Once upon a time, three Republican lawmakers sat in a room filled with other white males. A woman handed them fashion magazines and wanted to take their picture. Another news source snapped the politicians’ picture while Representative Pettalia stated, “Don’t say we don’t understand women.” Reporter Jake Neher then tweeted the soon-to-be viral picture while women and these Republican leaders lived happily ever after…
WRONG. Whether the statement was a joke or his subconscious erupting, here’s why I have a problem with the backhanded remark:
Reducing humans to ANY object is a big “no-no.”
Whether it’s advertisements, magazines, a novel or website, no one likes to be belittled to a generalization or stereotype. Why? At a young age, some of us are taught that we’re special, unique, ever-changing and full of ideas. We’re taught that we’re chameleons, but this remark diminishes us to lab rats.
I’m more than a magazine.
Most fashion magazines only skim the surface of what it means to be human. I’m an ELLE Magazine regular (I’m a fashionable feminist…imagine that), yet I never unconsciously consume its pages or ask it to answer life’s biggest questions. While perusing through advertisements, I continue to question why they pose models that way, when “anti-aging” became the next Grail quest and how the ads could be altered.
There’s nothing wrong with reading Glamour or Bazaar, but there is something wrong with believing it’s all women do. My life doesn’t revolve around shoes, clothes or celebrities just like the readers of Men’s Fitness probably don’t expect running and exercise to solve all their life problems. Surprisingly, we do other stuff.
These lawmakers know there’s a problem
When Pettalia stated, “Don’t say we don’t understand women,” he acknowledged that there’s a problem. This statement means that he knows Republican lawmakers aren’t on the friendliest terms with some females and yet still decided to joke about it.
Barb Byrum, a previous representative who was condemned on the House floor for using the word “vagina” in reference to reproductive rights, wasn’t afraid to share her thoughts about the picture in a public statement:
“What’s even worse than their sexist and immature act today is that they’ve repeatedly voted for controversial legislation that restricts and limits the rights of Michigan women. What they fail to understand is that Michiganders really want them to stop focusing on restricting women’s rights and instead focus on real priorities, like creating jobs and fixing our roads.”
Mr. Pettalia, you probably won’t find the most impending women’s issues in the pages of a fashion magazines.
Just a little tidbit: According to Electa Blog, all three men voted for a law that “prevents Michigan women from getting insurance coverage for an abortion without a separate rider – even in cases of rape or incest.” Victims have to pay out-of-pocket or ask their employer to add the coverage to an insurance plan.
I wouldn’t do the same thing
This photo angers me because when I put myself in this particular situation, I didn’t get the same response. What if I was a politician who allegedly disregarded men’s opinions and was accused for making laws that completely ignored men? If I were asked to take a picture with “men’s” magazines would I utter the same response? The answer is no. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have the same sense of humor…or maybe it’s because I don’t find superficial ideas a laughing matter.
The Michigan Democrats tweeted this response:
While I applaud them for creating a quick and clever response, “real” women can read fashion magazines and bills while men can be politicians and subscribe to Better Homes and Garden.
Neher’s picture and Pettalia’s remark demonstrates the need for more female politicians and government positions. Women make up more than half the vote and yet white males dominate the picture. Here’s some knowledge brought to you by the National Women’s Political Caucus:
– Only 18.5% of Congress members are women (2013)
– There’s only 20 female senators (2013)
– About 76% of state legislators are men (2013)
– The United States has dropped from ranking 69th in worldwide female leadership in 2008 to 84th in 2014.
More women in politics and leadership positions would inspire an accurate representation of women and bring new perspectives to politics.
What do you think of Pettalia’s remark? Should he apologize?