Important memo for women of substance and achievement

Cross posted

Remember that when it comes down to it, all that matters is what you look like.

50 most beautiful women politicians

What an invidious position this places female politicians in. They’re being judged on their appearance, not on what they have achieved, not on their policy goals, not on how effective they are in their jobs. All that matters is what they look like. Feh!

The newspaper says that the list is “light hearted.” So there you are. If any woman objects to being judged by her appearance, the reply is already there. “Can’t you take a joke?”

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29 responses to “Important memo for women of substance and achievement

  1. I’m a fan of Rosa Luxembourg, but purely on the basis of looks.

  2. That is appalling. Apart from the general awfulness of it, they can’t spell either Penny Wong’s or Kate Ellis’s names properly, and they’ve missed out Julia Gillard! :) But seriously, what crap.

  3. Ellis was, a while back, asked to pose for Ralph or some such magazine. I thought it was pretty pathetic, but then that’s Ralph mag in a word.

  4. Combine this with the ridiculous interest in Michelle Obama’s upper arms and all I can do is sigh.

  5. Why don’t we compile a list of handsome male politicians? (We’d probably have to do with ten instead of fifty, though.)

    Cheap shot, I know. But what can you do?

  6. Feh! is a restrained reaction, Deborah. Mine was WTF?

  7. An Internet opinion survey for a Spanish throwaway newspaper. Picked up by a British low-IQ rag. Can it get more authoritative?

    I’d rather get upset about this – it’s real, and women are dying because of it:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/women-told-you-have-dishonoured-your-family-please-kill-yourself-1655373.html

  8. Daleaway, it was picked up by TVNZ as well, on last night’s news. And the New Zealand Herald.

    The story from Turkey is awful – when they say ‘please kill yourself’ there they aren’t speaking metaphorically.

  9. An Internet opinion survey for a Spanish throwaway newspaper. Picked up by a British low-IQ rag. Can it get more authoritative?

    I agree, except that the site that likes to think it’s NZ’s leading political blog picked it up with a suitably leering post and truly revolting comments. I wanted to have at least some contrary views out there. And I found it on Stuff first, before backtracking to the Daily Mail.

    So yes, stupid puerile survey, stupid puerile newspapers, but stupid and puerile has to be dealt to as well.

  10. I totally agree, Deborah. It was depressing to see the extent to which local media ran with it in NZ – they should have acted like grownups and ignored it.

  11. I do take your point, Daleaway… give me a few hours and I will post something about it.

  12. I don’t think that the continual reduction of women in power to Sex Kittehs is a non serious issue at all at all.

  13. I agree, fuckpoliteness

  14. Oh, stuff these people blowing in and telling you how to run your blog Deborah! If they don’t agree with your writing priorities they should be starting up their own blogs!

  15. Yes, sure, if this was just a random stranger or a troll making a comment. But Daleaway has been coming by here for a long time, and I know her from other blogs in NZ, and she makes sensible comments on lots of things, so when someone who I think of as part of the community gathered around this blog and other feminist blogs in NZ makes a comment like that, I’m more inclined to take it seriously, and think about how to include it in the conversation. Mind you, I’m still working up the post I promised her, and it’s not turning out the way I though it would, and I’m hoping it will persuade her that there is merit in us pursuing this issue.

    If it had been one of the well-known RWDBs in NZ blogging, I would have responded exactly the way you suggest.

  16. Ta Deborah. I knew you were quite robust enough to know that when you open comments on a blog, you expect a little savoury along with the syrupy.

    I’ll explain a bit more patiently then – was in a hurry the other day and don’t get in here every day.

    When you’ve been a feminist for half a century, as I have, you learn to pick your battles. This one is not winnable. The alacrity with which media create and splashily promulgate this trivial type of non-story is the equivalent of the small boy in all those editors who sits behind girls in class pulling their pigtails. They want to get a reaction out of the ladies. It usually succeeds. We oblige them by making a huge fuss about smaller issues (which everyone understands and has an opinion on), while the huge, vital issues also in our midst – such as cultural maltreatment of women – seem too insuperable for us to tackle. But tackled they must be.

    The media can rely on us to be diverted into running round squawking at them and each other while they get on with reversing feminism’s legal gains of the previous decades, which is what I believe is now happening (or about to happen in the name of saving capitalism).

    You can attempt to tackle sleazy journalism in a practical way, if you choose, with complaint letters to the editors and to the Press Council and Broadcasting Authority. Good luck with that! They draw up their own rules, and this sort of attitudinal concern usually does not trouble them. Gives them a good laugh, in fact.

    (Who owns our media, and what is their agenda?
    Why have so many of the editors I have worked with been such poisonous creeps ? [Honourable exception: Liz Parker, formerly of NZHouse and Garden and Next magazines. She had class, empathy and manners. She's also no longer a magazine editor.] )

    Divert, divide and rule worked perfectly to shatter feminism in the 1980s. I watched it happen. My advice would be to ignore low-level media provocation unless you are quite sure there is something effective you can do to stop it. You can’t pull off a consumer boycott, you don’t have the numbers and it would be a philosophers’ strike. The industry will not police itself in this regard. Making a public fuss will just increase their sales figures. Debating the issue on TV will just have people commenting on what a shrew/ugly moll/jealous bitch you are. You can bleat on a blog, and that will achieve very little either. You can complain to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and be told they have no mandate to deal with that sort of issue. Basically, women are on a hiding to nothing confronting this sort of sexism. Been there, done that 30 and even 40 years ago, and the same old sexism keeps rearing its same old ugly Hydra head. And the Good Ole Boys still find it amusing, in a spiteful sort of way.

    Save your energy for bringing about legal reform – that’s a long slog but we got some significant changes through with great persistence – and save your breath to cool your porridge.

    There’s a place for committee work, of course, and for women’s organisations acting in concert to bring about agreed social change. (Cat-herders are invited to apply.) That is one of the few things that has worked in the past. Until feminism starts to use the unfair techniques of masculinism, we’ll still remain sitting at the back of the bus. (I always said it took dynamite and broken glass to change men’s mindset – that’s their wiring!)

    I’ll stop now because this is a subject I cannot write briefly on – 100,000 words would be about enough, maybe. And as you say, it’s not my blog, nor do I want one.

    Sorry to be depressing, but the longer I stick around this area the more convinced I become that women are heading backwards and it is no accident.

    (And before you start in on making assumptions about my private life, I’ll add, yes, very fond of enlightened men, thanks, happily married and now in our fourth decade together.)

  17. Blimey, Delaway, it’s not for me to say but that was very well put. I wonder sometimes if to an extent the medium of blogs and Internet forums – whilst tremendously helpful in fostering communities of ideas and organising politically and socially – might encourage, because of their immediacy, the fighting of micro-battles that distract from the really big stuff. But that’s very much tangential to your excellent post – thanks for that.

  18. And sorry for getting your name completely wrong, Daleaway. Ops.

  19. Daleaway, I absolutely agree that this isn’t something I’d get overly exercised about, and for the reasons that you suggest. My comment was dismissive rather than agitated. I have been a feminist for a bit less time than you have, but I’m rising 58 so I guess I can claim to have been a feminist for over 40 years. I have almost stopped talking about picking your battles on feminist blogs because when I do I get insulted and abused by younger women, I have been called a ‘concern troll’ more than once on another feminist blog, and at least one of my more distressing and difficult life experiences has been dismissed as irelevant. I don’t think, myself, that women are heading backward, but I can’t see much as evidence of real social change toward equality as I used to. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places.

    I have been trying for ages to write a blog post about being an older feminist; so far I can’t get it out of draft. But one day it will all come out the way I want it. Even if other feminist bloggers don’t like my comments, my own blog is a place I can stand on my own soapbox. And I do.

  20. M-H, I wish you would write that post about older feminists. My lovely mother, from whom I learned my feminism, and who reads my blog, has been wondering where the older feminists are on the web. She’s been looking for you.

    Mum is in her mid-sixties, heading towards 70. I’m 43, a bit betwixt and between, early enough to remember Ann Hercus in NZ, and of course the wonderful Marilyn Waring, but too young to have been anything much other than an observer.

  21. I meant to say in my earlier comment that I have a great deal of respect for Daleaway, which is why when she says something like, “Why waste time on this?” I take notice.

    And many thanks, Daleaway, for your long and interesting comment. Reply coming, in that post that’s also coming, like Christmas…

  22. Deborah, M-H, do you ever read Violet? Her 24 April post (scroll down) contains some sharp observations about the sort of thing I had in mind when I said women were heading backwards. One aspect of it, anyway, and it’s just as true for Australasia as it is for New York.

    http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/

    Unfortunately her Comments section won’t open for me – you may have better luck.

  23. Many thanks for the tip, Daleaway. I got into the comments; they are, well, despairing.

    This is the post Daleaway is referring to: It’s like feminism never happened

  24. Thanks Daleaway. I have been despairing myself of the topic of “feminism”

  25. She wants The New Agenda to capture the power of the second wave, while embracing forced-birther policies? Does not compute. Not for me.

  26. I hadn’t seen the forced-birther / anti-abortion policies, and when I did a search through the blog, this is what I came up with: When did feminism become just about abortion, where Violet specifically says:

    I’m adamantly pro-choice. I think abortion rights are a fundamental question of bodily integrity. But that’s not all feminism is about.

    Mind you the comments in that thread are, well, interesting, and Violet is urging people to forge coalitions with groups like “Feminists for Life.” I think that’s… odd.

    So yeah… okay. I think that it’s very hard, if not impossible, to be feminist if you are also anti-abortion, but I haven’t worked through any reasoning on that one yet. Maybe I should try to do so sometime soon.

  27. Ah, ok Deborah – yes, you might have missed the bit where she went all Palinite at the last US election.

    The specific mission of New Agenda is to embrace anti-choice conservatives:

    “The New Agenda will also formulate an agenda based on core women’s issues which we will promote in a non-partisan fashion. [...] What about choice? We welcome men and women of all beliefs regarding reproductive rights.”

    To them, reproductive justice seems to be just an optional extra, not “core”, and not at all basic to women’s lib. Those PUMAs that people said didn’t really exist? This is them.

  28. Right.

    I stopped reading the US feminist sites, mostly, during the primaries. I think by the time Obama was selected as the Democratic candidate, the only US sites I was still reading were Shakesville and Feministe. I missed New Agenda. Wow – PUMAs.

    I don’t think you can be feminist and not be pro-choice, even if you think that you would not have an abortion yourself. I think it’s viable to say, “Not for me, but I would never make that choice for another woman,” but it’s not viable to not be pro-choice. So I don’t see how a feminist organisation can try to make links with anti-abortion / pro-forced birth people. There’s a line where embracing pragmatism entails losing principles, and I think they’ve crossed it.