Decidedly

Musings on decisions and factors that drive them.

Back to the Sixties

Who's whiffing now?
In a BBC article about Obama and his strategy for Afghanistan, Paul Adams reports on a small anti-war protest as "a whiff of the Sixties" with "some way to go."   Unfortunately, the main subject of his article is somewhat lost as he goes on to describe "elegantly coiffured Ms. Pelosi" and her "Senate colleague, the Majority Leader Harry Reid" who "put an avuncular - perhaps even patronizing - arm around her shoulder."


Ironically, the attempt to show sexism as alive and well in Washington was made in the first half of Adam's remark. In the comparison of the two, Pelosi is described in terms of her looks, Reid by his title.

Occasionally we can expect a relapse in perspective from the now-retiring or already-retired generations who needed awakening (yes, in the Sixties) to this type of verbal patronizing of women in the news.  But Adams is young, relatively speaking.  Astonishingly, it is both males and females of his generation that are perpetuating the demeaning of women's ideas and stature through frivolous reporting.

The Sotomayor hearings, as covered in the New York Times, fell victim to this same manner of reporting. Apparently some female reporters think they are still relegated to writing articles for the Style section: Kate Phillips': "Ms. Sotomayor wore a cobalt blue pants suit, a color often worn by Hillary Rodham Clinton." Sheryl Gay Stolberg's: "her flaming red jacket" and "her manicured nails painted a pale pink."

Judgments are decisions.  Decisions need to be made with facts that are relevant. Options, and even people, should be assessed against all facts deemed relevant.  Applying criteria to only some and not to others being judged is always seen as unfair.  It is the definition of "double standard."  It is also true for descriptors that cause judgment.  Not only are the judgments questionable, but the persons putting forth the case for and against are doubted as to their ability to be fair.

These reporters do not remember that this same issue, of having two standards for judgment based on gender, was brought forth during the Sixties. Overcoming this double standard allowed women reporters to move more easily from the Style section to the front page.  Reading this type of reporting...well, it is definitely a whiff of the Sixties, if not the Fifties.
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