KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, January 15, 2007

Have Operating Uterus, Am Not a Barbie Doll, Can Still Lead People

Think Americans have reached a level of enlightenment in which we talk only about public servants' qualifications for office and not about their physical packaging? Think again.

The mainstream media is concerned not about women's qualifications for political offices but about how closely they adhere to the traditional qualifications for being a woman: producing children and being sexy.

Don't believe me? Take a look at page 6 of the January–February 2006 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, in the "Hard Numbers" column:
259: Number of stories that mention speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi's status as a grandmother, 9/1/2006 to 12/1/2006.

6: Number of stories that mention ex-speaker Dennis Hastert's status as a grandfather, 6/27/1999 to 12/1/2006.
What the hell does the fact that Nancy Pelosi's uterus was productive have to do with her leadership abilities? Should we deduce that Hastert's poor ability to confront the truth about pedophile Mark Foley is related to his status as a grandfather?

Have we seen stories in the mainstream media describing what Hastert was wearing? I haven't. But I sure have seen plenty talking about Pelosi's outfits. What a person wears has nothing to do with how she or he governs.

Yeah, sure, we're all sexual beings biologically programmed to notice others' looks. And sure, if we're parents or grandparents, we notice whether others have reproduced. But these things have absolutely nothing to do with how qualified politicians are to govern.

I remember being incensed at how often the mainstream media referred to what they perceived as former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno's lack of good looks. Do they discuss male politicos' looks? Not often.

Doesn't seem to matter what a woman achieves; somewhere, by some men (and, astoundingly, by some women), she's going to also be judged by how she looks or whether she reproduced. Sexism lives.

Dr. Martin Luther King, we have not yet learned to generalize the lessons you taught. Shame on us.

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