The Twitter wars always teach us something valuable about sexism, racism and overall bigotry. This week was no exception.
The New York Times Magazine writer Andrew Goldman came under fire for a question he posed to Tippi Hedren, which implied she should have been grateful to sleep her way to the top with the great Alfred Hitchcock.
The author Jennifer Weiner tweeted:
Saturday am. Iced coffee. NYT mag. See which actress Andrew Goldman has accused of sleeping way to top.
Little Freud in me thinks you would have liked to at least have opportunity to sleep way to top.
Thank you Andrew Goldman, for expressing what so many people think.
In 2012, this discussion should be rare, but it isn't. Throughout my journalism career, I’ve heard male colleagues complain that women are better at getting sources to return our phone calls or answer our questions because we have feminine wiles at our disposal.
What many men, and some women, fail to understand, is that this theory only covers a subgroup of women, that as Andrew Goldman so kindly pointed out, are conventionally attractive.
The second, but most important, point:
You can’t ignore that this “advantage” exists, assuming it does exist, because the people with resources, be it money, influence or valuable information, are men. Politicians, CEOs, economists, scholars, police, community leaders, etc. are predominantly male. All of my editors, through internships and my job, were men, and this is not an anomaly.
Don't the men who argue this theory understand that more women in positions of power can only help lift women up? The mindset that fails to grasp this logic is the same mindset that only recognizes women who are young or beautiful or both. If these men thought of women moving through different stages of life, they would realize that more women in authority help young women advance their careers, so they are bureau editor or senior correspondent when they are 45, not a reporter living under relatively the same salary as they did at 25.
Let us also examine the consequences of this “advantage” Andrew Goldman believes a charmed subgroup of women enjoy.
As a result of ancient stereotypes, further perpetuated in television and the movies (Reese Witherspoon has played all of them), these women now live under the specter of “bimbo.” You can try to escape the image by wearing glasses and letting those heels gather dust under your bed, but you can’t stop being a bimbo unless you stop being young and female.
If you’ve ever read an article about how to prepare your makeup for a job interview, it’s hard to ignore the fact that women can’t be attractive and hirable at once. It’s too taxing. Pick a side.
Allure magazine reported a study that concluded interviewers always prefer some makeup to a bare face, but when the looks became more dramatic: “People saw them as equally likeable and much more attractive and competent but less trustworthy.”
A 2011 study conducted on job applicants in Europe and Israel found that attractive men who included headshots on their resumes were more likely to be called back than plain men. Women were more likely to get called back if they didn’t provide a picture at all. Attractive women were especially judged for including pictures on their resumes because it was assumed they were using their looks to secure the job.
In short, the next time you consider your female colleagues blessed, think again. Ask yourself: When was the last time you thought people wouldn’t take you seriously because of how you look, instead of how you behave?
(Originally published 10/15/2012)