Sunday, July 7, 2013 | Categories: Episodes
Not everyone can be everything. My wife is taking physics and is a math-a-holic. I, on the other hand, can't stop listening, watching and ranting about news. In other words, what's the big deal if most women are less into news?
Moncton, New Brunswick
I'm not sure what to make of this news. Are women less interested, or are they more selecting and discriminating about what they recall? Do they attend to different kinds of news better than their male friends? Are men more in tune with the more aggessive or assertive world of power plays at all levels? Do men fear chaos and yearn for more structure and control, whereas women can go with the flow, or seem more accepting and adaptable to changes imparted by the world of power play? Whatever is the case, it is mirrored in my own life. My wife is singularly disinterested in politics and the more troubling side of current affairs, but I like to know where the next dark clouds are likely to poke over my horizons.
Comox, British Columbia
The preamble said that women answered questions incorrectly. Could it be that the questions' answers may be different for women than the man asking the question? Also, if everyone paid more attention to politics more people would vote. But instead of listening to the attack ads and the bumph of an election campaign they paid attention between elections.
I think the political landscape, and the way it is described or reported in the media, is skewed and does not take into account the specificity of the genders. All things being equal, women have a more humanized, more global perception of the world and are less oriented on performance or competition, these being mainly a male invention. I would love to see a change. Let's say for a month's trial, political coverage that is 100-per-cent female. You would see interesting if not different topics, and a different style of coverage.
You see, as for Jewish religion, women are considered more to be responsible for raising the children and home care. Therefore, yes they are more busy than men. And it's okay, naturally.
A huge factor in apathy among women (and men, too) is our anti-democratic system of voting. The two big problems are our first-past-the-post electoral system and the undue control of MP's and MLA's by parties and party leaders. The solutions are obvious to those few who pay close attention to most other democracies. First, almost any form of proportional representation would be better than a flawed system where 39 per cent of the vote can gain a false majority and 100 percent of the power. And we must end the requirement that national party leaders must approve local candidates, and return that power to the local ridings.
As long as I can remember, I have been a news junkie. I can remember watching Canada AM with great interest even before I entered kindergarten. My first degree is in political science, and all the way through my PhD I read the Globe and Mail. Now, though, I struggle to read the Globe even once a week. I steal moments to check the CBC's news app through the day to maintain even a superficial knowledge of what's happening. Why? Because I have young children. I just don't have time to tend to my own interests. I'm not oblivious to much of the world's events by choice.
Vancouver, British Columbia
I am an employer who has hired well over two dozen young women over the past several years. I usually have the opportunity to engage these women in close conversations. Because I am very interested in current affairs and politics, I sometimes bring up these topics in conversations. Almost every effort to do so is futile, as they simply are not interested, nor are they aware of the current events I bring up. Women are often oblivious to what is happening in the world around them, if the young women who have worked for me are any indication. These women are high school and university graduates. This leads to the broader question of how such women can ever be taken seriously when they lack so much as a clue on what is happening locally and globally. How can they form a coherent opinion, or cast an informed vote in elections? Why are women oblivious to the world around them after completing educational programs?
Halifax, Nova Scotia
I'm not surprised at all by these findings. The majority of women in my life (sisters, mother, girlfriends and friends) have time and again shown a lack of interest, if not outright ignorance, toward international and domestic politics. I partially blame tabloids, celebrity reality shows and other nonsense for taking away their interest. At the same time perhaps the greater presence of men on the political scene makes the field seem out of reach for women. However I don't have much faith when I hear my sister votes for the candidate that is "the hottest."
It's true women are busier than men in many ways, and that men are indeed more prominent in current affairs. I believe the truth lies in the fact that women and men, in many of these countries, have been conditioned to view the world differently. Women have been taught to do their best to provide for their family and offspring within their immediate environment. Men, on the other hand, have been conditioned to concentrate on the acquisition of more resources and, truthfully, the acquisition of more women.
Perhaps the media coverage of politics and current events can be viewed as a story that is told to us as consumers. It is told more to men than to women, as it seems to offer us the idea that knowing what is going on in Syria, or Egypt, for example, will somehow make us better able to provide for ourselves and our families.
In truth, knowing about politics and current events serves us a lot less practically than, say, knowing how to teach ourselves and our children how to learn, or how to deal with inequality and injustice in their lives. We've all got limited time to devote to current events and to our own lives. As a man, I can't help but feel that this study shows that in all ten of these countries women are spending their time more productively than the men are.
Bowen Island, British Columbia
The traditional women's role has been to look after the house and children. We won't have more equality of women MPs until we have more availability of child care. It can be extremely stressful for women to have the worry and concern of child care.
It was Sally Armstrong, not Doris Anderson, who went undercover (literally) in a burka in Afghanistan. Just one of several mistakes in the narrow-focused, patronizing commentary I just heard from Barbara Kay, although she made some good points, especially the one about cultural change.
Lowe Farm, Manitoba
I do consider myself well informed and even a political junkie. However, I would echo the professor in speculating that one of the main reasons for this is simply that women are busier than men. In my household (two working parents and two kids - eight and 12) I can tell you that watching The Agenda or Power and Politics is not my priority. Managing the family, my own career, contributing to the community school and coaching are all in my domain. My bedside reading pile includes books on learning challenges, how children succeed, health and nutrition - knowledge of which contributes to the health and welfare of my family and allows me to contribute to the neighbourhood and community conversation. In addition, ask me about what's going on internationally and nationally on women's issues in general and I guarantee you that I know a lot more than hubby, any of his cohort or any of my male colleagues.
I suggest we examine all of the comments on today's show that are false or unsupported generalizations about women and men, as if each noun represents a persistent stable category.
"Women are not interested in conflict because we don't have to go to war." Really?
"Men get to their feelings through thinking." Really?
Are we all not further along in our analysis to avoid such facile generalizations? The comments today sound perilouslly close to the restrictive generalizations that have hampered men and women for centuries, many of which still restrict women's access to political action.
Chilliwack, British Columbia
It doesn't help someone make a point when they do what they are accused of. I just heard a female professor make reference to the oddity of Alberta with a female premier and female opposition. Meanwhile Newfoundland has had all three main parties in the legislature led by women for years. I expect men to make mistakes like that. So when a female journalist and a female professor miss it I hazard to guess that the genders are truly equal.
New Jarbour, Newfoundland
Please stop suggesting all women are the same. The British study only talks about a smaller proportion of women knowing about international affairs, not that no women do. This sloppy use of the data is a huge part of the problem here. You should be talking about the lower proportion, or higher proportion.
In our modern day rush to domesticate ourselves, discrimination is seen as something to be eradicated. In terms of racial differences we change our language to reduce the embarrassment of noticing the differences. When it comes to gender differences we seem to feel that we can change and the differences can be trained out of us.
Isn't it time that we started recognizing and embracing our differences? This applies particularly to individuals. Discrimination requires categorization, the eradication of individuality. Your discussion only contributes to this.
Maple Ridge, British Columbia
You're show is important. This topic must include the education system and how we teach or ignore civic engagement in our classrooms and communities. All children and youth, but especially non-dominant groups such as women and ethnic minorities, must be taught how to become involved in systems in order to change them and change the dominant demographics of politics.
Women have traditionally been encouraged to become involved in charitable action rather than social justice. We can teach young women how to move into social justice through our classrooms and through community leadership. Strong mothers are certainly some of the most effective teachers who can make an impact toward change.
I think one of the conclusions that can be made from the study in question is that our society needs more hard-hitting female journalists and commentators like the amazing Suhana Meharchand!
Elect a man and you get one-and-a-half workers. Elect a women and you get three-quarters of a worker. The man's wife organizes a meet-and-greet for a new politician and the wife arranges the venue, makes the guest list, sends out the invitations, makes the phone calls, plans the menu, arranges the food and often cooks it, lays out the right suit and selects the right tie and greets the guests at the door. The husband walks in, shakes every hand, makes a speech that his wife has vetted, then he goes and puts his fet up while she cleans up. And so it goes for the rest of his career. With a female politician, she does all that herself, if she does not have children. If she has children, she has to wait until they are all over 25. But she still has to do all the family activities.
Red Deer, Alberta
Thank you for starting this interesting (if occasionally infuriating!) discussio. I look forward to reading the study itself and understanding better the nuances of its conclusions. However, my husband and I find ourselves increasingly frustrated and disheartened by the suggestion that women's jurisdiction of interest is more local while men's is international. I accept that there may be some differences between the genders in terms of how we process and analyze information. But I don't think it's acceptable to conclude that either men or women don't have a responsibility to be aware of what's going on both locally and internationally.
I think that for men not to pay attention to what's happening within the borders of their own community, or for women to not pay attention to what's happening beyond those borders is a major problem. I was also frustrated by the repeated suggestion that in various ways women were affected or limited by having to attend to their children, and therefore their interests in, or concerns about, international affairs was diminished. I hope that in future generations there will be more and more realization that children are the responsibility of both their mothers and their fathers, as our country and our world is the responsibility of both male and female citizens. I think all citizens of the world have an obligation to pay attention to what happens within it. Part of the purpose of awareness is to be in a position to cry out against abuses of this planet and its citizens, and to enact change.
In short, I think it is the responsibility of all men and women to pay attention to what is happening within and beyond their own communities. I therefore think it is the responsibility of all men and women to ensure that that is the message that is delivered to future generations. In this case, I believe it is a failure of education or culture if women and men aren't sufficiently engaged by what is happening in the home, community and planet within which they both live. Many thanks for your excellent program and this tough question.
P.S. And on behalf of the many, many women risking their lives in service if their countries, it is no longer the case that it is only men on the front lines.
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
The idea that women in politics will somehow bring about large amounts of change in terms of policy and legislative process is ridiculous. Think of the recent preimiers and international examples like Sarah Palin, Kathleen Wynne, Kristie Clark, Daniel Smith, Alison Redford and Pauline Marois. Can we honistly say that these women are agents of change and new thinking? Of course not. Separatism, right-of-center and far-right wing ideioligies (while not neccesarily bad) are nothing new. I think that is a phenomena worth noting.
Was this study designed and analysed by men, or were women involved?
Lumby, British Columbia
I'm a 16-year-old girl heading into Grade 11 next year and I'd just like to say that I find these statistics alarming, but not surprising. I've noticed in movies and books that female politicians are often regarded either as untouchable or as extras to please the politically-correct police. I can't count the number of times I've heard the whole Margaret Thatcher as a turnoff joke. Politics isn't glamourized in the way that other things are, like medicine or policing or journalism.
Among my friends, I am not a lone news junkie, but among my broader peer group, I know this is not the case. I do know for sure that among teenagers (both male and female) politics is often regarded as just another subject in school. Here in Ontario, all Grade 10 students are forced to take a course known as Civics and Careers. In the half credit of Civics, we focus on the origins of democracy and the functions of the Canadian government, which sounds great on paper. In practise, however, I can assure you that this course is an easy A. It's also one of the most failed courses in the province, despite the fact that, in the words of my civics teacher "I give you worksheets. If you write your name on it and hand it in, I'll pass you." To make a long story short, the course is like watching paint dry. So it's no wonder to me that if this is the only exposure kids have to politics, they don't develop an interest.
I learned my love of politics from my parents, who order two newspapers today and blast the CBC's World at Six during dinnertime. I also learned the importance of community involvement and global awareness from extra-curricular groups like Girl Guides and Me to We, but I only joined those groups because I wanted to.
Knowledge of politics seems to project intelligence. I remember sitting in Civics class, and as soon as I knew things like who my MP is and who the Governor General is (and I was the only one in the class who did), a guy behind me sneered to his friends "Dude, that chick is sooooo smart." Sniggering and jokes ensued. The girl next to me texting her boyfriend under the desk didn't have to put up with that, and neither did the guy who knew things, too.
Things aren't going to change unless there are women in the government who are actively involved on a daily basis instead of just being diversity numbers, and until politics becomes less of an academic subject and more of a day-to-day topic. It won't change until it's the norm to have women involved in politics, where they are remembered for the change they bring and not just for the fact that they are female.
Most of the high-profile politicians are bullies and women want no part of that. Get rid of the bullies and women will be there. The big bullies scare a lot of people. Most women are more civilized than most men in Politics.
When I was a student at the Carleton School of Journalism in the last days of the Underwood typewriter (the mid 1970s) there were as many - or perhaps more - women studying the craft than men. And among them were sucg distinguished journalists as Esther Enkin and Sheila McVicar.
Vancouver, British Columbia
As Co-Chair of a national women's organization, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, I am surrounded by knowledgeable, thoughtful women working hard to make a difference. Nonetheless, I also recognize the problem you are addressing: too many women, as well as men, do not follow politics, do not dig into the issues, do not come forward to make a difference, or may not even vote. I am very interested in grassroots educational efforts to build interest in social change, and how we can make a difference. Media plays a very important role in getting issues out in the public sphere for people to learn and to comment and become engaged in. We absolutely want and need more women to get involved. VOW was founded in 1960 and made a contribution to the successful effort to end nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere, which was threatening children's health through radiation, among many of its campaigns. There is so much more to do, especially to use our resources for building peace, building a sustainable and healthy future, and working together collaboratively to solve our problems.
Here's a joke women like: A guy is talking to his buddy about the division of responsibilities in his household, "I make the major decisions, and my wife makes the less important ones."
His friend asks, "What kind of decisions does your wife make?"
"Oh, what house to buy, where the kids go to school, whether we should pay the mortgage down before we invest, that kind of thing."
"Well, what the heck kind of decisions do you make?"
"Oh, you know, whether the States should go into Syria, who should head up the U.N., whether the banks should raise interest rates, that kind of thing."
Women tend to act locally. Men b.s. about things they can do nothing about.
Victoria, British Columbia