Friday, November 29, 2019

Kamala Harris’ Judicious Use of Identity Politics

As this year comes to a close, the American people are constantly reminded of the upcoming 2020 election and many hopeful democratic candidates want a chance to challenge President Trump’s incumbency. One such candidate is Senator Kamala Harris. A successful lawyer and politician, Harris has received less than consistent support throughout the primaries, with polling numbers ranging from four to fifteen percent. Part of Senator Harris’ strategy to gain a stronger hold seems to involve comparing her rich intersectional identity to her less diverse opponents. While Senator Harris does not seem to hold any punches, there is one obvious target she refuses to acknowledge, Senator Elizabeth Warren and her alleged cultural appropriation.

Senator Harris has put in much effort to remind voters of her strong focus on Minorities and Women and the intersectional relationship these groups form. No matter what the subject matter, Senator Harris can always seem to highlight the effects that subject has on these groups. For example, with the exemption of one question regarding Trump’s foreign policy with North Korea, Harris was able to mention either women or minorities (if not both) in all of her responses in the recent November debate.

Harris not only targets systematic problems dealing with intersectionality but often criticizes her opponents on their inability to deal with such subjects. In the November debate, Harris criticized Mayor Pete Buttigieg as being a politician who merely show[s] up in a black church and want[s] to get the vote, but just [hasn’t] been there before” Additionally, Harris attacked Vice President Biden’s history with busing and school segregation, stating that if politicians like him had their way, she would not have been able to run for president.

Senator Harris’ strategy seems to be a perfect example of identity politics. In other words, Harris’ main affiliation is not with her party, but rather with the identity she carries, mainly an African American Woman. For example, in the recent debates, while Harris brought up the broad terms such as “diversity” when speaking about specific races, she mentioned the terms Black/African American ten times while she only mentioned other minority races (Hispanics and Native Americans) once respectively. What this shows is that while Senator Harris would like to be seen as a representative over all minorities and intersectional groups, when she must focus on one group, it is most often the group with whom she identifies.

Whether consciously or subconsciously this judicious use of identity politics is representative of Descriptive Representation. Descriptive Representation is the theory that voters feel a sense of trust and unity with a representative that looks like them and shares their unique identity. For instance, the theory would affirm that African American Women would be inclined to trust Harris because they share similar experiences and would do a better job representing them over a white male politician.   

As mentioned above Senator Harris shows how her opponents would not be as good as a representative as she would by highlighting their lack of experience and/or past blunders. That being said, Harris’ offensive use of identity politics is not unilaterally distributed among her opponents. In fact, most of her callouts are aimed at the white candidates, with minority candidates like Cory Booker and Andrew Yang walking away unscathed. This decision makes sense as a debate with other minorities over who is more privileged would be far from beneficial. However, Harris’ decision not to pursue Elizabeth Warren does not seem to follow any pattern.

On the surface, Warren seems like the most eligible candidate for Harris’ attacks. In October of last year, Warren was accused of falsely identifying as a Native American to gain a prestigious position at Harvard Law School. After much negative press from new sites and President Trump, Warren agreed to take a DNA test to prove her Native American Lineage. While not peer-reviewed, the test was not particularly useful to her defense. The test showed that she had a Native American Ancestor anywhere from six to ten generations ago. Warren also faced public criticisms from Native Americans in the Cherokee Nation stating that DNA does not equal identity and that no blood test could prove she was native American.

These serious allegations of cultural appropriations for personal benefit would seemingly serve as perfect ammunition for Harris to use, yet she has yet to mention it. While Harris’ lack of action could be explained by many theories (such as not wanting to mimic Trump), one possible explanation made via Identity politics. Harris’ inaction could be due to her personal intersectional identity not qualifying her to talk on the subject. Because Harris does not identify as Native American, she may not feel qualified to call Warren out on her alleged appropriations. Since Harris is not a Descriptive Representative of Native Americans, any actions she might take on their behalf could be seen as self-promoting virtue-signaling.

In conclusion, Kamala Harris is bringing a more advanced form of identity politics to the 2020 primaries. By focusing her efforts on her own intersectional identity and avoiding fights outside of her identity’s scope she works towards securing de facto legitimacy over the African American and female subsections of the electorate. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

What To Think About All The Women Running For Presidential Office

What to Think About All The Women Running For Presidential Office

The 2020 elections are a ground-breaking year in female representation. There are more women running for a single party’s presidential nomination than ever before. In the democratic party, we have Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, and Marianne Williamson. Each of these women come from a wide range of backgrounds and thus also have varying perspectives and views on policies. A recent article published by CNBC and written by Carmin Chappell discusses some of the implications of the gender ratio in the primaries this year. The article quotes Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at CAWP saying that “The value of having multiple women candidates is that they force us to think about women candidates in a way that is not monolithic”. She continues by arguing that having five very strong women running in the primaries will force people to look outside gender identity in order to distinguish them from each other. When an individual is a minority in a group, their minority status is often the first and sometimes the only thing an outsider sees. In the male-dominated realm of politics, when a woman is running, her gender is often how she is distinguished from others. Because of this, a female candidate is often stereotyped with traits that are prescribed to women such as emotional and unstable (Schneider and Bos 2013). However, as described above, with multiple women running, we need to look outside this initial “monolithic” way of viewing female candidates and understand more of their policies.

In addition to discouraging stereotyping, the presence of more female candidates also has greater implications for the future of female political engagement. As mentioned above, politics has been a male-dominated sphere for a long time and as a result, women are less prone to run for office, participate in civic engagement or even discuss politics (Jerit 2016). Although women are still not proportionally represented (the current democratic gender proportions are 28% female and 72% male) just having more women running and in office makes a difference. This type of representation is called symbolic representations and suggests that simply being present as an under-represented group in a political sphere can have a transformative effect on the mass public (Pitkin 1967). Because of this phenomenon, researchers have come up with a role model theory (Cambell 2005). This theory argues that when women run for office they are not just representing their area or district, but are inspiring other women to become more politically engaged. Recent research suggests that when there are new female candidates that are running for seats currently held by men, younger women (between the ages of 18 and 29) become more politically engaged and are more likely to discuss politics with others (Wohlbrecht 2017). These results, while promising, were collected from candidates running for Senate and House seats. As such, it is difficult to know if the results will hold for presidential candidates.

However, if these results do carry over to presidential candidates, then we would expect this role model effect to inspire more women to become politically engaged. Additionally, as more women run for office they will be seen, not as "the female candidate" but as separate individuals with unique perspectives and policies. This will help normalize the female politician making it easier for women to women to serve in public offices.

by: Michaela Shurts

Jerit, Jennifer, and Jason Barabas. “Revisiting the Gender Gap in Political Knowledge.” Political Behavior 39, no. 4 (October 2016): 817–38.

Schneider, Monica C., and Angela L. Bos. “Measuring Stereotypes of Female Politicians.” Political Psychology 35, no. 2 (June 2013): 245–66.
Seltzer, Richard A., Jody Newman, and Melissa Voorhees Leighton. Sex as a Political Variable: Women as Candidates and Voters in U.S. Elections. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1997.
Pitkin, Hanna, 1967. The Concept of Representation, Los Angeles: University of Press.
Wolbrecht, Christina, and David E. Campbell. 2017. "Role Models Revisited: Youth, Novelty, and the Impact of Female Candidates." Politics, Groups, and Identities 5(3): 418-434.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Immigration Policy: Why are Children Coming Alone?

Families migrating from Mexico to the United States have sent approximately 135 children across the border alone. This has been a result from Trump’s administration policy. This policy takes migrants more than three hundred miles from where they primarily crossed the border, and eventually returns them to Mexico from El Paso, Texas to wait for their US immigration proceedings.

The US Department of Health and Human Services said that these children had previously come with their families to the border but had been returned to Mexico. A close source of the situation said, "Parents are sending their kids in order for them to find refuge. We're forcing them to separate in order for them to care for their children," pointing at Trump’s policy. If this policy continues, more families will be torn and broken up.

So why are parents choosing to do this?

First, these families would be added to 800,000 other immigration cases waiting to be resolved as well. One of the biggest hurdles that migrants face is the wait to have their cases heard.

The unresolved immigration cases have increased nearly fifty percent since Donald Trump took office in 2017. The average case takes 578 days to complete, which is about 1 year and 7 months. That’s a long time to wait, especially if the reason you are crossing the border is to seek asylum for your family.

Another factor is that children are exempt from this “remain in Mexico” policy. When they cross the border, they are taken by the Department of Homeland Security and referred to US Health and Human Services. Case managers then place these children with a sponsor in the United States.  

Why is sending children alone across the border risky?

The last stop for Central American migrants is the scrublands and desert in Northern Mexico. Along their journey, they are likely to experience assaults, robbery, and abduction by criminal gangs. Sometimes they can’t even trust police and immigration officials because of peoples’ reports of coercion and ill-treatment from them.

As many as 20,000 migrants are kidnapped every year for reasons such as ransom. Also, six in ten migrant women and girls are raped in their journey. These abducted women and children are subject to trafficking as well. These situations don’t seem ideal for a child to be dealing with alone.

Around 60,000 migrants are currently in Mexico as a result from the policy. Families are being forced to make the decision of separating their family. Separating their child could mean its safety, or even livelihood.

Explaining this to your child and following through with the separation can cause much harm to the child. The family separation just adds to the trauma that they have already been experiencing in their home environments and journey to the border.

Ian Gotlib, a psychology professor at Stanford University, shows in his research that early life stress is a significant risk factor for depression and suicidal behaviors. It also affects brain development and causes long-term negative consequences for psychological and physical health.

He says that the first step to lessening these effects is to reunite these migrant children to their parents. However, how often does this actually happen?

In closing

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said, “parents will continue to use their children to exploit legal vulnerabilities in our immigration system.” However, as we have learned, if these migrant families don’t send their children alone across the border, their children might never have a good life, or even survive.

The policy of sending migrants back to Mexico while they wait for their court date continues to expand. Also expanding are the many shelters along the border, which are cropped up, makeshift tent camps. These are being overwhelmed with migrants waiting for their turn in court.

The fact is that children are being sent across the border. They are alone without their families and succumbed to the dangers that come with making that journey. This is in reaction to Trump’s policy to return migrants while they wait for their court hearings. If this continues, then families will continue being separated and children migrating over the boarder alone will continue experiencing negative, psychologically long-term consequences.

Women in Congress: Democrats go High While Republicans go Low

Women have never made up an enormous chunk of Congress. In 1917, there was exactly one woman in Congress: a Republican named Jeannette Rankin in the House of Representatives. There were 531 members of Congress at the time, meaning that women, who made up 48.8 percent of the United States population at the time, made up 0.19 percent of the country's highest governing body.

The United States has come a long way since then. In 2019, women make up 23.6 percent of Congress, with 25 Senators and 101 Representatives. In the past 102 years, women have been able to get elected at rising rates in a country that is progressively taking women's rights and equality seriously. While the numbers look good, there is still a large disparity that is not looked at as deeply as the blanket statement numbers: Democrats have been electing women at a rising rate while Republicans have started to eliminate the number of women they elect.

When political scientists and news outlets tell us that more women are being elected to Congress now than ever before, we're likely to see that as something across the board, in every subset a woman could be a part of. And for the most part, that's true. The number of African American women serving in Congress rose from 21to 25 in the last election season; the number of Asian Pacific American women and Hispanic women has also risen in recent years and certainly since the beginning of our government as a whole.

But while other subgroups of women have been steadily rising in the rates in which they get elected, one subgroup has decreased: Republican women. Democrats have been electing women at a steadily increased rate as other subgroups increased as well: between 2015 and 2019, the number of Democrat women serving in Congress rose from 76 to 105. In that same amount of time, the number of Republican women serving in Congress decreased from 28 to 21.

This may not seem like a giant leap down for Republicans. A seven-person decrease doesn't seem like all that much. But when it comes on the heels of other statistics, it becomes more and more problematic. Women in the Republican party make up only 8.4 percent of the total delegation in Congress as a whole: 21 out of 250 total current Republicans in Congress are women. 8 out of their 53 senators are women, and 13 of their 197 representatives are women--15.1 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively. There is the same number of Republican women serving in Congress today as there was in 1995. The Democratic party, on the other hand, has almost tripled its number of elected women since that time, going from 36 female Congress members to 105 in the past fourteen years.

So why is this happening? There isn't a solid consensus on it. But there are certain things we know are not the reason. Republican women are still running. It is common in the Trump era for us to believe that perhaps there are simply not as many Republican women anymore--that they have been turned off from the party by the president. But this isn't the case. In 2016, 47 women ran for the House of Representatives--and 23 won. But in 2018, 52 women ran for the House of Representatives and only 13 won. Republican women are still running, and at an increasing rate. But they aren't being elected.

There are some political scientists who believe that the reason Republican women aren't winning their elections is because the Republican party as a whole isn't concerned with helping women win. The National Republican Congressional Committee's chair Tom Emmer has been quoted saying that he doesn't believe in identity politics, something that women are occasionally known for running under. Identity politics are defined as "a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc. to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics." Women have a common identity: their gender. It is easy for women to "band together" in a manner of speaking and run under the idea of having shared experiences with other women. Leaders of the Republican party have spoken out about not believing in this way to run, which can hurt the women who are running in their party as their voice is lost in the sea of other people running against them.

Republicans in Congress are going in the opposite direction as most of the country in electing women to national-level government positions. It is difficult for women to find a footing in the party in order to get elected, and oftentimes they are not assisted by the leaders of their party in running for office.  This is something that men can take for granted, while women cannot. While the reasoning for a decrease in Republican women in Congress is scientifically unknown, it is very clear that the Republican party seems to be the only subgroup of government that is going in a different direction when it comes to electing women.

--Katherine McCafferty is a student studying Political Science at Brigham Young University

Representation in Congress has Failed Women, in More Ways than One

An overview of the 2020 Congressional Races

The November 2020 elections are a year away, but the candidates for Congress are still pushing forward their campaigns in hopes of winning in the party nominations in the primaries and caucuses around the country. If women were to accurately represent the United States proportion to the population, women should make up at least 50 percent of women in Congress, possibly more considering that women outnumbered men by about 5 million in 2013. Yet women only make up about 23 percent of the House ofRepresentatives and 25 percent of the Senate. The numbers break down further when you consider the number of women in Congress by political parties. In the 116th Congress, of the 101 women currently serving in the House of Representatives, 88 of them are Democrats. The remaining 13 are Republicans. In the Senate, 17 are from the Democratic party while 8 are Republicans. 

These numbers bring two questions to mind: why is the number of women candidates so low; and why are there more women running as Democrats than Republicans? While these are important questions, none of the current explanations bode well for electing more women in Congress.

Where are all the Women?

Why do women candidates make up less than a third of candidates in all races? This question can be answered in a couple of ways.

The Political Pipeline

The pipeline to political office explains the path that most officeholders take to reach their elected position. The political pipeline, as displayed below, exhibits each step on the way to office. Since women comprise at least half of the population, women should make up at least half of the Congress. Yet something happens along this pipeline that prevents women from reaching that 50 percent threshold at the end of the pipeline. 

One such possible explanation for the leaky pipeline lies in the difference of self-perceptions. Men and women tend to have the same qualifications for office, yet men are more confident in their qualifications. Women compare themself to an ideal and when they don't meet the ideal, they feel inadequate and unqualified. Men, on the other hand, compare themselves to people who have the same jobs. In that sort of comparison, men feel well qualified. The perceptions of qualifications are important, especially when moving potential candidates from eligibles, the people who are qualified to run, to aspirants, those who want to run. 

The Issue of Party Politics

Partisan politics affect the numbers of women in Congressional offices within the parties. The Democrats have many more women serving in office than the Republicans. This is likely because more women are registered and identify with Democrats over Republicans. But there are still Republican women, so why don't we see them? Part of the explanation is that Republican women are much more moderate than Republican men, especially on issues such as health and education. In the current political system, the nomination process tends to spit out more extreme candidates, because more extreme voters show up to caucuses and primaries as opposed to the general elections. Republican women fall into the trap of moderacy, and that moderate viewpoint is difficult for them to overcome. 

Will these Numbers Change?

The nature of the United State's political environment, as it stands, seems to indicate that the number of women in office might change, but mainly for the Democrats. As more women are running in that party, there are more likely to be more women elected as members of that party. If Republicans want to see that more women are elected into Congress, they must ensure that they provide an avenue in which moderate candidates can be successful. This might be difficult to do in a nomination process where the candidates are more likely to be nominated as a member of the extreme parties. 

Getting more women to run is another story altogether. Parties must avoid losing potential candidates through the failings in the political pipeline. They must encourage them to run and help with resources to ensure that women are successful in their Congressional bids. But as right now, the pipeline continues to leak women, something that will not change without a movement towards inclusivity.

Women can and should see accurate representation in Congress. But until those problems are fixed, representation in Congress will continue to fail women.

What is Really Going On With The Kavanaugh Case  

By: Lauren Johnson

In 2018, Christine Blasey Ford, a Psychology Professor at the University of Stanford, came forward accusing Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual assault in their teenage years. This trial went viral throughout the U.S. as Republicans and Democrats became very involved and loud in their opinions. Senators stated they believed Kavanaugh and see him to be fit to receive the lifetime appointment as well as Donald Trump repeatedly tweeted how these allegations have destroyed a good man’s reputation. Others strongly disagree and think Kavanaugh is at fault and believed Ford’s testimony. 

This topic has more recently come back into headlines suggesting that there were more sexual misconduct allegations made against Kavanaugh that weren’t properly investigated. This has brought about questions on Brett Kavanaugh’s eligibility to sit on the highest court in the land. 

Did the FBI conduct proper investigations? 

Since Blasey Ford came forward with her allegation, three more allegations were made against Kavanaugh. One was from Kavanaugh’s classmate, Deborah Ramirez, another was 51-year-old systems engineer, Julie Swetnick and the other from a Yale classmate, Max Stier. Julie Swetnick said to have seen Kavanaugh engaging in sexual misconduct but didn’t directly accuse him of doing anything sexually abusive to her. Ramirez’s allegation was recognized during the initial investigation but, recently, reports indicate that Max Stier’s allegation came out at the same time but was never investigated. Donald Trump gave the FBI six days to perform initial investigations. Some argue this time frame was an artificial time limit to conduct investigations of this depth and importance.  It has recently been reported that during this investigation the FBI didn’t interview, Max Stier, who made the third allegation nor were the 50 witnesses interviewed “whose names the lawyers of Ford and Ramirez sent to them.” Instead, the FBI investigated nine witnesses over six days. 

Was Ford’s side of the case handled with dignity and respect?

Whether a young boy is convicting a family member of sexual abuse or a college professor from Standard University is convicting a Supreme Court nominee, it’s obvious that all cases with this kind of sensitivity deserve to be handled respectfully and with care. When Blasey Ford came out with her allegations she was blatantly mocked on social media and in public forums. Donald Trump made social media and public statements regarding his opinion on the case that many would say “crossed the line” of respect of dignity. And many would say that Ford was automatically placed in a position of vulnerability and defense coming forward with such allegations as victims usually have a more difficult time being believed.

Coming forward regarding sexual assault allegations in such a public sphere would be intimating for anyone to say the least. Ford understood who she was accusing and how it could impact her. Ford stated at the beginning of her testimony“I am here today not because I want to be,” and “I am terrified.” These words expressed her understanding of what she was embarking on by accusing a Supreme Court nominee of sexual misconduct. But as stated she felt it was her duty to the people to bring her truth forward. Regardless of who is right or wrong – this case lacked the sensitivity and respect that something of this depth requires. 

What do Americans Think?

Both Republicans and Democrats will have different opinions on what they believe is true in the Ford vs Kavanaugh case. We saw many #MeToo rallies that started slogans of “Kava Nope”, #WhyIDidntReport, #ImpeachKavanaugh, “We Believe Survivors” and so on. We also saw and heard many State Senators, Political Leaders and everyday people say that Kavanaugh was the real victim by being falsely accused. In an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll the results were that 45 percent of respondents thought Ford was telling the truth, compared to 33 percent who believe Kavanaugh.

We do find that there is a gender gap when it comes to whom to believe. 39 percent of men believe Kavanaugh and 37 percent believe Ford whereas, 52 percent of women believe Ford and 27 percent believe Kavanaugh. That Gap disappears when we look at it by party - 80 percent of Democratic men believe Ford as do 74 percent of Democratic women, but 77 percent of Republican men believe Kavanaugh as do 73 percent of republican women. As we can see, Partisanship plays an important role in dividing public opinion. 

What does this mean for survivors of sexual assault? 

Many debate that the Ford vs Kavanaugh case became a partisan issue. That the situation became a Republican vs. Democrat fight. Others suggest that it is more than this. USA today wrote that “This debate lays bare how sexual assault claims are minimized and victims’ trauma misunderstood – even in the post #MeToo age.” Many say that the Kavanaugh’s case has brought about more attention to the problem of sexual abuses and to societies tendency to victim-blame. There has been an uproar within the country to believe survivors and to support those who have experienced sexual assault. It is safe to say after seeing this uproar that the U.S. has a very heavy and negative narrative around survivors being believed. If the U.S. wishes to change this climate regarding sexual assault and to accomplish a better environment for survivors to speak up, than showing that victims can and are being listened to is likely to get us there. 

Supporting those who have experienced sexual assault has always been hard for society because it means disrupting the image we have of people we think are great. Sexual assault is also difficult to prove as many times it is done in secret or private. But we would all do well to not forget how much courage it takes for someone to come forward and that sometimes the absence of evidence doesn’t always mean evidence of absence. 

What Captain Marvel can teach you about Congress

Image result for captain marvel

Captain Marvel, released in March of 2019, broke records for being the “highest-grossing female-led superhero film of all time.” Female fans around the world rejoiced to see an Avengers film with a main character who looked like them- but there has still been resistance from Hollywood to create these non-traditional films. Besides “Wonder Woman” (part of the lesser D.C. universe) and “Captain Marvel,” the world of supers is still largely dominated by men. A lot of people say these woman superheroes are subpar characters working to fit into the ‘politically correct’ trend of the day- they argue we don’t need to create bad movies just to include women. So does it matter? Do we need female superheroes or are the men enough?
The same debate that has been playing out around the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes place within the political realm. Around 51% of the United States population is female, but only 25% of the United States Senate is female and only 23.6% of the United States House of Representatives is female. So again, does it matter? 
Political Scientists would argue that yes, representation based on gender matters. In the eyes of these researchers, there are largely three types of representation: Descriptive, substantive, and symbolic.
First, let’s define these terms. Descriptive representation is what we are seeing with Captain Marvel: does the person look like me, or have they shared similar experiences as me? (Think of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc). Substantive representation is the delegate articulating policy in line with the opinion of those that they are representing. Symbolic representation, although a bit fuzzier, usually aligns itself with descriptive representation- is something or someone representing a group that is not present? I will largely be focusing on descriptive versus substantive representation.
Critics argue that substantive representation is what is important- who cares what a person looks like if they are pushing out policies that are similar to your views? A lot of people view voting based on descriptive characteristics as a fast path to getting ill-equipped people into power. Don’t we care more that smart, qualified people hold office? Don’t we care more that we make good movies- Who cares if Marvel doesn’t have women leads when they have powerful superheroes like Captain America for boys and girls alike to love?
The problem with these arguments is that there are legitimate reasons to care about descriptive representation. One prominent political scientist, Jane Mansbridge, published an article about the reasons to care about descriptive representation. Mansbridge identifies four areas that descriptive representation really matters.
1.     “Communication in contexts of mistrust.” When you are a historically oppressed or ignored group, like women or African Americans, you are used to those in the majority group invalidating and questioning your experience. Even if that isn’t true of your current representative, you have been taught through toxic experiences in the past that people who haven’t had similar experiences simply cannot fully understand. Thus, historically less represented groups are less likely to talk to people who don’t look like them, leaving their voices unheard. If we want to hear what women have to say, we need to elevate people like them to listen.
2.     “Descriptive representation leads to substantive representation.” Let’s go back to the Marvel Universe. Captain America has no idea of the problems that Thor faces on Asgard, and thus Captain America doesn’t try and fix problems on Asgard- he doesn’t know about them, so he can’t address them. The same holds true in the regular, non-superhero universe. Members of oppressed groups have lived the experience of being disadvantaged, and therefore can recognize problems that members of a majority group would be blind to. These members can then bring policy to the table to correct the issues that they face. Black representatives can identify issues unique to the black experience better than whites can. Thor can represent Asgard better than Captain America can.
3.     “Descriptive representation creates meaning for ‘ability to rule’ where ability has been questioned.” Governments that do not have representatives from all groups are not seen as legitimate as others. Movies that do not represent groups are openly critiqued- see Aloha, Annihilation, or Lone Ranger. When people do not see others like them in settings of any sort, the overall attitude toward the group lowers.
4.     “Increases attachment of the polity to members of the group.” This sounds much more confusing than it is. Basically, it’s the idea that descriptive representation makes people more attached to the group as a whole. We’ve seen this happening with young girls and Captain Marvel- girls who experience Captain Marvel as a superhero idolize her- it’s made some girls interested in the superhero industry as a whole. Similarly, people express feeling more of a connection to representatives who represent them descriptively, and they view the government as overall more legitimate based on that fact.
When little girls look at the superhero scene, they now can see someone who they can strive to be when they grow up. Little girls can be superheroes too. The hope is that a similar attitude permeates when they look at government- little girls can grow up to be senators, Supreme Court justices, and (someday) president. Descriptive representation helps knock down one mental barrier for women entering a space. When they see others do it, they feel motivated to do it themself.
It can be argued that there is inherent importance to letting people see others who look like them in places of importance-whether it be superhero movies or the government. However, regardless of whether or not you subscribe to that thought, there are real benefits to having people represented descriptively in all sorts of settings.