Bachmann Out, Sexism…Still In

So now that Michele Bachmann has dropped out of the race for GOP presidential candidate, it is completely acceptable to objectify her through meaningless articles about her fashion sense, right?


The writers of The Reliable Source column for the Washington Post seem to disagree. In their piece yesterday titled “Michele Bachmann raises the fashion bar for female politicians,” columnists Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger write:

Fashion experts say Bachmann raised the bar for all women politicians with a classic, feminine style — without letting her clothes become the story.

One then has to wonder, if Bachmann’s clothes weren’t the story why does this article need to be written?

They continue:

People obsessed over Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits and Sarah Palin’s open-toed shoes. Not so much with Bachmann, who created a signature look with done-but-not-too-done hair and makeup and clothes that were flattering but never flirty.

Whereas Clinton and Palin failed, Bachmann succeeded! (By wearing conservative clothing). “Flirty” clothing is code for revealing or feminine clothing, both of which underlie sexist critiques that marginalize female politicians. As a woman, their clothing choices are either too feminine and “flirty” or “severe” and “masculine.” The tone of this article is one of pity, intended to comfort the fallen Bachmann by complimenting her appearance. Unfortunately, distracting from political and cultural accomplishments by redirecting attention to physical appearance is unabashedly sexist.

Michele Bachmann lost the Iowa caucus—but won the fashion race.

In this brief statement, Roberts and Argetsinger divert the reader’s attention away from that pesky presidential race and toward the fashion race. The writers not only diminish Bachmann’s notable achievement in her campaign for the GOP presidential candidacy, they also infantilize Bachmann by congratulating her on an imaginary beauty pageant. (It’s ok, Michele! You lost that stupid president thing. But you are totally a great dresser!) We are extremely disappointed with this kind of reporting from The Reliable Source and hope they will reconsider publishing sexist articles and accompanying fashion slideshows on female political figures.


Published by support on 01/06/2012

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