Robyn Doolittle, the journalist who helped break the Rob Ford crack video story last year, is promoting a new book about Toronto’s grosso mayor. As such, she was featured in Flare magazine recently and, for her photo shoot, wore a dress *gasp,* heels *gasp,* and red lipstick *gasp gasp.*
OR IS SHE BOTH.
Everything is boring, I know.
Doolittle says she received some angry emails from women over the shoot (it sounds like it was mostly people expressing “concern” about how if she looks too hot it might “undermine her career“), angering the good people of the internet.
As a result, a lot of people are having Strong Opinions about things like “judging,” what feminism is really about (my choice fuck yeah!), about how “women can wear what they want,” and also “GET IT GIRL.”
So yeah, women can technically wear what they want. And I could really care less if Doolittle wears lipstick in a photo shoot. But whether or not she has the ability to “choose” to be “sexy and smart” is not an interesting topic of debate unless we are going to also discuss the fact no one cares if men are sexy or not because male power isn’t attached to their ability to be objectified.
So, while people sending her angry emails about her outfit is pretty silly, what’s even sillier is the response from those trying to defend her. Because, in their attempts to tell her that feminism is about choice! and you doing you! they dis feminists, completely misunderstand what feminism is actually about, and fail to understand that What Women Look Like is not simply a matter of individual choice.
On Friday, “Robyn Doolittle: Sexiest Sexy Lady vs. Bad And Ugly Feminists” was the topic of discussion on Global News’ morning show. This conversation not only shows the way in which choice feminism/individualism/neoliberalism has turned feminism into a big dumb (but sexy!) joke, but also how deeply stupid news anchors are, making an excellent case for not allowing them to have opinions on any things ever (I wonder if this is why mainstream news media remains so very attached to the myth of the “unbiased reporter?” Is it because they know that if mainstream news reporters attempt to share their thoughts in public, we will discover the truth about all those back alley lobotomies media conglomerates have been conducting on their TV news anchors?)
ANYWAY. LET’S WATCH:
Such strong opinions! Let’s review and discuss:
Lady Anchor 1: “She can wear whatever she likes.”
Mister Anchor 1: “I agree!”
Way to take a stand, douchebags. You could have conveyed an equally weighty opinion had you sat in front of the camera eating sandwiches.
MA1: “It’s obviously a feminist who’s probably lashing out at her, saying: ‘you’re being sex… a sex.. object… And there are a lot of beautiful women and you should not hide it.”
Yes, yes of course. Ye olde “feminists are the enemy of feminism” tale. OOOH those feminists hating sexy ladies again! They are the worst, amirite? *everyone nods head as though something very serious and impactful has been said*
Also. THANK YOU for liberating us from the chains of patriarchy by telling us we are free to look pretty! NO MORE TALKING FOR YOU, SIR.
Lady Anchor 2: “Beauty is power and… she’s showcasing her beauty. Boom. There you go.”
Boom indeed! What more is there to say? Nothing. “Boom.”
Well, actually there are still a few things, “boom” aside. Here are some of them: Beauty is not power. As evidenced by patriarchy. Pretty ladies continue to be exposed to sexism on a daily basis despite their “freedom” to “showcase their beauty.” In other words, if beauty were power then women would have real power in this world and would no longer be marginalized based on the fact that they happen to have been born female.
The myth that “beauty is power” is actually super destructive because it tricks young women into thinking that if men want them, they will be empowered, which is, alas, not true. Because the kind of “power” that comes from having men lust after you is fleeting and holds no real weight in the grand scheme of things. It might make you feel good momentarily, until you realize that men don’t respect you because they like your boobs, nor will your fuckability bring things like political power and freedom from male violence. As long as women are seen as (and see themselves as) pretty, sexy objects, they will continue to to be viewed and treated, primarily, as sex-holes for men (i.e. not full human beings but the kind of beings who were invented for men to use and abuse and play with and then discard when they get bored).
Also, friendly reminder that real “power” doesn’t run out when you turn forty. Men don’t suddenly become invisible and irrelevant when they reach middle age and that’s because they haven’t bought into or been fed the ridiculous myth that their power lies in their ability to be youthful and have a perky butt. Society treats older women as invisible and younger women as objects. That’s not power.
LA1: “We still have ‘tall poppy syndrome’ in this country. Everyone wants to cut down the one who starts to rise up a little bit. I don’t know why we do that. In the United States it’d be like, ‘you go!'”
So I actually do think there’s a little truth to this point. It does seem that we like to attack women who either are perceived to be gaining power, are in the public eye, or who are getting attention. I think we do this because we still think, whether or not we realize it, that women should be in the background — in the private sphere, not the public one. We should be supporting men to become great, not becoming great ourselves. Femininity is about sacrifice and selflessness — we are to put our husbands and families first.
Look at the way female politicians are treated. As women in power, they must be harassed and degraded and mocked and sexualized (or called ugly — whichever you prefer so long as you remind them they are to-be-looked-at). But that’s a dude thing. That’s a you-don’t-belong-here-and-we’re-going-to-let-you-know-by-turning-you-into-porn thing. That’s not a jealous, prudish, dowdy feminist thing.
And, Lady Anchor 1, the reason they would be feeling this in the U.S. is because, in the U.S., everything is hypersexualized and hyperpornified and women really, really shouldn’t be on TV or in magazines at all unless they’re sexy. That’s not a good thing. That’s a sexism thing. Is America our new standard for Freedom™? Because that’s fucked.
Man Anchor 2: “Nobody criticized Woodward and Bernstein for being too sexy.”
NOOOOOO. No. No.
I really don’t want to get into this because it makes me feel crazy, but for the sake of clarity, the reason “nobody criticized Woodward and Bernstein for being too sexy” is because they, like all man-reporters, don’t have wear makeup or heels or sexy dresses. They’re men! It doesn’t matter what they look like. They get to do and say and be whatever they like and they get to be in photos looking like the boring ugly white men they are and people respect them regardless. See? Men don’t have to justify their presence in the public sphere by being pleasant to look at. THAT’S THE SEXIST PART.
The other sexist part, as I mentioned earlier, is when you tried to pretend like feminists are squashing women’s freedom.
Now let’s all go put on something sexy and jump off a bridge.