Time to Get My Sexist On

Alright, I guess it’s time for me to get my sexist on again ‘cuz I need to have something explained to me. I’m watching certain circumstances unfold at work that I find fascinating in a grand “isn’t-it-interesting-the-way-the-human-psyche-works” kind of way.

We’ve just recently hired a new employee. One of only three we’ve hired in the last six to eight months. She had excellent qualifications and good, relevant job experience that made her the best choice for the position. She’s also . . . shall we say . . . attractive. “Deal or No Deal” briefcase #26 attractive. (Yes, that actually was on her resume, and no, the picture is for illustration purposes and isn’t her.)

Now, right here: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say that? Why do you honestly think she was hired?

Her qualifications?
Her past experience?
Or was she hired ‘cuz she was purdy??

I’m amazed at the number of times I’ve seen an automatic default to number three; especially if a man does the hiring. (Not me in this case, but my point remains.) Regardless of why she was actually hired, there have been no questions, conversations or accusations, just an automatic self-justification for this “go-to” conclusion. Not by all but by more than I expected.  This begs my sexist question . . .

Why do we do this to women?

Why is it that, when a woman “makes it” in this man’s world, whether it be positions of power, success in Hollywood, or simple achievement of employment, the default is to hone in on her looks as the most likely reason? And immediately feel the need to tear it down?

Go ahead; tell me I’m wrong as my attention is drawn to the latest tabloid headline fodder of “Worst Bikini Bodies” and “Who’s Cellulite Thighs Are These? Find Out Inside!”

What society deems as “beautiful” is only a part of this inequity—although that is the gist of what I’m writing about here. I’ve seen successful women also described as “severe”, “shabby”, “masculine”, “hard” and any other number of adjectives to describe her face, clothes, height, weight, or whatever else is outwardly apparent. . . and an easy target. When was the last time you heard a media talking head speak on the qualifications, intelligence or relevant experience of Condoleeza Rice? Megan Fox? Hillary Clinton? Lady Gaga?

On a sideways note . . . There was a video that made the rounds of Facebook not too long ago entitled “Miss Representation“. (YouTube movie trailer link shown below)  It brought up many outstanding points of how society, the media, and our world in general view women. A lot of the criticism was based on the pervasive drive towards sex appeal and beauty as the “standard” the media harnesses our young women with in order to garner attention or sell a product in today’s society. Accusations were made of the downplay of a woman’s intellect.

But what if a woman is beautiful? And successful? And smart? What is the default of society, including, in particular, the female society, of how she got to her goal of success? Her intelligence? Her dedication? Her hard work? Or, her looks?

When did beauty become a bad thing?

And moreover, not unlike many of the thoughts and questions I had while watching “Miss Representation” was this chicken-and-egg question; Which came first, the successful exploitation of sex and beauty to gain attention, or the media’s use and overuse of it?; Our (male) fixation on the female body or the (female) drive to perfect that body?

When does it start?

And, who has control over it?

It reminds me of the young lady I wrote about in Immoral High Ground that, if she were lucky, was in her early teens yet dressed in short, SHORT shorts that drew your eye to areas that should never have been drawn to . . . especially in one so young. And her mom was right there beside her. Who taught her that? Who showed her those particular shorts, or who did she show them to so they went, “yup, that’s you!”? Did society create her? The media? Her parents? Her own self-image . . . or, at least, what she deemed it should be?

And now that we’re all on this fun-filled super-highway to moral decay, how do we stop the car and get out?
Stop the media’s exploitation of sex and beauty?
Stop the pursuit of attractiveness by those drawn to low-cut tops and high-cut shorts?
Stop the pursuit of attractiveness by those longing for the attention?

Chicken? Egg? Beauty? Exploitation? Derision? Disenchantment?

Which came first?

And, why?

Miss Representation trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFh5F8cFb3g

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One thought on “Time to Get My Sexist On”

  1. When I was 19, slender, and very blonde I applied for work through an employment agency. I sat in the agent’s office listening to her answer questions about me with a potential employer over the telephone, and I was stunned when I heard her say to him, “Yes, she’s very pretty.” Hmmm…..

    The job was a secretarial job for some head honchos in the upstairs office of Bank of America. I was sent over to fill out an application. Again, I was stunned when the application actually asked if I was pregnant or HAD ANY PLANS to become pregnant. How would that fly in today’s hiring?!
    I was interviewed and hired. I guess I was pretty enough and “unpregnant” enough.

    When my boss was planning a trip to Hawaii he asked what I would like him to bring back for me. This may seem like an innocent question, but there was something about his manner that made me uneasy.. I was married and my gut feelings were screaming, “Be careful.There is something wrong here.” When I said, “Nothing, thank you,” he pressed the issue.

    When I discovered I was pregnant I was informed that I could not continue working there.

    Things have changed a lot since 1970–yet some things have not changed. Young, beautiful women still have a better chance of getting hired (it’s still mostly men doing the hiring) and, therefore, these women are targets for some doubt and criticism. It isn’t fair, of course. “Beauty” isn’t synonymous with “dumb.” I believe employers want people who will get the job done. BUT, attractive people (especially women) have a definite advantage.

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