July 29, 2005

Appearance or Qualifications?

I just read this article by Cheri Pierson Yecke about the ridicule high profile women receive from other women and men regarding their looks. Her examples include Katherine Harris, Linda Tripp and Condoleeza Rice.

Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state whose crime was correctly interpreting Florida law in the 2000 election, was described by Time magazine columnist Margaret Carlson as Cruella De Vil. An article about Harris in the New York Times was subtitled "Mascaragate 2000," and the Washington Post suggested that she "applied her makeup with a trowel."

On Condoleezza Rice, who she calls "one of the most powerful women in the world" she suggests:

Nonetheless, she has been mocked and ridiculed -- not for her intellect or knowledge of international diplomacy, but for her hair. It has been likened to that of June Cleaver, but her critics are not content to stereotype her as a dowdy relic from the supposedly subservient '50s. She has also been criticized as a "dominatrix" who oozes "sex and power" for wearing fashionable boots and a fitted black coat.

She compares the behavoir of the critics to a 7th grade bully she once taught and says that some people grow up while others refuse to grow up. Given the author's Republican leanings, she does make mention of the left seeming to be more apt to make remarks regarding appearance of women on the right. I say both sides are guilty of this.

Madeline Albright and Hillary Clinton received more than their fair share of "appearance bashing" during the Clinton years. If Hillary received a hair cut, it became a national news story and we heard from "both sides" of the hairgate. "Too short and manly" "Sophisticated and sexy"...

Our society has grown increasingly more appearance focused. Shows like "The Swan" would not have even been dreamt of ten years ago. Don't like your appearance? Go in for a full overhaul. Nothing a second mortgage and a few maxed out credit cards can't solve. Your self-worth can be increased with a nose job and a few strategically placed nips and tucks and implants of course.

Unfortunately this skewed sense of worth has bled over to every facet of society. Women and men feel more pressure to achieve a certain "look".

Who do you want as your physician? The one who looks like a model or the one who is experienced and professional? Who do you want as your child's teacher? The pageant winner or the college graduate? Who do you want as your next president? The beauty queen or the person with the best qualifications for the job?

While not always exclusive of each other, the answers are obvious. But if we as society allow our media to continue to judge people on their "June Cleaver" hair cuts and their make-up application techniques, we'll be the ones to lose out as a result. Turn off the station that mentions the candidates hair and clothing. Refuse to buy the paper that insults the "fashion sense" of the educator. Stop reading the blog with the continued references to appearance when arguing against a person's position.

Cheap shots about someone's appearance is easier and usually better read than well calculated arguments against their position. With the possibility of one or two candidates for 2008's presidential election being women, I think it might get very ugly. I say, we take a stand now in the blogosphere to refuse to degrade a woman or man on appearance and degrade them the right way. On their qualifications.

Anyone with me?

(HT: The Anchoress and Michelle Malkin.)

Posted by Jody at July 29, 2005 10:03 AM | TrackBack

mwah! Doing the Peanuts dance, Jody has managed to post. Oh, yes, nice piece here.

Posted by: Stacy at July 29, 2005 01:34 PM

Oof, suddenly quite glad that I decided to take the high road in the Helen Thomas post I just wrote. I kinda wished her dead but drew the line at mocking her appearance. Of course I didn't post a photo of her either. ::snark::

Nope sorry, there's just too many of us who blog primarily to mock others. It's too much to ask that appearance be considered out of bounds. After all what Pirate's Cove be without Hillary's cankles? And you can't possibly expect me to forget about Barbara Boxer's hair. I would manage to keep that vow only until her next crying fit on the Senate floor.

Nope sorry. One of my vows upon my return to blogging was to be more petty and immature, not less. Reminiscent of Phil Specter's Head, I see a series of posts on Nancy Pelosi's eyebrows in my future.

So glad to see that you're back posting! Hopefully you enjoyed your break as much as I enjoyed mine.

Posted by: Janette at July 29, 2005 03:03 PM

Excuse me, are you the new guest blogger?

Posted by: Jeff H at July 29, 2005 03:57 PM

Well of course I disagree with you...but I understand completely. Although mocking a crazed loon like Phil Spector or even bug-eyed Runaway Bride is much different than mocking and teasing someone who has earned her/his position because of hard work and being qualified.

Now you might argue with me with about Barbara Boxer or Nancy Pelosi being qualified but the people who voted for them certainly think they were or they would not be in their position. In this appearance obsessed society, isn't it better to tell why Pelosi is an idiot and a moonbat rather than make fun of her eyebrows?

As for Teach's cankled filled posts, I think they're funny (and you know I love his blogging style or he would not have keys to my blog), just like I think your posts were funny. But when does it stop being funny and just starts being mean?

I felt so sorry for Katherine Harris being torn apart even though she looks like a normal everyday woman. She probaly looks a bit better than usual Wal-Mart clientel. Why does she have to be torn apart by appearance, is that fair?

Was it fair for us to pick on Madeline Albright because of her appearance? Certainly there was a lot there to pick on...but there was SO MUCH MORE to pick on her about if you just looked at her record and her positions.

I would rather focus on their credentials than their appearance, they're not there to be actors and supermodels.

Posted by: Jody at July 29, 2005 04:18 PM

As much as I dislike anyone picking on the people on "my team" I assume that they wouldn't have gotten to the positions that they are in life if they didn't have thick skin. Just like by becoming a blogger opens you up to comments by trolls, choosing a job in the public eye opens you up to catty comments.

I do choose to focus on political positions of people when it suits me but more often than not the conversation decays into humor. I think that's just the nature of blogging at my end of the Ecosystem. Besides, if I had to be "nice" and serious all the time blogging would be no fun at all.

Would it be nice if "serious" media would behave more professionally? Of course, but it's not likely to happen.

Posted by: Janette at July 29, 2005 04:35 PM

Right, the media should act more professionally. And just like I can't dictate what any blogger should write, I certainly can't tell the media what they should do as well. I can only do what I think is the best thing. And for me, it is putting credentials and qualifications before appearance with our public officials. I think we would be a lot better off if we stopped judging others on how they look and started judging them on who they are. Just my opinion. I am certainly not trying to be "high and mighty" on this, I just think if we're going to be insulted when they hit our team with cheap shots, we should stop hitting their team with them too...

Posted by: Jody at July 29, 2005 04:42 PM

Yes, Jeff ... special guest blogger for the day... I'll slink back to obscurity this weekend... ugh I hate my computer.

Posted by: Jody at July 29, 2005 04:43 PM

We're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I could try to be nice for a bit but it wouldn't last very long! It would only take one shot of Ted Kennedy on TV for me to fall off the wagon.

Posted by: Janette at July 29, 2005 04:46 PM

Not about being nice...it's about refocusing the issue away from hair and chins and noses and onto the true issues. And yes we'll agree to disagree. Thanks for the link, btw. :)

Posted by: Jody at July 29, 2005 04:53 PM

I see both of y'alls points. Taking shots at kennedy for say, his drunkenness with his pants around his ankles is one thing, the MSM's taking shots at political figures they disagree with because of their hair or something is different.

I have taken some of those shots while doing photoshops, but my stuff isn't being seen by hundreds of thousand of people a day. (If only) I meant mine to be funny, rather then pure mean.

Good post, Jody.

Posted by: William Teach at July 29, 2005 05:15 PM

Teach I think your stuff is fantastic and I really enjoy it. I don't think I've ever detected any "pure mean" in your posts. I do confess that I've gone down that road myself though. I generally blame it on the time of the month and a lack of chocolate in the house.

Posted by: Janette at July 29, 2005 05:32 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?