Sexism Watchapalooza

by Shaker Pizza Diavola

Y'know, it amazes me that in one item, with one sentence, we can simultaneously have a submission for the Palin, Obama, and Clinton Sexism watches, and also include Cindy McCain in the sexism and Meghan McCain in another instance of sexism. After all, these women have nothing in common other than (a) being women and (b) being somehow related to politics. They disagree on their policies and presidential votes; are different in age, occupation, ethnicity, religion, class background; and their political roles are extremely different. But I guess that's how sexism works: It attacks all women.

At Associated Content, C.M. Paulson writes about ET's segment on dress sizes:
But who would have thought that Sarah Palin's dress size would be the next big thing up for public discussion? Entertainment Tonight brought in their resident expert to "guess" the sizes of Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Cindy McCain. In case you were wondering, the experts think that Sarah Palin is a size 6, Hillary Clinton is a size 10, Michelle Obama is a size 8, and Cindy McCain is a svelte size 4.

And, of course, there was no mention of the pants sizes for John McCain, Barack Obama, or Joe Biden.

...But when does this search for information become too intrusive, or even insulting? Did you consider Hillary Clinton's dress size when you made your primary voting decision? So many people talked about Hillary's pants suits during the election season, as if this mattered. But talking about a woman's appearance is an easy way to diminish her and her abilities. If a woman gets too powerful, talk moves to her dress size, hair style, glasses, or the color of her pants suits since that's easier for some men and women to deal with.

On the same day of airing, ET's competitor The Insider interviewed John McCain's daughter Meghan and Lara Spencer asked Meghan about her weight and how she felt about being "plus-size." Meghan displayed great confidence when she relayed how she felt great about how she looked and who she was. I was glad to see that Meghan McCain was so sure of herself in light of increasing media scrutiny.
Paulson makes some good points in saying that it's a double standard to focus on women's appearance, clothing, and size without considering the men in the same way, and that some people reduce women to their appearance because they can't deal with women holding power (i.e. being equal with men). It's a means of diminishing women who dare to be equal by reminding them that hey, they're always going to be eye candy first, and they'd better watch out for their bodies, even if they're a senator, a governor, a hospital VP, a philanthropist, or a fashion designer. The speculation on dress sizes and the fat-shaming of Meghan McCain are all of a piece: Women can be reduced to the attractiveness and thinness of their bodies and those bodies are not their own, but communal property to police.

ET, I get that you're trying to cash in on the new prominence of the campaigns in celebrity media (WSJ). But you can do better—engaging in sexism is old news.

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