How Women Get Trivialized

The execrable Dr. Keith Ablow, Fox News’ resident asshole psychologist, recently declared that Michelle Obama needs to “drop a few pounds.” He’s hardly alone. From the day her husband was elected, the right wing media has attacked her for the way she looks, ubiquitously referring to her as “Moochelle” and trivializing her solely because of the way she looks. Here are a bunch of clips of them doing so:

httpv://youtu.be/EW5xH3Oj0wQ

The same thing has long been done to Hillary Clinton, who has been mocked for her pantsuits and allegedly fat ankles. But here’s the thing: You almost never hear this said about men in politics. You hear it sometimes about Chris Christie but never about the average pudgy congressman or senator. We judge women by totally different standards and we use their physical appearance to trivialize them and marginalize them. We don’t need to take them seriously because all that matters is how they look, not what they believe or how good they are at their jobs.

It’s tempting to point out that Michelle Obama is, in fact, quite attractive and in great shape, but that’s really not relevant. Even if that weren’t true, it wouldn’t be relevant to the problem at hand. Judging women in public life by their appearance reduces them to just sexual objects and ignores all of the relevant talents they may bring to their position. Remember that when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State she was asked which designers she preferred and she replied, “Would you ever ask a man that question?” The answer is obviously no. Only women get asked those questions because it’s a way of trivializing them. And it needs to stop.

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • colnago80

    Lard ass limpdick Limbaugh is hardly in a position to criticize anyone’s personal appearance.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Surely someone’s done an Onion-type skit where there’s a crisis and the President addresses a news conference. The Press, one after another, ask her the usual questions about clothes etc.

    Nobody addresses the crisis that is the intended point of the press conference.

  • Alverant

    Sadly it happens on the left too against people like Ann Coulter. Granted it doesn’t happen as often on the left and I discourage it when possible (I’ve seen it discouraged on FTP too). OTOH it’s not like the First Lady goes out of her way to say outrageous things then laugh when people are offended.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Well, sure, it seems unfair, but she wouldn’t be getting all this flack if she wasn’t so out of shape. And at the same time she’s forcing her school “lunch” program on our children while “her” “husband” uses the jackbooted thugs at the IRS to ensure they eat their veggies!

    And she has opinions about other things, too! Do you know who else had opinions about other things, too? That’s right: Hitler!

  • dingojack

    And for an antipodean view on misogyny in politics.

    Dingo

  • AsqJames

    Related.

    If they have a family, women in business and politics are frequently asked how that will affect their ability to do the job, or how being a working mother will influence their approach to their position. When have you ever heard a male business leader or politician ask “How do you balance your job with your responsibilities as a father?” or “Will being a father influence your policy on X?”

  • raven

    It wouldn’t matter what Michele looked like or said or anything.

    Her basic problem is being married to the President, Obama.

    They’ve done the same thing to Obama. Everything is wrong, including where he was born, Kenya. A lot of them get much worse. The latest among the right wingnut haters. is that both Obama and Michele are transexuals and Michele used to be a male. This doesn’t explain why Michele has two children but they don’t care.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    The execrable Dr. Keith Ablow, Fox News’ resident asshole psychologist, recently declared that Michelle Obama needs to “drop a few pounds.”

    I think he was referring to the extra pounds between her ears.

    Lard ass limpdick Limbaugh is hardly in a position to criticize anyone’s personal appearance.

    Such behavior starts in junior-high school (or earlier), and what colnago says applies there as well.

  • magistramarla

    AsqJames,

    Yes, I always laugh at those concerns.

    My daughter is an up-and-coming business executive, making six figures and loving her job.

    She and her husband decided a while back that he should be a stay-at-home Dad, working on his masters degree in child psychology and being a great step-Dad for her son.

    They then had a baby girl, who is now almost two. My daughter works for a great company, so she was able to take a long maternity leave. Once she went back to work, she’s been able to pump milk and take off on those rare occasions when the baby has been sick and needed her.

    Meanwhile, her hubby is now working on his PHD, takes care of the needs of a busy teen and does an incredible job of caring for and teaching a bright little girl. They are happy and this has worked so well for them that they are trying to have one more child.

    When my daughter retires, they will have a huge nest egg, but her hubby plans to open a private practice by then so that he can make good use of his education. He’s getting plenty of practical experience with kids at home!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    In 2014, The Classical World Still Can’t Stop Fat-Shaming Women

    Comments which would never be made about male musicians.

  • Doug Little

    I’ll wager a good amount that Michelle can do more pushups than any of them.

  • colnago80

    Re Reginald Selkirk @ #10

    Although Ms. Erraught is a bit on the chubby side, she is hardly fat. Compare her to Jessye Norman, Kirsten Flagstad, or Edita Gruberova.

  • colnago80

    Re Reginald Selkirk @ #10

    We might add the formerly svelte Cecilia Bartoli to the list who has put on a lot of weight since her debut.

  • Michael Heath

    It chaps my ass when the ridicule extends to Chris Christie and Rush Limbaugh. I have a tough time taking those that practice this type of thing seriously.

  • http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/ Zeno

    Alverant: Sadly it happens on the left too against people like Ann Coulter.

    Yes, even Ann Coulter should not be dismissed because of her supposedly man-like appearance. She should be dismissed because she espouses stupid ideas and advances a pernicious political agenda (even though I doubt she really believes in any of it; I consider her an opportunistic poseur). Of course, Coulter makes is quite difficult for her critics to resist using her own rhetoric against her, especially when she muses about denying women the right to vote and otherwise kissing up to the notion of a god-ordained white male patriarchy. Also, part of her stock in trade has been her supposed “hot blonde” status among right-wing pundits, which she had long fed with her carefully posed book covers and PR shots.

    Let us ignore all that. It contains the seeds of its own destruction and is not worth our attention. Instead focus on the vileness of her stated positions. Instead of body-shaming, body-of-thought shaming will more than suffice.

  • dukeofomnium

    The male equivalent – obesity outliers like Christie and Limbaugh aside – would be hairpieces. Nobody ever snarks Rand Paul’s cheap-looking rug. Well, nobody but me, anyhow.

  • smhll

    Remember that when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State she was asked which designers she preferred and she replied, “Would you ever ask a man that question?” The answer is obviously no.

    I remember Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. Commentators fussed a lot about Hillary’s blue coat and matching (slightly dorky) hat.

    Either she or her friend Linda (last name forgotten by me) said “We want to talk about where women are going, not about what they’ll be wearing when they get there.”

    It’s still a good quote. (or, due to memory faults, a good paraphrase)

  • sugarfrosted

    @3 With Ann Coulter I feel there are instances where it is acceptable, given she claims only ugly women become feminists, because they’re ugly.

  • cswella

    @ sugarfrosted 18:

    How about we stay away from attacking their looks and instead attack their stupid fucking ideas?

  • bushrat

    We judge women by totally different standards and we use their physical appearance to trivialize them and marginalize them.

    Now this isn’t true. It’s ‘liberal, lefty, democrat’ women that get trivialized and marginalized. Those right thinking Tea-Party/Republican women are all wonderful people that persevere no matter how they look.

  • dingojack

    bushrat = must be them sparkles she sends just for you *sigh*

    @@

    Dingo

    ———

    Right-wingers love their country female candidates like a toddler loves his/her Mommy….

  • jnorris

    Fox News has been using this story to distract me from Benghazi since 2009.

  • freehand

    Wait, what am I missing? Which designer does Glen Beck favor?*

  • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Sadly it happens on the left too against people like Ann Coulter. Granted it doesn’t happen as often on the left and I discourage it when possible (I’ve seen it discouraged on FTP too). OTOH it’s not like the First Lady goes out of her way to say outrageous things then laugh when people are offended.

    Or has a habit of bringing up how attractive she supposedly is, not like those ugly liberal hags…

  • Ichthyic

    And for an antipodean view on misogyny in politics.

    one could only wish she spoke for the whole of OZ.

  • steve84

    I for one constantly make fun of fat, balding male politicians.


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