Summary “The Lady Vanishes”

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Podcast, “The Lady Vanishes,” Gladwell’s purpose of sharing this podcast is to portray what he thinks is genuinely misunderstood and overlooked. In this episode, Gladwell utilizes it primarily on moral licensing. As Gladwell explains, moral licensing is the self-confidence one gains when they recognize they did something good to give themselves permission to do an immoral behavior without feeling guilty. He introduces two famous women, Elizabeth Thompson, one of the first 19th century female painters to achieve fame and Julia Gillard, the first female prime minister of Australia, to explain this concept.

Gladwell introduces, “The Roll Call,” a famous painting by Elizabeth Thompson to portray what it is like to be the first outsider to enter a closed world. Thompsons painting got hung at eye level, which at the Royal Academy was a big deal, it was every painters dream. The Roll Call’s success was an excuse to not allow any of Thompson’s paintings following this one into the Royal Academy. At the time, British woman in the 19th century were not allowed to study art, which was very unfortunate due to the fact that membership was what determined reputation as well as wealth.

Gladwell introduced Julia Gillard who faced the same sex-based discrimination as Thompson did. Gillard was the first female prime minister who faced a lot of hatred simply because of her gender. The two woman, Thompson and Gillard had very distinct reactions. Gillard held a speech ceremony standing up for equal rights, which still didn’t get rid of the problem women were facing at that time. On the other hand, Thompson was later nominated for election in the Royal Academy and lost only by two votes, which certainly showed progress. She later submitted a new painting in 1875, which was accepted into the academy but was hung up in the black hole, It was just as bad as not getting hung up at all. The men were not accepting of a female being above, commanding them. Thompson eventually gives up on fighting to be heard and accepts that things just will not change.

Gladwell talks about these two women to show that sometimes when one door opens for one person, it opens for everyone else, but we also have to understand that there are times when one door opens for one person, it may not necessarily mean it will open for everyone else. Later in the podcast, Gladwell mentions Hillary Clinton, who ran for office several times and asks us to think, Is Clinton’s campaign affected like Julia Gillard and Elizabeth Thompson, simply because of her gender or does it show some type of progress throughout the years? Will there ever be equal rights? Gladwell ends the podcast by telling us that Hillary Clinton will not have it easy because sex-based discrimination is still occurring in the world and is still a problem today.

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