Hillary Clinton has finally sealed the Democratic Party’s nomination for President. Our long, national nightmare is over. Just kidding, it’s only begun! If it feels like the 2016 primary season has dragged on forever, that’s because it has. Positioning for this Presidential race was already underway in 2012 and intensified in 2014. Bernie Sanders entered the fray in May of 2015 as the only serious challenger to Hillary Clinton. A few others threw their hats into the ring–Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb, Lawrence Lessig–but only Martin O’Malley stuck around long enough to participate in the actual primary elections.
The way we talk about consent in our society doesn’t seem to be working. This post can be considered an expansion of yesterday’s article. Focusing specifically on issues of consent, it’s necessary to first establish just what “consent” means. The way it is framed in discussions of sexual assault and rape, it is treated as a question with a binary answer. “Yes, I consent to sex” or “No, I don’t.” That’s not to say no one explores consent in a more nuanced fashion, but those approaches often fall by the wayside.
I think I’ve referenced enough topics in the title. And yes, I will get to all of them! There’s a good chance you’ve heard of the Stanford sexual assault case. If not, you can read a good summary here. You would also do well to read the victim’s statement to her attacker, though a warning for upsetting sexual content is a given. A lot of people are outraged over the sentence this young man received: six months in jail and three years’ probation.
I am reluctant to call this a review. Let us instead call it a list of impressions, and some comparisons. If you’ve never heard of Fun Home, it currently exists in two forms: a 2006 graphic novel, and its more recent adaptation as a Broadway musical. It is the memoir of Alison Bechdel of Bechdel test fame. Both versions are about Ms. Bechdel coming to terms with her own sexuality while at the same time realizing her father was gay (or at least bisexual; this is somewhat ambiguous).
There’s a peculiar trend surrounding this Presidential election season, and one that has plagued Hillary Clinton for much of her career. Why do we have such a hard time acknowledging women as human beings? A passage in a recent New York Magazine article really brought it home for me: In a recent column, [David Brooks posited](http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/24/opinion/why-is-clinton-disliked.html) that Clinton is disliked because she is a workaholic who “presents herself as a résumé and policy brief” and about whose interior life and extracurricular hobbies we know next to nothing.
Right-wing populists seem to be cropping up everywhere these days. What gives? It’s not just Donald Trump in the US, either, though he’s the most salient, evocative example. Conservative anti-government movements have been rising in Europe, as well. It’s becoming less and less common for political parties to engage faithfully with one another–to recognize that, while they may disagree on particular issues, they all ultimately want what’s best for the country and its people.
Whether they mean to or not, all artistic works communicate political ideas. This makes what those ideas should consist of an urgent and pertinent question. But first, what does it mean for all art to be political? Start with the definitions: politics describes the power struggle between different members of the polity, which is a group of people bound together by some kind of identity, be it religious, cultural, partisan, or otherwise.
What does it mean when someone gets fired for what they say on the Internet? Is it justice, or mob rule? Are online arguments debates, or harassment? To what extent do gender, class, and race matter when it comes to these issues? This political season has seen its share of ugly behavior. For as long as Donald Trump has had his hat in the ring as a Republican primary contender–and now the presumptive nominee–that behavior has been front and center.
Kathryn Watterson’s Women in Prison: Inside the Concrete Womb had been on my reading list for a while. Having just finished it, I am more convinced than ever that our prison system, as it exists now, is inhumane and criminal. It must be abolished. This book was first published in 1973, and updated in 1996. What is perhaps the most telling is how little changed in the prison system between those years, and how little has changed in the 20 years since.
With President Obama’s historic visit to Japan, the topic of whether he should formally apologize for the United States dropping nuclear bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has come up. Obama has said he won’t apologize. But why? The President’s official explanation rings hollow: In an interview with Japanese national broadcaster NHK, Obama said the reality is that leaders often have to make hard choices during times of conflict and no apologies would be included in brief remarks he is expected to make in the western Japanese city.