COMMENTARY | One of the problems with dealing with some female candidates is how one deals with their physical appearance. Tim Pawlenty adviser Vin Weber felt that he had to instantly apologize when he referred to Michele Bachmann’s “sex appeal.”
Weber really should not have done that. For generations, handsome male politicians have been lionized for their physical good looks and viral sexuality. John F. Kennedy used his good looks to great advantage, for example. Female supporters, including some in the media, have openly fantasized about having sex with male politicians such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Bachmann, being a lady in her 50s and having borne five children, considered herself quite flattered by Weber’s remark, according to Hot Air. So, if the candidate was not insulted, what was there to apologize for?
If Sarah Palin gets in the race, the problem of considering a female candidate’s physical attributes is just going to get worse. Palin, in her mid-40s, is a striking figure, athletic and quite comely.
Part of the problem seems to be that hitherto most prominent female politicians have been ladies of a certain age. Margaret Thatcher, Gold Meir, Angela Merkel, and even Hillary Clinton have all been formidable politicians in their day, but are hardly the female equivalents of a Jack Kennedy.
Part of the problem stems from the dictates of radical feminism, which suppose that complimenting a lady on her appearance is somehow demeaning as it ignores other characteristics, including intellect and character. The human resources departments of a lot of corporations are kept busy dealing with outraged women who have been innocently told by male coworkers, “You’re looking nice today.” Sexual harassment culture has damaged relations between the sexes in the last 20 years. This was no doubt in Weber’s mind when he caught himself and instantly apologized.
The last part of the problem is the suggestion that admiration for a woman’s physical appearance automatically means sexual attraction. This may be true for some men, especially in the sexualized culture that arose after the 1960s. But it is not true for all. One can pay a compliment and acknowledge the evidence of one’s own eyes without trying to hit on someone.
Kennedy had the advantage of being a man every other man wanted to be and every woman wanted. Palin, on the other hand, has the disadvantage of being a woman many women are jealous of and more than a few men are confused about. It may be an intractable problem, but one that has to be overcome if not only women but attractive women can break the glass ceiling and achieve the ultimate prize in American politics.
Source: Bachmann on sex-appeal comment: “Sounds like good news to me!” Ed Morrissey, Hot Air, July 8, 2011