Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Beautiful Minds

Katherine Coble took umbrage at a humorous post by Mark Rose that displayed pictures of a number of Republican women who looked classy and/or attractive alongside photos of Democratic women who are either not at all alluring or who were caught in unattractive poses. While acknowledging that Mr. Rose's post was intended to be funny, Ms. Coble complained that attitudes that focus on the appearance rather than the substance of public figures who happen to be female contributed to driving her out of active involvement in politics at a time when she was young and idealistic.

Though I am not offended by Mr. Rose's joke, I think that Ms. Coble makes an important point. One might also note that the failure to take women seriously as public figures and thinkers is not limited to Republican males.

Thus, when Katherine Harris was trying to work through the Florida election mess in 2000, she was forced to endure, not only from comics, but also from newscasters and politicians, unkind remarks regarding her make-up and appearance. Back in the days of the Clinton scandals, Democrats made demeaning remarks about the appearance of Linda Tripp, even while Republicans were making unkind jokes about Monica Lewinsky. Euphemisms can sometimes hide hypocrisy: Democrats have sometimes expressed a wish that Michigan's Canadian born governor, Jennifer Granholm, could run for President, saying that she is "telegenic." They mean that she is good looking. Actually, when you start noticing, the bi-partisan tendency to focus on the appearance of female public figures is epidemic.

And, by the way, some women make efforts to cash in on their good looks for short term advancement. The success of such tactics is typically short term, and it makes worse the problem being discussed.

Please don't misunderstand. The blogger at The Monroe Doctrine is more than capable of noticing an attractive woman -- and, on a personal level, finds the combination of attractiveness and intelligence to be enticing. However, none of that matters in the public arena. This blogger works as the only male in an office with 7 women. They all expect to be treated as the professionals that they are. Women in public life should expect no less.


Kat Coble said...


You hit on the exact time period that set my sensors in overdrive. The whole Katherine Harris/Linda Tripp/Monica Lewinsky business was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back with me.

It's unfortunate that it appears I was only upset at the joke posted at Mark's place.

HJ said...

Kat, I don't think that your post made it seem as though you were only upset at Mark's post. I took it to be that it struck a raw nerve due to a range of other experiences.