The burn bras, don’t they?

I recently received the papers for the favorite writing assignment I give any of my classes (PS 306 Gender and Politics).  Here's the assignment:

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Informally discuss the meaning of feminism with at least
five people. Make sure to ask them if they are a feminist, why or why not, and
what do they think of when they hear the term. How did people respond? Why do
you think that people reacted as they did? What did these conversations help
you learn about perceptions and reality of feminism in America? You
are responsible for the full details on the assignment available at
http://www2.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene/ps306/paper1.htm 6 pages maximum.

Among all the interviews my students described in their papers, what is truly amazing is the number of people who spontaneously associate feminism with “bra burning.”  Seems like almost every paper I looked at mentioned at least one interviewee who thought of bra burning when asked about feminism.  For myself, I had always just assumed that bra burning was a minor, fringe event, that got blown way out of hand by the media and conservative backlash.  Turns out, it was never even that.  Snopes.com (debunker nonpareil of urban legends) has a nicely-researched post that clearly explains there was never any organized bra burning as a feminist statement.   Absolutely amazing that something almost entirely fictitious would have such a lasting and pervasive negative impact on a doctrine that really asks nothing more than that women have the same rights and treatment as men.

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Sarah Palin’s command of grammar and the issues

Dan Drezner, no ivory tower liberal, highlights a few of Sarah Palin's struggles with talking about economic issues coherently:

On fixing the economy:  ?Through reform, absolutely.  Look at
the oversight that has been lack, I believe, here at the 1930s type of
regulatory regime overseeing some of these corporations.  And we?ve got
to get a more coordinated and a much more stringent oversight
regime?government can play a very, very appropriate role in the
oversight as people are trusting these companies with their life
savings, with their investments, with their insurance policies, and construction bonds, and everything else.?

Drezner's post has several more entertaining examples.  Drezner concludes:

What I?ve learned about Sarah Palin to date is that she doesn?t know a
lot about foreign policy, doesn?t know a lot about the economy, and she
sounds just as bad in friendly interview situations as she does in
slightly more probing interviews.  Her best skill displayed to date was
delivering a speech off a teleprompter (not insignificant in politics,
mind you) and she?s apparently exaggerating that skill as well.

In fairness, I think she sounds pretty good in friendly interviews if the viewer/listener doesn't actually know anything about policy, either.  Palin is quite good at sounding like she knows what she's talking about when it is quite clear all she is doing is reciting talking points with no deeper understanding.

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