Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gender essentialism for a good cause? or at least with some good outcomes for women

This story in today's New York Times, dateline Sofia, Bulgaria, intrigued me--in part because of the gender essentialism angle. Dan Bilefsky writes of the rise of women in Bulgarian politics, thanks at least in part to support from Prime Minister Boiko Borisov. Bilefsky quotes Borisov, who mentions his mother and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as among his role models:

“Women are more diligent than men, and they don’t take long lunches or go to the bar.”

* * *

“Women have stronger characters than men because when they say no they mean no, and they are less corruptible,” he said last summer, inaugurating the women’s wing of his center-right party.


“It’s hard to admit, but women are less corruptible than men and are cleaner. ... Because they are more risk averse.”

The story features further speculation about whether women are, in fact, less corruptible and, if so, why that might be. It also provides details of women's rise in Bulgarian and other Balkan states' political arenas and is well worth a read.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Women as the "architects of food security"

I've written about this issue here, and now just heard on NPR that aid agencies distributing food in Haiti have begun trying specifically to get food aid the food into the hands of women because they have found that these recipients tend to ensure that women and children are fed first. Distributing to young men, on the other hand, has "caused problems," perhaps meaning it goes to the black market.

I know this "architects of food security"label and the idea behind it feed into gender essentialism, which makes me uncomfortable. But, maybe there's some truth to it--in which case it would seem worth acting on.