Just Plain Sexist-Name It Together Now: “Attractive” is Not a Compliment

By Jill Marcellus, Women’s Media Center

August 26, 2010

Not excited for next week’s launch of our Name It. Change It. campaign to expose sexism against women candidates?  Bruce Blakeman, candidate in New York’s Republican Senate primary, is here to boost your enthusiasm:

“I think Kirsten Gillibrand is an attractive woman, I think she’s bright, and I think she’s probably a good mom herself,” Blakeman announced Tuesday at a debate with rivals Joe DioGuardi and David Malpass.

If you’re experiencing some 1950s flashbacks right now, it’s not just because of the black and white photo of the candidates, arranged in height order, found at that link.  It’s 2010, and we are still judging women by ‘50s standards.  True, Blakeman’s concession that the successful leader is “bright” could bear on her qualifications as a Senator, but he sandwiches it between evaluations of her looks and of her skills as a mother.

Blakeman, of course, believes this is a compliment:

“I hope Senator Gillibrand will say that I’m bright, that I’m attractive and that I’m a good dad. I’d be very happy with that and I would not be offended.”

He wouldn’t be offended because it would never occur to Senator Gillibrand or anyone else to say that about him at a debate.  With his comments, he admits that he sees her first as woman, and second, if at all, as a politician.  Gender never obscures Blakeman’s role in office.

A comment is not a compliment if it suggests a politician shouldn’t be in the Senate because she belongs in the home.

Published by support on 08/02/2008

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