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Posts Tagged ‘Legislation’

Skirting the Issue

Posted on: | by Christine Anne George |

skirt

According to one particular devil with Prada-wearing proclivities, fashion decisions and discussions that begin in a magazine office with a pile of stuff will inevitably trickle down to the bargain bin. I wonder what she would have to say about fashion decisions made in upper government offices. Last week news broke that Uganda is considering legislation that would outlaw miniskirts.

Headlines and a Twitter trend (#savetheminiskirt) made the situation appear almost humorous at first. (I initially saw them and laughed, thinking of how my high school principal—who had announced at an assembly, “Thighs are ugly. I don’t want to see yours,”—would probably approve.) But this is no laughing matter. With the Minister for Ethics and Integrity claiming that the legislation is necessary to stop men from being encouraged to assault women and issuing statements such as, “If a woman wears a miniskirt we will arrest her,” because such a garment breaks the “above the knee” restriction, the situation—and its underlying implications—is cause for concern. Ugandan outrage to the proposed legislation spawned the #savetheminiskirt hashtag on Twitter,  as well as discussion of gender rights and discrimination.

Politicizing women’s attire is by no means a new concept. Back in 2008, another Ethics and Integrity Minister in Uganda attempted to pass similar legislation. This past January, the issue received some press due to an artist’s take on society’s judgment concerning skirt length.  There is a personalized and rather subjective aspect when it comes to fashion (what one says is a dress, another might say is not), and to legislate fashion would be a, in the words of one pretty woman, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”

#McKinleyProblems

Posted on: | by Christine Anne George |

220px-William_McKinley_by_Courtney_Art_Studio,_1896

Poor William McKinley. The 25th president of the United States who had his second term cut short thanks to assassination (which happened here in Buffalo and led to a certain bull moose rising to power) is once again embroiled in what one might describe as an—ahem—uphill battle. Apparently Alaskans want to boot him off of his namesake mount.

The tallest peak in North America has gone by many names over the years, but became Mount McKinley in 1896 because a certain William Dickey identified it as such in a newspaper account. Mr. Dickey bestowed this particular honor upon McKinley in reaction to the times. (U.S. politicos were embroiled in the gold-standard/silver-standard debate. Then Republican presidential nominee McKinley and Dickey were firmly on the gold-standard side as opposed to Democratic nominee William “Cross of Gold” Jennings Bryan.) But now the name debate is less about gold versus silver and more about Alaska versus Ohio.

Back in 1975, Alaska took local control and renamed the mountain Denali, which comes from a Alaskan native tribe language and means “high one.” Since the change was only within Alaska, no one had a problem with it. But when the governor of Alaska pushed to have the U.S. Board on Geographic Names—yes that is a real thing—make the change as well, the situation got rocky. That was when Ohio came into the mix with a resounding no. Ohio wasn’t about to let one of its well-regarded sons lose a namesake. In particular, Ohio Representative Ralph Regula fought to prevent the name change until his retirement in 2009. Current Ohio Representative Tim Ryan appears to be ready to continue the fight to keep McKinley’s name on top.

Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski insists the current legislation to name swap is nothing personal against McKinley, but instead a preference to “have this peak be called by the name it has gone by for centuries by Alaskans than a man who never set foot in our state.” Somewhere, I’m pretty sure that William Jennings Bryan is pleased.