Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On Good Looks And Belinda Stronach

A lot of people are too busy for politics – or perhaps they just don’t care, but feel morally obligated to participate. For many of these people, time is of the essence and that’s why political spin doctors place so much value on the sound bite. And why is the sound bite so important? Because it is a tiny snapshot into the character of an individual. And in a day and age where there is so much value on appearance, it is completely understandable that looks plays the role it does in politics. But does this foster a healthy environment for women to succeed in?

Without a doubt, women are more subjucated to this form of scrutiny than their male counterparts. According to the very unscientific study I underwent during the course of BC’s last three election campaigns, I have come to the conclusion that, like many of my male and even female peers assert, a woman’s looks plays a role in their political careers. Generally speaking, I’d say that the more attractive a woman, the more high profile she is.

Take for example, women like Carole Taylor (my favourite), Michaelle Jean, Belinda Stronach or Rona Ambrose – All very beautiful, all very high profile. I am not trying to belittle their accomplishments as a result of their looks, but undoubtedly it helped to project them forward in the media and within the public. There is a flip side too and the lesson is written all over Angelina’s torso, “what nourishes me, destroys me”.

Looks, regardless of whether it helps or inhibits your career, is a form of discrimination. According to Political Scientist, Linda Trimble of the University of Alberta, it is this type of discrimination that has led Stronach to the cruel attacks she endured while crossing the floor, “The overall suggestion was that she was this bikini-clad blonde fronting for these backroom boys seeking power… The candidate’s aspirations were often ridiculed, her qualifications trivialized, and her youth and looks the subject of vulgar and excessive obsession”. I agree and it is an unfortunate reality.

Now as much as I am not supporting Stronach in the leadership bid for whatever reasons (mostly nepotism and not being bilingual), I have to say I respect her… a lot. I respect her for withstanding all the assaults she encountered because she was a young, beautiful woman; I respect her for playing hardball with all the guys; I respect her for being a mother while being a politician; I respect her for donating her salary to charity; I respect her for not having to work but still doing it to give back; and I respect her wanting to build onto the future of Canada and the Liberal Party (and I also really like her dad!).

Within a culture that places so much emphasis on looks and the sexualization of women, can women truly be equal within society in general and politics in particular? Or does the fact that women can use their looks and sexuality to advance themselves be considered a benefit through the comparative advantage they have over men? I'll let you decide, but my guess is that there will be a divide on the answer and it will lie among generational lines.


At 9:24 AM, Blogger S.K. said...

I agree with your post except if she were a man who inherited his company from his father it would be considered normal, not nepotistic. aka The Westons, The Bronfman's, The Reichman's, The Kennedys, The Martins etc etc etc.

Yes, people are too hard on her absolutely. People tried to put forward that she would benefit from the Sheila Copps fund. Nonsense when she doesn't even take an MP's salary.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Pedro said...

Hey SB,

I think she nepotistic, but if she were a guy, I would think the same thing too. I agree thought that society would think it was normal if she was male and that is wrong. Totally.

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At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Pedro,

This is old news... and true of every field for women. A woman's looks will always be considered ahead of her competence.

But I'd bet most women are hypocritical when they say this pisses them off because when their looks work in their favour, they have no complaints.


At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pedro - what happened to your drive-by shooting on Christy Clark? You have removed it. It was so strange. You said that she was running people for the BC Liberal executive in some kind of underhanded move to take over the leadership or something. Did you take it down because you had no proof and you didn't want to look like a purveyor of spin and b.s.?

why do you respect Belinda, but feel that you have to trash Christy Clark? Christy is a wonderful person.

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Pedro said...

I took it down because it wasn't something that I wrote and I didn't support its content. Christy is great. In fact she's paved the way for a lot of people!

At 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

then who wrote it?


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