Today is the first increase to minimum wage, through the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, in almost a decade, increasing minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. Considering the fact that more women than men function on minimum wage, that’s pretty exciting.
Robin Givhan of the Washington Post expressed her shock at discovering Hillary Clinton is in fact a woman (and not some sort of androgynous mystery?) after witnessing her “undeniable” cleavage Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2.
She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn’t an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.
Because we all know how relevant her fashion decisions are to her political stance. Funny how she failed to mention the flattering cut of Rudy Guiliani’s black pant suit and his more free-flowing hair style that night. Oh wait, no one gives a shit how the guys look. Respect for them is not earned by the way they dress, style their hair, or show off their cleavage. Respect for them is earned by the way they vote, speak, and act. Hmm…that’s a concept.
Givhan proceeds to discuss the difference between when women weren’t even allowed to wear pants in the Congree to now…when cleavage is apparently allowed to run rampant. She points out Clinton’s always-conservative Oscar De La Renta and Donna Karan gowns as the first lady. It seems as if every one of Clinton’s fashion decisions while in the public eye are going under direct scrutiny just because she dared show a millimeter of cleavage.
With Clinton, there was the sense that you were catching a surreptitious glimpse at something private. You were intruding — being a voyeur. Showing cleavage is a request to be engaged in a particular way. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman is asking to be objectified, but it does suggest a certain confidence and physical ease. It means that a woman is content being perceived as a sexual person in addition to being seen as someone who is intelligent, authoritative, witty and whatever else might define her personality. It also means that she feels that all those other characteristics are so apparent and undeniable, that they will not be overshadowed.
To display cleavage in a setting that does not involve cocktails and hors d’oeuvres is a provocation. It requires that a woman be utterly at ease in her skin, coolly confident about her appearance, unflinching about her sense of style. Any hint of ambivalence makes everyone uncomfortable. And in matters of style, Clinton is as noncommittal as ever.
Brilliant. She brings up such good points! Of course, Clinton displayed cleavage because she wanted to suggest a more sexual image to her fellow members of Congress. Why else would she wear a V-neck? Hmmm…maybe because she’s a woman and V-necks are a part of women’s fashion? No…it has to be a cry for sexual attention. She’s just not stylish enough to be comfortable in her own body.
When will we stop analyzing what Clinton wears and how she styles her hair and actually give her the same respect we give the men? Or at least judge her under the same kind of scrutiny. You don’t see anyone blogging about Obama’s latest fashion choice. Analyzing Clinton’s fashion choices just keeps her at a lower respect level. It indicates that she is only deserving of our intellectual respect if she is dressed perfectly. The problem is, no matter what she wears, we will comment on it simply because she is a woman. As soon as a woman is in the public eye for political reasons, she is under scrutiny first as a woman and then as a politician. If this isn’t a sign of a lack of equality, I don’t know what is.
According to Reuters India plans to implement a registry for all abortions in order to cut down on abortions of female fetuses. Apparently, many families choose to abort female babies despite the law against sex determination tests. The registry will cut down on “mysterious” abortions and (hopefully) create a safer environment for women who actually would like an abortion for “an acceptable and valid reason.”
“An acceptable and valid reason,” huh? What exactly does that mean? When I first read this, I thought, Right on! The fight against gender discrimination is taking another step forward. But then I realized, Wait…what exactly is an “acceptable and valid reason”? And who exactly makes that judgment call? This same question is brought up on Feminsting.com, and now I’d like to attempt to tackle it while proposing it to our beloved readers.
On the one hand, this seems like a great step away from the preferential treatment of the male gender in India. They are trying to eliminate the abortion of females strictly because of their gender. That’s great. The problem with this registry is, who is deciding what abortions are OK and what aren’t? If the only criteria is that the abortion is not desired strictly for gender preferences, and if the register aides in providing safer options for women, then I don’t seem to have a problem with it.
I’m skeptical, though. The patriarchy runs rampant in all parts of the world. Gender discrimination is everywhere, and it seems that only in a perfect world would women have control of our own bodies and be able to decide what we can and cannot do with them. I suppose we will just have to wait it out and see what happens.
June 28, 2007
Yup, that’s right, feminism. We are Boston University’s first feminist magazine! (We are also Celie Hart, Gili Malinsky, Maria Thurrell, Meg Falls, and Emily Calvin) This is our blog/website. Keep checking back for more posts from all of us. Also, get excited for our first issue coming out in September/October!