The Urge to Scribble

March 31, 2008

C’est la vie

Filed under: Uncategorized — theurgetoscribble @ 7:17 pm
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At the end of last week all the press could talk about was Carla Bruni. The media seemed to suffer a collective swoon over her. They could not get over how immaculately she dressed or how incredibly photogenic she was. She was stylish in flats, her curtsy was well-practiced, the Duke of Edinburgh was charmed.

Now, while its nice that a woman was getting all the attention, its a shame that it was all about her appearance. No one can really suggest that the hoohah was about anything else, she was after all being the perfect consort, pretty and mute. I could suggest that she is a genius in upstaging her powerful, attention-seeking husband simply by dressing modestly and batting her eyelashes. But I am not really in the mood. She played the role of the perfect wife and is reaping the congratulations for it. She did her bit by looking pretty and let the men get on with the important bits, running affairs of state and such like.

It could all have been so different. 

Last summer Segleone Royal lost the presidential election to Nicholas Sarkozy. Imagine if she had won and last week we had had Madame la Presidente on her first state visit. What would the press have done to keep themselves occupied then? I would like to think that they would have actually managed a serious discussion of her policies. However, given the general focus on a femail politician’s appearance over their performance I imagine that Royal would have got much the same treatment as Bruni, only much less sympathetic. She would, after all, be opening her mouth and playing politics which isn’t what the media really like their women to be doing. And not being an ex-supermodel she would not be quite so effective at making Bambi eyes for the camera.

I guess we can hope that the media might have got distracted by her consort and his designer suits, should she have chosen to bring one with her. After all, disproportionate as the attention is, the media are starting to pick on men for their appearance as well. Who can forget Tony Blair and his make-up, or David Cameron and the mystery of the moving parting? Happily for them, this construes but a tiny portion of their press. The words that come out of their mouths and the actions that they instigate still being regarded as rather more important than whether they have a taste for Dior over Prada.

I would love a world where a female politician in this country could get the kind of attention that Carla Bruni had last week without having to play the game that she has played of presenting herself merely as Sarkozy’s deferential spouse. I would love a world where the media spoke about a woman’s policies and opinions, not whether she is showing too much cleavage, too much leg or has a dodgy haircut. It makes me laugh when the attention is forced onto a male politician’s appearance for a bit, because maybe while it happens he understands the ongoing experience of female politicians in this country. But mostly I despair. I do not want more focus on male appearance, I want less focus on female appearance. Anything else really was not the kind of equality I was hoping for.


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