This should startle those of us in the media who routinely mention what women candidates are wearing (A pantsuit! A designer dress! Killer heels!) without a second thought. It turns out that writing about a woman candidate’s appearance is never neutral. And if it’s never neutral, then it’s never appropriate. We need to cover the uproar, of course, when the President makes a miscalculated remark. But the next time a woman is running for President—or any office—what we don’t have to do is mention her pantsuit, her hair, or her lipstick. Because how she’s dressed and how attractive she is has nothing to do with her competence or her views. And we shouldn’t sway voters, no matter how unintentionally, into thinking that they do.

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.

 

More in Minority Reports

Tidbits in the news

Read More »

Jennifer Vanasco is a is a news editor at WNYC and the former editor in chief of MTV Network's LGBT news site 365gay.com. She writes about social minorities, national politics, and culture. Her award-winning newspaper column on gay and women's issues ran for 15 years.