Financial Times Criticizes Female Politicians for Dressing the Same, Ignores How Male Politicians Do the Same

In a day and age in which female politicians are receiving death and rape threats for doing their jobs, when they’re being silenced on the Senate floor, and, of course, told to smile more, what do they need more — respect and equality, or “makeovers?” To the Financial Times, the answer is pretty simple: makeovers, of course! In an op-ed published last week, Jo Ellison (who is, notably, a woman) wants us all to know that in today’s “[polarized] political times,” what women need is some new outfits. Ellison is referring to how, around the globe, many female politicians seem to be donning the same bright red blazers. And, hey, maybe they are — see for yourself in the following tweet. Maybe they are, but also — who cares? Oh, right, our patriarchal society, which ignores how all male politicians seem to wear the same navy or black suit jackets, but happily attributes the evils of political polarization to women wearing what they want. I can only recall two times in the past year or so when male political figures’ outfits mattered to the media: When press secretary Sean Spicer appeared to wear mismatched shoes, and when former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wore a suit jacket in a color that had everyone on Twitter puzzled. Other than that, coverage of men in positions of political power focuses on their work and policies — not their outfits. So, there we have it: Another day, another double standard. Perhaps there’s plenty of more pressing issues out there that feminists should be fighting: attacks on women’s reproductive rights, systemic injustices faced by sexual assault survivors, workplace inequality that has women earning about 78-cents for every dollar men make, and so on and so forth. And perhaps there are even a couple of double standards here and there that favor women — one-dimensional “girl power” narratives such as the suggestion by Morning Joe‘s Mika Brzezinski that “only a woman” can stop Trump from tweeting, the somewhat problematic notion throughout 2016 that Hillary Clinton was inherently a better candidate for women than Sanders because she was a woman, etc. But that doesn’t at all mean micro aggressions and bizarrely high standards for female politicians such as those espoused by the Financial Times last week don’t altogether help establish a culture that discourages women from going into politics. Petty as such demands for respect may seem, in these truly polarized political times as Ellison put it, if we want to change this culture, then we’d better start somewhere.

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