Renowned scholar and President of the New America Foundation, Anne-Marie Slaughter, visited SIS as part of the Dean’s Discussion lecture series. Titling her talk, Revaluing Care, at Home and Abroad, Dr. Slaughter spoke about a broad range of issues, domestic and foreign. The revaluing of care is a reference to a feminist theory called ethics of care; one of the relevant tenets of that theory is valuing actions in the private sphere equally to those in the public one.
In 2012, Anne-Marie Slaughter published an article in The Atlantic entitled Why Women Still Can’t Have It All; she wryly remarked that, to this day, this article keeps being referenced as the article amongst the myriad of pieces she has authored in her 20+ year academic career. In outlining the evolution of her thinking since the article was published, Dr. Slaughter said, “I don’t think the problem alone is discrimination against women, although that is not to dismiss that as an ongoing problem facing women, especially low-income women.” The severe underrepresentation of women in positions of power is, in a sense, baffling considering the much-rosier statistics of women graduating college. “The deeper problem that unites the many facets of the symptoms we see is less about women per se and more about not valuing the kind of work that women have traditionally done. We don’t value care; we value competition and consumption.”
“There is a deep unconscious bias on the part of men in the academy. We need more women in senior professorial positions. So much of advancing in the academic requires being selfish and saying ‘no’ as what is valued are big ideas and a body of scholarship. This often works against women who mentor students and are asked to contribute to the community.”
Dr. Slaughter suggested that until we are able to value care as much as earning an income and until we learn to support care-givers, not much headway can be made. She has been using Twitter (and the hashtags #wherearethewomen and #foreignpolicyinterrupted) actively to raise the profile of women in international affairs. “There is a deep unconscious bias on the part of men in the academy. We need more women in senior professorial positions. So much of advancing in the academic requires being selfish and saying ‘no’ as what is valued are big ideas and a body of scholarship. This often works against women who mentor students and are asked to contribute to the community.”
Taking her care vs. competition framework to a grander scale, Dr. Slaughter said, “We should place an equal weight on human interest and government interest. What happens to people in a country should be of as much value as what happens politically.” Referring to the ongoing civil war, she stated, “I have been very passionate about the need to do more in Syria.” Invoking the principle of “responsibility to protect” is relevant in the case of Syria which is committing crimes against humanity on its own territory. “Syria is the Rwanda of our time. An estimated 150,000 people have already died in this conflict; the entire region surrounding Syria has become majorly destabilized.” Dr. Slaughter expressed outrage and dismay that Assad is still allowed to operate from the air, a capacity she feels could have easily and swiftly been disabled by intervention. “I wish the President had used force as soon as the chemical weapons use by Assad, with the approval of international bodies.” Talking about Russia, Dr. Slaughter felt that Putin is being given way too much power by the second-Cold-Water rhetoric. “His approval ratings are not that great at home,” she added.
You can watch a video of her talk here.
Old white dudes still run shit. Knowing what I know about the intelligence community and how shit is REALLY done, I can’t help but feel her statements belie a sort of … liberal partisan naivete. I’m not bashing her, I agree with her stance, but there’s functionally so little that can be done within the system. Complete subversion of shit is going to have to happen before any meaningful progress is made, and I don’t see that happening as long as there’s a monied elite at the top of the tower calling all the shots. Millennials aren’t going to change shit. They rich ones will morph into the rich old white dudes and want to maintain their position of power possibly even more than the current generation–they will do everything they can to hang on to the power bequeathed to them. The poor ones will be like the rest of us–powerless.
As much as global human suffering hurts me–and it does, it’s not something I talk about because I feel helpless in the face of Mammon–I feel like any personal or NGO action amounts to spitting in
I tend to agree with you about the need for “complete subversion,” or, basically, revolution to stoke that subversion, but the reality is that nobody’s in the mood for that shit. I know that no true change will happen within the system, but the system is what’s keeping all us just materially comfortable enough to sit in our heated offices or apartments or classrooms and debate the structure with full bellies and thumbs on our iPhones.
I’m not taking to the streets any time soon.
Most influential wealthy progressives do display what seems to be a naivete, but I honestly think that–in a lot of cases–what feels like naivete is more of a sincere optimism. Maybe rooted in naivete, but you definitely aren’t going to foster any positive change with a negative attitude. Nor will you sell many books 🙂
Orwell and Huxley were both right. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. And they’re packaged in such lovely, distracting little ways that we can’t wait to unbox the next new version.