The Lady Vanishes Summary

In the Revisionist History Podcast, “The Lady Vanishes”, Malcolm Gladwell asserts in the late 19th century a brilliant painter Elizabeth Thompson, gets a close shot at making it into the prestigious all male Royal Academy of Arts from her incredible piece “The Roll Call”. Gladwell also informs his listeners about the difficulties in the nineteenth century between both women and men. He also talks about the former female Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard, who was tremendously made fun of and received a great deal of hatred. Gladwell states about moral licensing, “when we do something good in other words, sometimes we then on occasion give ourselves permission to do something bad”. Within the podcast, Gladwell explains how moral licensing is frequent from the nineteenth century to today’s society by telling us about Elizabeth Thompson and Julia Gillard’s stories.

After the incredible piece “The Roll Call” Elizabeth Thompson was just only two votes away from entering the Royal Academy of Arts. Her piece “The Roll Call” was chosen from the Royal Academy and was hung on the line in gallery two. Her painting went on a tour of England. Eventually, Queen Victoria purchased the painting and is now hung in Saint James Palace. After all, Thompson married and her career was unfortunately put on hold. Elizabeth Thompson’s husband was an army officer who never said one word about Thomson in his four hundred and fifty five page memoir. Gladwell points out that “Thompson was defeated.” Not only was Thompson just defeated, her drive and passion for the art went away. The Royal Academy made it quite impractical for any women to become part of their prestigious group for decades after Elizabeth Thompson was only a couple votes away. Thompson wasn’t only defeated by two votes, her passion and drive for what she loved doing was gone.

Gladwell then talks about Julia Gillard, the first ever Prime Minister of Australia, and her 2012 “misogyny speech.” Gillard received a lot of hatred, sexism, and judgmental criticism. Not only men but women were jealous of her position in office. They saw something good in Gillard and gave her hate, which relates to moral licensing. Julia Gillard thought after she was elected the hate would vanish, but it exceeded. Gillard never quit sticking up for herself.

Men received less grief than numerous women in that time, and Gladwell’s reasoning for the inequality of men and women is primarily moral licensing. Sexist and racist comments towards any person in our society today and in the 19th century is an example of moral licensing. In Elizabeth Thompson and Julia Gillard’s position moral licensing presents very strongly because their society has approved both their situations as leaders but then the same society will ultimately have and give hatred on both of their extinguishing successes. Elizabeth Thompson and Julia Gillard were living in a “man’s world”. The two of these brilliant women were welcomed as newcomers but to ultimately surrender their seat.

In Gladwell’s podcast “The Lady Vanishes” he frequently announces moral licensing and shows the many different similarities between Elizabeth Thompson and Julia Gillard. Thompson experienced moral licensing when she was just only two votes away from becoming a member of the prestigious all male Royal Academy from her incredible painting “The Roll Call.” Because Julia Gillard was the first ever Prime Minister of Australia, she experienced and overcame a lot of moral licensing her way. The progress from then and now has changed and has thankfully improved by the way women live today. Afterall, Gladwell ends the podcast with telling his audience how Thompson went away quietly and Gillard left with a statement.

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