project linking Central Asia to energy-starved South Asia nations through Afghanistan.

Ambassador Yao noted that China and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding on BRI cooperation, identifying several major projects of connectivity.

“But the only problem is that the security situation pose a little challenge. So, that is why China and Pakistan and all the regional countries, we are working so hard trying to support or facilitate peace in Afghanistan,” he said.  

For her part, Ambassador Wells told U.S. lawmakers that China’s BRI is a “slogan” and “not any reality” in Afghanistan. “They have just tried to lockdown lucrative mining contracts but not following through with investment or real resources,” she noted.

Wells said that Washington continues to warn its partners, including the Afghan government about “falling prey to predatory loans or loans that are designed to benefit only the Chinese State.”

U.S. officials are generally critical of BRI for “known problems with corruption, debt distress, environmental damage, and a lack of transparency.” The projects aims to link China by sea and land through an infrastructure network with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

But Yao rejected those concerns and cited the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a pilot project of BRI, which has brought around $20 billion in Chinese investment to Pakistan within the past six years. It has helped Islamabad build roads and power plants, helping the country overcome its crippling electricity shortages, improve its transportation network and operationalize the strategic deep-sea Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.

 

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