Picking apart female politicians’ attire distracts from issues


    This has been an amazing year for women in politics, but somehow we still seem unable to escape the urge to marginalize women based on their fashion sense and appearance.

    Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have shattered the glass ceiling and made something possible that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago.

    They have stood strong on the issues and made meaningful contributions to the political debate that is so desperately needed in our country right now. So why is the media intent on focusing on how they look and what they wear?

    Hillary’s pantsuits and Palin’s designer duds seem to be as important as their political ideals.

    It’s no wonder Sarah Palin had to spend $150,000 on wardrobe and accessories; she is expected to look like a movie star 24/7. Any style faux paux becomes primetime news, but never is it reported on what kind of shoes or suit the male candidates are wearing (unless of course, they fail to wear a flag pin on their lapel).

    The problem is, it detracts from what is important. What we need is more reporting on serious issues that would help voters make informed decisions. We need information on their track records and their plans for the future.

    It seems that we are not entirely comfortable with the women’s accomplishments and the positions of power they aspire to, so we drag them back down to girly land by making Barbies in their likeness and creating video game widgets where we can change their outfits.

    The fact is, anyone who represents the nation should look his or her best. Politicians should dress smart and have every hair in place, but it should not be the focus of our attention or discussions about female candidates any more than the males they face in debate.

    Do these female candidates not deserve the same amount of respect as their male counterparts? One could certainly argue they deserve more because of the struggles they faced in getting there. They certainly deserve to be taken seriously.

    Perhaps it is a long, old road to true equality, or it could be an unattainable goal. The ultimate decision will lie with the readers and viewers of media outlets because the organizations strive to provide only what the public wants to see.

    So, what do we want to see? I know what I want to see: women being recognized for their accomplishments, for their voting records and their vision for the United States – not their wardrobe or their laugh lines.

    We’ve blown it this year, but we’re new to this. It is entirely conceivable that we could, in fact, get over it and get real.

    Katie Martinez is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.