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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Robin Givhan, A Feminist Failure

Most of you probably have seen some commentary on Givhan's whack at Roberts' children. Rightwingsparkle digs up a picture of Edwards' children at the convention last year, who are dressed very similarly to Roberts' children and simply quotes Givhan:
His wife and children stood before the cameras, groomed and glossy in pastel hues -- like a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of Jelly Bellies, three little Necco wafers.
Eeek.You can tell when the bile's half-choking someone, but we should all agree to leave people's kids out of it:
Separate the child from the clothes, which do not acknowledge trends, popular culture or the passing of time. They are not classic; they are old-fashioned. These clothes are Old World, old money and a cut above the light-up/shoe-buying hoi polloi.
Go over and check out the Edwards photo.

I have to admit, I consider Robin Givhan feminism's worst failure. This woman has ascended to a demented level of passionate idiocy that makes Fanny Farmer look like a deep thinker in comparison. That's because Fanny Farmer was a deep thinker in comparison, and she became a successful female entrepeneur at a time when few women were.

I normally read Givhan for laughs, as in this critique of John Kerry's donning of the lab suit:
Such suits are standard in Hollywood films in which the hero visits the lab of the mild-mannered scientist whose research will ultimately save the world. But note that it is the lab rat who wears the suit, not the hero. He stands strong and resolute, throwing off clouds of testosterone while absorbing dire warnings.
This is a woman who is irredeemably superficial, and so considers superficialities incredibly important. She continues:
Political consultants warn that it is essential for a candidate to look presidential from the outset of a campaign. Everything about him must speak of gravitas, strength, wisdom and authority. Words provide context and details. Image is shorthand. Audiences listen to the candidate's message but they also inspect his body language, his family dynamics, his tailoring, his smile, his smirk, his hair. Image is not a substitute for substance but it can underscore what a man is made of or detract from it. A man with a firm handshake, good posture and regal bearing has an edge. A man in uniform or a beautifully cut suit has an edge. A candidate in a costume will always look absurd.
So if image is so important, why didn't we elect the taller, more urbane, more well-spoken man? We didn't because he kept talking about having a plan but it was a plan no one could understand, that apparently consisted of having lots of meetings. This didn't impress the electorate, because in the age of office labor, almost all of us have experienced meeting fatigue. We know that the same few overworked people who were going to do the work before the meeting will be left to do the work after the meeting, and that the only thing the meeting accomplished was to shorten their working day, plus provide an alibi for all the people who aren't doing the work. Clothes don't make the man.

If you really want to have a satisfying belly laugh, read this set of Givhan quotes at Independent Women's Forum. They are chiefly about hair. Robin cares a great deal about hair, especially the hair of presidents and vice-presidents. One is almost left with the impression that she believes the right hair is a prerequisite for the office. Sadly, the nation wasn't served well in the last election, because obviously Edwards had the best hair:
...hair has regularly been referred to as a mop, but that suggests that it is messy or unkempt. Nothing could be further from the truth. He has a precise haircut with artfully clipped layers. His hair is a beautiful shade of chocolate brown with honey-colored highlights. It is not particularly long, but it is smooth and shiny. It is boyish hair not because of the style but because it looks so healthy and buoyant and practically cries out to be tousled the same way a well-groomed golden retriever demands to be nuzzled.’
I don't know. Perhaps the electorate wasn't really focusing on hair. Perhaps the idea of Chirac just lovingly tousling John Edwards' hair didn't do it for us - perhaps we suspected that it would take more than hair to handle the diplomacy. This woman is an embarrassment on the pages of the Washington Post. If there were a trace of rationality in women's politics of today, Martha Burke would be out with her placards picketing the Washington Post for featuring Givhan. All by herself, Givhan reduces the average IQ of American women in the public eye.

I will leave you with this Givhan classic entitled "Forget Issues, Candidates Need Style To Stand Out". It begins:
Among the Democratic presidential candidates, one of the most common fashion tics is the rolling up of the shirt sleeves as a symbolic gesture of informality, camaraderie and machismo. All of the candidates do it, except of course Carol Moseley Braun, who always looks as though she is headed to an afternoon worship service. Such is the burden of being the only female candidate struggling to appear wise, moral, feminine, tough, and yet not intimidating.
And it ends:
In the same way that the candidates search for an original turn of phrase to distinguish themselves, they should strive for a personal style that allows them to stand gracefully in front of an informal audience.

But until their fashion sense becomes more eloquent, they should keep their cuffs buttoned.
So I don't think Roberts has been singled out. A woman who can only really wax emotive about the boots of the first black female Secretary of State is almost unable to say anything meaningful. Random snark is not much of an insult from this direction.

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