Luther College Chips

Sexism is bipartisan

Makeda Barkley, Managing Editor

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What do ambitious, assertive women get when they achieve an advanced position in the political world? Vicious critiques on their appearance, clothing, and bodies. Regardless of political affiliation or ideological identities, women are attacked for a multitude of superficial things that are NEVER applied to men. Degrading tweets about Hillary Clinton from the 2016 Presidential Election cycle took over Twitter, and it was largely attributed to sexist conservatives. However, the viciously sexist attacks have transitioned to another powerful, assertive woman in the spotlight: Kellyanne Conway. Conway’s hair, wardrobe and makeup choices have garnered a large number of degrading tweets and social media posts criticizing her for her appearance. No longer can either party hide behind party lines and point fingers to the sexists on the other side — misogyny has been exposed as the favorite bipartisan pastime it is.

Similar to the ways that news outlets have a history of sexist red-carpet interview topics for women, so do mainstream news and “politically active” Twitter users. Since when have women’s appearances had anything to do with their ability to effectively do their jobs? Never. That’s when. Yet over and over female politicians face sexual harassment, mockery, and have their abilities brought into question over the color and cut of their pantsuits. Never do their male colleagues have to deal with this kind of personal attack. The closest we have gotten is the low-stooping humor surrounding Trump’s comb-over, which is comparatively tame in relation to the attacks that both Hillary Clinton and Kellyanne Conway have faced. In general, criticisms of male politicians come from a critique of their policies or stances on issues rather than how they physically present themselves. Although the issue of critiquing women in a way that almost always involves their appearance is one that exists in everyday society, it is particularly rampant in the undermining of women who know what they want and how to get it. This kind of woman is often a politician, an assertive and confident individual that threatens the patriarchal power-structure of our culture and in particular, our government. Often, if the criticism is not based in her appearance, it’s for something that her male colleagues would never be criticized for.

In a recent social media blow-up involving Kellyanne Conway and a couch, it wasn’t her fabricated terrorist attacks that made headlines, but her posture on a couch. Because she kneeled on a couch in the oval office while all of the men in attendance stood nearby, she was obliterated on twitter and other social media platforms.

“[Kellyanne] Conway simulating a teenager grasping for attention. We have only the best. Believe me!” is one tweet that made the Twitter feed following this event.

Meanwhile, Obama has been featured in an “iconic” photo of he and Biden where he has his foot up on the desk in the oval office. He never faced any criticism over this in the volume that Kellyanne has faced. Additionally, while not as timely, Hillary Clinton was constantly attacked for how “old” she looked, her hair, her makeup, and her clothes. Again, Trump was never criticized for his abominable suit choices.

In summary, we have to stop pretending like this is an isolated issue that can only be applied to liberals or conservatives. This truly is a bipartisan issue that not only crosses party lines but completely defies them. Women are constantly rated and judged on their appearances rather than their abilities or intellect regardless of social standing. In particular, women who have managed to rise above the gender gap are berated in the extreme. Sexism is alive and well and it needs to end.

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The student news site of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa