David Broder wrote recently about how horrible it is that one election campaign has stooped to talking about fatness:
Every time you think politics has hit a new low, it finds a way to go lower. I thought we had reached the nadir last month when Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted "You lie!" at President Obama while he was speaking to a joint session of Congress.
But then the New York Times caught me up on what has been happening in New Jersey. Campaigns there are rarely elevated affairs, but the current battle between Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Christopher Christie has sunk to new depths.
As the Times pointed out, a television ad for Corzine, "about as subtle as a playground taunt," shows Christie "stepping out of an SUV in extreme slow motion, his extra girth moving, just as slowly, in several different directions at once. In case viewers missed the point, a narrator snidely intones" that Christie, the former U.S. attorney for New Jersey, "threw his weight around" to avoid several traffic tickets.
This issue has no place in our politics.
I am still looking for my divine jaw somewhere on the floor. Not because what Broder writes wouldn't be relevant but because of the way he writes it. As if this focus on the looks of a politician are a brand new thing! Never attempted before, ever!
I guess one could call this male privilege, but I see it more as a nice set of blinders which you can put on before you go out, assuming you are an intrepid guy reporter. Those blinders cover up everything that was said about Hillary Clinton's thighs, legs or cleavage! They cover up the porn movies made with a Sarah Palin look-alike! I guess it is possible that no aspiring politician has ever made those slurs about a woman he was competing against, but his underlings certainly have.
Here Echidne goes again, writing about something trivial. Mmm. Have a piece of chocolate.
There's a deeper point here, of course, as there always is, and that is the way it's possible for some men to view the society as completely consisting of men. And, of course, oftheirwomen.
That double-sight explains why someone like Broder can truly NOT see how female politicians are routinely treated. It also explains something I found on a blog which discussed the old courtly love traditions, of young men expressing a forbidden love towards the wife of their liege lord, and how very dangerous this could be: to the young men. The wife of the liege lord was not an active participant in the story, and what the consequences might have been to her are irrelevant.
Or the way Pepys' "love escapades" were routinely viewed in the literature I read about them: As a sign of his irrepressible rogue nature, with a few wink-winks added to the treatment. Yet anyone who actually reads his diary finds that he pretty much forced servant maids and the wives of poorer men to have sex with him. Some of them may have been willing, of course, but none of them ultimately had the power to refuse him, and all this was very obvious to me on first reading. Perhaps because I would have been one of those servant maids, most likely, had I been born the same sex into the place and time of Pepys.
Perhaps all this bias is just a consequence of gender identification? I doubt that, because I can't really see myself ever writing about the politics or the culture or anything else as if men were almost nonexistent creatures. Though I certainly have my own set of blinders!