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Why do women have to wear the right make-up to look presidential?

March 23, 2009
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There is a ridiculous article on Inside Higher Ed that seems to be written by a woman-hating author named Susan Resneck Pierce.  Here is a sample of her breakdown of gender in an academic presidential search:

Men can wear a dark suit, an ironed shirt and a presentable tie. Women have many more decisions to make. Should they wear a suit, a dress or — now that Secretary of State Clinton has changed expectations in this regard — a pant suit? If a skirt or a dress, how long? Neutral hose or tights? How high a heel? What about hair style, hair color and make-up? How much jewelry and of what sort?

Sounds a lot like being presidential for women centers on how they look.  Women don’t “carry an extra burden,”  they carry the whole burden.   Resneck Pierce makes the assumption that all men DO look presentable.  Why is it that no one comments when a man is bald, and why is awoman’s make being “too loud” a problem?

A very capable candidate alienated the search committee because of her abundant make-up.

Resneck Pierce never questions this but offers it up as wisdom, not the sick chauvinistic remark that it is.

Someone’s hair distracted a whole professional committee? Resneck doesn’t even comment on how “big hair” is something that shouldn’t come into play.  A woman’s hairstyle is then something upon which to judge her abilities, because she is “otherwise stylish.”

An otherwise stylish candidate who had hair-sprayed “big hair” that didn’t move as she nodded her head distracted committee members from her answers because of their fascination with this hair that seemed to have its own separate life

Sounds like the committee was made up of fools, and it’s definitely not a place for women to work.

Resneck Pierce goes on to critique only women by their clothing and youth, as though this is all perfectly acceptable in interviews and feedback:

At the other end of the spectrum: a candidate who wore no make-up at all was rejected because she appeared “unfinished” and “washed out.” Another lost votes because she appeared “frumpish” and “too matronly.” Then there was the very attractive candidate who showed up for her interview in a jogging suit.

How can you get behind such chauvinistic rhetoric?  Why don’t you take the committees to task instead of publishing the blather they produce that is demeaning to women?

Really, this isn’t writing in a professional sense–this openly published chauvinism and degrading article was published by the poorly edited Inside Higher Ed.  Rah, Rah, Inside Higher Ed, let’s NOT have any women in your school.

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