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Thanks to the evolution of the internet and the new age of Social Media, we have become a generation of the overly Politically Correct. Whilst there may be situations that demand boundaries be set- for instance when The Onion, the satirical website, rightly apologised for calling Quvenzhané Wallis the C word- there are other situations that run the danger of being sensationalised purely for dramatisation. The media poke holes in every action, every word, causing a ruckus that really shouldn’t arise. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if the reaction was of any merit to the situation of its origin. In other words, did we have to waste as much time being offended? I’m referring about the recent hoopla that arose when President Obama referred to Kamala Harris, California Attorney General as “…by far the best looking attorney general in the country…” in his opening remarks at a fund raiser. All too quickly social media was rife with critics and cynics who took offence with his remarks. They conveniently overlooked the parts where the President also referred to Ms Harris as “brilliant” “dedicated” “tough”. Jonathan Chait, in his short post for NYmag.com, suggested the President get some “training in Gender Sensitivity” because his remarks would only serve to further encourage and validate the idea that a woman’s appearance is a prerequisite for her qualification and ability to do her job.
Whilst I understand the root of this argument, I wholly disagree with its proclamation.
Yes, we are still being judged by our looks wherever we go, whatever we do, in some places we are not even seen to be heard, instead we treated as second class citizens because of our gender. In the most primitive of places we are tools for childbearing and nothing more. However, was this a judgement of Kamala Harris’ qualification to do a job? Was that all that was said by the President about Ms Harris? Was this really worth the furore? No. No. And no, it wasn’t. Let’s address a few things first and foremost; the President is married with two female children so I doubt he, of all people, is in need a training in gender sensitivity. His wife, First Lady, Michelle, prior to becoming first lady, was a lawyer; a successful career woman, who doesn’t strike me as someone who would put up with a man who uses her looks as a “qualification” to her competency as wife, mother, first lady. Considering President Obama passed the Lily Ledbetter bill when he took office, it seems highly unlikely that he is missing the sensitivity chip when it comes to gender affairs.
Where do we draw the line?
The media is the first to assess and critique the First Lady’s style before talking about her accomplishments. We know about every designer she wears, how she wore it, where and when, but hardly a peep about her achievements prior to becoming first lady or during her tenure. She is a women judged mostly on her looks by the media. When she debuted her bangs her wardrobe was dissected, it took on a life of its own even when it entered its “mid-life crisis” stage. There are more articles on Michelle Obama’s style than anything else about her, as a person. Thanks to the media, her style, not her charitable works, has become an essential part of her substance as a public figure and they constantly define her by it.
Double standards much?
Musicians, rappers like Jay-Z and co, refer to women “bitches” and “ho’s” in their lyrics yet the media laud them with acclaim, easily brushing aside their open disrespect to women. The likes of Kanye West have attained demi-god status because of their ability to put their dirty words to rhyme, make a hit music and reach the number one spot in the charts. The media is happy to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the ugly language and name calling under the guise of making music or “art” as they refer to it. They throw around the N-word like its going out of style, but this diligent (*S) media of ours don’t feel the need to call these rappers out on their gaucheness. You want to address a problem? Start here. This is a problem.
The President wasn’t derogatory in his remarks nor was he unkind about it, he didn’t jeer nor did he refer to her body parts. He didn’t use words like “hot” “sexy” or even “fine.” He wasn’t “discussing her performances in the context of evaluating her job” he fondly acknowledged his friends’ qualities. Stop looking for a fire where there is no smoke.
Clearly it was a slow news day if this is what the media is going to bother us with.