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Come see me speak about benevolent sexism & Kamala Harris TODAY at HuffPostLive!

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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I am incredibly excited to announce that I will be part of a panel today at HuffPost Live discussing the media uproar over Obama’s recent Kamala Harris compliment. Along the same lines of my last two blog posts, I’ll be explaining what benevolent sexism is, discussing how it might relate to this fiasco, and trying as hard as I can to effectively convey the point that you can note how Obama’s remark is indicative of a wider cultural problem/tendency yet still think that Obama himself is actually a good guy/not a “sexist”/generally does really good things for women. We’ll see. I have come to learn recently that the Internet is really not a very huge fan of nuance.

ANYWAY, if you would like to watch the panel, see me speak about all of this stuff, learn more about my thoughts on the matter, or generally be part of what will surely be a very interesting discussion, please tune in this afternoon/evening at 5:30 EST (4:30 CST)! The discussion will last about 30 minutes, and here is the link for the livestream: http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/how-to-talk-about-a/515eeebe78c90a2f2e0001d2

The discussion should also be archived after the event, so if you cannot catch it, no worries! You can always watch it later on.

Melanie Tannenbaum About the Author: Melanie Tannenbaum is a doctoral candidate in social psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she received an M.A. in social psychology in 2011. Her research focuses on the science of persuasion & motivation regarding political, health-related, and environmental behavior. You can add her on Twitter or visit her personal webpage. Follow on Twitter @melanietbaum.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. syzygyygyzys 6:18 pm 04/8/2013

    What are your thoughts on the views expressed by the other panelists?

    Link to this
  2. 2. Melanie Tannenbaum in reply to Melanie Tannenbaum 12:00 am 04/9/2013

    Hi syzygy,

    I generally agreed with everyone! I believe that we had some minor differences in opinion, but for the most part I think we were all on the same page.

    What were your thoughts?

    - Melanie

    Link to this
  3. 3. syzygyygyzys 12:16 pm 04/9/2013

    If true, the comment that ANY mention of a female politician’s appearance negatively impacted her approval caught my attention. Usually I can at least contemplate some sort of rationale for a group reaction, but here I come up empty. Maybe I misunderstood the point? Speculations?

    Apart from the above concept, it seemed that the other panelists, the Democratic operative for example, spoke from the more narrow perspective of how it affected them personally or their group without addressing solutions to the larger issue. That doesn’t invalidate their points. Perhaps what I’m detecting is the prep time they put into it? Or maybe they participate in 15 of these a day, and it didn’t rate preparation in their mind? Those who do prepare show more respect for the viewer.

    It could be considered a trivial point, but some obviously spent no time setting up their webcam shot. It can be distracting for the viewer if the panelist seems to be looking down a well for Timmy.

    Link to this
  4. 4. Melanie Tannenbaum in reply to Melanie Tannenbaum 12:34 pm 04/9/2013

    I might be one of the ones at fault regarding that last point, because I was calling in from my home office and made the critical mistake of forgetting to close my office door. My very fat and very needy cat decided to come bug me for treats at some point during the segment, so I kept looking down to try and placate him — you can hear him whining during one of my speaking segments, and he actually jumped up on the desk at some point, though thankfully I think this was when I was covered by someone else’s chyron :)

    As for the mention of any physical appearance, that actually comes from a study that, as Clare noted, was just released and publicized yesterday. Here is a description: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/04/study-description-of-womans-appearance-damages-reputation-161075.html

    I don’t know what the underlying mechanism might be here — especially why it would impact women, whether positive or negative, but not men. However, it is a fairly drastic and dismaying effect. I look forward to seeing more research on it.

    Regardless, thank you for watching!! It means so much to me to know that people tuned in.

    Link to this

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