Most Kiwis probably associate Massachusetts with the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics or New England Patriots, with star quarterback Tom Brady. But the Bay State is more than championships.
This story includes nude modelling, the Kennedys, manliness, self-confidence, New Zealand and my mum.
Nicola Patrick wrote about Elizabeth Warren in her column some time ago.
I recall first hearing about Warren in 2011 while Skyping with my mom – a resident of Massachusetts where Warren was a law professor at Harvard.
She had just announced her candidacy for US Senate to challenge Republican incumbent and former nude model Scott Brown who had won the 2010 special election following the death of Ted Kennedy.
Warren won the election in November 2012. (In April 2017 President Trump announced Brown as Ambassador to New Zealand).
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Some call Warren a "strong woman" – a label that sometimes works against female candidates, while so-called "strong men" such as Rodrigo Duterte and Jair Bolsonaro appear to enjoy broad support.
What gives? Why is "strength" sometimes seen as an asset for conservative males yet a liability for progressive females?
At the same time, research has shown that men who exhibit "environmentally-friendly" behaviours are perceived as "more feminine" and can cause males to shun practices like recycling or conserving energy.
The Journal of Consumer Research published a study in 2016 looking into this phenomenon.
One of the researchers, Dr. Aaron Brough, told the Guardian, "Both men and women judge a person who is behaving in an eco-friendly manner as more feminine, and they even see themselves as more feminine when they recall having performed green actions".
It's important to make perfectly clear that I am not comparing perceived "strength" to gender or vice versa. In other words, I believe both women and men can be strong or weak at different times and under different circumstances.
Back to the study, which submits that men "subconsciously chose to perform fewer environmentally friendly actions in order to protect their masculinity".
From The Guardian: "This choice has dire consequences. We've now reached a stage of environmental catastrophe so severe that some experts warn we're fast approaching the point of no return.
"Have we truly doomed future generations simply because we've been too slow to change – and men too reluctant to change, lest they seem less manly?"
I've been active on environmental issues for three decades and find myself more concerned than ever about the state of the world. It's not feminine or masculine or strong or weak – it's looking at the best available information provided by the most experienced scientists.
Interestingly, in the second part of Brough's study, feedback was provided to male participants based on a writing sample. Those men who were told they scored "off the charts" for masculinity were subsequently more likely to make eco-friendly choices during a follow-up exercise.
Maybe it has less to do with gender and more to do with self-confidence. Years ago I recall reading research indicating a correlation between self-esteem and choice of motor vehicle.
Weak or strong, male or female, SUV or Prius, at the end of the day I think the only way we'll find our strength is in numbers.
Dani Lebo will return to this column in a fortnight.