Aug 23 2008

Asinine NPR story of the week

It was inevitable that, while listening to the radio during my semi-annual shower, I would hear an NPR analysis on the outfits worn by the presidential candidates’ wives. Ever on the cutting edge of popular culture, NPR hauled Jackie Kennedy’s ancient stylist out of cryogenic storage to canvass her edgy up-to-the-minute views on politics and women.

Jackie Kennedy, you’ll recall, was the last genuine hottie to inhabit the First Lady title. Among her other dainty attributes, Jackie possessed, according to the stylist, “good” arms.

Is it sexist to analyze firstladyal fashion? Not at all, says Jackie Kennedy’s stylist. Their husbands are men of action in blue-suit-red-tie uniforms, but first ladies are symbols.

Of what? Of male dominance. Of the nuclear family, of the dutiful wife, of the absolute necessity of womanly beauty practices, of the unquestionable heterosexuality of the president. First ladies must exude, in perfect balance, femininity, self-sacrifice, motherhood, a gentle, quiet respectability, and the notion that they are fairly intelligent, but not more intelligent than the president. They do this, not just by looking the other way when their husbands can’t keep it in their pants, but by selecting their fashion designers and plucking their eyebrows with utmost care. For presidential spouses, dressing symbolically is both a science and an art. It’s “walking the fashion tightrope,” says NPR.

What the NPR non-story neglected to mention is that, while first ladies get more news coverage, the fashion tightrope is not their exclusive purview. All women are symbols who are expected to prop up patriarchal myths by exuding perfect balances of impossible, degrading, bogus constructs.

Meanwhile, men are free to roam the countryside, without shaving their legs or contemplating the social implications of the plunge of their necklines, doing stuff.


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  1. Twisty

    Note: I have removed “D,” so there may be some non-sequiturs in this thread. I do wish you guys wouldn’t egg these specimens on; it really fucks with the continuity and shit when I delete’em.

  2. AngryJules

    “…Givhan says she’ll be watching both political conventions closely to check the sartorial semaphores. She’s hoping for ‘some significant fashion moments.'”

    What the hell is a “significant fashion moment?” A hush falls over the crowd as the light strikes a dangly earring? Christ…

  3. hairylegs

    My NPR station plays the Lehrer hour on the radio each afternoon. Yesterday I had the joy of hearing David Dipshit Brooks say on air that “women 34 to 54” were a “small group” that wouldn’t affect Obama’s VP choice.


  4. Virago

    Yeah, I hate this double standard. Let’s hear about what the First Lady is wearing, and what kind of White House teas she’s having, but God forbid, if she takes an interest in something that will do someone some good, you know, like universal healthcare, than of course, she’s an emasculating bitch, who might actually want to run for President herself one day (and we all know how well that went). I really hate the patriarchy!

  5. Vibrating Liz

    Don’t forget class. The First Lady is a raging symbol of class.

  6. Chocolate Tort

    I had a whole fun post typed up, but then I thought, “Nope, not gonna bait the troll.”

    I usually enjoy NPR very much, but even they have been known to earn the *facepalm*. Sigh.

  7. Hattie

    This is a what about the menz observation but I believe it’s usually men who enforce dress codes on each other. My male boss fired a guy for sporting a scraggly beard. I figured it was the guy’s business if that was how he wanted to dress his face. And my father in law was always in a rage about bearded longhairs, god rest his soul.

  8. lawbitch

    Waaaa! Us hairy leg feminists aren’t being fair! WAAAAA!

    I’m not interested in your “valid point.” Would yo care to make a comment about the point of the post?

  9. Anastasia B.

    *Ignoring troll interruption*

    IMO, it’s a fundamental reason why HRC couldn’t get past the primary. She was expected to look ladylike, and not more intelligent than her husband, the former president (that god of patriarchal heterosexuality who most certainly couldn’t keep it in his pants). She couldn’t win if she talked and looked like a person of action; she certainly couldn’t win if she shut up and looked pretty. IF she had been nominated, would we be hearing these same analysis of her husband’s wardrobe, as the official presidential hand-holder? Certainly not, it’s unthinkable and people don’t situate men’s clothing as a symbol of their identity in the same way they do women’s. As the default gender, it’s inherent that men will be in power, as complex, worthy and able individuals; women, on the other hand (always the other), will always be denied power in their simplified and boxed-in roles as madonnas or whores, or girls or crones.

  10. Pontiste

    Giving in to the troll bait, and thread-jacking slightly, to point out that even if one (asininely, stupidly) ignores all of the socio-political, cultural, historical stuff, women still bear an unjust amount of hair-removal duties in comparison to men. Consider: legs, pits, and “bikini line” vs. face. Surface area alone for the win!

  11. dez

    i am so glad you guys heard that story. and sad you got to it before me (i think half my fledgling blog is, “so today, feministing wrote about this and i’m going to share my thoughts on it too”).
    i listened to it and the whole time i was thinking, “are you serious? is NPR covering this? i want to listen to news, not fashion commentary…”
    i was disappointed, you know, that they’d air a story so blatantly sexist. and they KNEW it was sexist, that’s why they had to interview someone who’d explain why it ‘wasnt.’

  12. dez

    I’m sorry, I just read the rules and that wasn’t properly capitalised at all… It won’t happen again. I don’t mind it having just been a chime in to you guys instead of my tiny voice speaking at the blogosphere.

  13. Vibrating Liz

    D: It’s not about blaming men or blaming women, as a group or as individuals. It’s about blaming the Patriarchy. The Patriarchy is the system that pressures people to shave; individual men or women who enforce the rules are just the hapless agents who’ve bought into it because they figure they might reap some benefits.

    This is a complex advanced concept to grasp, and apparently you aren’t at that stage. I suggest we would all benefit if you would take the time to study a bit of feminist theory before you come in here swinging tired old cliches.

  14. Anastasia B.

    V Liz: well said!

    D Troll: shut up and listen! This thread and blog are about patriarchy blaming, not about you or your bloody face.

  15. Unree

    I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t! But here are some differences, D:
    1. Some men do get negative feedback for not shaving their faces sometimes, but many people say they find face-stubble attractive. Ever heard the same sentiment expressed about leg- or crotch-stubble on women?
    2. A woman might reject an unshaved-face man as a sex partner, but she wouldn’t recoil in horror in bed at the sudden sight of this grooming faux pas. She’d never accuse the dude of cheating on, or betraying, a key norm.
    3. There are acceptable, approved ways for a man to display a full complement of facial hair.
    4. Female shaving–even when Ur Doin It Right–is considered disgusting, shameful, unspeakable. Male athletes can endorse disposable razors; a female celebrity can’t endorse pink razors or depilatories or home wax treatments. People don’t shudder at the thought of a man not shaving his face. If you don’t understand the difference between a corporate-grooming norm for men and hatred loathing for a woman’s choice not to shave–well, ask a woman.

  16. thebewilderness

    Fourteen comments, and four of them are from the troll who can’t figure out what the topic of the post is because he didn’t read finallyfeminism101.
    What a bore.
    Twisty, would you please dump him. He really hasn’t a clue.

  17. TP

    Right above the comment box is a FAQ for you to read, D.

    I too chafe a bit under the standard expectations of masculine dress, but here in this forum, the focus is on women and their oppression. Since women aren’t in charge of our culture and the rules of dress and behavior, whether or not they attempt to enforce or reinforce it by telling you what you must do in order for them to give you the sex you think you deserve is not the point here.

    The point, much higher up the chain of action and reaction, is that we live in a male-dominated world. And the beauty standards for this world have been imposed and created by male fantasies of degrading and dominating women.

    Complaining about women imposing male beauty standards is absurd. Women do not march in lockstep with each other; they are fragmented and scattered by various forms of oppression, including a kind of Stockholm syndrome that allows them to internalize and join in their own oppression. Plus, the male beauty standards you claim they support were created and are imposed by the dominant male culture.

    Any human being has good reason to complain about my beard when it gets scruffy, though. Not only is it ugly, but it makes intimate contact as appealing as it would with sandpaper or a rusty file.

  18. Ron Sullivan

    Joe fucking Biden.

    Jeezus fucking bloody christ.

    ‘Nuff said.

    If the current ButI’Mnotatroll hasn’t yet quite learned to read, I suggest he get a Brazilian, shave his legs and everything else left except his head, tweeze his eyebrows (and do it rightm sand, excuse me, exfoliate his face, apply the right amount of makeup in the right proportion and the currently fashionable fashion to show he’s hawt but not too whorey, put on hose and heels and the right length skirt and a blouse that shows exactly the right amount of cleavage, which he’s hoisted sufficiently and otherwise jacked with enough not to look, you know, old or frigid, and then catch a crosstown bus and endure a job interview—because many employers still won;t hire women in “pantsuits”—and write us a nice report.

    And he’d still be full of shit. There are men with beards all over the place in all sorts of jobs. There are women who like beards on men. There are men who like shallwesay various physical types of women. There are damned few who’d admit to liking what a real normal actual mammalian woman looks like without cosmetic intervention.

    TP, if your beard is abrasive, give it some time. The sproingy ones feel nice too, after they’ve grown out a bit.

  19. Deanna

    Thank you, TP.

    My partner chooses to shave his face nearly every day, despite my shrugging and telling him “It’s your face” when he asks me if he should shave.

    His stubble is indeed sharp; we liken it to wire bristles. If it hurts, we don’t kiss. But I don’t tell him to shave. He tried a moustache once and when asked I admitted I didn’t like it, but he kept it because he liked it. And that’s fair. As I said, it’s his face, he should please himself. He doesn’t comment on my unshaven legs or pits either. Unlike him, I don’t ask his opinion on it either.

    And now we have totally derailed the conversation. I believe the topic that was meant to be discussed is the issue of first ladies appropriate fashionableness – indeed, that the female family members of any politician – are treated as fashionable symbols of family and feminine values and told to be seen but not heard.

    Or face being cut down for exercising their obstreperal lobes.

  20. H.

    So, D, instead of doing something about the patriarchal standards of sppearance men are allegedly held to by corporations, you decide to come to a radical feminist blog and piss and shrill at women talking about their own issues, demanding they all STFU RIGHT NOW because you have a problem too.

    I’s a version of a man butting into a feminist conversation about domestic violence and demanding nobody dare complain about women getting beaten up by their pertners because ‘some men suffer from domestic violence too, you know!’

    If you’re THAT bothered about this alleged discrimination against men with a shred of facial hair, you’d be better off leaving the feminists to fight their own battles or at least supporting the feminists’ battles while fighting your own. But, as ever in these cases, you’re not interested in fighting the real enemy. Just like men who complain bitterly that ‘men get beaten up too!’ who don’t advocate for men’s shelters or anything else remotely constructive. Like them you’re more interested in slapping down the uppity womenfolk than doing anything constructive about the problems you claim you face.

  21. Belle O'Cosity

    Getting back to the female beauty standard for “First Laydeeeees” (and hello what a stupid non-title), does anyone remember the media reaction to Angela Merkle when she wore a low-cut evening gown? Oh the hand-wringing that went on. Although she was conforming to the beauty standard, she looked great and the dress was appropriate for the occasion. Just think of all the rule breaking: she made the mistake to have aged, she is supposed to be a serious woman with power, etc. And then of course there was the whole incident where Bush tried to hump her leg to let everybody know who the top dog was.

  22. unree

    H. is exactly right, D. You say you see a problem. What have you ever done to make it go away, or even complain about it?
    Getting back to Twisty’s point, I think the First Lady problem is getting better and worse at the same time. Better, in that we see more variety compared to Jackie in 1960. Cindy McCain, heavily drugged but doing a lot for reasonably progressive nonprofits; Judith Steinberg in 2004, caring for her patients in Vermont while Dean campaigned; Teresa Heinz Kerry poking Richard Mellon Scaife in the eye in Pittsburgh and spending her money well; Michelle Obama having once worked as her husband’s supervisor. Even Laura Bush has elbows. But it’s worse–oh my god worse–now that the high-definition cameras never let up. Eleanor Roosevelt might have been destroyed.

  23. Marguerite

    Yes. Surprise, surprise. Not just what they wear, but what they say, how they look–yes, political spouses have to be beautiful examples of ideal femininity. What interests me about this beyond the obvious– we all knew this, right? and aren’t even that desperately surprised?– NPR is no less enmeshed with patriarchal ideology than anything else– is the class question. The race question too, really, because for the first time, we have a potential presidential spouse who is black– and at least from what I’m reading (& I believe it) is being asked to muzzle her “blackness” as well as her intelligence/strength and authority.

    Patriarchy, of course values/ranks class and whiteness, too, even though its primary interest is the rank centrality and superiority of men over women. No, I’m not saying that we should address “humanism” rather than feminism here– but I am asking that we look at this stuff in terms of race and class too as it treats the question of women. (The examinations/demands of femininity/blackness are already getting pretty vile with Michelle Obama and what she’s being asked to perform (or not perform) isn’t just traditional femininity, but someone gendered female who doesn’t scare the boys about being strong, educated, intelligent and black as well.)

    I think that the example of Jackie Kennedy is an interesting one because of its class component. Yes, the sort of Platonic Ideal of First Lady femininity granting her– well, fully performed femininity, certainly– the performed hyper-femininity of the childish, soft voice, the apparent total devotion to her children (famously admired at her funeral), her endless obsession with clothing and self-presentation (performed in part through slacks in private and nothing but dresses in public- knowing performance, at least in part). But the class thing trumped a great deal and bought her much– I don’t think that she was, in fact, seen as self-sacrificing (handling of funeral aside) or quietly respectable. Her (perceived) class– certainly her performed class standing– got her out of that. Her “value” as a woman was high enough that she didn’t actually have to perform a lot of other things. (She famously didn’t show up for things she was supposed to, lied about what she was doing to get out of public performances & repeatedly got busted for being horse-back riding rather than on a sick-bed etc., as I recall. Long vacations with and without her children, blah blah blah.)She had a life, of sorts.

    Right, so we all know that women are ranked in terms of male valuing schemes– beauty, docility, class, age, race, etc.

    I read the business about the moron Australian mayor and his equally moronic– and yet not remotely unusual– male constituency.

    (Here’s another example of across-the-pond patriarchy in action by the way– it’s a peach– the British gov’t has reduced finanical rewards in cases of prosecuted, PROVEN rape, if the woman raped was drunk– contributory negligence, don’tcha know: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/aug/12/ukcrime.law)

    I’d was bothered by some of our really classist responses to the Australia story, among the other completely spot-on critiques. Is it so much worse that these particular assholes were ill-educated, provincial, “hillbilly” assholes? Can’t we despise, disparage, and call a fuckwit a fuckwit without laying into them for being particularly hick-like, lower class fuckwits? “Ugly” fuckwits? Ill-educated fuckwits? “Jaba-the-Hut”-like fuckwits? That the place is “a dump, the men are the most sexist pigs in the country, barely literate, alcoholic and ugly of course”– rather than, say, prettier, wealthier, better placed, Wall Street fuckwits, for example? (Ok, bad example; we know that those particular fuckwits are the very worst of the lot.)

    Tell me why I’m wrong, please. I know you will; I look forward to learning.

  24. Marguerite

    Chet– right here: http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/patriarchy-blaming-the-twisty-way/opposing-viewpoints/

    Or you could have looked for yourself.

  25. slythwolf

    D, I’m confused–are you complaining because men with facial hair can’t get work, can’t get laid, or both? You keep changing your story. And the part about feminists being hypocrites cracks my shit up, for real, because you keep accusing us of requiring all men to shave all the time regardless of the fact that many of us have indicated we don’t care. My dad has a beard. My husband shaves about once a week if he feels like it. I think of neither of them as a pedophile.

    The truth is, you don’t have an argument, you know you don’t have an argument, and you just want the wimminz to shut the fuck up. Well we’re not going to, so build a bridge and get over yourself.

  26. Virago

    D, STFU! No one here gives a rat’s ass about anything you have to say.

  27. Windstorm

    *D, bless your heart, I hope you are alright and that things go well for you in your life. You are someone’s son, and a human being. I just think you need to find a different website.*

    I’m so upset with NPR for doing that. I love NPR, but sometimes they, too, can be horrifyingly patriarchal.

  28. Lemony Fresh

    D, I mostly lurk here, but I can tell you via the power of long-time observation that in every comment section there are always responses from esteemed (they’ve earned it) and intelligent MEN. Only ignorant and deluded *trolls* get told to shut up.

    When you have to tweeze your eyebrows and shave your legs, armpits and bikini line in addition to removing facial hair (a lot of women have to do this, too!), *then* you can complain. Until then, keep your freaking pie hole shut, troll. I know how long it takes men to shave their faces and it is *nothing* compared to the hair-removal olympics women endure. Women have no option *but* to remove their facial hair if they want to be taken seriously or be perceived as remotely attractive, whereas there are myriad socially acceptable and attractive ways for men to display their facial hair.

    “women are the largest group that pushes men to shave their faces”

    I want to see statistical evidence to support your highly subjective and misguided claim. What *you* have experienced in your daily life, and even among your little group of buddies, is not representative of society at large.

  29. Orange

    Waa, waa. I’ll bet not a single one of the hordes of women who have demanded that D shave his face was a radical feminist. Maybe try iVillage or a more mainstream women’s site to issue your plaintive cries, D?

    My husband has a beard. I don’t like it. He shaved it off on Christmas Eve as a present for me, sort of, and hasn’t shaved again since then. I suspect he doesn’t feel too oppressed by my preference for smooth cheeks and a kiss with no sticky-outy mustache hairs.

    Also, amen to what Ron Sullivan said.

    First ladies! Their fashion choices! What bullshit. I’d love it if Michelle Obama would opt for a dashiki at the inaugural ball, or a foxy tuxedo. Of course, that would be a huge violation of protocol and would get Obama’s presidency off to a controversial start, and the media would be in a tizzy about her emasculating, America-hating ways if she didn’t wear a stodgy, traditional long gown with sparkles. (If only she could wear whatever sort of dress she thought would suit her and nobody cared.)

  30. lawbitch

    Do ya’ll remember when Laura Bush and another guest showed up in the same red gown? *gasp* Because the First Lady has to be orginal in her conformity!

  31. TP

    It’s nice to see a troll in here every now and then so I can remember how willfully oblivious they are. All these men, walking around in complete denial of male dominance, while complaining bitterly at the least suggestion of this same dominance being thwarted.

    They never learn a thing and keep coming back with the same idiotic arguments. It’s almost comical.

  32. Amananta

    I lost all interest in the presidential race after Clinton was railroaded out for being a woman. Oh, Obama picked a white man as his veep, someone all establishment and “trustworthy”, how unexpected, *yawn*. He could have picked Pelosi, or any of a number of other smart, well-qualified women or another person of color. But wait no, we can’t scare America too much!

    And D – what a load of steaming horse crap. Men and women have come up to me with all manner of ridiculous, crude, asinine speculation and unwanted advice and insults to me if I dare to show even an inch or two of unshaven leg in public. Complete strangers see fit to tell me I’m dirty, disgusting, a dyke, a man-hater, scream at me from cars, ask if I’m Muslim/Amish/orthodox Jew, yell “HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF GILLETE!” I’ve yet to see or hear one single man relate a similar incident happening to him like this, much less one led by women. Your girlfriend stating she prefers you shave is a world away from this. I’ve worked in corporate offices with men who have beards – they are not universally forbidden. But when places of employment and other patriarchal structures demand clean-shavedness, how dare you blame women when men run most to all of these places! So kindly shove your stupid, thread-hijacking lies up your ass.

  33. Erzebeth

    If a dude looks like he’s “forgotten” to shave, people will just assume he’s been “too bizzay”.

    If a woman doesn’t rip out practically every fucking hair on her body, she’s a lazy, unfuckable and unhireable swamp hag.

    Oh yeah, the Poor Menz, they really DO have it so much harder!

    I know a woman who caught such a terrible infection after getting her legs waxed that she had to be rushed to the hospital – and they had to AMPUTATE one of her legs. But, oh noes, that doesn’t compare to maybe, possibly, potentially getting a little facial scratch that heals within days! Whatever.

  34. slythwolf

    Do ya’ll remember when Laura Bush and another guest showed up in the same red gown? *gasp* Because the First Lady has to be orginal in her conformity!

    We all do. Supposedly it’s some huge deal if two women wear the same dress to the same party; a friend of mine wore the same dress as another girl to the junior prom and, amazingly, the gossip about that temporarily eclipsed the rumors that she and I were lesbians.

    Meanwhile all the dudes are in the same damn tuxedo. Or if there are slight differences between the tuxedos (as I’m sure there are), they are similar enough to be indistinguishable at a reasonable distance.

  35. Meowbaby

    I just wanted to say how much I love the word sproingy.


    That’s a great fucking word.

    I like the dashiki idea. That would be so awesome–especially if it had one of those sproingy head wrappy thingies.

  36. AnnaArcturus

    While we’re on the topic of First Ladies, Cindy McCain, anyone? I thought Stepford Wives were out of fashion. The more I think about it, the more I expect there to be a Cindy McCain RealDoll on sale by November. It’s the patriotic fembot fucktoy.

  37. slade

    I’m just glad I didn’t have to read any of D’s droning…thanks Twisty. How’s moving coming along?

    I am constantly on the lookout for male Fashion Don’ts. I point out his error in judgment and offer a snappy and stylish alternative. If it is just a total mess, I suggest a paper bag with a cute animal face drawn on it to be placed over his head.

    It seems to leave the male completely speechless.

    We have to create our own fun these days…

  38. Twisty

    Whenever I see an unfuckable dude, I hire some chick comic — that sassy Kathy Griffin if I can get her — to denigrate him on my television network. Then I pay Perez Hilton to post a picture of his fat thighs in a bikini, and lookout! Let the takedowns roll! Then I hire a fuckable dude — I know he’s fuckable because half my production staff has done him — and paste his picture all over everything I sell and laugh all the way to the bank. I love being a girl!

  39. Erzebeth

    Thanks, Twisty – I don’t think I could have put up with another load of toll garbage.

  40. Foilwoman

    That’s it. I’m officially “letting myself go.” No more hair dying. No more leg shaving. No more whisker plucking. Oh, whoops, I want to remain employed, so I’ll do the bare minimum. Which might as well be the maximum. I’m so fucking doomed. I just don’t have the time to spare, yet I don’t want my boss to eschew me.

  41. Erzebeth

    Whoops, that would be TROLL garbage, of course. Sorry!

  42. Ron Sullivan

    I’ll bet not a single one of the hordes of women who have demanded that D shave his face was a radical feminist.

    You betcha. What I for one would demand would require a good old-fashioned straight razor and good enough aim to get between the tracheal cartilage bits and then the vertebrae.

    And do try not to bleed all over the non-washables, there’s a good boy.

  43. Kira

    Well, now even our potential new VPOTUS has stated his pleasure in having a gorgeous wife (hooting from the crowd! Lovely) and then goes on to lament her doctorate degree (laughter from the crowd! Rolling in the aisles!)

    He even employs the time-honored asshat tactic of tacking on a “just kidding” because we all know that it’s okay to say any horrible thing that you want, as long as you just say “Just kidding!” afterwards.

    For those who lack sound on their computer:
    Ladies and Gentleman, my wife Jill who you will meet soon and who is drop dead gorgeous. My wife Jill, who you will meet soon. She also has her doctorate degree which is a problem. But all kidding aside, my Jill, my Jill, my wife Jill and I are honored to join Barack and Michelle on this journey. Because that is what it is. It’s a journey.

    Yes, Joe, it’s a journey for me too. A journey in a handbasket.

  44. tinfoil hattie

    AnnaArcturus, your comments are beyond the pale. I don’t give a rat’s ass what Cindy McCain looks like, or what you think of her — she does not deserve to be called ridiculed as a “Stepford Wife” and a “fembot fucktoy.”

    Please blame the patriarchy, not the woman.

  45. AnnaArcturus

    Tinfoil Hattie,
    I think you jumped a participle or something there, or missed my chagrin that I ANTICIPATE the “patriotic fembot fucktoy” RealDoll. Because, obviously, First Ladies are there for the dudes to oogle, see McCain’s Miss Buffalo Chip shenanigans. Furthermore, Stepford Wife is exactly how she’s being marketed to the public, hence my calling it out. In any discussion of her on the air, she’s referred to as “a real lady.” What does that mean? In public she stands behind her man and blandly smile, but barely has anything to say that isn’t more bland support. I suppose we’re meant to see her as a countrpoint to HRC and Michelle Obama. Of course, being a “real lady” has nothing to do with how she has a fortune of her own, keeps it separate from her husband’s, and quietly goes about her non-presidential campaign business like charity trips around the world. (I’m trying real hard not to get on my class soap box right now, though.) We’re told she’ll bring class back to the White House, which I’m sure we’re not supposed to read literally considering the last several First Ladies were pretty well-off themselves, but it further feels like a dig against any woman taking any stand for herself. So, certainly IBTP, the woman in question has so sculpted a public image, there’s nothing offensive or unlikable in sight.

  46. tinfoil hattie

    I’m sorry, AnnaArcturus. I apologize. I jumped the gun. I seem to be spring-loaded in the pissed-off position these days.

    Of course you are exactly right, and I should pay better attention to the snark here, for the blamers here are the creme de la snarky creme.

    mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

    (Never post at 6 am when you have been lying awake since 4 am)

  47. GwenGable

    I hope we flood NPR with protest letters every time they have stupid anti-woman stories like this one! And where are the feminists on NPR? Nina Tottenberg etc., because they could be yelling about this too.

    It’s all such a big hetero role playing game out there anyway. Cindy McCain being an extremely wealthy business woman in her own right, intelligent enough to control all her assets, and yet she hides this. Also, if you hide your wealthy under one person, the other person running for office doesn’t have to reveal the tax records and financial dealings at all, which I also think might have been a strategy.

    You’d think that by now we wouldn’t all be fooled by this fembot reporting on first ladies. After all these years and all this feminist analysis, it still presists.

  48. slythwolf

    What I for one would demand would require a good old-fashioned straight razor and good enough aim to get between the tracheal cartilage bits and then the vertebrae.

    And do try not to bleed all over the non-washables, there’s a good boy.

    I am intrigued by your ideas and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  49. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I kinda figured Hillary for something a little less figure-headish than veep; say, Czar of Universal Healthcare?

    Whoever said Joe-effing-Biden, word. All I remember of him is how stupidly he behaved during the ritual humiliation of Anita Hill.

    I don’t care a flying fig for what the first lady wears. My favorite love-to-hate first lady was Nancy. She was such an elitist-let-’em-eat-cake sort of crotch it’s almost too easy.

  50. Twisty

    She did medical science a solid, though, when she came out for stem cell research.

  51. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    True, but it was sorta like the old pie-in-the-face joke — it stops being funny when it starts being you.

  52. AnnaArcturus

    Tinfoil Hattie,
    No worries, I’m with you 100% on not blaming the woman barring cheerful, repetitive backstabbing of women in general.

  53. AnnaArcturus

    Tinfoil Hattie,
    No worries, I’m with you 100% on not blaming the woman barring cheerful, repetitive backstabbing of women in general.

  54. Marilyn

    This may not be the right place to ask this question, but I’m not sure where else to go. So I’m going to pick your collective brains. I run a film blog and want to do some posting on feminism and film. I want to post on both my blog and on a feminist or female studies blog that would be interested in this content. Can anyone give me some leads on some good blogs/website to which I can turn?


  55. wiggles

    They trot out Jackie O’ every time the U.S. has a prsidential election. She’s the gold standard against which all other first ladies and potential first ladies are measured, and all there is to discuss is her fashion sense. It’s depressing. Why can’t Eleanor Roosevelt or Florence Harding be the standard bears for having kicked ass and done things?
    Surely Jackie O’ must have done something with her life other than dress well. Why don’t we ever get to hear about it?

  56. Shaina

    I totally agree with the semi-annual shower idea. My fiance is always trying to convince me to shower more often, insisting it’s the “normal” thing to do or something.

  57. Blume

    I read some glossy magazine article about Michelle shortly after Hillary conceded, and their main point was that Michelle was spicing things up by wearing different colored clothes than we’re used to seeing on a first lady or prospective first lady.

    It went on and on about her daring color choices, without once mentioning the possibility that her skin tone might make these “unusual” colors more flattering on her. Duh.

  58. estraven

    @Foilwoman “No more hair dying. No more leg shaving. No more whisker plucking.”

    Funnily enough, that is precisely what I started doing. Add no make up and no uncomfortable shoes to the list. Feels like heaven.
    I Blame The Patriarchy for all the women who can’t do it, because their job is not as secure as mine. (No, I don’t think women shouldn’t shave/wear makeup/whatever. I just think they shouldn’t have to).

  59. Cathy

    Happy Women’s Equality Day! As if we’re anywhere close. I liked Michelle Obama’s speech last night. Of course everyone doubts her love for this country, so she had to include the comment about why she loves it so much.

    Question: How on earth is Laura Bush supposed to act less intelligent than her husband? No one could be that good an actress.

  60. tinfoil hattie

    Thanks AnnaArcturus. I appreciate your gracious kindness in the face of my boorish comment.

  61. Sarah

    And Michelle Obama doesn’t have “good arms”? Has this alleged stylist ever even seen Michelle Obama?? I mean, DAMN. She’s got 2 free tickets to the gun show!

  62. GwenGable

    Cathy, your comment about about how Laura Bush can act less intelligent than her husband has me howling in the isles!

    Thanks I really needed that!!

  63. Ermingarde

    I would be very interested in reading about feminism and film, I am very sad that Twisty’s forum has passed over to the other side and would love to know other similar forums exist somewhere. I’m not very computer savvy and cannot find where the blamers have gone. Can a computer-genius blamer help us? Thanks!

  64. Spiders

    Try this, Ermingarde:


  65. Spiders

    “I’d was bothered by some of our really classist responses to the Australia story, among the other completely spot-on critiques. Is it so much worse that these particular assholes were ill-educated, provincial, “hillbilly” assholes? Can’t we despise, disparage, and call a fuckwit a fuckwit without laying into them for being particularly hick-like, lower class fuckwits?”

    As a welfare worker I was pretty uncomfortable with all that too, for the record.
    Yes, people in poor areas and particularly in rural australia have less access to education and health services, lower rates of literacy, higher rates of alcohol and other drug issues, even higher rates of mental health issues and much higher rates of incarceration than those proper rich folks from the city. Worse still in Aboriginal communities.
    I would prefer to blame patriarchy for these issues, not those who are most affected by them.

  66. Carolyn

    (No, I don’t think women shouldn’t shave/wear makeup/whatever. I just think they shouldn’t have to

    Excellent summary, I’ll try to remember it. I’ve never worn makeup for everyday stuff (only for goth clubbing etc.) and haven’t shaved my legs in years (the last time was when I performed semi-naked onstage, and the few things I did wear stuck in the hairs)–I’ve never had any adverse reactions, so it’s worth reading that other women have.

    I did want to tell one story–I was standing in a thrift shop in Lilongwe, Malawi, looking at the English language books, when I felt a hand on my leg–and turned to see a gorgeous light-skinned black woman rubbing her hand up and down my calf. ‘I wish I could grow my hair out like yours,’ she said. ‘It’s beautiful.’ I was, needless to say, completely speechless–but when I gathered my wits I said something to the effect that where I came from it was considered unattractive. She seemed baffled by this.

  67. Dana

    Anastasia: “(that god of patriarchal heterosexuality who most certainly couldn’t keep it in his pants)”

    OMFG. I’ve spent most of the past fifteen years in and on the fringes of the Neopagan community. I shit you not, one of the self-appointed leaders of the Neopagan community wanted to know what the big deal was about Bill Clinton running around on his wife because it is an Indo-European cultural expectation for leaders to be virile*.


    He’s a Neopagan Druid favoring the Irish tradition (what anybody knows of it) and the Celts were an Indo-European people so he can be forgiven for bringing that up; it wasn’t a racist tirade. Still. It is telling that initially I was nodding my head along with his statements, and then was surprised later on when a Neopagan man ran around on *me* and didn’t understand what the big deal was when I got mad about it. And we were polyamorous! How do you cheat on someone when you’re polyamorous??? But he managed it.

    I’m starting to digress here, I just wanted to point out that Anastasia is not exaggerating. These assholes really do see something almost holy about behaving badly. IBTP.

    (And I consider myself more animist these days. Because if you leave the anthropocentrism out of it, it’s a lot more difficult to deify da menz.)

  68. Dana

    oh, and disregard that asterisk. I think I worked in my parenthetical statement without meaning to, so it’s all good. I have no brain today.

  1. gwytherinn.com » Blog Archive » Dear Steve - Get a Life

    […] Listening to good old Steve reminded me of a recent post of Twisty’s over at I Blame the Patriarchy about NPR’s coverage of the eve… I shall quote it here: Is it sexist to analyze firstladyal fashion? Not at all, says Jackie […]

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