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Are We Still Talking About What Women Wear?

Women are constantly under the spotlight more than men.

Key points

  • A study found that 41 percent of girls aged nine to 16 thought there had been an increase in media sexism towards women recently.
  • Thirty-nine percent of study participants said media sexism had hurt their confidence, which could deter women from going into politics.
  • Recent social media is focused on what female leaders in Congress, including the vice-president, wear to occassions rather than their leadership.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels
Source: Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

In an Associated Press article, Biden: America is Arising Anew, authors Jonathon Lemire and Josh Bloak laud the "history look" of Vice-President Harris and Nancy Pelosi sitting behind the president during his speech to Congress. Ironically, the authors ended their commentary with a description of what Harris and Pelosi wore. Can you imagine this would be the case if these two leaders were men rather than women? What women wear is irrelevant. What they have accomplished is essential.

The Daily Mail reported,

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Pelosi donned power suits for President Biden's first address to Congress yesterday. Striding into the chamber, Harris, 56, looked chic in a cream suit by Asian-American designer Prabal Gurung, made in New York. Beneath her jacket, she wore an ivory silk top which complimented her pearl and gold necklace and completed the outfit with modest black pointed toe stilettos and a flag pin on her lapel.

CNN referred to the symbolism of Vice President Harris wearing a white suit on another occasion. In the past, women in Congress have also worn white because it has long been associated with the women's suffrage movement, adopted as a symbol of moral purity.

As soon as Kamala Harris took to the stage in Wilmington, Delaware, social media was abuzz with talk of her outfit. CNN suggested, "It was a telling sign, for better or worse, of the public scrutiny her fashion will face in the coming years."

Women are constantly under the spotlight more than men. Meanwhile, it isn't easy to find articles and social media posts dedicated to their fashion when looking at men in politics. The most popular was probably Jeremy Corbyn being told to wear a proper suit by David Cameron or Barack Obama wearing a tan suit to a press conference in 2014.

Of course, much criticism of women's clothing is more decorative than the male politician's typical dark suits, plain ties, and white shirts. If women wear a pantsuit, they're trying to come across like one of the guys, and if they dress up, they're no longer relatable to lower-income and working-class constituents; if they don't dress up, they're looking tired or inappropriate.

A study done by Girlguiding found that 41 percent of girls aged nine to 16 thought there had been an increase in media sexism towards women recently, with 39 percent saying it has hurt their confidence, which, ultimately, will put women off of going into politics, which is still too dominated by men.

Women's business and political decisions can be judged and criticized, but it is time to leave their clothes out of it.


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