Saturday, October 24, 2009

Brobama: Is Our President a Frat Boy?

An article in today's NYT discusses the possibility that President Obama is running a "man's world" in the White House, citing a high-profile pickup basketball game to which he invited no female players, lower visibility of his female colleagues, and the general climate of "a White House rife with fist-bumping young men who call each other 'dude.'"

It's true; Obama has exhibited certain "bro" behaviors:
"Since being elected, he has demonstrated an encyclopedic knowledge of college hoops on ESPN, indulged a craving for weekend golf, expressed a preference for adopting a “big rambunctious dog” over a “girlie dog” and hoisted beer in a peacemaking effort."
And it's a little suspicious that less attention (or power?) is given to female colleagues like Hillary Clinton:
"While the senior adviser Valerie Jarrett is undeniably one of the president’s closest White House confidantes, some women inside or close to the administration complain that Mr. Obama’s female advisers are not as visible as their male colleagues or, they suspect, as influential."
But Obama has emphasized the presence and importance of the powerful women at home and in the White House. Jarrett also rejected "boys' club" accusations by noting the vast inclusion of women in high-octane positions:
"She cites the prominent women Mr. Obama has appointed to top positions, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and six other cabinet-level officials; Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; the health care czar, Nancy-Ann DeParle; and the domestic policy adviser, Melody Barnes. According to figures provided by the administration, there is a 50-50 gender split among White House employees."
But I'm not convinced that Obama's all-male golfing trips make him a bro, and it's so exciting to see intelligent women gaining influence at the national level. As White House communications director Anita Dunn remarked, the "Obama administration [is] 'refreshingly un-self-conscious' about matters of equality, maybe to a point where they neglected the 'optics' of the all-male basketball game."

Image from clared23's flickr.

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