by AndrewMc | 8/13/2009 10:46:00 AM
There are some interesting debates about and among feminists and feminism going on right now.

I was struck by a story I heard on the BBC World News podcast (and read at Reuters) about Vera Lengsfeld, a candidate for German Parliament. She's running a cleavage-baring ad that unabashedly tries to cash in on her breasts. The caption says "We have more to offer." I realize it isn't in the U.S., but is this what a century of women's progress brings us to?

Over at the Chronicle of Higher Ed a very important debate over the the prevalence of domestic violence is being derailed by shoddy scholarship and nitpicking about the shoddy scholarship.

Finally, despite years of success in her own right, despite holding down a major cabinet position, and despite her travels abroad to work on behalf of rape victims, she's asked (in an apparent mistranslation) what her husband thinks about trade issues.

Now, lest you think I'm being crass with the title, I am trying to make a point. The German candidate has openly admitted that she's baring her cleavage because she doesn't think people will listen to her policies. She's using her breasts, and Chancellor Merkel's to bring people to her message.

In essence, she's playing to the double standard.

Is this OK? Hillary Clinton spent a whole campaign season being assaulted for the clothes she wore, the tears she cried, and every display of emotion. And she was assaulted for it in ways that men cannot imagine.

Sarah Palin clearly trades on her looks, and the media let it go.

What are your thoughts?

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Blogger Ahistoricality on 8/13/2009 8:16 PM:

I've been trying to make sense of this since I saw it....

She's using her breasts, and Chancellor Merkel's to bring people to her message.

Remember the Kennedy-Nixon debates? Me neither, but the point is that success in electoral politics is roughly equally divided between appearances and rhetorical impact, funding, and policy ideas (or attacks on policy ideas).

The double standard exists: some people are going to suffer from it, but some are going to exploit it.

The fact that we can identify it and problematize is means something, I suppose.


Blogger AndrewMc on 8/14/2009 5:45 AM:

Well, her counter-argument is "why not? I have them. Why shouldn't I be able to use them?"


Blogger Ahistoricality on 8/14/2009 8:48 AM:

Why not go all the way and show up in bathing suits?

Because "using them" is a sign of deep disrespect for her voters and for the institution she's trying to enter.

Not that I think it's going to fail on grounds of dignity, but it would be nice.

By the way, several Japanese political parties have actually been fielding young, pretty actresses as legislative candidates, to compete with older establishment incumbents. And it's worked a few times.