Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hot or Not

In case your eyes haven't gotten frozen in an awkward place from all your political eye rolling in the past couple of weeks, UCLA released a study that makes us binders full of women even more objectified.
Their study concluded that women with more stereotypically feminine facial features (aka prettier) were more likely to be be politically conservative (aka Republican.) The study was conducted by surveying undergraduates, having them identify women's political affiliations based on their physical appearance-their literal facial features including shape of jaw line, arch in eye brow, and height of cheekbones.
Alright, several things fundamentally bother me about this study. Why should we even be wondering if Republicans or Democrats are hotter? Or what a Republican looks like? The superficial message this study is telling young women is disgusting. It's not about how you look, it's about what you believe and are passionate about that matter. Young girls and women already feel enough pressure to be pretty, and now this study can lead them to think that political beliefs just fit in as part of the package with the mold of how you look. You shouldn't think that to be considered pretty you are Republican. 
Second, think back to the last election where there were two women representing each party in the limelight. Republican Sarah Palin was getting all sorts of attention for being "hot." Yes, she is an attractive woman, but clearly she was not capable as a world leader. Meanwhile, Democrat Hilary Clinton, a highly educated and intelligent woman, was struggling to get the momentum she needed to get to a national platform, a problem many have often attributed to her "likeability." Beyond her beliefs or personality, was that also regarding her appearance? If this UCLA study is true, we could concur that her look hurt her. The fact that Hilary over the past couple of years has seemed to change-grown her hair out to a more feminine style, began to dress more sharply, all disturbingly imply that we, as a nation, do prefer our political women to be more feminine. Shouldn't Hilary's experience, beliefs, and knowledge be enough? Has she fallen into the trap of competing in a beauty contest as well-becoming a lipstick democrat? But if there are studies like this being done, it's no wonder why that is a pressure for her to feel. It shouldn't matter. A woman in a political position of power should not be the poster hung in a college dorm that boys jerk off to anyway, right? That's just disrespectful. And don't worry, I find it equally offensive when women talk about the "sexy" Paul Ryan muscles. I would have at least struggled less with this study if it had studied men as well. Do we think male Republicans are more attractive? If we are going to go there, let's play a game of marry, boff, kill with Clinton, Obama, and Romney. Come on ladies, that's a no brainer!
In an election where women's issues and choices really matter, this study seems to take us all back to a time where women had no rights but the right to look pretty. Corsets and petticoats have gone the way of horses and bayonets. So too should the idea that what women look like matters, let alone make their political beliefs predictable. Don't judge the book by it's cover. Seriously, just think, 50 Shades of Gray has a quite boring cover.

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