Sunday, June 12, 2011

Turning the Table - Gina Barreca

Imagine If a Female Politician Photographed Her Genitals
June 10, 2011, 11:36 am
By Gina Barreca
Really, take a moment: Imagine if a middle-aged female politician decided she should send to random strangers a photograph of her vagina the way Congressman Weiner sent to women a photograph of his penis.
She would not be asked to resign. She would not be the subject of witty, albeit salacious, banter on television and radio programs. She would not be subject to serious questions concerning her judgement, her ability to govern, and the state of her marriage.
She would be institutionalized. She would be grabbed in the street, put into a straightjacket, and carted off to an asylum.
She would be medicated instantly and heavily.
Her family would explain, in tears, that she been subject to catastrophic emotional trauma because otherwise there could be no excuse for such outrageous and utterly insane behavior.
But if a guy is waving his flagpole around we’re supposed to salute it as evidence of his being “just one of the boys”? If a man exposes his penis and scrotum in order to take a fuzzy picture of it (or is it “them”?) our collective response is to wonder what the implications are—culturally—of this act?
Just think: if Sarah Palin exposed her vagina rather than her ignorance, she would be thrown out of politics instantly.
Americans—male and female—still have trouble saying the word “vagina” although they have no trouble with the 23,425 words for “breasts.”
Women’s bodies, like women’s lives, have always been the subject of stupid jokes and whispered, ignorant remarks. Despite the fact that about half the world spends half a lifetime bleeding once a month, for example, we still advertise menstrual products as if we’re selling weed at a playground (“Hey, you want it ‘Because’? You want it ‘Always’? You want it ‘With Wings’?”).
But a New York politician takes a bunch of photographs of his body and mails them to powerless young women—not to Pelosi, or Clinton, or Sotomayor, mind you, which would have been GREAT because their responses would have gone down in history—and he yet still wants to be taken seriously as a leader in our government?
Sure, everybody has done something in our personal lives of which we are not proud. And sure, most everybody is willing to forgive politicians some kind of weirdness in their own personal lives because otherwise NOBODY would run for office.
But Weiner was driven, not by lust—which we can sort of find forgivable—or even by some other kind of desperate passion—but by vanity. It was plain old lousy, dumb, nerdy, unmerited, creepy vanity that made him take pictures of what he thought was his handsome virile self and send those pictures to women he didn’t know personally in order to feed his sense of unparallelled perfection.
That’s not somebody we need on our side. He’s on nobody’s side but his own.

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