i enjoy philosophy so much more than legal theory, bc even tho it’s almost entirely male drivel at least it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not (aka a beacon of feminist hope and enlightenment). legal theory actually argues that women are excluded from the law because the law itself is ~rational~ and women are ~emotional~ so how could we possibly engage w it?? philosophy doesn’t try to hide its problems and i fuck w that honesty so much more than pretentiousness.
I dream-cast a fake movie (or, more likely, TV series) on Twitter that I’m kind of obsessed with so here it is. (It’s a combination of Dave and Veep and the sillier parts of The West Wing.)
Synopsis:A charming, young politician is elected President of the United States. When his Vice President begins jokingly referring to the very attractive leader of the free world as President Bae, a journalist overhears and provokes a media frenzy that makes it difficult for POTUS to be taken seriously.
POTUS/President Bae - Chris Evans
President “Bae” (otherwise known as President Samuel Lucas Roberts, a former senator from California) is an idealistic, hard-working, Stanford-educated man… who happened to put himself through university (and law school) as a model. He’s put all of that behind him (frankly, attention paid toward his body has the tendency to make him blush), but the media refuses to forget.
VP - Joe Biden (if Biden is not available, Woody Harrelson is the only alternative)
Vice President Biden was just trying to lighten the President’s mood after he left a particularly difficult press conference. He didn’t realize that some young journalist would hear his teasing nickname for President Roberts and tweet it to the world. He feels bad about it, really. Even if it’s now funnier to him than his favorite Monty Python sketch.
FLOTUS - Rashida Jones
Eliza Howard-Roberts, the (formerly) rebellious and (forever and always) sarcastic daughter of a well-respected millionaire, met her husband after he attended a lecture she gave on Feminist Legal Theory at Stanford Law School. Formerly a professor at Columbia University, she has major plans for her time in the White House. Eliza was also the co-founder of a major tech start-up at age 21, while she was still finishing her undergraduate degree. Long story short, she likes to keep busy, and she certainly has her hands full when the press starts asking when she and ‘President Bae’ will have a bae-by. (Despite everything else, she still finds time to roll her eyes at, well, everything, but especially this.)
Chief of Staff - Sandra Bullock
Tara Montgomery is the hardest working woman in politics. She can get anyone elected, and no one is quite sure how because she never seems to get her hands dirty. Except when trying to clean up after her seven year old son, who she adopted in her late thirties when she decided she wanted to be a mother (despite having no interest in marriage). She and the president met in college (when she rejected him), and they’ve been friends ever since. (She’s still the only one who won’t let him win at ping pong.)
Communications Director - Mindy Kaling
Allie Janeel was the author of a best-selling YA trilogy while she was an undergraduate wunderkind at NYU, triple majoring in Political Science, History, and Dramatic Writing. After college, she spent two years teaching English in Egypt with her then-boyfriend, where she assuaged her home sickness (and, later, break-up frustration) with the first season of The West Wing. Aaron Sorkin’s verbosity (and Josh Lyman’s cute face) renewed her freshman year political idealism, and since then it’s been her goal to get inside the White House. She always has a bottle of red wine in her desk, making her office the usual hangout spot when she and her coworkers are staying late.
Press Secretary - John Krasinski
Brian Schwartz was a class clown who shocked everyone when he moved to Hollywood to become an actor but instead beginning a successful career in the Los Angeles Mayor’s office. He’s charming and neurotic, often taking on more work than any human should. Somehow, he’s convinced the Secret Service to let him keep his dog in his office. He’s beyond frustrated by the ridiculous distraction that this 'President Bae’ business causes.
Deputy Chief of Staff - Jesse Williams
Jules Newton gets shit done. Tara didn’t quite trust him when they first met, but he’s gone above and beyond to prove himself, and now they work in tandem to keep the White House running as smoothly as it can (which means it’s still pretty rough, but that’s the name of the game and Jules loves it). His husband is amazingly supportive considering how often Jules ends up falling asleep at his desk during late nights at the office. Jules is also entrenched in a pretty epic prank war with the Vice President, and he’s totally winning.
Deputy Communications Director - Miles Teller
Scott Huntington, Jr. was part of a secret society at Yale, and by all accounts, he was exactly like what you’d expect a privileged Ivy League legacy to be. So when Eliza recommended him for a position during her husband’s campaign, no one thought he’d last a week. Scott turned out to be mature and really good his job, even if his snarky sense of humor could be frustrating. He and Allie banter like a 1940s screwball comedy, and if he wasn’t already engaged to his college sweetheart, the entire office would assume there was some sort of underlying romantic tension.
Deputy Press Secretary - Elizabeth Banks
Parker Ray Wagner grew up with her widowed father in Montana and dreamed of seeing the ocean. After receiving a scholarship to Oxford University, she realized there was a lot more to life than learning to surf. (She still learned, though, and takes a two week vacation to chase waves across the world every year.) Parker found success and a royal boyfriend in London, but she broke up with the latter to take a promotion in New York. He may or may not be planning a “diplomatic” trip to the White House in an attempt to win her back. She’s a little busy, though, keeping Brian sane and trying to convince him to let her lighten his workload (he’s got some control issues, but they’re working on it).
Personal Aide to the President - Kristen Stewart
Taryn Wexler was an intern who was in the right place at the right time. Now, she has more responsibility than she ever anticipated, replacing President Roberts’ former aide (who hardly lasted six weeks). She’s the president’s confidante when his wife isn’t around, and she keeps him up to date on the scores during football season (they bonded over The Eagles, their favorite team). Taryn has a major crush on Jenny, and she thinks she’s hiding it well, but President Roberts figured it out within Taryn’s first week on the job. He’s considering playing matchmaker if Taryn doesn’t make a move soon.
Personal Aide to the First Lady - Mae Whitman
Jenny Caplan-Stuart attended Eliza’s alma mater on a pre-law scholarship sponsored by Eliza’s father. They hit it off when they first met, and when Jenny mentioned that she wasn’t sure she wanted to pursue law school immediately, Eliza offered her the position of a lifetime. Jenny is smart and organized, but she also has a goofy sense of humor (she can even make Bianca laugh). Eliza is basically the older sister Jenny never had, from late night conversations to sharing shoes. Eliza even teases Jenny about her awkward interactions with Taryn; Jenny insists there’s nothing going on, muttering “yet” afterwards, which Eliza graciously pretends she doesn’t hear.
FLOTUS’ Chief of Staff - Laverne Cox
Bianca Rowan Wade dreams of being the first transgender president, but for now she’s pumped to be in the White House. She and Eliza have ambitious plans for the next four (and maybe eight) years. Bianca’s planning to run for the senate after that, so she’s never against appearing on political talk shows to start promoting her political views (and, you know, the president’s… they mostly coincide anyway). Sometimes Bianca feels like she’s the only one in the White House who isn’t distracted by personal problems, but then suddenly her ex is back in her life, perpetuating the 'President Bae’ media craze just to mess with her.
Secretary of State - Connie Britton
Maria Carson almost became a pop star. It’s true. The eighties were weird and she had the perfect hair for feathered bangs. Luckily, she didn’t drop out of school to record her demo, or the United States wouldn’t have one of the most brilliant political minds since Machiavelli. Seriously, Maria has solved some major world issues, many of which the CIA insists no one can talk about. She’s also a frequent guest on The Daily Show because she’s witty as hell, and her dry delivery is perfectly timed. She has no interest in being President (her job is way more interesting), but President Roberts’ desire to please everyone drives her crazy.
NSA Director - Reese Witherspoon
Jessica Winston looks (and dresses) like a PTA president with a country club membership, and make no mistake, that’s all anyone expected of her when she was growing up in Connecticut, where her mother was the President of the DAR and her father was always at the office. Instead, after horse riding lessons, Jessica spent her free time learning French and Arabic before she’d even attended college. She quickly conquered Georgetown, and then decided she wanted to serve her country, so she joined the Air Force before finding her way to the NSA. Jessica’s sweet smile is offset by her no-nonsense personality; she has the greatest respect for Maria Carson, and they often unwind together after work with a couple of beers.
Head of Secret Service - Nick Offerman
Frank Henderson’s career is his whole life and he’s damn proud of it. Okay, okay… his cat, Marshall, is pretty important to him, too. Frank’s about ready to retire and he’s not sure what he’s going to do afterward, but first he’s got to get this hot new thing in office through his first term. Frank doesn’t know what 'Bae’ means, but he hopes it doesn’t make his job any harder.
Secret Service Agent - Zac Efron
Kyle Foster is honored to be stationed in the White House, but he’s also pretty sure he’s completely out of his depth. At least it will keep him busy and distract him from his recent break up. Kyle seems like a good kid, and the president takes a liking to him, inviting Kyle to chat when his shift is over. Kyle’s not sure how it happens, but one day he passes through the press room before his shift and he thinks some journalist named Simone was flirting with him.
Journalist - Daniel Radcliffe
Max Asher was just trying not to get squished into the wall. He writes about international economic policy for the political blog of a major newspaper, but no one really cares about anything he writes. (He’s pretty sure his editor hates him, along with everyone else on staff.) He’d had a White House press pass for two months and it wasn’t what he’d dreamed about in journalism school at all. Then, one day, after a press conference with the president and the VP about US relations with Argentina, Max saw the VP clap Roberts on the back as they walked out, and heard him say, “That went alright, President Bae!” Max tweeted it to his 980 followers, just because it had made him chuckle. He didn’t expect to wake up the next morning with more than 500,000 replies, he really didn’t.
Journalist - Lupita Nyong'o
Simone Manning has worked the White House beat for three years. It’s her favorite thing, and she’s brilliant at it. But when some blogger at her paper suddenly goes viral with this 'President Bae’ crap, she starts to feel pushed aside. Simone decides to take back her spot by any means necessary, but when she realizes the guy she’s been flirting with in the newsroom is a Secret Service agent, she’s not sure how to handle it.
Newspaper Editor - Colin Farrell
Thomas Winters is, somehow, in charge of a newspaper. He still thinks of himself as a cynical journalist with enough douchey charisma to get a comment out of anyone. In his mind, he’ll always be Erin Brockovich - he’d had no formal education when he’d started out, just a hungry ambition, a cocky attitude, and a refusal to fail. He can be quite the ladies’ man when he wants to be, but he’s been oddly uninterested in pursuing anyone lately. When he reads (in his own paper) that his ex, Bianca, is working in the White House, he suddenly can’t get her out of his head. Things didn’t end well between them six years earlier, and Thomas relishes the opportunity to drive her crazy when the new kid’s tweet goes viral.
UK Prime Minister - Helena Bonham Carter
Chelsea Chamberlain may have her quirks, but at least she has the respect of her country’s press. She decides to take advantage of what she perceives to be President Roberts’ political weaknesses, but she might have underestimated him. Still, he’s going to have his hands full dealing with her.
Senator - Robert Downey, Jr.
Charlie Greenborough got into politics because people told him to. He’s always had a good face and the charisma to match - other people had the ambition. But he’s used to a certain status now and he’s not about to give it up when the President kills a bill Charlie’s been working on.
“He went to Hampshire– that’s a pretty quirky college. I think he got his degree in feminist political and legal theory or something like that. I think all his feminist studies sort of damaged him. He was always a little too, um, ‘Is this okay? Is this okay?’ and I’d be like ‘Fucking stop it!!’
When he was younger he wouldn’t even look at girls because he felt like he was objectifying them and all that. Poor guy, well, you know that’s what teenage boys do, look at girls. You know, and not feel guilty about it.”
A feminist approach to international human rights therefore leads in two apparently conflicting directions at once: (1) increased awareness universally of the importance of cultural and economic rights for women, including such issues as the structure of the family; and (2) increased respect for cultural difference based on an awareness of the partiality of perspective, a skepticism of universal claims of authenticity. Is the tension irreconcilable? Does a feminist commitment to resist imperialism, a commmitment born of women’s own experience of powerlessness under patriarchy, leave us without a standard by which to condemn abuses of women throughout the world?
Increasingly aware of the diversity of women’s experience, sympathizing with the claim that universalism may be barely disguised ethnocentrism, and embracing in large part a position of epistemological skepticism, feminists are faced with a dilemma. Should they move to expand human rights to encompass women’s experience as though it were monolithic or, recognizing women’s differences, reject the universality of human rights divorced from cultural context? The latter conclusion risks undermining feminist critiques of cultural practices that are deeply harmful to women. Women are economically disempowered in the name of culture. They are denied the right to be educated, to travel, to seek paid employment, to divorce. They are denied legal protection against domestic violence, including spousal murder. They are subject to painful, often dangerous surgery to ensure female chastity. Together these practices and countless others create and sustain cultures of male privilege across the globe. Feminists must therefore respond to relativist or anti-essentialist arguments and take seriously issues of cultural difference without surrendering a critical stance toward the many forms of women’s oppression.
Tracy E. Higgins, Anti-Essentialism, Relativism, and Human Rights, 19 Harv. Women’s L.J. 89, 104-05 (1996) (strong primer for tensions in global feminism from legal perspective).
Essentialism in feminist theory has two characteristics that ensure that black women’s voices will be ignored. First, in the pursuit of the essential feminine, Woman leached of all color and irrelevant social circumstance, issues of race are bracketed as belonging to a separate and distinct discourse - a process which leaves black women’s selves fragmented beyond recognition. Second, feminist essentialists find that in removing issues of “race” they have actually only managed to remove black women - meaning that white women now stand as the epitome of Woman.
Angela P. Harris, Race and Essentialism in Feminist Theory, 42 Stan. L. Rev. 581 (1990).