Plight of Women in Politics: Articles About Their Shoes

Irin Carmon: Why are we discussing Kathryn Ruemmler's footwear?
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2013 12:20 PM CDT
Plight of Women in Politics: Articles About Their Shoes
Sorry, you can't see Kathryn Ruemmler's shoes in this photo.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, File)

Kathryn Ruemmler is the White House chief counsel (and currently in the middle of the IRS mess), so it totally makes sense that the fourth-most-popular story in the Washington Post's political section right now would be ... an article about Ruemmler's love for flashy shoes. Wait, what? It seems the shoe habit initially got two paragraphs in a more serious profile of Ruemmler and the IRS scandal, but the shoes were just so interesting they ended up getting their own article. This, writes Irin Carmon on Salon, is the perfect "tale of being a woman in public life," and it's just as ridiculous as the time the same paper described a congresswoman as "hectoring" and "pouty," or the time Vogue became obsessed with Kirsten Gillibrand's weight loss, or the time ... well, you get the idea.

"The Washington Post is still one of the country’s major papers, there are still far too few women in positions of power in the city it mainly covers, and at a time when Ruemmler is in the spotlight for whether she did her job right, the shoe chatter is simply undermining and trivializing," Carmon writes. Studies have shown that hearing descriptions of a female political candidate's appearance—even positive descriptions—damages the candidate in a voter's eyes, while the same effect is not seen for men. Plus, politics is still a boys' club. "So here is a proposal for the politics reporters who want to add color and 'fabulousness' to their prose: How about we issue a moratorium until there’s more than one woman in the room, and see what happens?" Click for Carmon's full piece. (More Kathryn Ruemmler stories.)

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