Thursday, August 19, 2010

(Some) MN GOP: our women are hotter

The Minnesota GOP has an interesting agenda. It isn't about jobs, the economy, the wars overseas, or even the Ground Zero mosque debate. Their major concern? Who has the bigger hotties!

A web video in Minnesota State Senate Distrcit 56 was posted, playing music to images of women in politics, separating these women by which political party they aligned themselves with. During the Republican women montage (featuring overly flattering photographs of these women), "She's a Lady" played; during the Democratic women (which featured overly unattractive photographs), "Who let the Dog's Out?" was the song of choice, suggesting that Democratic women weren't all too good-looking.

Democrats in the state have called the video sexist and offensive; the official state GOP has tried to distance itself from the video as well, condemning it as the work of those in the 56th Senate district.

"The day when a woman was judged by her looks rather than her competence and intelligence should have passed three generations ago," said Brian Melendez, state party chair for the Democrats.

A candidate seeking a seat in the state's legislature, Republican candidate Andrea Kieffer, also condemned the video, and requested it be taken down. The ad has since been removed from the site, and the GOP in Minnesota has since condemned it outright.

It's commendable that most Republicans, too, would find such a web video distasteful. But the fact that a good handful of Republicans believe this rubbish (for I've seen this argument before), believe that it's a legitimate measure of how we should base whom we elect, is troubling. Not only does it unfairly categorize women as "hot-or-not," but it also suggests that the only women worth electing are ones that look good, and that this quality somehow trumps any other -- including the character and integrity of that woman, and the ideals she wishes to represent while in office to her constituents. We should base our votes not on the attractiveness of one candidate over another, but on values these candidates represent, as well as the issues they support or reject.

This disrespectful display of women couldn't come at a more inappropriate time: this week was the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women across the country the right to vote. On such a historic anniversary, some within the GOP in the state of Minnesota thought it was appropriate to ask voters to consider the "hotness" factor of female candidates rather than their intellect. Can you imagine the reaction these suffragists, who fought decades for such a right, would have had at the suggestion that only the "pretty" ones should have a place in government?

The true promise of American democracy was that all were free to speak their minds, to express themselves, and that through this marketplace of ideas the best would flow forward. The Republicans who created this web video haven't obstructed that notion, but they have made a strong suggestion that aesthetic appeal, not the ideas that these women put forth, matters more. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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