Museum Piece

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Women have gone to space. Women have led nations. Women have died for their countries. Women have invented, pioneered, and broken barriers and boundaries. They’ve had babies and buried husbands while they did these things, too.

And on the eve of the very overdue day when a woman will lead a network’s evening newscast by herself — which in the scheme of things is important, but not in the same league as finding a cure for hunger and poverty — what mattered to some nincompoop minding the network photo store was The Babe Factor.

Even Katie Couric couldn’t escape that.

This – this! – on top of the recent Time magazine cover of Hillary Clinton, which was set up like a middle-school popularity contest, or one of those online, red-carpet fashion polls: Love her, hate her. These are our choices when it comes to a complex woman who may or may not run for president of the United States?

The double-whammy made me wonder:

What has it all been for — the quiet work, the public actions, the incremental advances, the meteoric successes, the doors broken through before the doors were held open — if, in 2006, many in the world and at least some at two major media outlets still regard older, accomplished women through a prism of cute and popular? Will we ever, ever graduate in life?

I think it’s worth asking the question — whether you’re older and broader in the beam than Katie Couric (as I am), or whether you’re younger and about to embark on a future that I hope will not be mucked up by such outdated but persistent (and potentially debilitating) cultural clutter.

In honor of the shoulders I stand on, I still ask what gives and why.

Some of my friends regard my outrage as a museum piece.

I sure hope it isn’t. I hope people still care about things like double standards and objectification, and what they do to all of us.

Pam Platt Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal

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