My sister will receive her BA this Wednesday from Ramapo College, a small liberal arts school (read university) in our home state of New Jersey. In the run-up to graduation the school has been hosting events for graduates, parents and student organizations. One such event that was publicized on the school’s website has caused a great deal of discussion over my family’s liberal dinner table.
Said event, hosted by the school’s President and his wife, was dubbed an “Etiquette Dinner” and featured “special guest” Theresa Salameno. I was unable to verify any of Mrs. Salameno’s professional qualifications (the article states that she once served the British Royal Family in a Hospitality Management role) but with some very basic Googling I was able to find a laundry list of Mr. and Mrs. Salameno’s philanthropic efforts. Mrs. Salameno sits on the board of at least two small liberal arts colleges, including Ramapo, and she and her husband give a great deal of money to education-based charity as well as to Mr. Salameno’s alma mater, Cornell University. That is all well and good and, although her LinkedIn (which seems to have been recently removed but was here) lists her as an “Independent Philanthropy Professional” and not an Etiquette Expert, I have no doubt that Mrs. Salameno is more than qualified, by virtue of experience, to advise undergraduate students on appropriate social behavior.
I recently decided to store all of my academic reports and papers on Google Docs (because I am a neat freak even when it comes to my hard drive and I am trying to cure my “Delete” addiction). While sorting through my documents I found this embarrassing reminder of my own naivety. I can only assume I wrote this for admission to a DC internship program that I participated in immediately following my semester abroad in London. I am fairly certain the prompt for this essay was something like “Why do you want to intern in the field of international relations/defense?”
As of the last US Census, women accounted for just over 50% of the country’s population. Why then do women hold only 90 (16.8%) of the 535 seats in the current US Congress? Even more strikingly, why is it that out of the 90 women in Congress, over 2/3 are Democrats? One explanation for this discrepancy in representation is the pervasive sexism present in both political parties, which is particularly tolerated on the Right.
One news-making example of this rampant discrimination in the American Conservative culture is the recent commentary by professional xenophobe and repeat offender Rush Limbaugh. Although the Republican establishment is now distancing itself from Mr. Limbaugh, he has long been a mouthpiece for the Far Right and makes an estimated $50M a year in that role. Some of the famously offensive opinions that have helped make Rush so popular include but are not limited to: gay bullying victims are asking for it, Mexicans are only capable of unskilled labor and, of course, slavery was an excellent crime deterrent. So excuse me if I find it hard to believe that after all these years tolerating hateful, bigoted comments, the Right has now drawn the line with Rush for calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and suggesting that women who choose to use birth control be forced to post videos of themselves taking advantage of it.