Newsweek recently published a piece on the sexualization of Republican women. It’s true that, with the advent of Sarah Palin in American politics, women in positions of power have received a tremendous amount of ogling. It’s equally true that, for some reason or another, this trend seems to be aimed at conservative women. Finally, it’s especially true that this is a serious problem.
Something pretty creepy has been happening to conservative women lately. There seems to be an insistent, increasingly excitable focus on the supposed hotness of Republican women in the public eye, like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Michelle Malkin, and Nikki Haley—not to mention veterans like Ann Coulter. The sexual references are pervasive: they come from left, right, and center, and range from gushing to highly offensive. The Atlantic asked, “Is Sarah Palin Porn?” as others quizzed the former governor about whether she had breast implants. Right Wing News compiled a list of the hottest conservative women in new media. Playboy even ran an outrageous piece titled “Ten Conservative Women I’d Like to Hate F–k,” which read like a sick attempt to make rape cool. “We may despise everything these women represent,” wrote the author, “but goddammit they’re hot. Let the healing begin.” Moron.
This is just appalling. Whatever side of the political spectrum you swing, there is no question that this attention to the physical appearances of women and focus on their level of “hotness” is just disgusting. I’m feeling kind of guilty for writing about Sarah Palin’s boobs a few weeks ago. Like, legit. Maybe. A little bit.
But Newsbusters’ Noel Sheppard is taking Newsweek to task for its coverage of the issue, particularly with writer Julia Baird’s inclusion of headlines such as “Too Hot to Handle.” He did, however, also bring up a point that I find completely valid.
Making matters worse, Baird completely ignored the double standard whereby Democrat women in politics are not so victimized. This undermined any attempt on her part to discredit those doing it to Republican women.
Whether intentional or not, this was another disgusting representation of GOP females that the National Organization for Women would come down strongly against if it was written about Democrats.
With feminists like this, who needs sexists?
Although I think Sheppard took much of Baird’s article out of context in his diatribe (Her article begins, “Something pretty creepy has been happening to conservative women lately,” which seems to be stating that yes, this ogling is happening to conservative women—and it’s creepy), he is spot on about the lack of similar focus on liberal women. To me, it’s a lot more valuable to contemplate why liberal women have managed to avoid this level of scrutiny. I mean, are they just a bunch of ugly old hags or something?
Uh, clearly not. And yet the microscope seems to blur when an attempt is made to focus in on female Dems. The Huffington Post asked for reader submissions for a calendar featuring liberal women. Right Wing News wrote a counter-story to the disgusting Playboy piece that lists the 10 hottest liberal women (including Janeane Garofalo, Meghan McCain, Jessica Valenti, and Chelsea Clinton). Atlas Shrugs’ Pamela Geller (no stranger to ZL readers) refers to hot liberal women as “an oxymoron”.
There’s kind of a stereotype in America that conservative women are beautiful, ruthless, and pretty much like the head cheerleader that will go to any lengths to come out on top; in other words, no brains but a lot of street smarts … and who the hell cares what comes out of her mouth if she looks like that?
And by the same token, liberal women are extremely intelligent, socially awkward, and pretty much like the girl whose Biology test you cheated off; in other words, wicked smart but way too wacked out to take seriously … and who the hell cares what she looks like if she’s smart enough to come up with such great ideas?
This drives me bonkers. It’s a pigeonholing that is completely ridiculous, a perpetuation of stereotypes that should have been gone long ago. I rag on Sarah Palin because of the utterly laughable things that come out of her mouth, not because of how she looks (boob story excepted). I ragged on Nancy Pelosi on this very site for the same reason. I can disagree with someone politically yet have tremendous respect for them at the same time (Maine’s Olympia Snowe comes to mind, although she loses some points with me for beginning her speech at my brother’s college graduation with something like, “There’s nothing worse than a speaker that takes up a lot of time saying things nobody is listening to when everyone’s just waiting for the diplomas” then talking for over an hour).
What do you think? And, more importantly, where did these stereotypes come from (and, of course, what can we do to change it)?