Celebrating International Women’s Day

12 03 2014

Last friday, March 7, I spoke at a special meeting of the provincial parliament in North-Holland (my home province) about women in politics. About 80 local representatives, from council members to mayors, were invited by Elvira Sweet, Provincial Deputee, and listened to keynotes about the first women in the States Provincial (Liesbeth Ribbius, beautiful presentation by Ulla Jansz), the experiences of the once youngest female mayor in the Netherlands (inspiring and moving talk by Mirjam van ‘t Veld) and about the role of celebrity culture and social media for female politicians. The latter was mine, evidently. I briefly addressed general patterns in media coverage of women in politics (invisible, traditional, focused on appearance and emotions, disproportionate attention for family life, and general suspicion of incompetence) and then showed in more detail how celebrity culture excacerbates the attention for appearance and family life, Many female politicans therefore chose to construct a public profile (on their blogs and through their twitter accounts) that is entirely professional and does not ‘do’ frivolities or family matters. The discussion at the bar was interesting because most of the attendees are in the middle of local election campaigns, and concerned about their public performance, if and how to tweet. See also: Van Zoonen, L. (2006). The personal, the political and the popular. A woman’s guide to celebrity politics. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 9(3), 287-301.TED_9562

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