Wednesday, June 4, 2014

And They Wonder Why More Women Don't Get Into Politics

In an interview in 2012, Hilary Clinton was asked “Which designers do you prefer?” Her response was brilliant: "Would you ever ask a man that question?”

Says journalist Mary Elizabeth Williams:
That terse exchange over her wardrobe ... exemplifies everything that endears Clinton to her supporters – and everything that exasperates so many of us about the current state of womanhood. You can be the secretary of state, even a former presidential contender, and it still comes down to how you look.
Last night during TVO's coverage of the Ontario Election Debate, panelist Robin Sears criticized the suit that Premier Kathleen Wynne was wearing. With so many important issues facing Ontario today, how is that relevant?

Kathleen Wynne is an accomplished woman. Openly Gay and the first female Premier of Ontario. She is inspiring. Maybe I won't go to her for fashion tips, nor should I.

She went into the debate, with a handicap, having to bear the full brunt of the gas plant scandal. It's worth mentioning that Tim Hudak ran in 2011 on a promise to close the gas plants and when asked about the cost, he said a billion dollars.

And as to repeated accusations of corruption by Andrea Horvath, given that the NDP brand has taken a hit recently with the Nova Scotia scandal and partisan mail outs, she's hardly in a position to label anyone.

These kinds of attacks only turn people away from the polls, further eroding our fragile democracy.

Last night Tim Hudak graced us with his colloquial family stories, but we're not voting for his family. He did offer a bit of comic relief however, when he revealed how he acquired his "math skills".

As I've said before, I am getting tired of junk politics. Had Kathleen Wynne showed up wearing a halter and a mini skirt we might have questioned her sanity, but she wore a suit. It hardly makes her incompetent.

What if We Voted Based on the Size of a Man's Penis?

Just as the interviewer was wrong to ask who designed Hilary's wardrobe, Sears was wrong to critique Wynne's clothing during an important POLITICAL DEBATE.

Many question why more women don't enter the political arena. Do they really need to wonder, when our adversaries capitalize on our vulnerabilities?

During the 1997 federal election campaign, while heading up the National Citizens Coalition, Stephen Harper spent $ 200,000.00 on attack ads that ran on radio stations, coinciding with print ads and massive billboard visuals, in what he dubbed "Operation Pork Chop".

In Edmonton, where Liberal candidates Judy Bethel and Anne McLellan were running for re-election, he ran a newspaper ad featuring two pigs drinking champagne, while frolicking in a trough filled with cash. The pig's heads were replaced by those of the two women, and the caption read "On June 2, Chop the Pork. Re-electing these two MPs will cost you 1.7 million."

The ads worked, and though McLellan did squeak out a victory, Bethel was pummelled and never returned to politics.

Use of unflattering or trivializing animal terms is a common rhetorical ploy, especially when referring to women, and no doubt Harper knew that portraying Bethel and McLellan as pigs, would tap into female insecurities about weight.

Recently, during a question and answer session at the PC convention in London, a delegate told Hudak he calls Horwath the "Great Pumpkin" because her party's colour is orange and he thinks she "put on a little bit of weight."

Hudak did nothing to address this.

According to Michael Wiederman of Columbia University; "In Western culture women's bodies are objectified more so than men's, and other writers have noted the multiple ways that such objectification may negatively impact women's lives."

Not only are women's insecurities about body image exploited, but also their perceived frailties.

When Randy Hillier, the Conservative incumbent for the riding of Lanark - Frontenac - Lennox and Addington, was with the controversial Ontario Landowners Association, he launched a campaign against restrictions on hunting, especially when the animals are trespassing on your property.

So he sent a picture of a bullet ridden deer to Ontario Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky, stating “The attached pictures are the direct consequence of government injustice, and when individuals no longer fear the tyranny of legislated abuse and intimidation. In keeping with tradition, all nuisance animals are consecutively named, enclosed are pictures of ‘Leona'".

This was clearly an issue for the National Resources Minister, but the Natural Resources Minister was a man. Hillier banked on Dombrowsky's shock and aversion.

What if the NCC or any political opponent, ran an attack ad on a male candidate, with his image holding a bottle of Viagra, and the caption "Does this man suffer from Electoral Dysfunction?"

Or "Not only does he suffer from jock itch, but has too much space in his jock".

I'm not always so indelicate but last night made me angry.

When politics are reduced to this level, it insults us all.

I thought all candidates were dressed appropriately, but I just don't give a damn.


  1. Don't you think Hudak's shoulders a a bit too narrow? Not very manly, if you ask me.
    Also he gets his platform from ALEC.

  2. I've seen male politicians get criticized for looks and clothing too, for example Hudaks looks got compared to Mr. Bean (I think that's an insult to Mr. Bean, but whatever).

  3. Do you realize how much discusion has gone on about Mulcair's beard alone? Should he cut it, does it make him look too angery, can a man with a beard win, does fellow bearded man Coulliard's victory bode well for Mulcair?, does Mulcair look like a cross between Santa Claus and a Care Bear when he laughs (okay that last one was just me).