In last night’s presidential debate President Obama referenced the US’s role in advocating for women’s rights in the Middle East at least three times.
We do have to make sure that we’re protecting religious minorities and women because these countries can’t develop unless all the population, not just half of it, is developing.
And we have put significant pressure on [Egypt] to make sure they’re doing that; to recognize the rights of women. These countries can’t develop if young women are not given the kind of education that they need.
Obama is absolutely correct that a country’s economic development and how it treats its women go hand-in-hand. Yet the president left me wondering how he intends to protect women and respect and support their rights in sovereign, non-US nations like Egypt and Iran.
There are only two ways, really: cooperatively or coercively. It seems clear which path Obama has chosen.
Who is going to be credible to all parties involved? And they can look at my track record, whether it’s Iran sanctions, whether it’s dealing with counterterrorism, whether it’s supporting democracy, whether it’s supporting women’s rights, whether it’s supporting religious minorities.
Economic sanctions barely budge governments (have we seen any progress as a result?) while inflicting serious hurt on people. Not only that, but they represent a huge missed opportunity.
Cultural norms have long flowed across state lines along with goods and services. By denying Iran trade with the rest of the world, we’re denying them chances to come in contact with our culture.
What impact would the latest Nicki Minaj video have on the Iranian people? In it, Minaj takes rap tropes like fully-dressed man surrounded by half-naked women and participates fully, in the masculine role, where she’s fully-dressed getting her hair done by a cleavage-bearing woman. And she’s rapping, a traditionally masculine activity. Yet Minaj is not in drag or otherwise playing a man. That, she leaves to her collaborator Cassie. Here’s her describing the idea to cross-dress like it’s NBD:
[The director] came to us with the treatment of us being in a Barbie world, and I wanted to put my little flavor on it, so I was like, ‘What if I was Ken?’ So Nicki loved the idea, and that’s where that stemmed from.”
Just as Elvis’ hips helped liberate American society from Victorian sexual mores, Cassie’s androgyny helps liberate American society from strictly-enforced gender roles.
How much better if we, through cooperative, liberating, prosperity-producing, innovation-creating trade could do the same for the entire world, Iran included?
Photo by sinosplice.