Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Female journalists, sexism, and mad props to Chloe A.

by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

Our ever-prolific editor emeritus, Chloe Angyal, has a piece on Splice this week about some female journalists (most recently, Tina Brown) who have a tendency to rip into the physical appearances of women in power. Angyal comments incisively that powerful women are subject to an illogical catch-22: they are either too unattractive to be taken seriously (hence Tina Brown's comment that Clinton "needs to get back to the gym" or the recent discussions of Michelle Obama's "right to bare legs") or too attractive, as when Laura Ingraham claimed that Meghan McCain was only receiving media attention because she was "kind of cute." Does any of this chatter about legs, weight and relative cuteness have anything to do with the intelligence or accomplishments of Obama, Clinton or McCain? Of course not. Is childishly bickering over whether Michelle Obama should wear shorts a problem that's restricted to female journalists? Definitely not.

Chloe writes, "The truth is, America has a widespread cultural discomfort with women in positions of power. Sexist remarks about Clinton's appearance and demeanor, made by Chris Matthews and other pundits, were infuriatingly frequent during last year's primaries. The time has come for America to decide: are we going to be a nation in which any person, regardless of their appearance, can contribute their valuable ideas to our public debate? Or are we going to continue to waste time, and women's talent, chatting about lipstick, hairstyles, shorts and pantsuits?"

Damn straight. I just hope someone sends Chloe's piece to Robin Givhan.

You can read more commentary on Chloe's piece on Jezebel. And if you want to read more by Chloe Angyal, check out Feministing, where she will soon be profiling amazing feminist women.


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